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Becoming No One: Re-reading Arya


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#181 Carey Snow

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 04:25 PM

My impressions from my re-read of the first two chapters (Oh, and I will also join in the conversations already in process but wanted to get my initial impressions down first. And I am really excited about this thread..... Love Arya):

First, Arya's story is very much one of running and hiding and each time she is punished or rewarded based on these actions. In the first chapter, she excuses herself and runs to hide from the sewing, and the womanly arts class 101, and she ends up getting to spend some quality time with her favorite brother. She gets to watch the boys spar. She is rewarded in this instance. In the second Arya chapter she runs and hides in her room from the dinner in the Small Hall. She is rewarded with the approval of Ned to keep Needle, and even a dancing instructor to learn to use the blade. At this point, it should be mentioned that in Sansa's and Eddard's chapters, before Arya's second, she is once again hiding. This time after her battle with Joffrey and the subsequent search for Arya. In this instance, she is punished pretty hard by losing Mycah's life, being forced to chase off Nymeria, and indirectly with Lady being killed.


There are a couple warnings given to her about hiding. The first from Jon:

" best run back to your room, little sister. Septa Mordane will surely be lurking. The longer you hide, the sterner the penance."



He goes on to say she maybe sewing clear through winter and be found frozen with a needle still locked tight in her fingers. As has been mentioned in previous posts..... this could be a foreshadow of Arya's death, but the subject of the statement is about her hiding and it's ramifications.

The second from her father:


"Let me tell you something about wolves, child. When the snow falls and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives."



Obviously ,he is talking about her squables with Sansa, but the image is one of a lone wolf leaving the pack. This could easily represent her run and hide to Bravos and her emotional distancing from being a Stark in the future.

Secondly, I was reminded (it has been awhile since I have read the first book) how much she loves and is loved by her family. Ned clearly loves her, and was so tender when he consoled Arya about Mycah's death that I teared up.... knowing what is about to happen. She thinks about Robb's smile, teasing Bran, playing with Rikkon, and of course her relationship with Jon.

Thirdly, is how much I love Syrio Forel. What a great character, and soo much fun to read.

Fourth, the description of the original Nymeria.


" Arya had named her after the warrior Queen of the Rhoyne, who had led her people accross the Narrow Sea. "


Arya is presently accross the narrow sea. Most readers believe there is some sort of symbolism between the names of their wolves and their ultimate fate. Also interesting that Nymeria the wolf is chased/forced to run away.

Edited by Carey Snow, 11 November 2012 - 09:16 PM.


#182 Rapsie

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 01:17 AM

Indeed. The part where Ned says he could break Needle over his knee if he so desired also speaks of him knowing he has the power to do so, to enforce his strength and authority, but just because you can break something, doesn't mean you should. He teaches compassion by his deeds. He chooses not to break Needle or take it away from Arya. Again, trusting his children and thereby giving them a sense of independence, obligation and worth ("father trusts me, I mustn't let him down" sort of feeling) seems better than being strict because "I know better, I'm the adult". Leading/teaching by example is one of Ned's strengths but his communication skills mayhaps needed more work?


The scene with Ned and Arya is touching and it is a great point that Ned leads / teaches by example. I still think he has a tendancy to reward disobedience and telling Arya that she must be less disobedient but yet rewarding her for disobedience does send a mixed message as a parenting style. However it is obvious for their talk that he and Arya have a very good relationship and that Arya does try and listen to him.

The sense of worth he gives Arya in this speech is also important as Arya seems to be feeling that she is less part of the pack than she felt in Winterfell. Even there we saw her struggling with her role as she could not see herself fitting into roles that she wishes to, but also does not want: the ladies sewing. When Ned tells her that she is part of one whole through blood, but can be and is different to her sister, he is reassuring her that she is important to the pack as herself. That she is accepted for who she is: that everyone has a role in the pack and hers is as valid as everyone elses.

The moon association also ties in with the wolf symbolism. The moon and wolves are very connected symbols. The idea of the moon being responsible for turning people into wolves (werewolves), may also reflect part of Arya's character and add an element of foreshadowing / symbolism for her development as by transforming from one thing into a more powerful creature, even the most innocuous person can be a force to be reckoned with.

Also Syrio reinforces this idea that she is a sword, an object of power in and of itself. With Syrio, she can finally enjoy and be praised for something she excels in. It seems even by the end of the chapter to be increasing her selfworth and confidence.

It may be a contentious theory but Syrio's reference to not being a boy or a girl, just a sword, could also hint towards the FM and the idea of being no one (a deliverer of the gift).

Edited by Rapsie, 12 November 2012 - 01:19 AM.


#183 Little Wing

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 08:07 AM

The scene with Ned and Arya is touching and it is a great point that Ned leads / teaches by example. I still think he has a tendancy to reward disobedience and telling Arya that she must be less disobedient but yet rewarding her for disobedience does send a mixed message as a parenting style. However it is obvious for their talk that he and Arya have a very good relationship and that Arya does try and listen to him.


Well, this is how you understood, it doesn't mean that Arya understood it like that...

I don't think Ned's sending a mixed message. I actually like the fact that he is not attempting to apply the same parenting style to all his children, not trying to put them in a mold. Instead he treats them as individuals, showing that he knows his children's personalities - do you think punishing Arya would work? Ned knows it wouldn't, he knows her. Arya knows Ned's angry/frustrated with her, she's smart, she doesn't need to be punished to know she mustn't do something again. And I wouldn't say that my judgement is somehow clouded because the scene between Ned and Arya is touching, as you seem to be implying.

#184 Rapsie

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 08:28 AM

I don't think Ned's sending a mixed message. I actually like the fact that he is not attempting to apply the same parenting style to all his children, not trying to put them in a mold. Instead he treats them as individuals, showing that he knows his children's personalities - do you think punishing Arya would work? Ned knows it wouldn't, he knows her. Arya knows Ned's angry/frustrated with her, she's smart, she doesn't need to be punished to know she mustn't do something again. And I wouldn't say that my judgement is somehow clouded because the scene between Ned and Arya is touching, as you seem to be implying.


Little Wing, I'm not implying you have clouded judgement at all.

I would disagree with the statement that "I actually like the fact that he is not attempting to apply the same parenting style to all his children, not trying to put them in a mold." As I believe he does treat his children the same way, which is to try and correct their disobedience, but then when they keep doing it, to just give in. This can be seen in the Bran example and in the Arya example with wandering off along the Trident. We also saw from our Sansa readings that there is certainly an element of her beinging to realise she can get away with things too. Also it was clear in that re-read that he didn't know his daughter very well and was so caught up with King Bob that he missed the changes in his daughters. A parent can be loving and yet not be good at setting goals and boundaries.

This is the thing with Ned. He indulges his children to a certain extent. Even the direwolves, Jon and Bran protest against killing them and he gives in. In reality what parent in their right mind would give a 7 year old a wolf, never mind a 4 year old. Also Ned tells Arya that Septa Mordane has been tasked with making her a Lady: it would have been interesting to see as Arya got older, if like Brienne's father he let her be as she is, but at this juncture Ned is still talking about her growing up to be a Lady not a Braavo.

You say she doesn't need to be punished to know not to do something again (and without getting ahead of our selves) I think this is false to an extent as we see her disobeying again in her next chapter. Ironically Syrio's method of teaching her does get her to listen and do as she is instructed.

The scene with Arya and Ned is touching and it is wonderful that he does provide sword lessons for her. He does try to ensure she is happier as he is aware how unhappy she is and her grief at the death of her friend. It is awful that she blames herself for Mycah's death when Joff is the one responsible for the whole thing.

#185 Little Wing

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 08:47 AM

I was also saying punishing her wouldn't work. Did Syrio punish her in any way?
And as for her disobedience - won't it get her out of KL? If she stayed obedient, she'd be in Cersei's claws... and would probably have to marry Ramsey for real!
Anyway, the point that I'm trying to make is that Ned knows Arya to be willful, he's seen it before in Lyanna, he knows it will bring more grief than good to punish her. Maybe it seems unfair, that she got off easy, but disobedience isn't all that bad sometimes... I don't think Ned minded her rebellious spirit and I guess he didn't want to make her feel bad because she has an independent spirit and thinks for herself.

#186 Rapsie

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 09:03 AM

The wonderful thing about this interaction between Arya and Ned, is that she is accepted for herself. From the first chapter we can see Arya feels isolated from those around her and is insecure of her families affections. She thinks Nymeria loves her, even if no one else does. While "no body love me, think I'll go and eat worms" is a come childish feeling, it is clear that Arya need arhat reassurance. The great thing about this scene is that Ned does reassure her that she is needed by him and by the family. She is loved and she doesn't need to fear not being loved, as she is his daughter and will always be important too him.

#187 Lyanna Stark

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 09:11 AM

I was also saying punishing her wouldn't work. Did Syrio punish her in any way?


Syrio did hit her with the stick when she was practising and she didn't do things right, so in that way he did. /wink.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=';)' />

And as for her disobedience - won't it get her out of KL? If she stayed obedient, she'd be in Cersei's claws... and would probably have to marry Ramsey for real!


This is a meta argument for a plot change though, which doesn't really work as such. It's like asking GRRM to restructure the plot.

Anyway, the point that I'm trying to make is that Ned knows Arya to be willful, he's seen it before in Lyanna, he knows it will bring more grief than good to punish her. Maybe it seems unfair, that she got off easy, but disobedience isn't all that bad sometimes... I don't think Ned minded her rebellious spirit and I guess he didn't want to make her feel bad because she has an independent spirit and thinks for herself.


The first part I think we've seen a lot of evidence for in the text. There is a sorrow tinged part of Ned, and it comes through in his POV. His thoughts on Lyanna especially, but also his brother and father are tinged with grief and loss. They had the wolf blood and look where it got them, more or less. Ned seems to want a way to deal with the wolf blood, which leads me to the next part:

With the bolded part I do disagree due to this. Ned does not approve of Lyanna and Brandon being wilful. In fact, he seems decidedly negative towards which paths the wolf blood lead his brother and sister down. Ned seems to be looking for a way to temper the wolf blood, and while he realises that force (breaking Needle) is not the way, he seems to not at all be letting go of the final goal. Ned wants Arya to become a Lady, and he berates her for not being better at obeying Septa Mordane. My impression is that by making one concession to Arya (sword training), by doing so, he motivates her to try harder with becoming a Lady. In no way has he said it's ok for her to become a swordswoman, or to completely avoid the fate of highborn women. He is still set on her marrying a lord somewhere.

So while Ned recognises the wolf blood and what it can cause, he does not see it as a positive thing. He surely loves and appreciates his daughter, even if he is a bit apprehensive of the path she might tread, due to what happened to Lyanna.

#188 Little Wing

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 09:35 AM

I agree that Ned is trying to deal with Arya's wolf blood in a rational way, therefore making it look like leniency. Partly giving in with the Dancing lessons is his way of working with Arya while giving her a challenge and something to keep her occupied at the same time - it's a wise move. It's like they've made a deal: "Okay, Arya, I've given you Needle and Dancing lessons, you promise to become a lady" and this I think works better then just punishing her.
As for Syrio swatting her arm, It wouldn't bring forth an emotional reaction as taking Needle away or "grounding" her would, just annoyance and a desire to do better.

#189 Lummel

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 09:36 AM

I feel negative is too positive a word for The Ned's state of mind!

I recognise the tone of melancholy and loss that you describe Lyanna in how The Ned expresses himself to the children. I think tempering is an excellent word to keep in mind for his attitude. The wolf blood is a reality, The Ned understands how powerful it is. My reading is that The Ned acknowledges that and when he sees it in his children his response is to channel it. You can't force the wolf blood out of the child, but maybe it can be tempered.

Arya wants to fight with a sword and is determinedly setting about teaching herself anyway - but as we see on the Trident those attempts lead to disaster. But rather than ban it, The Ned channels the urge. No more Arya finding random servant boys to stick fight with, instead there will be a proper teacher, formal lessons and formal discipline. Perhaps he hopes that the discipline of the process will discipline the girl's mind rather like the angry street youths sent to a boxing club the objective is to channel the raw aggression and excitement into something approaching self control.

#190 Blisscraft

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 10:06 AM

Arya wants to fight with a sword and is determinedly setting about teaching herself anyway - but as we see on the Trident those attempts lead to disaster. But rather than ban it, The Ned channels the urge. No more Arya finding random servant boys to stick fight with, instead there will be a proper teacher, formal lessons and formal discipline. Perhaps he hopes that the discipline of the process will discipline the girl's mind rather like the angry street youths sent to a boxing club the objective is to channel the raw aggression and excitement into something approaching self control.


Nothing like a good education! /laugh.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':laugh:' />

#191 The Sleeper

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 10:27 AM

I don't think Ned indulges his children particularly.

Look at some of the things he expects form his chlidren.

He expects his three-year old to start facing and controlling his fear.
He takes his seven-year old at an execution and asks him what he understood from the experience in order to impress on him the weight of the responsibilities he would assume later in life.
When Brandon takes to climbing again, he is ordered to the godswood to cleanse himself. This is not being grounded; this is penance in a religious environment (and I suspect it was more for lying to his mother than it actually was for climbing)
He also put full responsiblity for the direwolves on them and them alone.
I would say he discplines them stopping short of repression, but this is something else. He treats his children like adults as much as he has the heart for it.

Consider in this light some of the things he told Arya.
Consider the situation you put your sister in.
Septa Mordane is acting on my and your mother's behalf to prepare you for later in life.
Your temperament can get you killed.
We are part of a whole and we all need to stick together and do our part to stay alive in this dangerous place, so pull your shit together.
You can have a sword but not a toy.
Ned is preparing Arya for Winter.

He also told her that she did right to protect her wolf and nothing of what he said suggests that he believes she did wrong to try and protect Mycah.
I think Ned told what he truly believed to his daughter from a place of love and affection and this is what prompts Arya to start bringing out the will and determination she displays later on in the series.

I also don't think he was entirely uncomfortable with the idea of his daughter having some means of self defense considering what transpired on the Trident and the dangerous situation they were in.

Also, I think that Syrio freed her from the constraints she felt from her gender wit a single phrase.

#192 brashcandy

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 04:23 PM

Arya III

Before I begin the summary and critique for Arya III there are two prior chapters where we gain knowledge of how Arya’s training with Syrio is progressing, and some important info on the moon symbolism that has been discussed earlier. These chapters are Eddard V and VII and I’ll briefly detail the relevant passages for later analysis.

Eddard V – This is the chapter where Ned meets with Pycelle to discuss Jon Arryn’s death. Leaving the meeting, he encounters Arya on the steps of the Tower of the Hand, trying to balance on one leg. According to her teacher, water dancers can stand on one toe for hours, and they never fall, and Arya is determined to work on her balance. She inquires if Bran can come to live with them at the Red Keep, but Ned tells her that Bran needs to regain his strength. We then learn of what occurred when they received the news that Bran had awakened:

The night the bird had come from Winterfell, Eddard Stark had taken the girls to the castle godswood, an acre of elm and alder and black cottonwood overlooking the river. The heart tree there was a great oak, its ancient limbs overgrown with smokeberry vines; they knelt before it to offer their thanksgiving, as if it had been a weirwood. Sansa drifted to sleep as the moon rose, Arya several hours later, curling up in the grass under Ned’s cloak. All through the dark hours he kept his vigil alone. When dawn broke over the city, the dark red blooms of dragon’s breath surrounded the girls where they lay. “I dreamed of Bran,” Sansa had whispered to him. “I saw him smiling.”


When her father tells her that Bran can no longer be a knight but might one day be able to sit on the king’s council, sail a ship or become High Septon, Arya puts forth her own interest in those opportunities:

“Can I be a king’s councilor and build castles and become the High Septon?”

“You,” Ned said, kissing her lightly on the brow, “will marry a king and rule his castle, and your sons will be knights and princes and lords, and, yes, perhaps even a High Septon.”

Arya screwed up her face. “No,” she said, “that’s Sansa.” She folded up her right leg and resumed her balancing. Ned sighed and left her there.


Eddard VII – The second day of the Hand’s tourney. Ned has managed to convince Robert not to fight in the melee and there’s relative peace and contentment when it’s all over:

That night at the feast, Eddard Stark was more hopeful than he had been in a great while. Robert was in good humor, the Lannisters were nowhere to be seen, and even his daughters were behaving. Jory brought Arya down to join them, and Sansa spoke to her sister pleasantly. “The tournament was magnificent,” she sighed. “You should have come. How was your dancing?”


Arya reports that she is sore all over and happily shows off a large bruise on her leg, leading Ned to worry that Syrio might be too rough a teacher. He considers getting another teacher, but Arya is adamant that she wants to continue with Syrio. She tells her father while standing on one leg, “Syrio says that every hurt is a lesson, and every lesson makes you better.”

Ned frowned. The man Syrio Forel had come with an excellent reputation, and his flamboyant Braavosi style was well suited to Arya’s slender blade, yet still … a few days ago, she had been wandering around with a swatch of black silk tied over her eyes. Syrio was teaching her to see with her ears and her nose and her skin, she told him. Before that, he had her doing spins and back flips. “Arya, are you certain you want to persist in this?”

She nodded. “Tomorrow we’re going to catch cats.”


Summary – Arya III
The chapter opens with Arya doing just this – chasing cats. It’s evidently been a few days since she first made this revelation to her father, as she’s managed to catch nearly all of the wild cats in the Red Keep, and is now on the hunt for the wildest one of them all, a vicious “one eared black tom.”

Arya padded down the alley, balanced lightly on the balls of her bare feet, listening to the flutter of her heart, breathing slow deep breaths. Quiet as a shadow, she told herself, light as a feather. The tomcat watched her come, his eyes wary.


It’s not a leisurely exercise. Arya’s hands and knees are scratched and bruised, and her clothing is torn and dirty. When she went to Syrio Forel with bleeding hands, his only advice is for her to move quicker, whilst he dabs her wounds with Myrish fire, a substance that burnt so badly she felt like screaming. Arya takes heed though, and has managed to bring all the cats back to Syrio, except the black tom. One of the gold cloaks tells her:

“That’s the real king of this castle right there, older than sin and twice as mean... One time the king was feasting the queen’s father, and that black bastard hopped up on the table and snatched a roast quail right out of Lord Tywin’s fingers. Robert laughed so hard he like to burst. You stay away from that one, child.”


Of course, this doesn’t deter Arya, and she manages to corner the cat and make a successful capture:

When she was three steps away from him, the tomcat bolted. Left, then right, he went; and right, then left, went Arya, cutting off his escape. He hissed again and tried to dart between her legs. Quick as a snake, she thought. Her hands closed around him. She hugged him to her chest, whirling and laughing as his claws raked at her leather jerkin. Ever so fast she kissed him right between the eyes, and jerked her head back an instant before his claws would have found her face. The tomcat yowled and spit.


Arya’s moment of triumph is interrupted by the appearance of the royal children, Tommen and Myrcella with their septa and two Lannister house guards. The cat seizes the chance to escape and Arya – mistaken for a boy and not wanting to scandalize her family due to her ragged appearance– also decides to flee. She manages to evade both the Septa and the gold cloaks, repeating Syrio’s maxims in her head as she does so:

As Godwyn reached for her, Arya moved. Quick as a snake. She leaned to her left, letting his fingers brush her arm, spinning around him. Smooth as summer silk. By the time he got himself turned, she was sprinting down the alley. Swift as a deer.


Her flight leads her into an unknown part of the castle, and she is initially terrified by the huge shapes she sees in the darkness, but soon manages to conquer the fear she feels. She tells herself that it’s only a skull and can’t hurt her, but then feels as though the large teeth of the monster are digging into her shoulder and sets off running again. This time she comes upon a deep shaft and discerns two men approaching out of the well, talking with one another.

Arya peered over the edge and felt the cold black breath on her face. Far below, she saw the light of a single candle. Two men, she made out. Their shadows writhed against the two sides of the well, tall as giants. She could hear their voices, echoing up the shaft.

She can only hear snatches of the conversation at first until they come into focus. One man is “grossly fat” with fingers adorned by jewels and an accent from the Free Cities. The other is stout, with a round scarred face, dressed in mail over boiled leather. Arya thinks there is something familiar about him.

If one Hand can die, why not a second?” replied the man with the accent and the forked beard. “You have danced this dance before, my friend.”
“Before is not now, and this Hand is not the other,” the scarred man said as they stepped out into the Hall…


Arya follows the two men as their conversation continues, until they get out of earshot and she crawls for a long time, ending up at the mouth of a sewer. Bathing in a river to clean herself, she makes her way back to the Red Keep, asserts that she’s the hand’s daughter to the incredulous guards at the gate, and is finally admitted to see her father. Ned tells her he had half the Stark guard out looking for her, but Arya is anxious to let her father know what she overheard:

“I didn’t go out the gates,” she blurted. “Well I didn’t mean to. I was down in the dungeons, only they turned into this tunnel. It was all dark, and I didn’t have a torch or a candle to see by, so I had to follow. I couldn’t go back the way I came on account of the monsters. Father, they were talking about killing you! Not the monsters, the two men. They didn’t see me, I was being still as stone and quiet as a shadow, but I heard them. They said you had a book and a bastard and if one Hand could die, why not a second? Is that the book? Jon’s the bastard, I bet.”


Ned, however, doesn’t credit Arya’s story as anything more than a childish error, and they are soon interrupted by Yoren, who arrives to request men for the Watch and with serious news for the Hand about his wife’s activities. Arya is dismissed by her father and the chapter ends with one of the Stark guards reassuring her that wizards die the same as any other man, “once you cut their heads off.”

#193 brashcandy

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 04:24 PM

Analysis

Character Development:

Finding purpose: this is the main theme that emerged from Arya’s third POV and it’s supported by what we see in the two Ned chapters outlined above. Arya has found an activity that she truly loves, and a teacher who knows exactly how to keep her interest and motivate her to do better. She’s no longer comparing herself to Sansa and coming up short, but relishing in the bruises on her body, which reflect the hard work and commitment she’s putting into her training, and the progress she’s making. Instead of despairing over not being able to live up to the ideals of ladyhood, Arya is now displaying real confidence in her deviation from society’s norms and can easily assert when her father tells her that she’ll marry a lord and run his castle, that this is a future for Sansa, not for herself. I think her attempt to balance on one leg is a nice metaphor for her finally finding balance via Syrio’s influence and training. Syrio does not make an appearance in the chapter, but his words are constantly in Arya’s head, serving to guide her actions and give her courage to face her fears.

A different kind of running: Arya is still running and fleeing in this chapter, but more importantly, it’s no longer in blind panic or despair. Now she’s doing it with skill and impressive precision evading not only another stereotypical septa, but two Lannister gold cloaks; there's personal and political significance here. Further, she actually thinks of not wanting to scandalize Septa Mordane or Sansa, a concern enabled by her finally feeling secure in herself and her abilities. Her conversation with Sansa earlier at the tourney feast where she shows off her bruises and Sansa expresses the wish that she had been at the tourney strongly indicates that the sisters could enjoy a close relationship, not built on their similarities, but on mutual respect for their differences.

A child’s game vs. the game of thrones: Arya’s attempts to warn her father here are ultimately ineffectual. She’s caught between her inability to properly articulate what she has seen and heard, and her awareness of the danger developing around her. It’s the quintessential burden of children, and Ned ignores her to his peril. Eventually, both games will collide, and the age of innocence for Sansa and Arya will be over.

Foreshadowing/Symbolism:

Catching Cats or Cat’s catching: Arya’s temporary hold on the cat that’s widely considered to have been Rhaenys’s kitten, Balerion, could foreshadow her own mother’s temporary hold on Tyrion, the news of which reaches KL in this chapter. The guard’s story of the how the cat once snatched a roasted quail out of Tywin’s Lannister’s fingers at dinner is meant almost certainly to symbolize Catelyn’s arrest of Tyrion at the Crossroads Inn. Arya’s escape from the Lannister guards could also foreshadow her escape when they come to get her during the palace coup. Of note: Syrio plays an indirect and direct role in helping her both times.

“Tall as giants”: such is the comparison used to describe the shadows of Varys and Illyrio, as they seem to emerge from the very pits of the earth to discuss the developing conflict between the Starks and Lannisters. It’s a fitting description given their behind the scenes machinations, and with Illyrio’s forked beard, and Varys’s soundless steps, their duplicity and treachery are foregrounded. Are we witnessing just mere mummers and tricksters here, or devils themselves?

In the godswood: Again we have Arya associated with the moon; Sansa falls asleep just as the moon rises, whilst Arya doesn’t until much later. Ned stays up the entire night, and in the morning dragon’s breath surrounds the girls. Looking forward to hearing the thoughts on this!

Training: A lot of Arya’s training with Syrio foreshadows her eventual apprenticeship with the Faceless Men. It’s also interesting that she is the one to witness the mummery of Varys and his affiliation with the foreign Illyrio, considering again her later residence in the Free Cities and the role she’s taking on as a covert assassin.

Gender:

What other people see: Many people mistake Arya for a boy in this chapter: Myrcella and Tommen along with their septa, the Lannister guards and Yoren. It highlights two things: one is the artificiality of gender and the other is Arya’s successful ability to pass as a boy which will help to save her life in the future. Simply by “looking” like a boy, Arya can perform as a boy, and the only thing stopping her from being a King’s councilor or commanding a ship, or becoming High Steward, is the societal expectations concerning how women should behave and the roles they are able to fulfill vs. those of their male counterparts.

What Arya knows: From her very first chapter, Arya is aware that she is not cut out to be a lady; she cannot sew as well as Sansa, she doesn’t like to learn her lessons on heraldry and courtesy and she’s more interested in “boy stuff” like sword fighting, asserting to Jon at Winterfell that she could do better than Bran when the boys are training in the yard. Arya doesn’t aspire to the traditionally feminine pursuits of her time, but it’s not until this chapter that we sense that she’s finally ok with that. Is this something Ned would have eventually accepted? He can appreciate the tragedy of Bran’s fall which prevents him becoming a knight or running with his wolf, but would he in turn view it as a tragedy if Arya chose an unconventional path in life? He seems to think it’s something she will eventually grow out of, but he also seems to be slowly recognizing that this is what makes her happy.

Edited by brashcandy, 12 November 2012 - 05:12 PM.


#194 Lummel

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 04:48 PM

A quail is of course a little bird. I seem to remember that somebody else is always talking about one of those /wink.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=';)' />

The dragons create an odd link with Tyrion who went down to see the dragon skulls too. In a sense the dragon skulls which were the foundation of Targaryen power suggest to me that everything above that basement room is a kind of mummery, a game that has forgotten the true basis of political power.

#195 Daenerys is my queen

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 04:55 PM

Analysis

Character Development:

Finding purpose: this is the main theme that emerged from Arya’s third POV and it’s supported by what we see in the two Ned chapters outlined above. Arya has found an activity that she truly loves, and a teacher who knows exactly how to keep her interest and motivate her to do better. She’s no longer comparing herself to Sansa and coming up short, but relishing in the bruises on her body, which reflect the hard work and commitment she’s putting into her training, and the progress she’s making. Instead of despairing over not being able to live up to the ideals of ladyhood, Arya is now displaying real confidence in her deviation from society’s norms and can easily assert when her father tells her that she’ll marry a lord and run his castle, that this is a future for Sansa, not for herself. I think her attempt to balance on one leg is a nice metaphor for her finally finding balance via Syrio’s influence and training. Syrio does not make an appearance in the chapter, but his words are constantly in Arya’s head, serving to guide her actions and give her courage to face her fears.

A different kind of running: Arya is still running and fleeing in this chapter, but more importantly, it’s no longer in blind panic or despair. Now she’s doing it with skill and impressive precision evading not only another stereotypical septa, but two Lannister gold cloaks; there's personal and political significance here. Further, she actually thinks of not wanting to scandalize Septa Mordane or Sansa, a concern enabled by her finally feeling secure in herself and her abilities. Her conversation with Sansa earlier at the tourney feast where she shows off her bruises and Sansa expresses the wish that she had been at the tourney strongly indicates that the sisters could enjoy a close relationship, not built on their similarities, but on mutual respect for their differences.

A child’s game vs. the game of thrones: Arya’s attempts to warn her father here are ultimately ineffectual. She’s caught between her inability to properly articulate what she has seen and heard, and her awareness of the danger developing around her. It’s the quintessential burden of children, and Ned ignores her to his peril. Eventually, both games will collide, and the age of innocence for Sansa and Arya will be over.

Foreshadowing/Symbolism:

Catching Cats or Cat’s catching: Arya’s temporary hold on the cat that’s widely considered to have been Rhaenys’s kitten, Balerion, could foreshadow her own mother’s temporary hold on Tyrion, the news of which reaches KL in this chapter. The guard’s story of the how the cat once snatched a roasted quail out of Tywin’s Lannister’s fingers at dinner is meant almost certainly to symbolize Catelyn’s arrest of Tyrion at the Crossroads Inn. Arya’s escape from the Lannister guards could also foreshadow her escape when they come to get her during the palace coup. Of note: Syrio plays an indirect and direct role in helping her both times.

“Tall as giants”: such is the comparison used to describe the shadows of Varys and Illyrio, as they seem to emerge from the very pits of the earth to discuss the developing conflict between the Starks and Lannisters. It’s a fitting description given their behind the scenes machinations, and with Illyrio’s forked beard, and Varys’s soundless steps, their duplicity and treachery are foregrounded. Are we witnessing just mere mummers and tricksters here, or devils themselves?

In the godswood: Again we have Arya associated with the moon; Sansa falls asleep just as the moon rises, whilst Arya doesn’t until much later. Ned stays up the entire night, and in the morning dragon’s breath surrounds the girls. Looking forward to hearing the thoughts on this!

Training: A lot of Arya’s training with Syrio foreshadows her eventual apprenticeship with the Faceless Men. It’s also interesting that she is the one to witness the mummery of Varys and his affiliation with the foreign Illyrio, considering again her later residence in the Free Cities and the role she’s taking on as a covert assassin.

Gender:

What other people see: Many people mistake Arya for a boy in this chapter: Myrcella and Tommen along with their septa, the Lannister guards and Yoren. It highlights two things: one is the artificiality of gender and the other is Arya’s successful ability to pass as a boy which will help to save her life in the future. Simply by “looking” like a boy, Arya can perform as a boy, and the only thing stopping her from being a King’s councilor or commanding a ship, or becoming High Steward, is the societal expectations concerning how women should behave and the roles they are able to fulfill vs. those of their male counterparts.

What Arya knows: From her very first chapter, Arya is aware that she is not cut out to be a lady; she cannot sew as well as Sansa, she doesn’t like to learn her lessons on heraldry and courtesy and she’s more interested in “boy stuff” like sword fighting, asserting to Jon at Winterfell that she could do better than Bran when the boys are training in the yard. Arya doesn’t aspire to the traditionally feminine pursuits of her time, but it’s not until this chapter that we sense that she’s finally ok with that. Is this something Ned would have eventually accepted? He can feel appreciate the tragedy of Bran’s fall which prevents him becoming a knight or running with his wolf, but would he in turn view it as a tragedy if Arya chose an unconventional path in life? He seems to think it’s something she will eventually grow out of, but he also seems to be slowly recognizing that this is what makes her happy.

If only Ned had listened to Arya.....
I thought it was strange that he didn't since Ned seems to know his children very well and Arya IMO isn't the type to make up crazy stories. Maybe she didn't express herself very well but I still think Ned should have listened to her and maybe asked her about it later when she could maybe express herself better.

I definitely think that Ned would have eventually been fine with Arya doing something unconventional for women in Westeros. He would have realized that it was what she was good at and what made her happy. He loves Arya so of course he wants her to be happy. I think he would have tried to make her a lady for a while but in the end would realize that she's not suited for it and let her do what she wanted to do. He would have supported her in whatever career she chose to do in the future. Sadly, he didn't live long enough to do any of those things. /crying.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':crying:' />

#196 Ragnorak

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 06:23 PM

It is widely suspected that Bloodraven is warging the old black cat which, if true, adds a great deal to the symbolism.

Here is Arya surrounded by the dragon skulls compared to Tyrion recalling the Godswood in Winterfell.

She could feel its empty eyes watching her through the gloom, and there was something in that dim, cavernous room that did not love her.

The Lord of Winterfell would always be a Stark.
He remembered their godswood; the tall sentinels armored in their grey-green needles, the great oaks, the hawthorn and ash and soldier pines, and at the center the heart tree standing like some pale giant frozen in time. He could almost smell the place, earthy and brooding, the smell of centuries, and he remembered how dark the wood had been even by day. That wood was Winterfell. It was the north. I never felt so out of place as I did when I walked there, so much an unwelcome intruder. He wondered if the Greyjoys would feel it too. The castle might well be theirs, but never that godswood. Not in a year, or ten, or fifty.


Tyrion felt no such lack of love with the dragon skulls.

He had expected to find them impressive, perhaps even frightening. He had not thought to find them beautiful. Yet they were. As black as onyx, polished smooth, so the bone seemed to shimmer in the light of his torch. They liked the fire, he sensed. He’d thrust the torch into the mouth of one of the larger skulls and made the shadows leap and dance on the wall behind him. The teeth were long, curving knives of black diamond. The flame of the torch was nothing to them; they had bathed in the heat of far greater fires. When he had moved away, Tyrion could have sworn that the beast’s empty eye sockets had watched him go.


It ties in with Lummel's observation about the foundation of power. Both are dark and shadowy indifferent to the outside light.

ETA
The scene with Varys and Illyrio coming out of the well is a bit like Bran's chapter when Sam and Gilly come out of the well at the Nightfort. Other than the possible Bloodraven connection to both incidents I can't think of any deeper meaning between them.

Edited by Ragnorak, 12 November 2012 - 06:54 PM.


#197 The Sleeper

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 07:35 PM

I found it kind of interesting that she exchanges places with the cat and becomes the hunted instead. Unlike the cat Arya evades her captors easily, but finds herself lost in a dark place, with dragons no less, and then stumbles on the conspirators. A precursor of her later course in the series perhaps?

Also, this chapter is also a demonstration of the skills she uses later in the series to survive. Thinking on her feet, she adopts a disguise for the first time, anticipates her pursuers actions ino order to flee, kisses the floor allowing no chance for Illyrio and Varys to detect her and makes her way through a maze in complete darkness having the presence of mind to make a logical conclusion.

I couldn't help but notice that she recognized Illyrio as a water dancer at a glance. Any chance she might remember him should they again cross paths?

#198 Ragnorak

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 08:34 PM

Syrio's lessons aren't just foreshadowing they're the beginnings of the very same lessons. Arya will be blinded by the FM as part of her training but Syrio has already had her practicing blindfolded. I was struck by how similar this is to her overall journey and how much her life has prepared her for that journey. She is in the guise of a boy to hide her true identity from the Lannisters just as she will be to escape KL. She travels wishing Nymeria were with her, crosses the water and then strips naked under the moon, reclaims her clothes and goes home but first she must establish her identity. Her time spent with the smallfolk in Winterfell and on the road has prepared her for hiding in Fleabottom as well as her time as a servant in Harrenhal. Sansa's time is a rather similar preparation. She maintains her courtesy armor in the face of her fear of the Hound. Even the death at the Tourney is essentially practice. She maintains her composure thinking he is nothing to her. She will watch Ned die and then learn of Robb and Cat's deaths. Both girls time in KL is preparation for their respective jourenys.

Arya thinks there is something familiar about Varys but she can't place it. This is an instinct for the "seeing" that Syrio will teach her and also shows an aptitude for the lying game. Shae also sees through Varys's disguise. Are there any others? I suspect Arya's willful rejection and strived for ignorance of societal roles and norms is a factor here. She has rejected the trappings that make up such disguises and pays attention to the actual people.

It is a shame Ned didn't listen to Arya, but I suspect the news that Yoren brought had much to do with that. Ned could have put a good deal together if he had made the connection.

The fat one said the princess was with child.


The very next chapter opens

Robert, I beg of you,” Ned pleaded, “hear what you are saying. You are talking of murdering a child.”
The whore is pregnant!


I think brashcandy has it right regarding Arya's greater acceptance of her role.

Smooth as summer silk.
You don’t wear skirts and silks when you’re catching cats.

We have a ladylike reference to her escape mixed in with all the other Syrioisms. Not wearing skirts and silks while catching cats somewhat implies an acceptance of that wardrobe while not catching cats.

This choice of simile is quite interesting

Panic gripped her throat like a giant’s hand. Arya could not have spoken if her life had hung on it. Calm as still water, she mouthed silently.



#199 Fire Eater

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 10:49 PM

"It's dead," she said aloud. "It's just a skull, it can't hurt me."


She is frightened by skulls this time, but when she meets the KM in the House of Black and White, and he wears a visage of a skull to test her she kisses the skull and tries to eat the maggot in his eye.

Sometimes she would hear her father's voice, but always from a long way off, and no matter how hard she ran after it, it would grow fainter and fainter, until it faded to nothing and Arya was alone in the dark


This foreshadows Arya trying to journey back to Winterfell and her family, but her attempts prove futile as the distance only increases until it appears almost her entire family is no more, and she is left alone in a dark place both literally and figuratively.

ETA
The scene with Varys and Illyrio coming out of the well is a bit like Bran's chapter when Sam and Gilly come out of the well at the Nightfort. Other than the possible Bloodraven connection to both incidents I can't think of any deeper meaning between them.


The bottom of the well in Bran's POV is connected to the magic of ice and wood with the Black Gate; could the well Varys and Illyrio come out of be connected the magic of fire and blood, like a gate akin to the gates of hell? "dark as the steps to hell that Old Nan used to tell them of."

To continue with the devil comparisons, the devil (evil) is said to take many forms like Varys, but the devil is most well-know for taking the appearance of innocuousness. .

Edited by Fire Eater, 12 November 2012 - 11:26 PM.


#200 Lyanna Stark

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 02:22 AM

Did anyone notice that the colour black seems to be a theme? The chapter starts with the black tomcat, Arya travels through the pitch black darkness and it ends with a black brother.

Finding purpose: this is the main theme that emerged from Arya’s third POV and it’s supported by what we see in the two Ned chapters outlined above. Arya has found an activity that she truly loves, and a teacher who knows exactly how to keep her interest and motivate her to do better. She’s no longer comparing herself to Sansa and coming up short, but relishing in the bruises on her body, which reflect the hard work and commitment she’s putting into her training, and the progress she’s making. Instead of despairing over not being able to live up to the ideals of ladyhood, Arya is now displaying real confidence in her deviation from society’s norms and can easily assert when her father tells her that she’ll marry a lord and run his castle, that this is a future for Sansa, not for herself. I think her attempt to balance on one leg is a nice metaphor for her finally finding balance via Syrio’s influence and training. Syrio does not make an appearance in the chapter, but his words are constantly in Arya’s head, serving to guide her actions and give her courage to face her fears.


This is spot on, I think, and a great difference to earlier chapters. Before we had Arya squarely in the role of the outsider. She didn't fit in and wasn't comfortable in her role.
After starting to train though, it really seems as she has found her role, her dedication, and in doing so she is less of an outsider in the Stark camp. She has an easier time to get along with her father and sister, she even considers Septa Mordane being mortified if she was found out! and we also see her far more friendly with the Winterfell guards. In Arya II she didn't want to talk to them at all, but in this chapter we see a proverbial torrent of words with Desmond. It's really a big change in Arya and how she experiences her situation.


I wonder about the symbolism with Tywin and the black tom stealing his capon. There's the stealing of a bird from Lannister clutches which could be a hint to Sansa, but the black cat is probably Balerion, Rhaenys' kitten, which seems to indicate that the Targaryens will eventually triumph over Tywin and what he tried to achieve (eradicate their line by murdering Rhaenys and Aegon).


EDIT: eep quail, not capon, Lummel has properly chastised me /tongue.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':P' />

Edited by Lyanna Stark, 13 November 2012 - 07:08 AM.