Big Mom reverting to her child-like mind state (O-Lin) early on in Wano was just…really unexpected. What caused the amnesia? Why did she resort to her kind personality that she had in the Elbaf flashback?
Why did she never ask about her kids & crew, why would this trauma undo 62 years worth of her memories? Why would she start a pirate crew and become infamous at the age of six, just from being upset that her family disappeared and all she had was Streusen?
I suspect that Oda has been leaving breadcrumbs for this answer, like he always does. And I believe that breadcrumb trail leads to the answer that Charlotte Linlin has been actively influenced by Mother Carmel’s soul, which was bonded/fused to her via Carmel’s Awakened Devil Fruit power for the past 62 years, and that collectively they make up Big Mom’s personality.
I’ll present my evidence first, then attempt to tie it all together for how I got to this conclusion.
Strap in, it’s a long one.
–Exhibit A: The Logic of Devil Fruits and Awakened Abilities
Our understanding of Devil Fruits has evolved based on the people we meet throughout the story. At first it was perceived that Logias were the most powerful types, because they couldn’t be hit with traditional weapons, until we met the Awakened Zoan users in Impel Down, who have wildly fast recovery rates. And then we learned of other awakened users like Doflamingo and Charlotte Katakuri, who found unique ways to apply their powers to their environments.
Our understanding of the Soul Soul fruit thus far is that the user can extract fragments of a person’s soul, which also steals from their lifespan, and infuse it into inanimate objects, including items created by other Devil Fruits.
Brook’s Devil Fruit, the Revive-Revive Fruit, didn’t activate until his death, which allowed his soul to move freely throughout the world until he found his own body. And in the timeskip, he learned how to willingly move his soul out of his body and travel independently as needed, and infuse his own soul into objects like his sword to activate his Chill of the Underworld attack, and that he is also capable of injuring soul-infused objects due to the power of his own soul, as well as hypnotize people with his soul-infused music.
And as a quick reminder, Moria’s Shadow-Shadow Fruit has properties similar to Big Mom’s in that he steals something from the individual that threatens their life force (this case being the sun, whereas Big Mom’s is lifespan).
In these examples we’ve seen three use cases of Paramecia-type users who can directly influence and impact the well being of other users beyond a simple “Hey I’m attacking you with this”. Each user has some level of control over others.
–Exhibit B: Mother Carmel’s Personality
Mother Carmel spent her entire life accumulating orphans and working deals with the Marines and the World Government to attain power. She held meetings with Cipher Pol, collaborated in a fake execution to gain favor with the Giants of Elbaf. While she held a kind, caring demeanor with the kids of Sheep’s House, she secretly despised them. She was a cruel human trafficker who valued the kids for the money and influence she could attain.