Gardner calls herself Daria after the TV character, because she knows that people will want to write about her and they can’t use her real name, so fuck it. Daria it is. She chose Daria because Daria is entirely nondescript. Not even her speech stands out. She only shines in moments of sheer awkwardness, and that’s how she likes it. Daria has what others would call her secret life, but she’d just call a “compartment.” Lots of things fit in that compartment, from chapsticks and tampons to severed heads she was glad to have cut.
Daria is a study in contrast. It’s like having a doctor for a mother. She tells stories at the dinner table rife with the ways she’s dug into humanity (literally) that in the middle her eyes kind of drift and she forgets the other people in the room are literally shaking in fear. She doesn’t remember what it’s like to have fear, and sometimes makes a really shitty friend because of it. She doesn’t need anything, so why should you?
Daria used to have fear, once. It’s gone away now. She doesn’t talk about it, but she was molested for years. That fact is not important in terms of her day to day psychology, just a quick and neat explanation of how she got so divorced from her emotions that the government realized they needed her way before she realized she needed them. Daria was “the type.” Daria could watch her mother with a knife up to her throat and not feel anything. She knew that for sure because her mother was used in a training exercise.
Daria deals all the time with her wish to be a warrior, and her wish to have feelings, because apparently you can have one or the other, but you don’t get both.
In each relationship in a book, there is symbolism. Daria represents a man-vs-self conflict, and Kermit is a Christ allegory. Daria doesn’t know it yet, but Kermit will be the key to her undoing…. and rebirth.