The Latest News
Connect with Us

Notable Releases
From the Store
Game of Thrones Targaryen Women’s Slim Fit T-shirt
Game of Thrones Targaryen Women’s Slim Fit T-shirt
HBO US
Featured Sites
License Holders

Jump to content


Photo

The proto-Night's Watch and the Wildling Devolution


  • Please log in to reply
19 replies to this topic

#1 Duranaparthur

Duranaparthur

    Sellsword

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 130 posts

Posted 14 January 2014 - 02:45 PM

Posted this on the thread about the Night's Watch Vow, but felt the topic deserves its own discussion.

Herein lies the biggest mystery about the Nigh Watch being co-opted and eventually focused on the Wildling threat: at what point and for what reason did the Starks descended from Bran the Builder decide to treat their brothers beyond his fortification as their enemy? We have Joramun and the King of Winter allied against the Night's King only around thirteen generations into the Watch's existence. While still quite a bit of time, the response on both sides of the Wall suggests that both groups clearly saw the Other threat as a unifying one. Perhaps the Long Night hadn't ended yet. The GoT history-shorts imply the armies of Winter then forcibly expelled the Wildling forces back beyond the Wall, but I don't think ASOIAF proper has anything to say like that.

So maybe when Joramun was King Beyond The Wall, the cultural differences between the two groups were still minute. Maybe Joramun commanded a force with more in common with the Thenns then Mance's raiders, a force armored, organized, and disciplined enough to be the hammer or anvil of the two pronged attack on the Nightfort. But sometime after his death, the Free Folk beyond the Wall began to fall more to their anarchic state that we see them in currently, with the original nobility of the First Men eventually dying out and raiding parties with Stone Age tech becoming the norm. But once that happens, the Starks begin offering sanctuary and protection from people they see simply as brigands and usurpers, creating the division between civilized people/kneelers and Free Folk/Wildlings.

Still most of the Kings Beyond The Wall seem to have flourished before the Targareyan Conquest, which might imply that the Dragons unknowingly hastened the decay of the Watch, and that the Starks, who might have had a far more personal and respectful relationship with the realms of men beyond the Wall, were drawn to focus attention southward while men with shorter memories came to control the wall.

Skagos' trading relationship with some Wildlings might imply that the North initially treated both realms as seperate kingdoms, with the civilized/barbarian dichotomy only emerging after centuries of strife. And considering both sides of the Wall speak the same language, was it simply a brisk cultural exchange or what?

#2 kiasyd

kiasyd

    Ranger

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 925 posts

Posted 14 January 2014 - 03:17 PM

Posted this on the thread about the Night's Watch Vow, but felt the topic deserves its own discussion.

Herein lies the biggest mystery about the Nigh Watch being co-opted and eventually focused on the Wildling threat: at what point and for what reason did the Starks descended from Bran the Builder decide to treat their brothers beyond his fortification as their enemy? We have Joramun and the King of Winter allied against the Night's King only around thirteen generations into the Watch's existence. While still quite a bit of time, the response on both sides of the Wall suggests that both groups clearly saw the Other threat as a unifying one. Perhaps the Long Night hadn't ended yet. The GoT history-shorts imply the armies of Winter then forcibly expelled the Wildling forces back beyond the Wall, but I don't think ASOIAF proper has anything to say like that.

So maybe when Joramun was King Beyond The Wall, the cultural differences between the two groups were still minute. Maybe Joramun commanded a force with more in common with the Thenns then Mance's raiders, a force armored, organized, and disciplined enough to be the hammer or anvil of the two pronged attack on the Nightfort. But sometime after his death, the Free Folk beyond the Wall began to fall more to their anarchic state that we see them in currently, with the original nobility of the First Men eventually dying out and raiding parties with Stone Age tech becoming the norm. But once that happens, the Starks begin offering sanctuary and protection from people they see simply as brigands and usurpers, creating the division between civilized people/kneelers and Free Folk/Wildlings.

Still most of the Kings Beyond The Wall seem to have flourished before the Targareyan Conquest, which might imply that the Dragons unknowingly hastened the decay of the Watch, and that the Starks, who might have had a far more personal and respectful relationship with the realms of men beyond the Wall, were drawn to focus attention southward while men with shorter memories came to control the wall.

Skagos' trading relationship with some Wildlings might imply that the North initially treated both realms as seperate kingdoms, with the civilized/barbarian dichotomy only emerging after centuries of strife. And considering both sides of the Wall speak the same language, was it simply a brisk cultural exchange or what?

 

I think there is an additional disagreement between free-folk and "kneelers", which is the agreement of respecting the king's peace. Mance somewhat implies that the realm rules are not good enough for the free-folk, and thus, they are cast out. See Osha for instance: once she agree's to follow the rules, she is adopted in.



#3 Duranaparthur

Duranaparthur

    Sellsword

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 130 posts

Posted 14 January 2014 - 03:28 PM

Exactly; it's conceivable, if most likely inaccurate, that the modern Wildlings united under Mance's command, are really just cultural Northerners who embrace an anarchic way of life that reduced them from Thenn-like Bronze Age nation-states to Stone Age raiding parties. Perhaps initially there were Lords Beyond the Wall, perhaps titles Magnars and speaking the tongue of the first men, but then raiding parties practicing the stealing practice started to gain prominence. In which case, it's conceivable the Night's Watch's original orders towards the Wildlings was to stop these raiders while leaving their Magnars in peace. But eventually the trade embargo effected by the Wall strangled the old order and allowed raiders to become the norm.

#4 Mirijam

Mirijam

    Noble

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 598 posts

Posted 14 January 2014 - 07:40 PM

Any theories on how Hardhome fits in? That was pretty cataclysmic.



#5 Duranaparthur

Duranaparthur

    Sellsword

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 130 posts

Posted 14 January 2014 - 07:53 PM

Well, a worst case scenario in terms of heroic groups doing horrifically unheroic things, perhaps the Night's Watch had a great Ranging that they kept secret after one of their Lord Commanders determined such a large settlement could serve as a rallying point a trading spot for Kings-Beyond-The-Wall. He leads a campaign to Hardhome, and wipes it out.

The Watch actively discouraging and handicapping Free-Folk technological advancement would provide a strong explanation for why in spite being surrounded by cultures that know how to smelt and forge metal are so reliant on raiding parties for what they do have. You can easily imagine a Night's Watch enforced policy of keeping them down to prevent them from actually becoming a rival to the North.

Alternatively, maybe the city was a resurgence of First Man culture and a group of angry raiders attacked and burned it for being too Northern.

Either way, it seems someone wanted to prevent the Wildlings form civilizing.

#6 The Mother of The Others

The Mother of The Others

    Council Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,853 posts

Posted 14 January 2014 - 08:10 PM

What's weird to me is....   if the Others were enough of a problem at the time to warrant building a huge wall, wouldn't the Others have been an even bigger problem for any humans out north of the wall?    In other words, WHY were there living people north of the wall!!!!!   Were they just ultra-idiots, like the people who today might be seen carrying a loaded weapon past airport security???   Why didn't the desperate migration south of the Free People happen way sooner in history instead of just now in the books???   It should have happened BEFORE THE COMPLETION OF THE WALL TRAPPED PEOPLE ON THE Others' SIDE!    Why do the free people even exist?????   The Racism of the Stark nation kept them out?   There was no Jon among the leaders of that time?    Or was the Wall build AFTER an Others attack, while there was no current danger to anyone wandering beyond the wall, but while the danger of future Others attacks was still fresh in people's minds from the last long winter that had just passed.



#7 Duranaparthur

Duranaparthur

    Sellsword

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 130 posts

Posted 14 January 2014 - 09:09 PM

That's why I'm thinking that the Wall was initially constructed as a rallying point for all denizens of the "realms of men," similar to how Hadrian's Wall was initially meant as a barrier and staging point for the Roman settlements in Scotland.

So the Wall only became the boundary of civilization once those manning it started treating it as such and abandoned their brethren to the north.

Again, we've got Joruman and the King of Winter teaming up against the Night's King. Generally, we think of this as an Enemy Mine situation, but what if it was merely the application of an older alliance?

So sometime after the Night's Watch institutes their no wife's, no crowns policy and the Starks probably ended the practice of stealing wives, the differences slowly lead to an "us versus the," mentality on both sides of the Wall.

#8 David C. Hunter

David C. Hunter

    King Beyond the Lands of Always Winter

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,748 posts

Posted 14 January 2014 - 09:56 PM

What's weird to me is....   if the Others were enough of a problem at the time to warrant building a huge wall, wouldn't the Others have been an even bigger problem for any humans out north of the wall?    In other words, WHY were there living people north of the wall!!!!!   Were they just ultra-idiots, like the people who today might be seen carrying a loaded weapon past airport security???   Why didn't the desperate migration south of the Free People happen way sooner in history instead of just now in the books???   It should have happened BEFORE THE COMPLETION OF THE WALL TRAPPED PEOPLE ON THE Others' SIDE!    Why do the free people even exist?????   The Racism of the Stark nation kept them out?   There was no Jon among the leaders of that time?    Or was the Wall build AFTER an Others attack, while there was no current danger to anyone wandering beyond the wall, but while the danger of future Others attacks was still fresh in people's minds from the last long winter that had just passed.

 

 

This is just an assumption, but we have no idea how long it took to build the wall, with magic and shit. I doubt they went towards the lands of always winter announcing that they were doing it. If the White Walkers were still there, they would have found out, etc. 

 

I actually have an idea. I will start a thread about it. 



#9 Tree in the North

Tree in the North

    Freerider

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 72 posts

Posted 14 January 2014 - 10:35 PM

I always thought that the alliance of the Stark King and Joramun was an alliance of convenience. An ally on the wall would certainly strengthen the Others, who I would imagine to be the primary threat to Joramun's people. Obviously an independent King on the wall (especially one in league with the Others) would be unacceptable to Winterfell.

I always felt that the NW war against the wildlings was an attempt to keep themselves relevant. The Others hadn't been seen for hundreds of years, so the only way for an order like the NW to maintain its importance would be to manufacture an enemy.

 

However, I do like the idea of a co-opting of an originally wildling-friendly NW by the Starks. Perhaps this happened after the fall of the Night's King and Joramun, in response, created/found the Horn.



#10 Sevumar

Sevumar

    Council Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,795 posts

Posted 14 January 2014 - 10:41 PM

The highest value for the Wildlings seems to be their freedom. To a large extent, they are not included in the system because they do not wish to be subject to the order of society south of the Wall. Some of Ygritte's dialogue does suggest there's a large element of circumstance in the Wildling history, but that comes down to us as a view, not necessarily a fact.

 

It only takes a few generations for something like a division or a change in attitudes to reach the level of ingrained tradition, so the separation of these two societies needn't take hundreds of years to become normalized for both sides.



#11 WeirwoodTreeHugger

WeirwoodTreeHugger

    Ser Pounce lives!

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,856 posts

Posted 14 January 2014 - 10:42 PM

The Mother of The Others, on 14 Jan 2014 - 7:10 PM, said:The Mother of The Others, on 14 Jan 2014 - 7:10 PM, said:

What's weird to me is....   if the Others were enough of a problem at the time to warrant building a huge wall, wouldn't the Others have been an even bigger problem for any humans out north of the wall?    In other words, WHY were there living people north of the wall!!!!!   Were they just ultra-idiots, like the people who today might be seen carrying a loaded weapon past airport security???   Why didn't the desperate migration south of the Free People happen way sooner in history instead of just now in the books???   It should have happened BEFORE THE COMPLETION OF THE WALL TRAPPED PEOPLE ON THE Others' SIDE!    Why do the free people even exist?????   The Racism of the Stark nation kept them out?   There was no Jon among the leaders of that time?    Or was the Wall build AFTER an Others attack, while there was no current danger to anyone wandering beyond the wall, but while the danger of future Others attacks was still fresh in people's minds from the last long winter that had just passed.

Every time there's a big impending disaster like a hurricane or volcano, there are always people who refuse to follow evacuation orders.  Maybe it was something like that?  This was thousands of years ago.  There needed only to be a handful of Wildlings north of the Wall to found the population that's there presently.


Edited by WeirwoodTreeHugger, 14 January 2014 - 10:42 PM.


#12 Queen‍‍‍‍‍‍ Alysanne‍‍

Queen‍‍‍‍‍‍ Alysanne‍‍

    The Good Queen

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,218 posts

Posted 14 January 2014 - 10:45 PM

Old Nan said wildings marry female others sometimes



#13 Sevumar

Sevumar

    Council Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,795 posts

Posted 14 January 2014 - 10:58 PM

Every time there's a big impending disaster like a hurricane or volcano, there are always people who refuse to follow evacuation orders.  Maybe it was something like that?  This was thousands of years ago.  There needed only to be a handful of Wildlings north of the Wall to found the population that's there presently.

 

I don't think this is very likely. There are a large variety of societies with differing physical and cultural traits present in the land north of the Wall. While populations do tend to diversify or fragment, the sheer number and variety in lifestyles suggest long histories attached to these groups and their identities.



#14 Jojen Dayne-Reed

Jojen Dayne-Reed

    Squire

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 239 posts

Posted 14 January 2014 - 11:08 PM

(Sorry. It got long.)

Unless Joramun IS a WW. It explains a lot (so long as we're willing to assume most of the "WWs are strength evil" elements of the tale are false. Which given many of the themes of the books in willing to. But I digress).

So the war for dawn just ended. Humans were pushed south (abandoning the fort at the fist) but keeping the WWs north of the soon to be wall.

A kingdom where WWs and humans got along (even married) would threaten the human king in the north and the WW king beyond the wall. So they team up. But skirmishes still happen (because that happens after a war. And Joramun is killed.) the wall becomes fortified and the WWs fall back to where they feel safe (for a few thousand years)

Slowly the disenfranchised of humanity go north the wall to become the wildlings we know today. Slowly the stories mix WWs and wildlings.

It explains how there was still a king beyond the wall despite the fact that it appears human settlements (like the fist l) were abandoned. (At least until hardhome).

It also fits the theme if "no one is just black and white evil".

Edited by Jojen Dayne-Reed, 14 January 2014 - 11:09 PM.


#15 Sir Lee knot

Sir Lee knot

    Council Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 920 posts

Posted 15 January 2014 - 12:23 AM

I kind of agree with the first part. That is, when the wall went up people on both sides had a very similar culture but the second part makes little sense to me. I doubt the Wildlings were more advanced at some point and then degraded into troglodytes.

 

Instead I think that the more southern first men tribes were more organized like the Thenns or the Skagosi but the more north you went the more primitive the tribes were. After the battle of Dawn the man who united all these tribes (Brandon Stark) started construction on the wall and solidification of his new kingdom. The Wildlings probably didn't have much interest in joining Brandon Stark's kingdom and therefore decided to stay north of the wall. Then the Wildlings probably started doing raids south of the wall and that's when the Night's Watch got involved. The longer the Wildlings were divided the more each culture separated. People south of the wall got far more advanced and the Wildlings stayed the same due to their stubbornness and uncooperative nature.

 

As far as Joramun goes. The only reason him and the Starks were able to team up is because at that point WIldlings and southerners didn't have much of a difference in culture. But after the Starks realized that the Wildlings weren't willing to adapt to their more advanced society, they had to kick em back to the other side.



#16 The Mother of The Others

The Mother of The Others

    Council Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,853 posts

Posted 15 January 2014 - 01:31 AM

I like the idea of an originally wildling-friendly NW being co-opted by the Starks. Perhaps this happened after the fall of the Night's King and Joramun created/found the Horn in response.

 

That'd at least be a good reason for why it's out there where tactically you wouldn't want that horn to be.   It was a super-threat against a super-wall to keep the Watch honest, to keep them trading important items with the free people, stuff that was needed for survival in the cold.  Like having a nuke, it gave them a voice.   It went unused because it would never have to be used, out of mutual dread and Joramun's empathy for his fellow humans.  Or was there no empathy?  Maybe there was a stalemate like the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Joramun lost and had to back down.  If his threat was, "It's an emergency!  Open your gates to us or we'll bring the wall down!"  then the Lord Commander could have just shaken in his boots a little and then shouted back, "Go ahead!  Then the security you're hoping to find behind our wall will be gone because you'll have collapsed the Wall, and you'll be just as screwed as you are now---more screwed, because us crows would then be just as pissed at you as the Others!"  So Joramun smashed the horn in disgust and rode away?    That's closer to explaining the horn situation.  Still not deeply satisfying, though, like a night king tale.



#17 Boxman

Boxman

    Squire

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 207 posts

Posted 15 January 2014 - 01:53 AM

I think constant battle among themselves is what regressed, and/or stalled the Wildlings' cultural and technological advancement.  Once enough knowledgeable people are killed off in that type of environment, it's easy to lose information that would otherwise be commonplace, like how to forge good steel, and how to craft weapons and armor.  We know Mance united many different groups of Wildlings, some of whom were probably hostile to one another, before Mance intervened and changed the course of their fate.  With nothing to unify them, the Wildlings stay stagnant in a part of the world where everyday survival takes precedence over long term progress.  After multiple generations of lost knowledge, being isolated leaves them ignorant of both the past and the present 

 

There are probably Wildling clans north of the wall that have no idea the wall even exists



#18 AntZ

AntZ

    ANTology

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 6,683 posts

Posted 15 January 2014 - 02:11 AM

I think the foundation of the Night's Watch predates the building of the Wall for a good time. I am quite sure that there was no Wall in the time of the Night's King. The Night's Watch were originally garrisoned on the walls of castles like Winterfell. After the atrocities committed by the Night's King, Bran the Builder saw the necessity to build a magical barrier so that the Others cannot pass through the Wall to corrupt. I think so started the enmity between the wildlings who stayed beyond the Wall and the Starks. Another side effect of such a magical barrier was that the watchers on the Wall forgot who they were supposed to fight.



#19 voodooqueen126

voodooqueen126

    Council Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,661 posts

Posted 15 January 2014 - 10:05 PM

The highest value for the Wildlings seems to be their freedom. To a large extent, they are not included in the system because they do not wish to be subject to the order of society south of the Wall. Some of Ygritte's dialogue does suggest there's a large element of circumstance in the Wildling history, but that comes down to us as a view, not necessarily a fact.

 

It only takes a few generations for something like a division or a change in attitudes to reach the level of ingrained tradition, so the separation of these two societies needn't take hundreds of years to become normalized for both sides.

 

 

I think constant battle among themselves is what regressed, and/or stalled the Wildlings' cultural and technological advancement.  Once enough knowledgeable people are killed off in that type of environment, it's easy to lose information that would otherwise be commonplace, like how to forge good steel, and how to craft weapons and armor.  We know Mance united many different groups of Wildlings, some of whom were probably hostile to one another, before Mance intervened and changed the course of their fate.  With nothing to unify them, the Wildlings stay stagnant in a part of the world where everyday survival takes precedence over long term progress.  After multiple generations of lost knowledge, being isolated leaves them ignorant of both the past and the present 

 

There are probably Wildling clans north of the wall that have no idea the wall even exists

Thomas Hobbes said it better than I ever could:

"

NATURE hath made men so equal in the faculties of body and mind as that, though there be found one man sometimes manifestly stronger in body or of quicker mind than another, yet when all is reckoned together the difference between man and man is not so considerable as that one man can thereupon claim to himself any benefit to which another may not pretend as well as he. For as to the strength of body, the weakest has strength enough to kill the strongest, either by secret machination or by confederacy with others that are in the same danger with himself.

And as to the faculties of the mind, setting aside the arts grounded upon words, and especially that skill of proceeding upon general and infallible rules, called science, which very few have and but in few things, as being not a native faculty born with us, nor attained, as prudence, while we look after somewhat else, I find yet a greater equality amongst men than that of strength. For prudence is but experience, which equal time equally bestows on all men in those things they equally apply themselves unto. That which may perhaps make such equality incredible is but a vain conceit of one's own wisdom, which almost all men think they have in a greater degree than the vulgar; that is, than all men but themselves, and a few others, whom by fame, or for concurring with themselves, they approve. For such is the nature of men that howsoever they may acknowledge many others to be more witty, or more eloquent or more learned, yet they will hardly believe there be many so wise as themselves; for they see their own wit at hand, and other men's at a distance. But this proveth rather that men are in that point equal, than unequal. For there is not ordinarily a greater sign of the equal distribution of anything than that every man is contented with his share.

From this equality of ability ariseth equality of hope in the attaining of our ends. And therefore if any two men desire the same thing, which nevertheless they cannot both enjoy, they become enemies; and in the way to their end (which is principally their own conservation, and sometimes their delectation only) endeavour to destroy or subdue one another. And from hence it comes to pass that where an invader hath no more to fear than another man's single power, if one plant, sow, build, or possess a convenient seat, others may probably be expected to come prepared with forces united to dispossess and deprive him, not only of the fruit of his labour, but also of his life or liberty. And the invader again is in the like danger of another.

And from this diffidence of one another, there is no way for any man to secure himself so reasonable as anticipation; that is, by force, or wiles, to master the persons of all men he can so long till he see no other power great enough to endanger him: and this is no more than his own conservation requireth, and is generally allowed. Also, because there be some that, taking pleasure in contemplating their own power in the acts of conquest, which they pursue farther than their security requires, if others, that otherwise would be glad to be at ease within modest bounds, should not by invasion increase their power, they would not be able, long time, by standing only on their defence, to subsist. And by consequence, such augmentation of dominion over men being necessary to a man's conservation, it ought to be allowed him.

Again, men have no pleasure (but on the contrary a great deal of grief) in keeping company where there is no power able to overawe them all. For every man looketh that his companion should value him at the same rate he sets upon himself, and upon all signs of contempt or undervaluing naturally endeavours, as far as he dares (which amongst them that have no common power to keep them in quiet is far enough to make them destroy each other), to extort a greater value from his contemners, by damage; and from others, by the example.

So that in the nature of man, we find three principal causes of quarrel. First, competition; secondly, diffidence; thirdly, glory.

The first maketh men invade for gain; the second, for safety; and the third, for reputation. The first use violence, to make themselves masters of other men's persons, wives, children, and cattle; the second, to defend them; the third, for trifles, as a word, a smile, a different opinion, and any other sign of undervalue, either direct in their persons or by reflection in their kindred, their friends, their nation, their profession, or their name.

Hereby it is manifest that during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war as is of every man against every man. For war consisteth not in battle only, or the act of fighting, but in a tract of time, wherein the will to contend by battle is sufficiently known: and therefore the notion of time is to be considered in the nature of war, as it is in the nature of weather. For as the nature of foul weather lieth not in a shower or two of rain, but in an inclination thereto of many days together: so the nature of war consisteth not in actual fighting, but in the known disposition thereto during all the time there is no assurance to the contrary. All other time is peace

Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of war, where every man is enemy to every man, the same consequent to the time wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."



#20 Duranaparthur

Duranaparthur

    Sellsword

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 130 posts

Posted 15 January 2014 - 10:35 PM

The biggest evidence I can think of for why the Wildlings might have at one point competed with the forces of King Winter technologically is the Thenns. You've got a tribe north of the rest of the Wldlings that do most of the raiding, and they've got a structured hierarchy, arms, armor, and the ability to produce more. The Magnar being considered close to a god makes sense if the Thenns feel their superior tech is due to his success against more regular Wildling neighbors.

I could believe and independent development or a contained one far away from the wall, but a breakdown theory strikes me as more likely.