Seams

Direwolves Don't Cry: A Direwolves Reread II - ACoK

121 posts in this topic

Wonderful analysis, Seams, as always, and, ravenous reader, great observations!

On 2016. 08. 11. at 1:29 PM, Seams said:

Arya III

Arya has a direct wolf encounter that requires her to rethink her feelings about wolves: when she needs to urinate, Hot Pie warns her not to go far from the camp because he has heard wolves nearby. Arya pretends to heed his advice but sneaks off anyway. At a vulnerable moment, she is approached by twelve “eyes shining out from the wood,” and one wolf that comes close enough to bare his teeth at her. “[A]ll she could think about was how stupid she’d been and how Hot Pie would gloat when they found her half-eaten body the next morning. But the wolf turned and raced back into the darkness, and quick as that the eyes were gone.”

The eyes from the wood sound like an allusion to a weirwood tree, with its carved face. If so, is this a point of contact with Bran? If so, why would there be twelve eyes?

I have wondered since I first read this chapter whether this is an encounter with Nymeria and some of her new pack. Arya thinks Nymeria wouldn't know her any more, and I don't think it's true, but she may have become wild and free enough to be unable to go back to her former "pet" status. She nevertheless may "keep an eye" (or more) on Arya to check whether she is safe while she is out there. 

This is just an idea though, and it would mean that it's Arya who "doesn't know" Nymeria any more, who doesn't know her own wolf self any more perhaps. It is entirely possible that Arya would recognize Nymeria though and that this is just an encounter with ordinary wolves.

What gave me pause was perhaps the fact that those wolves (twelve eyes must mean six wolves) look at Arya but do not attack her. This seems quite unbelievable - unless there is something special about either Arya or the wolves. By the way, the twelve eyes are interesting as a possible allusion, too. There are six wolves around Arya, which is exactly the same number of wolves the Stark children were given at the beginning of AGoT.  Of course, these will be different wolves, but it's still a remarkable coincidence, which further makes me wonder about Nymeria - and even about the Old Gods, watching.

Quote

Yoren’s choice of phrasing – “wolves . . . [that] wear manskin” – is interesting. We know that the Boltons of ancient times wore “wolf” skin when they would flay Starks and turn their skin into cloaks. This is the only mention I can recall of wolves wearing manskin. What does Yoren know of warging, and can it – literally or figuratively – work in reverse, with the wolf entering the human’s mind?

Yes, and the "manskin wolves" can be a barely veiled reference to the wolf army (i.e. Robb's army) led by Roose Bolton, whose traces Yoren may notice. We will see that wolves and lions can be equally devastating, and the army led by Roose Bolton appears to represent the more vicious type of wolves, who prey on the smallfolk the same way as lions do. The "wolf wearing manskin" may mean Roose Bolton, the wolf vassal who wears other men's skins, which evokes the image of flaying (exceptional cruelty against fellow-humans) and also the concept of turncloaks - Roose Bolton will soon cease to be a "wolf", so he won't always wear "wolfskin". (Compare this image to Jon playing the turncloak among the wildlings and wearing the sheepskin cloak received from Mance, which makes him almost literally a wolf in a sheep's clothing.) 

Quote

It’s also interesting here that Arya makes the distinction between direwolves and wolves. The implication is that regular wolves are scary but direwolves are not (to her, at least).

Direwolves are highly intelligent and magical, and they belong to the Starks. Dealing with them does not necessarily prepare you for dealing with the perfectly ordinary, non-magical kind of wolves. 

Quote

Arya wishes she were home at Winterfell, and falls asleep to the sound of the howling wolves and “a whisper on the wind, that might have been screams.” This closing image contrasts with the closing image in Bran I in which Bran, in a “wolf dream,” resents the high walls and the man cave of Winterfell and longs to answer the call of the wide world.

That's an intriguing contrast. Arya is looking for the safety of home, while Bran can't find his place at home any more. 

Quote

Theon I

<snip>

 

 

On 2016. 08. 11. at 7:18 PM, ravenous reader said:

>snip>

 

I tremendously enjoyed the Theon analysis. It just occurred to me that there was a king called Theon Stark, who was known as the Hungry Wolf. Theon Greyjoy in his first POV chapter proves to be very hungry for a lot of things - for success, for glory, for power, for a crown, for acceptance. 

The Damphair apparently reclaims Theon from the "wolf gods" or "Stark gods", but Theon kneels with an ulterior motive instead of true devotion, and he doesn't seem to receive much help from the Watery Halls in return. However, when he prays sincerely in front of the heart tree, he almost immediately receives help. 

ETA: Where can I read more about the theory that Theon is the personification of the sword Ice

Edited by Julia H.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/11/2016 at 7:29 AM, Seams said:

Arya III

Overview

Arya and the others in Yoren’s wagon train travel out of their way to stay away from the Gold Cloaks and marauders. Food shortages affect them and the people of the countryside. Arya continues to hide the fact that she is a girl.

Observations

In Arya I, Sansa I and Bran I, each Stark child was proud to identify as a wolf or direwolf, and drew strength from this self-image. Now Arya is hearing that others see wolves in a different light; that wolves are bad and should be feared. These comments describe real animals as well as Robb Stark’s bannermen or other men.

Analysis

The group comes upon a burned and sacked village where Yoren finds two survivors. Instructing the recruits to create a bed for an injured woman in the back of a wagon, he says, “And be quick about it . . . Come dark, there’ll be wolves here, and worse.”

Arya has a direct wolf encounter that requires her to rethink her feelings about wolves: when she needs to urinate, Hot Pie warns her not to go far from the camp because he has heard wolves nearby. Arya pretends to heed his advice but sneaks off anyway. At a vulnerable moment, she is approached by twelve “eyes shining out from the wood,” and one wolf that comes close enough to bare his teeth at her. “[A]ll she could think about was how stupid she’d been and how Hot Pie would gloat when they found her half-eaten body the next morning. But the wolf turned and raced back into the darkness, and quick as that the eyes were gone.”

The eyes from the wood sound like an allusion to a weirwood tree, with its carved face. If so, is this a point of contact with Bran? If so, why would there be twelve eyes?

Arya tells Yoren that the wolves scared her: 

“Did they?” He spat. “Seems to me your kind was fond o’ wolves.”

“Nymeria was a direwolf.” Arya hugged herself. “That’s different. Anyhow, she’s gone. . . I bet if she’d been in the city, she wouldn’t have let them cut off Father’s head.”

“Orphan boys got no fathers,” Yoren said, “or did you forget that? . . . The only wolves we got to fear are the ones wear manskin, like those who done for that village.”

In this brief exchange, Yoren reminds Arya that she must maintain her disguise as an orphan boy – a no one – and underscores the danger that certain men pose to their traveling group. Although he had earlier warned the recruits that (animal) wolves posed a threat, he seems relatively unconcerned by the fear Arya expresses after her encounter with the real wolves.

Maybe Yoren, being a guy who works closely with the Starks via the NW, knows something about Arya? That she would (and will) survive.

On 8/11/2016 at 7:29 AM, Seams said:

Yoren’s choice of phrasing – “wolves . . . [that] wear manskin” – is interesting. We know that the Boltons of ancient times wore “wolf” skin when they would flay Starks and turn their skin into cloaks. This is the only mention I can recall of wolves wearing manskin. What does Yoren know of warging, and can it – literally or figuratively – work in reverse, with the wolf entering the human’s mind?

It’s also interesting here that Arya makes the distinction between direwolves and wolves. The implication is that regular wolves are scary but direwolves are not (to her, at least).

I think Arya is making the distinction between her blood and reality that is literally looking her in the face. She is learning there is a difference and where she fits.

On 8/11/2016 at 7:29 AM, Seams said:

Arya wishes she were home at Winterfell, and falls asleep to the sound of the howling wolves and “a whisper on the wind, that might have been screams.” This closing image contrasts with the closing image in Bran I in which Bran, in a “wolf dream,” resents the high walls and the man cave of Winterfell and longs to answer the call of the wide world.

 

I don't have my books in front of me (not all of them anyway) but I am curious what the opening scene is from this ending chapter to the open of the next, no matter who the POV is. I have often found connections that way as well. A little unexpected gem that kinda smacks the head around a little. I will check on this later.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Julia H. said:

ETA: Where can I read more about the theory that Theon is the personification of the sword Ice

I never wrote that up as a separate post, just kept throwing it in as comments on other threads. I guess I probably should pull it together and give it its own post. It does seem pretty central to the eventual resolution of several stories.

4 hours ago, The Fattest Leech said:

Maybe Yoren, being a guy who works closely with the Starks via the NW, knows something about Arya? That she would (and will) survive.

I think Arya is making the distinction between her blood and reality that is literally looking her in the face. She is learning there is a difference and where she fits.

I don't have my books in front of me (not all of them anyway) but I am curious what the opening scene is from this ending chapter to the open of the next, no matter who the POV is. I have often found connections that way as well. A little unexpected gem that kinda smacks the head around a little. I will check on this later.

Yoren is one of my favorite underappreciated characters. I think he is an extraordinary mentor for Arya and, to a lesser extent, Gendry. He probably did see Arya's tomboyishness when he was introduced to her in Ned's solar at King's Landing, and realized when he saw her again that she would have the gumption to survive in disguise on the trip north with his wagon train. On the road, he is constantly reminding her to maintain a low profile and not to give in to her emotions. Like Syrio Forel 2.0, maybe. I also see him as maybe Arya's equivalent of Donal Noye in Jon's circle of influence.

Interesting point about the direwolves being part of Arya's blood, while regular wolves are not. So seeing the twelve eyes of the regular wolves is a way of making it clear to her that she is not in the North, not with her family and that wild animals are not going to bond with her. (I have to interject here, "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.") On the other hand, my thought about the wolf walking away instead of attacking her was that it sensed she was a kindred spirit, through some warg radar, and decided not to attack. Sort of a professional courtesy.

My other thought was to wonder if we are supposed to compare this scene where Arya could have been killed while urinating to the scene where Tywin Lannister will be killed while on the toilet. I can't see a lot of parallels, but the two situations have that one major element in common.

I returned the book to the library today, so I can't check the details, but the next chapter is Davos watching the burning of the wooden statues of the Seven on Dragonstone. Maybe it was the faint voices of the distant burning gods that Arya heard screaming in the wind.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jon II

Overview

Jon, as part of Mormont’s ranging group, inspects the abandoned wildling village called Whitetree.

Observations

Direct references to wolves are few in number here again, but the related imagery can tell us indirectly a few things about wolves.

Analysis

Jon’s sword, Longclaw, is with him on this ride. When he tried to desert from the Night’s Watch at the end of AGoT, he deliberately left the Valyrian steel sword on his bed back at Castle Black when he rode south. “The hilt had been fashioned new for him, adorned with a wolf’s head pommel in pale stone.…” On another recent thread, the subject of Stannis’s “glamored” sword, Lightbringer, was raised. I questioned whether Jon’s sword qualifies as “skinchanged” because its hilt and pommel have been changed from a bear to a wolf. Was this sword something else before it was a bear? It was refurbished by Mormont after it was damaged in the same fire that burned Jon’s hand.

The wolf-like sword is described immediately before Jon reaches into the “mouth” of a giant weirwood tree, where he finds two burned skulls. The wolf/tree juxtaposition may be a reminder that Jon’s direwolf, Ghost, has the white/red coloring of the weirwood tree.

The tree has had some dead people burned in its mouth, apparently, unlike the direwolf. Ghost turns up at the end of the chapter with nothing in his mouth, having been unsuccessful in his hunting. Jon and his Night’s Watch brother agree that something has scared off the game. Is there a foreshadowing pun here on “game” and “game”? Will the Game of Thrones finally end one day when something beyond the Wall frightens the game (players) into retreating for their own safety?

Aside: Jon and Sam discuss Sam’s effort to teach the ravens to talk. (Three of them can now say, “Snow.”) Talking ravens that could deliver spoken messages are associated with the era of the First Men or earlier. In Theon I, Theon was accused by his father of being “a well-trained raven” sent by Robb Stark.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I hope this is the best place to ask this. If it isn't please let me know. And apologies for the long post.

I have always wondered about Arya and the meaning of her throwing out her wooden teeth. I will try to explain.

Jon has the ranger Dywen at the wall. Dywen has wooden teeth that clack a lot. Dywen also seems to have some innate, or prophetic, talents such as "smelling the cold" and knowing what that means... the Others. Owen the Oaf takes a liking to Dywen and Owen seems to have some possible prophetic dreams. Dywen is also described as, "His face was leathery and wrinkled, his hands gnarled as old roots," which sounds a little old gods, or Bloodraven, to me, so when Dywen speaks through his wooden teeth, it is almost like an old tree speaking.

  • A Game of Thrones - Jon VII

    "This … this is all wrong," Sam Tarly said earnestly. "The blood … there's bloodstains on their clothes, and … and their flesh, dry and hard, but … there's none on the ground, or … anywhere. With those … those … those …" Sam made himself swallow, took a deep breath. "With those wounds … terrible wounds … there should be blood all over. Shouldn't there?"
    Dywen sucked at his wooden teeth. "Might be they didn't die here. Might be someone brought 'em and left 'em for us. A warning, as like." The old forester peered down suspiciously. "And might be I'm a fool, but I don't know that Othor never had no blue eyes afore."
  • A Clash of Kings - Jon IV

    [Dywen] The forester sucked on his spoon a moment. He had taken out his teeth. His face was leathery and wrinkled, his hands gnarled as old roots. "Seems to me like it smells . . . well . . . cold."
    "Your head's as wooden as your teeth," Hake told him. "There's no smell to cold."
    There is, thought Jon, remembering the night in the Lord Commander's chambers. It smells like death. Suddenly he was not hungry anymore. He gave his stew to Grenn, who looked in need of an extra supper to warm him against the night.
  • A Storm of Swords - Prologue

"Them teeth of yours sound pretty dead," said Hake.
Dywen clacked his wooden teeth. "No wolves neither. There was, before, but no more. Where'd they go, you figure?"
"Someplace warm," said Chett.
 
And we even have a wooden teeth reference in the Dance prologue (and other places), These wooden teeth are what the direwolves think of spears:
  • A Dance with Dragons - Prologue

    Swords, a voice inside him whispered, spears.
    The trees had grown icy teeth, snarling down from the bare brown branches. One Eye ripped through the undergrowth, spraying snow. His packmates followed. Up a hill and down the slope beyond, until the wood opened before them and the men were there. One was female. The fur-wrapped bundle she clutched was her pup. Leave her for last, the voice whispered, the males are the danger. They were roaring at each other as men did, but the warg could smell their terror. One had a wooden tooth as tall as he was. He flung it, but his hand was shaking and the tooth sailed high.
    Then the pack was on them.
  • The Sworn Sword

Come the break of day, Ser Bennis set about teaching their recruits to form a shield wall. He lined the eight of them up shoulder to shoulder, with their shields touching and their spear points poking through like long sharp wooden teeth. Then Dunk and Egg mounted up and charged them.
 
But the real head-scratcher for me is how Arya says she doesn't need her wooden teeth. From what I have read, mostly dream interpretations, wooden teeth and/or throwing your teeth away means death (the spears?) or family betrayal, etc. I am not saying Arya will die, I just want to know the meaning or connection of wooden teeth. I don't know how this fits Arya and request, need and beg you guys' help.
  • A Clash of Kings - Arya X

    For a long moment there was no sound but the wind and the water and the creak of leaf and limb. And then, far far off, beyond the godswood and the haunted towers and the immense stone walls of Harrenhal, from somewhere out in the world, came the long lonely howl of a wolf. Gooseprickles rose on Arya's skin, and for an instant she felt dizzy. Then, so faintly, it seemed as if she heard her father's voice. "When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives," he said.
     
    "But there is no pack," she whispered to the weirwood. Bran and Rickon were dead, the Lannisters had Sansa, Jon had gone to the Wall. "I'm not even me now, I'm Nan."
     
    "You are Arya of Winterfell, daughter of the north. You told me you could be strong. You have the wolf blood in you."
"The wolf blood." Arya remembered now. "I'll be as strong as Robb. I said I would." She took a deep breath, then lifted the broomstick in both hands and brought it down across her knee. It broke with a loud crack, and she threw the pieces aside. I am a direwolf, and done with wooden teeth.
 
That night she lay in her narrow bed upon the scratchy straw, listening to the voices of the living and the dead whisper and argue as she waited for the moon to rise. They were the only voices she trusted anymore. She could hear the sound of her own breath, and the wolves as well, a great pack of them now. They are closer than the one I heard in the godswood, she thought. They are calling to me
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Seams said:

Observations

Direct references to wolves are few in number here again, but the related imagery can tell us indirectly a few things about wolves.

Analysis

The wolf-like sword is described immediately before Jon reaches into the “mouth” of a giant weirwood tree, where he finds two burned skulls. The wolf/tree juxtaposition may be a reminder that Jon’s direwolf, Ghost, has the white/red coloring of the weirwood tree.

The tree has had some dead people burned in its mouth, apparently, unlike the direwolf. Ghost turns up at the end of the chapter with nothing in his mouth, having been unsuccessful in his hunting.

Hi Seams.  :) 

I have enjoyed your analysis as always, and some wonderful additional thoughts from Julia H. and Ravenous Reader.  An excellent thread.

As you suggest, the related imagery can tell us a lot, and I agree the wolf/tree juxtaposition has this weirwood as a reminder/parallel to Jon’s wolf.  Not only was the tree described as monstrous, but the mouth of the tree was described as big enough to ‘swallow a sheep’, which again sounds rather wolfish behaviour.  The bones in the trees mouth were human, and easily explained away by Mormont as the wildlings burn their dead.  But earlier Jon informs us…

‘’those are not sheep bones though.  Nor is that a sheep’s skull in the ashes.’’   

So back to the wolf/tree juxtaposition, I was left with an image of the wolf like tree being ‘a monstrous thing, white skin, red eyes and without a sheep in its mouth.  Formerly, Whitetree was described to us at the beginning of this chapter as…

‘’Not much of a village.  Four tumbledown one-room houses of unmortared stone surrounding an empty sheepfold and a well.’’

If the wildlings kept sheep at Whitetree before they had to flee, then one could expect the odd sheep to be fair ‘game’ for hunting in the area.  The text leans towards that possibility.  So when Ghost returns from his hunt empty handed, he seemed to mirror the tree and my image from earlier.  ‘A monstrous thing, white skin, red eyes and without a sheep in his mouth.’’ So I definitely agree we can link this particular weirwood tree to Ghost using the related imagery.

Secondly, while not as prolific as you, I too have enjoyed studying how George plays with words [your puns thread is very good] and I think he has been playing with the word ghost.  This includes Ghost the direwolf of course, but entails other plays on the word as well.  So not to de-rail this threads line of thinking, here is a brief summary…

  • We have met two characters in the series with the name Ghost.  Jon’s direwolf and the Ghost of High Heart, both albinos and both likened to the weirwood trees in appearance.  I thought there may be a link, the weirwoods do seem rather ghostly at times.

  • Later in ADWD, when Theon is experiencing the ‘haunted’ godswood at Winterfell and the tree speaks to him, he thinks it’s…’’a god’s voice, or a ghosts’’.   After he sees Bran’s face in the tree he thinks it’s ‘’Bran’s ghost.’’  Again, a lot of ghostly goings on around the weirwoods.

  • This culminates with the ghostly presence behind those weirwood eyes [Bran & BR] being able to inhabit the wind and pluck or tug at characters clothing with ‘ghostly fingers/hands etc…

So as you can imagine, I am always on the lookout for such [G]ghostly clues in the text surrounding the trees/wolves/wind.  And this chapter seems to fit the bill.  Having been able to potentially link this weirwood tree to ‘Ghost’, are there any ghostly goings on to be found? 

Well as soon as they approach the tree, they have a conversation about the trees/old gods knowing if you lie in front of them, insinuating they are watching and creating that ghostly feel.  And then a tale of how the Children of the Forest could talk to the dead in years gone by.  Again this is all rather spooky talk…   

‘’Would that bones could talk,’’ the Old Bear grumbled. ‘’This fellow could tell us much.  How he died.  Who burned him, and why.  Where the wildlings have gone.’’  He sighed. ‘’The Children of the Forest could speak to the dead, it’s said.  But I can’t.’’

So to conclude, I see – a parallel between the tree and Ghost, as you noted – and then an exploration into some ghostly truths about the trees and their worshipers, the CotF.  All potentially off the back of this ghost/tree connection, Jon’s wolf Ghost in particular in this chapter.  This adds to my hunch that we are supposed to link this all together.  Ghost – weirwood trees – ghostly goings on around said trees.

Anyway, with all this talk of Ghost and ghosts, I’ll leave you with Dolorous Edd’s take on this whole ghostly ‘talk to the dead’ episode.

‘’Bad enough when the dead come walking, now the Old Bear wants them talking as well?  No good will come of that, I’ll warrant.  And who’s to say the bones wouldn’t lie?  Why should death make a man truthful, or even clever?  The dead are likely dull fellows, full of tedious complaints-the ground’s too cold, my gravestone should be larger, why does ‘he’ get more worms than I do…’’

Always worth a little Edd commentary.  :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On August 11, 2016 at 4:29 AM, Seams said:

It’s also interesting here that Arya makes the distinction between direwolves and wolves. The implication is that regular wolves are scary but direwolves are not (to her, at least).

Stark forces are called wolves, but the Starks themselves are direwolves.  Meanwhile there is no such distinction between the Lannisters and their forces.  We are repeatedly hit with the idea the wolves can be as bad as lions, but the Starks themselves don't commit the atrocities that their "wolves" do and will punish the "wolves" who step out of line.  Tywin doesn't.  In fact he orders the atrocities.  So it seems fitting that a direwolf/wolf distinction exists between the Starks and their bannerman while Lannisters and their bannermen alike are deemed "lions."  

Similarities between Arya's encountering wolves while on a bathroom break with happens to Tywin on the privy... Well I think the similarities at the macro level highlight the differences in the details.  Arya realizes she is acting foolishly, so she stops herself and lives.  Tywin doesn't change his behavior, so the lion kills him.

Back to Arya, I think this encounter with real wolves foreshadows the reality call she will receive when she encounters Stark bannermen, and her disappointment in them may be a factor in why she chooses to join the Faceless Men.

I also like how a real Arya surrounded by real wolves at the beginning of ACOK gets bookended with a false Arya surrounded by false wolves at the end of ASOS and throughout ADWD.   

      

On August 11, 2016 at 10:18 AM, ravenous reader said:

  

I'm wondering if Theon himself has a certain latent First Men aptitude for green-dreaming-seeing.  In order to be 'reached' by a greenseer, surely one has to have a certain reciprocal susceptibility which would imply that one is 'on the same wavelength'?  If not, how would one understand what was being communicated?  

 

I definitely think Theon is among those (such as Jaime and Sam) that the olds gods reach out to.  As for him having a latent green-dreaming-seeing ability...

Spoiler

There are hints that Euron has such a connection, so I think it's possible Theon might have it too.  After reading AFFC and ADWD I thought Euron and Bloodraven had a Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi type relationship, and I think more people are thinking along the same lines after GRRM read The Foresaken.  I wonder if being a "Crow's Eye" is some sort of position that Euron corrupted, and perhaps Theon will become what Euron didn't --a true Crow's Eye.       

 

On August 12, 2016 at 6:31 PM, Seams said:

In my original chapter analysis of Theon I, I should have also included this excerpt in which Theon compares the name of his sister's ship to the name of Robb's wolf:

Theon did not need to be told that Black Wind was Asha's longship. He had not seen his sister in ten years, but that much he knew of her. Odd that she would call it that, when Robb Stark had a wolf named Grey Wind. "Stark is grey and Greyjoy's black," he murmured, smiling, "but it seems we're both windy."

So Robb had been rumored to ride his Grey Wind into battle, and Asha really does ride her Black Wind into battle. Theon does seem to be making explicit here that the Greyjoys and Starks are variations on the same theme; two sides of the same coin. Your Farwynds connection may further strengthen the point.

Of course, there are the other wind references we have noted in the past, with Steffon Baratheon dying on the Windproud and Dany thanking Drogo for giving her the wind when he present her with her beautiful horse, among other winds. I wonder whether the color scheme with grey and black part of a group in Theon's mind is another cyvasse allusion, with Theon and Asha and the Starks ultimately playing on the same side. The other winds might be on the white team for the big cyvasse game that is Westeros. Hmm. Yet another thought: I think ships and boats are supposed to be compared to eggs (along with barrels, pies containing birds, etc.). Is Asha's Black Wind supposed to be compared with Dany's black dragon that hatches from a black egg? Maybe we'll know more about the wind metaphor when the windy new book arrives.

Compared to other houses the Greyjoys don't seem as invested in their sigil.  It seems more analogous to compare their ships to the direwolves rather than comparing krakens to direwolves, and the names Asha and Theon choose for their ships are just as telling.  Like Robb, Asha includes a family color in her name.  Though Robb only includes a Stark color for his direwolf's name while Asha chooses a color her maternal and paternal families share.  Also if "Words are wind" as many other characters say then the names Grey Wind and Black Wind may symbolize the importance Robb and Asha's words will have on the story.      

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow! Lots of juicy comments. Here are some of my thoughts in response:

22 hours ago, The Fattest Leech said:

I have always wondered about Arya and the meaning of her throwing out her wooden teeth.

 
"But there is no pack," she whispered to the weirwood. Bran and Rickon were dead, the Lannisters had Sansa, Jon had gone to the Wall. "I'm not even me now, I'm Nan."
 
"You are Arya of Winterfell, daughter of the north. You told me you could be strong. You have the wolf blood in you."
"The wolf blood." Arya remembered now. "I'll be as strong as Robb. I said I would." She took a deep breath, then lifted the broomstick in both hands and brought it down across her knee. It broke with a loud crack, and she threw the pieces aside. I am a direwolf, and done with wooden teeth.
 
That night she lay in her narrow bed upon the scratchy straw, listening to the voices of the living and the dead whisper and argue as she waited for the moon to rise. They were the only voices she trusted anymore. She could hear the sound of her own breath, and the wolves as well, a great pack of them now. They are closer than the one I heard in the godswood, she thought. They are calling to me
 

I've been trying to make mental notes on teeth descriptions, to see if I could come up with a clear explanation. I do think they often refer to weapons in some way, but that doesn't narrow things down much because there are so many weapons and symbolic weapons in the series. They might also tell us something about the person's origins and undisguised identity: beards and dyed hair don't cover teeth. Also, archaeologists use teeth to figure out where a person came from, their social status, diet, age, etc. Maybe GRRM uses them in a similar way to give us hints about characters. We know that bones have magical properties in ASOIAF, maybe teeth are part of that magic.

Unfortunately, I think we would need even more examples than the excellent ones you provide to get a clear idea of what it means when Arya throws away her wooden teeth.

  • For one thing, she continues to use the wooden sword that Serio Forel gives her, and carries it until it is taken from her when she is a captive at Harrenhal. So does she really give up "wooden teeth" altogether?
  • The Stark boys use wooden swords for their lessons at Winterfell, and there is a big conflict when Joffrey arrives with his iron sword, Lion's Tooth. He makes fun of the Starks with their wooden swords. So Arya is obviously part of team Stark and that contrasting use of weapons. Since the Starks are associated with tree gods, the wooden swords are probably part of that context. But are the Stark boys' wooden weapons ever referred to as wooden teeth? If not, why is Arya the only one?
  • Do we see anyone else using a wooden weapon? You note that spears are associated with the wooden teeth symbolism. Serio Forel uses one when he holds off the gold cloaks who come to take Arya away. Is Brienne's sword in the bear pit at Harrenhal wooden, or just blunt? I know that Tommen has a practice sword with a blade shaped like a leaf on Joffrey's name day.
  • There are so many other references to real teeth that might help shed light on the wooden teeth: Biter's teeth have been filed to points. There is a toothless old man who dies on the long march to Harrenhal, I think. People who chew sourleaf have red teeth and "red smiles." The other day, I noticed that Cersei makes a big point of appreciating the beautiful teeth of the Blue Bard, one of the men she arranges to frame Margaery for infidelity. Since the Blue Bard is almost certainly someone else in disguise, the perfect teeth are probably an important clue.
  • For what it's worth, in the U.S. it is a favorite footnote in our history that founding father George Washington had wooden teeth. I don't know if GRRM would use this as a hint to tell us that Arya will one day be in a founding role for a new nation.

Having said all that, I will suggest one interpretation of the passage you cite. The "loud crack" of Arya breaking her sword over he knee recalls the loud crack of Dany's dragons hatching and the loud crack of the mast breaking on the Selaesori Qhoran ship (witnessed by Tyrion) during the storm at sea. These are all rebirth scenes, with the character shedding an old identity and taking on a new one.

19 hours ago, Wizz-The-Smith said:

As you suggest, the related imagery can tell us a lot, and I agree the wolf/tree juxtaposition has this weirwood as a reminder/parallel to Jon’s wolf.  Not only was the tree described as monstrous, but the mouth of the tree was described as big enough to ‘swallow a sheep’, which again sounds rather wolfish behaviour.  The bones in the trees mouth were human, and easily explained away by Mormont as the wildlings burn their dead.  …

...George plays with words [your puns thread is very good] and I think he has been playing with the word ghost.  

So as you can imagine, I am always on the lookout for such [G]ghostly clues in the text surrounding the trees/wolves/wind.  And this chapter seems to fit the bill.  Having been able to potentially link this weirwood tree to ‘Ghost’, are there any ghostly goings on to be found? 

Ghost – weirwood trees – ghostly goings on around said trees.

I'm glad you brought the sheep back into this - the human bones and sheep bones have to be examined together to make sense of this chapter, I think. To me, the human bones in the tree and the references to sheep are a reminder of Dany's dragons eating sheep until, one day, Drogon eats a shepherd child. The Lamb Men are often passive victims of Dothraki violence and we also see that in the sheep as regular victims of dragons. (And direwolves? Are there other scenes where we see direwolves eating sheep?) In her vision of the wolf-headed king on a throne, Dany sees the king holding a leg of mutton. I've assumed that sheep and lambs represent the small folk who are victims of war and of the endless "Game of Thrones" being played by the high-born with their various types of claws. It's interesting to try to puzzle out the specifics of this scene with the white tree and the direwolf with that in mind. Do the two skulls in the tree symbolize specific people? The two miller's boys who will be victims of Ramsay Snow?

The ghost examples you cited were good but I think there are dozens of other ghosts who are not directly identified as such. For instance, Ser Garlan Tyrell wears King Renly's armor at the Battle of the Blackwater to inspire his former bannermen as they fight against Stannis. I think Ser Garlan continues to represent the ghost of Renly when we see him again at Joffrey's wedding feast. It's probably not skinchanging, per se, but more of a literary symbolic Renly that speaks to Tyrion and to the reader via Ser Garlan. I can't wait to see Ser Garlan again to try to get more evidence of Renly's ghostly presence. (I also found a hint the Grey Wind might be a ghostly presence at Joffrey's wedding feast, but it's kind of an obscure possibility. Joffrey said he wanted Robb Stark's traitorous head, and that he was going to make Sansa eat it. Maybe his wish will be granted, in part, in a symbolic way.)

And there are rumored ghosts at Harrenhal and the Night Fort. Arya claims to be the ghost of Harrenhal at one point.

After I had written up the chapter summary with the white tree and the direwolf Ghost, I had a breakthrough on another thread. The insight that hit me relates directly to the connection between the direwolf Ghost and, in that case, red trees. There is also a ghostly old man in the scene. I have a bad habit of reposting all my favorite comments so I will just post a link here and people can follow it if they want this further example of the direwolf / weirwood connection. (I expect it will come up later in the direwolf re-read anyway, when we get to that point in the story.)

14 hours ago, Harlaw's Book the Sequel said:

Stark forces are called wolves, but the Starks themselves are direwolves.  Meanwhile there is no such distinction between the Lannisters and their forces.  We are repeatedly hit with the idea the wolves can be as bad as lions, but the Starks themselves don't commit the atrocities that their "wolves" do and will punish the "wolves" who step out of line.  Tywin doesn't.  In fact he orders the atrocities.  So it seems fitting that a direwolf/wolf distinction exists between the Starks and their bannerman while Lannisters and their bannermen alike are deemed "lions."  

Similarities between Arya's encountering wolves while on a bathroom break with happens to Tywin on the privy... Well I think the similarities at the macro level highlight the differences in the details.  Arya realizes she is acting foolishly, so she stops herself and lives.  Tywin doesn't change his behavior, so the lion kills him.

Back to Arya, I think this encounter with real wolves foreshadows the reality call she will receive when she encounters Stark bannermen, and her disappointment in them may be a factor in why she chooses to join the Faceless Men.

I also like how a real Arya surrounded by real wolves at the beginning of ACOK gets bookended with a false Arya surrounded by false wolves at the end of ASOS and throughout ADWD.   

      

I definitely think Theon is among those (such as Jaime and Sam) that the olds gods reach out to.  As for him having a latent green-dreaming-seeing ability...

  Hide contents

    

Compared to other houses the Greyjoys don't seem as invested in their sigil.  It seems more analogous to compare their ships to the direwolves rather than comparing krakens to direwolves, and the names Asha and Theon choose for their ships are just as telling.  Like Robb, Asha includes a family color in her name.  Though Robb only includes a Stark color for his direwolf's name while Asha chooses a color her maternal and paternal families share.  Also if "Words are wind" as many other characters say then the names Grey Wind and Black Wind may symbolize the importance Robb and Asha's words will have on the story.      

Lots of good points here, HBtS.

I like your explanation of the direwolf / wolf distinction for the many references to northmen as vicious wolves in their treatment of the small folk of the riverlands and surrounding areas. It does seem as if the Starks would hold their bannermen to a higher standard - at least to the level of the Beric Dondarrion / Brotherhood without Banners code of honor - but Robb Stark can't personally micromanage the troops led by a Bolton or an Umber or a Karstark. Maybe that explains it.

I love the comparison of the real Arya / real wolves to the false Arya (Jeyne Poole) / false wolves. Nice catch.

We will also soon see Theon visiting Bran in his bedroom at Winterfell. I noticed in the recent Bran POV that Bran sitting in the window of this room seems like a symbolic foreshadowing of Bran opening his third eye. Maybe Theon's visit to Bran's bed chamber allows him to "see" through Bran's view. Theon will also become the Prince of Winterfell, which was the title Bran held. I like the comparison to Euron and will look forward to reading more about that.

Your point about the Greyjoy sigil is a good one. Also, don't squid and octopi change color depending on their surroundings? That seems like an apt explanation of Theon's Stark-like "coloring" at various points in his arc.

 

Edited by Seams

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Seams said:

The "loud crack" of Arya breaking her sword over he knee recalls the loud crack of Dany's dragons hatching and the loud crack of the mast breaking on the Selaesori Qhoran ship (witnessed by Tyrion) during the storm at sea. These are all rebirth scenes, with the character shedding an old identity and taking on a new one.

Good point!

 

On 8/13/2016 at 7:29 PM, Julia H. said:

I tremendously enjoyed the Theon analysis. It just occurred to me that there was a king called Theon Stark, who was known as the Hungry Wolf. Theon Greyjoy in his first POV chapter proves to be very hungry for a lot of things - for success, for glory, for power, for a crown, for acceptance. 

The Damphair apparently reclaims Theon from the "wolf gods" or "Stark gods", but Theon kneels with an ulterior motive instead of true devotion, and he doesn't seem to receive much help from the Watery Halls in return. However, when he prays sincerely in front of the heart tree, he almost immediately receives help. 

Thanks Julia, glad I could contribute to the discussion!  I agree with @Seams that the Winterfell crypt acts as a symbolic forge in which Theon is forged anew as a Stark instrument, and it's noteworthy that the direwolves are instrumental in this forging.  The impression of the crypt as a forge is supported by the fact that the air temperature in the vault seems higher to Theon than above ground. Given that Winterfell is built on hot springs, we can infer that the hot temperature can be attributed to fiery subterranean geothermal activity not unlike a smithy furnace.  Similarly, the direwolves are noted to have above average body core temperatures even in freezing weather, and their eyes are often compared to both fire and liquid metal, hinting that the direwolves are smiths and smithy in one.  Shaggy dog: 'eyes burning like green fire' (AGOT-Bran IV) reminds me of wildfire that can melt flesh and metal alike; Ghost: 'red eyes glowed like pools of fire' (ADWD-Jon III); Grey Wind: 'eyes burned...eyes like molten gold' (AGOT-Bran V, ACOK-Catelyn I); Summer: 'eyes smoldering like liquid gold' (AGOT-Bran VI) 'eyes shining like the sun...the window was open and it was cold in the room, but the warmth that came off the wolf enfolded him like a hot bath' (AGOT-Bran III); Nymeria: ' yellow eyes..when they caught the sunlight, they gleamed like two golden coins' (AGOT-Arya I).  The references to 'gold' and 'coins' indicate that the direwolves are engaged in forging and minting something valuable.

When Theon goes down into the crypt, he has a similar experience to Arya in the forest, when he sees the eyes of the stone direwolves and Stark kings which seem to recognize him, awakening something in him.  They 'stir' ('stirring' is a typical old gods' faculty) memories and bring forgotten names to mind.  On the surface, this refers to the names of the Stark kings, but on a deeper level the name Theon has forgotten, and which now 'comes back to him whispered in a ghostly voice [like Bran's voice via the weirwood],' is the name cruelly stripped from him along with his skin -- his own.  By returning his name to him, Theon is renamed in the sight of the old gods, and importantly claimed by them as one of their own.  Significantly, after his encounter with the animated kings and direwolves, Theon instinctively identifies with Theon Stark the hungry wolf, whom he calls 'my namesake,' whereas just earlier he had been insecure in his identity, fretting that 'Reek belongs to Ramsay, and Ramsay belongs to Reek...you must not forget your name.' 

Later, in front of the weirwood's wolfish eyes, this naming ceremony is repeated and his identity reaffirmed by Bran, who is essentially the legitimate Lord of Winterfell.  Falling to his knees at Bran's=the weirwood's feet, Theon is like a direwolf sitting at the feet of one of the Stark kings in the crypt!  One of GRRM's favorite themes is how people can only be forged into something great once they have been broken down.  So, for example, Jaime -- another who is being reforged -- only becomes a 'sword' and a 'swordhand' once he has forfeited that sword and hand.  Likewise, Theon only becomes Bran's sworn sword once he has lost his 'sword,' referring to his castration.  It's not coincidental that while Theon and Lady Dustin are down in the crypts, much is made of kings who are 'missing their swords,' followed by Lady Dustin making so many double entendres discussing Brandon's bloody 'sword,' just in case we had missed the phallic symbolism! In a similar irony, Theon can only become a direwolf once he has been flayed, akin to unsheathing a sword from its leather scabbard.

Quote

A Dance with Dragons - The Turncloak

“It is a long way down, my lady,” Theon cautioned.

Lady Dustin was undeterred. “Beron, the light.”

The way was narrow and steep, the steps worn in the center by centuries of feet. They went single file—the serjeant with the lantern, then Theon and Lady Dustin, her other man behind them. He had always thought of the crypts as cold, and so they seemed in summer, but now as they descended the air grew warmer. Not warm, never warm, but warmer than above. Down there below the earth, it would seem, the chill was constant, unchanging.

“The bride weeps,” Lady Dustin said, as they made their way down, step by careful step. “Our little Lady Arya.”

Take care now. Take care, take care. He put one hand on the wall. The shifting torchlight made the steps seem to move beneath his feet. “As … as you say, m’lady.”

“Roose is not pleased. Tell your bastard that.”

He is not my bastard, he wanted to say, but another voice inside him said, He is, he is. Reek belongs to Ramsay, and Ramsay belongs to Reek. You must not forget your name.

...

“The steps go farther down,” observed Lady Dustin.

“There are lower levels. Older. The lowest level is partly collapsed, I hear. I have never been down there.” He pushed the door open and led them out into a long vaulted tunnel, where mighty granite pillars marched two by two into blackness.

Lady Dustin’s serjeant raised the lantern. Shadows slid and shifted. A small light in a great darkness. Theon had never felt comfortable in the crypts. He could feel the stone kings staring down at him with their stone eyes, stone fingers curled around the hilts of rusted longswords. None had any love for ironborn. A familiar sense of dread filled him.

“So many,” Lady Dustin said. “Do you know their names?”

“Once … but that was a long time ago.” Theon pointed. “The ones on this side were Kings in the North. Torrhen was the last.”

“The King Who Knelt.”

“Aye, my lady. After him they were only lords.”

“Until the Young Wolf. Where is Ned Stark’s tomb?”

“At the end. This way, my lady.”

Their footsteps echoed through the vault as they made their way between the rows of pillars. The stone eyes of the dead men seemed to follow them, and the eyes of their stone direwolves as well. The faces stirred faint memories. A few names came back to him, unbidden, whispered in the ghostly voice of Maester Luwin. King Edrick Snowbeard, who had ruled the north for a hundred years. Brandon the Shipwright, who had sailed beyond the sunset. Theon Stark, the Hungry Wolf. My namesake. Lord Beron Stark, who made common cause with Casterly Rock to war against Dagon Greyjoy, Lord of Pyke, in the days when the Seven Kingdoms were ruled in all but name by the bastard sorcerer men called Bloodraven.

“That king is missing his sword,” Lady Dustin observed.

It was true. Theon did not recall which king it was, but the longsword he should have held was gone. Streaks of rust remained to show where it had been. The sight disquieted him. He had always heard that the iron in the sword kept the spirits of the dead locked within their tombs. If a sword was missing …


There are ghosts in Winterfell. And I am one of them.

  They walked on. Barbrey Dustin’s face seemed to harden with every step. She likes this place no more than I do. Theon heard himself say, “My lady, why do you hate the Starks?”

  She studied him. “For the same reason you love them.”

  Theon stumbled. “Love them? I never … I took this castle from them, my lady. I had … had Bran and Rickon put to death, mounted their heads on spikes, I …”

  “… rode south with Robb Stark, fought beside him at the Whispering Wood and Riverrun, returned to the Iron Islands as his envoy to treat with your own father. Barrowton sent men with the Young Wolf as well. I gave him as few men as I dared, but I knew that I must needs give him some or risk the wroth of Winterfell. So I had my own eyes and ears in that host. They kept me well informed. I know who you are. I know what you are. Now answer my question. Why do you love the Starks?”

  “I …” Theon put a gloved hand against a pillar. “… I wanted to be one of them …”

  “And never could. We have more in common than you know, my lord. But come.”

  Only a little farther on, three tombs were closely grouped together. That was where they halted. “Lord Rickard,” Lady Dustin observed, studying the central figure. The statue loomed above them—long-faced, bearded, solemn. He had the same stone eyes as the rest, but his looked sad. “He lacks a sword as well.”

  It was true. “Someone has been down here stealing swords. Brandon’s is gone as well.”

  “He would hate that.” She pulled off her glove and touched his knee, pale flesh against dark stone. “Brandon loved his sword. He loved to hone it. ‘I want it sharp enough to shave the hair from a woman’s cunt,’ he used to say. And how he loved to use it. ‘A bloody sword is a beautiful thing,’ he told me once.”


  “You knew him,” Theon said.

  The lantern light in her eyes made them seem as if they were afire. “Brandon was fostered at Barrowton with old Lord Dustin, the father of the one I’d later wed, but he spent most of his time riding the Rills. He loved to ride. His little sister took after him in that. A pair of centaurs, those two. And my lord father was always pleased to play host to the heir to Winterfell. My father had great ambitions for House Ryswell. He would have served up my maidenhead to any Stark who happened by, but there was no need. Brandon was never shy about taking what he wanted. I am old now, a dried-up thing, too long a widow, but I still remember the look of my maiden’s blood on his cock the night he claimed me. I think Brandon liked the sight as well. A bloody sword is a beautiful thing, yes. It hurt, but it was a sweet pain.

 

 

On 8/13/2016 at 7:29 PM, Julia H. said:

Where can I read more about the theory that Theon is the personification of the sword Ice

These are a few references I found in which @Seams touches on her idea of Theon as Sword:

http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php?/topic/142621-a-wolf-theon/#comment-7706300

http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php?/topic/139944-whats-in-the-crypts-of-winterfell/#comment-7587989

http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php?/topic/139670-the-purpose-of-the-ironborn/&page=2#comment-7574542

http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php?/topic/137544-puns-and-wordplay/&page=5#comment-7564921

http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php?/topic/142539-help-neededsome-confused-thoughts-on-branbrandon-the-builder/&page=11#comment-7719710

15 hours ago, Harlaw's Book the Sequel said:

I definitely think Theon is among those (such as Jaime and Sam) that the olds gods reach out to.  As for him having a latent green-dreaming-seeing ability...

  Hide contents

There are hints that Euron has such a connection, so I think it's possible Theon might have it too.  After reading AFFC and ADWD I thought Euron and Bloodraven had a Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi type relationship...  I wonder if being a "Crow's Eye" is some sort of position that Euron corrupted, and perhaps Theon will become what Euron didn't --a true Crow's Eye.       

Perhaps a 'three-eyed-crow' is not one person but a triumvirate, analogous to a three-headed-dragon, comprised of three 'crow's eyes' who are supposed to work together. Sometimes, however, one of the 'eyes' or 'heads' goes rogue and starts working against the others.  I agree with you on the obvious Star Wars parallels one can find.  I think it's funny how much of the Star Wars mythos GRRM has 'borrowed' without perhaps realising it, especially considering his contempt for a story 'where all the happy Ewoks are jumping around, and the ghosts of all the dead people appear, waving happily'-- so, I guess we are basically going to get major elements of the Star Wars plot reworked without the happy ending!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
37 minutes ago, ravenous reader said:

Good point!

<snip>

 

Thanks, RR! I officially nominate you for rock star of the direwolf reread! Now I have to go back and read those Theon comments you just collected. You are my BFF! Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, Seams said:

Thanks, RR! I officially nominate you for rock star of the direwolf reread! Now I have to go back and read those Theon comments you just collected. You are my BFF! Thanks.

:cheers:

I think your next project needs to be a massive 'punopus' of forging, complete with hammer and anvil, and solving the mysteries of Dawn and Lightbringer into the bargain!

I think you and @Feather Crystal also had a few interesting exchanges on the subject of forging people as swords.

Edited by ravenous reader

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

People as swords? Not me, but I have posited that the three swords forged by Azor Ahai were the three methods the Children employed to deal with human invaders.

Sword tempered in water = hammer of waters

Sword tempered in heart of lion = they fought back using white walkers

and

Sword tempered in Nissa Nissa = they broke the moon with the comet

Speaking of the moon...and apologies in advance while I go slightly off topic...but @WeaselPie thinks Planetos itself is a moon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2016. 08. 15. at 7:40 PM, ravenous reader said:

Thanks for the links! 

Regarding the trees and the bones, one more possible interpretation of dead (and burned!) bones being in the "mouth" of the weirwood trees may be a reference to the relationship between the weirwood and the past. The past is dead but it has to be rediscovered, and the weirwood trees are likely to play an essential role there. The "mouth" may refer to the idea that the trees must be made to "speak" and listened to.

Edited by Julia H.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 Arya IV

   Overview

Yoren’s little group can’t find a way to sail across the God’s Eye. In a completely deserted town, they find refuge in an abandoned holdfast for the night. They are attacked, however, by Lannisters raiders led by Ser Amory Lorch. When the battle is lost, Yoren tells Arya to flee with as many survivors as possible.

Observations

· “Sweet summer dreams” are still abundant in this chapter. Arya hopes to be able to reveal herself to Lady Whent in Harrenhal and be safely escorted home by knights, and Yoren hopes to be able to sell what they have in order to pay for the passage.

· A warning for all those who still believe in the (one-sided) neutrality of the Watch:

“Thing is the folks who lived here were at war, like it or no. We’re not. Night’s Watch takes no part, so no man’s our enemy.” And no man is our friend, she thought.

Arya turns out to be right.

· Arya also proves to be extremely alert and perceptive, which may be part of her “wolfish” nature as well as the result of her training with Syrio Forel.

· Arya still uses her old pack to gain prestige with the new one when she tells Hot Pie that Needle was a present from her brother (true) and adds that her brothers are all older than her and have taught her how to kill (false).

Analysis

Wolves in her head

She must have slept, though she never remembered closing her eyes. She dreamed a wolf was howling, and the sound was so terrible that it woke her at once. Arya sat up on her pallet with her heart thumping. “Hot Pie, wake up.” She scrambled to her feet. “Woth, Gendry, didn’t you hear?” She pulled on a boot.

            All around her, men and boys stirred and crawled from their pallets. “What’s wrong?” Hot Pie asked. “Hear what?” Gendry wanted to know. “Arry had a bad dream,” someone else said.

            “No, I heard it,” she insisted. “A wolf.”

            “Arry has wolves in his head,” sneered Lommy. “Let them howl,” Gerren said, “they’re out there, we’re in here.” Woth agreed. “Never saw no wolf could storm a holdfast.” Hot Pie was saying, “I never heard nothing.”

            “It was a wolf,” she shouted at them as she yanked on her second boot. “Something’s wrong, someone’s coming, get up!”

 

That’s a very interesting dream, and I think several interpretations of it are possible.   

- As I suggested above, Arya’s senses may be more sophisticated than those of the average human, thanks to her bonding with a direwolf. In this case, she simply heard the attackers before everyone else and in her dream she interpreted the noises as a terrible wolf howl.

- The dream may be proof of Arya’s own magic, another side of the same magic that allows her to warg a direwolf. In would mean the howl in the dream came from her “inner wolf” or magical self, and it was terrible because it warned of a terrible danger.

- The dream may have been a sort of wolf dream – Arya was in contact with Nymeria, who may have sensed the danger. The dream was too brief for Arya to recognize Nymeria, she only sensed the alarming howl. Still, if Nymeria was close enough to physically see the danger Arya was in, I wonder why there was no wolf attack on Lorch’s group.

 

Another question is whether the howl in the dream was indeed an alarm type of warning in Arya’s head or a direct symbol of the coming danger – after all there has been talk of direwolves, ordinary wolves and two-legged “wolves” as well. The mocking statement that she has "wolves in her head" seems to point to the former interpretation. The suggestion that wolves don’t storm a holdfast may, with its irony, imply the latter – two-legged “wolves” can indeed storm a holdfast.

Arya doesn’t have time to think about the meaning of her dream much, but she seems to have an instinctive interpretation of it:

“It was a wolf,” she shouted at them as she yanked on her second boot. “Something’s wrong, someone’s coming, get up!”

She seems to realize even before hearing Kurz’s alarm horn that it’s not really wolves they have to be afraid of, it's something being wrong, it's someone coming.

Arya’s own inner direwolf also surfaces during the battle, when she cries out “Winterfell!” That it’s an assertion of her true identity is underlined by the fact that Hot Pie shouts “Hot Pie!” besides her. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Julia H. said:

Regarding the trees and the bones, one more possible interpretation of dead (and burned!) bones being in the "mouth" of the weirwood trees may be a reference to the relationship between the weirwood and the past. The past is dead but it has to be rediscovered, and the weirwood trees are likely to play an essential role there. The "mouth" may refer to the idea that the trees must be made to "speak" and listened to.

Yes, definitely!  In keeping with this idea, Melisandre says 'the bones remember,' and Aeron the Damphair says something similar.  In addition, no doubt the duality of a mouth -- representing both the baser truths of human experience (killing and eating) as well as the higher forms of expression (speaking) -- would appeal to GRRM.  I also think he's hinting that the latter comes at the expense of the former.  We talked at length on the Bran's growing powers thread about the more disturbing aspects of spiritual enlightenment being inextricably associated with symbolic and/or actual sacrifice, the symbolic traces of which are still evident in religious rituals such as the Holy Communion in Catholicism. Likewise, in order to attain 'higher' wisdom, Bran ate of the dubious weirwood paste and survived along the way on the dubious pork supplied by Coldhands.  Given that the bones stuffed in the mouth of the tree were at first thought to be a sheep, Bran himself in turn can be thought of as a 'sacrificial lamb' in his 'marriage' to the tree.  Similarly, 'shade of the evening' -- another dubious product of a tree -- smacks of bodies:

Quote

A Clash of Kings - Daenerys IV

"Will it turn my lips blue?"

"One flute will serve only to unstop your ears and dissolve the caul from off your eyes, so that you may hear and see the truths that will be laid before you."

Dany raised the glass to her lips. The first sip tasted like ink and spoiled meat, foul, but when she swallowed it seemed to come to life within her. She could feel tendrils spreading through her chest, like fingers of fire coiling around her heart, and on her tongue was a taste like honey and anise and cream, like mother's milk and Drogo's seed, like red meat and hot blood and molten gold. It was all the tastes she had ever known, and none of them . . . and then the glass was empty.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, ravenous reader said:

<snip> Bran ate of the dubious weirwood paste and survived along the way on the dubious pork supplied by Coldhands.  Given that the bones stuffed in the mouth of the tree were at first thought to be a sheep, Bran himself in turn can be thought of as a 'sacrificial lamb' in his 'marriage' to the tree. 

 

paste ~ past?

Good observation of Bran the sacrificial lamb. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
38 minutes ago, Julia H. said:

paste ~ past?

Ha ha.  We have all caught whatever bug is biting @Seams...!  There is an explosion of pun beetles...we need to call in Cousin Orson Lannister to deal with the excess...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Julia H. said:

Regarding the trees and the bones, one more possible interpretation of dead (and burned!) bones being in the "mouth" of the weirwood trees may be a reference to the relationship between the weirwood and the past. The past is dead but it has to be rediscovered, and the weirwood trees are likely to play an essential role there. The "mouth" may refer to the idea that the trees must be made to "speak" and listened to.

I think you're onto something with the speaking and listening, and a message in the burned bones. I've been trying to sort out pigeons and bowls of brown (for my own entertainment, not for this thread) and there is a definite connection to listening and hearing, much to my surprise. Pigeons are a main ingredient in Arya's version of the bowl of brown and we know that pigeons are (or were) an alternative to ravens for carrying messages. Arya does acknowledge that other types of meat go into the brown, and that she doesn't want to think about the meat. Tyrion and Bronn conspire to get rid of the singer, Simon Silvertongue, by selling or giving his body to a pot shop for use as meat, but Tyrion tells Bronn he might want to keep out the singer's tongue because it's made of silver. (This tongue reference then connects to the silver sword with runes that is produced by Ser Ilyn Payne at Joffrey's wedding feast and the "tongue" that Brienne sees coming out of Biter's mouth that turns out to be Gendry's sword coming through the back of Biter's head. Silver tongues with important messages, the message being, "You're dead.") And this does come back to the weirwood with the burned mouth, because of the connection between the silent direwolf, Ghost, and weirwood trees. Has the tongue been burned out of the tree, rendering it silent? Do the skulls represent its destroyed ability to talk?

We've mentioned elsewhere that there is a pun on "bowl" and "bole" - with the latter spelling referring to the trunk of a tree. Besides bowls of brown, the most memorable bowl is the weirwood paste Bran will be eating as you and RR recalled, above. So we had brown bowls and we will have a white and red bowl; here we have a black bole.

We also just met the character Asha in Theon's POV. I wonder whether we are supposed to think about ashes and their meaning? Are Black Wind and Grey Wind different ways of saying "smoke"?

There's something we haven't uncovered yet about the two burned skulls in Whitetree. I think the point is that the two burned skulls are supposed to be a message, like the pigeons in a bowl of brown. The skulls may be useful foreshadowing, if we can figure out what they mean. I'm going to take another look at the dialogue with Dolorous Edd. Edd is a fool character, so his words will have hidden, deeper meaning.

I'm also thinking about the gravedigger scene in Hamlet, with the famous, "Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio" thoughts. The scene has a skull without a tongue ( HAMLET :

That skull had a tongue in it, and could sing once:
how the knave jowls it to the ground, as if it were
Cain's jaw-bone, that did the first murder!)

sheep bearing messages ( HAMLET : Is not parchment made of sheepskins?) and a discussion by clowns of drowning and crowners. Yorick was the king's jester, and we have a jester connection for Ghost, when Jon tells Alliser Thorne that he wishes Thorne would teach Ghost to juggle. 

Sorry, I guess a lot of this is still at the free association stage. I better go back and read that chapter.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/21/2016 at 8:44 AM, Julia H. said:

 Arya IV

   Overview

Yoren’s little group can’t find a way to sail across the God’s Eye. In a completely deserted town, they find refuge in an abandoned holdfast for the night. They are attacked, however, by Lannisters raiders led by Ser Amory Lorch. When the battle is lost, Yoren tells Arya to flee with as many survivors as possible.

Observations

“Thing is the folks who lived here were at war, like it or no. We’re not. Night’s Watch takes no part, so no man’s our enemy.” And no man is our friend, she thought.

Arya turns out to be right.

Analysis

Wolves in her head

She must have slept, though she never remembered closing her eyes. She dreamed a wolf was howling, and the sound was so terrible that it woke her at once. Arya sat up on her pallet with her heart thumping. “Hot Pie, wake up.” She scrambled to her feet. “Woth, Gendry, didn’t you hear?” She pulled on a boot.

            All around her, men and boys stirred and crawled from their pallets. “What’s wrong?” Hot Pie asked. “Hear what?” Gendry wanted to know. “Arry had a bad dream,” someone else said.

            “No, I heard it,” she insisted. “A wolf.”

            “Arry has wolves in his head,” sneered Lommy. “Let them howl,” Gerren said, “they’re out there, we’re in here.” Woth agreed. “Never saw no wolf could storm a holdfast.” Hot Pie was saying, “I never heard nothing.”

            “It was a wolf,” she shouted at them as she yanked on her second boot. “Something’s wrong, someone’s coming, get up!”

...

“It was a wolf,” she shouted at them as she yanked on her second boot. “Something’s wrong, someone’s coming, get up!”

She seems to realize even before hearing Kurz’s alarm horn that it’s not really wolves they have to be afraid of, it's something being wrong, it's someone coming.

I just looked over Arya II, III and this good analysis of Arya IV, and I'm trying to decide whether the evolution for Arya is that she is becoming a direwolf. With Nymeria gone from her daily existence, Arya has to become a direwolf to protect herself and her friends. For her, this means guarding her people or her pack; for others it might mean she is something to be feared.

I don't know much about wolf behavior, but years ago I read Never Cry Wolf, by Farley Mowat. The author sets out to research wolves at a time when little was known about their behavior in the wild. He realizes that he needs to set up a perimeter around his camp so the wolves won't invade his personal space. He brews up pot after pot of tea for himself, drinks them and systematically marks a line around his tent and equipment. He sees the wolves sniff around this demarcation line and, if I recall correctly, recognize that he has claimed a territory.

So it may be a presentation of true wolf behavior that a wolf came up to check Arya when she was urinating, but left with his pack when he decided she had staked a claim at that location. Of course, I want to assume that there was also an unspoken recognition by the wolf that Arya was a kindred wolf spirit (i.e., a warg).

The more I go over Yoren's scenes, the more I think he was a character with special insights. In conversation with him, we see Arya express these thoughts:

“Nymeria was a direwolf.” Arya hugged herself. “That’s different. Anyhow, she’s gone. . . I bet if she’d been in the city, she wouldn’t have let them cut off Father’s head.”

Immediately after referring to Nymeria, Arya hugs herself. Is the author showing us that Arya has internalized Nymeria? Then she refers to Nymeria's possible power to have prevented Ned Stark's beheading. Arya was present for the beheading, and she couldn't stop it. Is she saying that she wished she had been Nymeria at that point, as she was now? I'm already thinking that maybe I'm reading too much into that.

This chapter shows Arya hearing the wolf warning that someone is coming. I think this goes back to the actual wolf that recognized her in the previous Arya POV and that she's not just dreaming or imagining the howling. She has established a connection with this wild pack of wolves and can speak their language in somewhat the same way that Bran learned the language of the direwolves in a recent POV.

So now I'm going to look for situations where Arya is guarding and protecting and trying to get back North and to Winterfell. (I think Nymeria and Winterfell are the same for her, perhaps in the way that weirwood trees and Ghost are the same in Jon's POVs. "...it wasn’t until a few of Arya’s stones struck home that the direwolf had finally stopped following them.") Bran seems to be the earliest and most enthusiastic warg among the Stark kids (although Rickon is an unknown), and he often reflects on the taste of blood in his mouth; Jojen has to remind him that eating while warging is not the same as nourishing his own body. Arya and the reader don't like the idea that a direwolf goes on the offensive in war and rejects the idea that a direwolf would take a baby for food, but this is how others see them. Arya does like the idea of a direwolf as one who would protect. We'll see if her view evolves to embrace more hunting and killing when she interacts more with Jaqen H'Ghar. Yoren says, "The only wolves we got to fear are the ones wear manskin, like those who done for that village.” It dawns on me that he might be talking about Arya here. Maybe he knows enough about his "brother," Benjen Stark to know that the Starks are wargs. Maybe he realizes that Arya is a hidden weapon or monster.

Speaking of which, some of the phrases you excerpted might foreshadow Arya's upcoming Faceless Men interlude.

Yoren: "...no man’s our enemy.”

Arya: And no man is our friend, she thought.

This isn't an exact match for Arya's identity as "no one," but it is close. How much does Yoren know? Why does he see "no man" as an enemy, while Arya sees "no man" as a friend? Later, she is concerned by the threat that "someone" is coming. Is "someone" the enemy of "no one"? Just a little foreshadowing, I think.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Seams said:

I don't know much about wolf behavior, but years ago I read Never Cry Wolf, by Farley Mowat. The author sets out to research wolves at a time when little was known about their behavior in the wild. He realizes that he needs to set up a perimeter around his camp so the wolves won't invade his personal space. He brews up pot after pot of tea for himself, drinks them and systematically marks a line around his tent and equipment. He sees the wolves sniff around this demarcation line and, if I recall correctly, recognize that he has claimed a territory.

So it may be a presentation of true wolf behavior that a wolf came up to check Arya when she was urinating, but left with his pack when he decided she had staked a claim at that location

Urination as marking ones territory -- that makes a lot of sense!

There's also this passage, where Jojen insists that Bran learns to mark trees as a necessary part of his training (perhaps to keep him safe?):

Quote

A Storm of Swords - Bran I

"I'm sick of frogs." Meera was a frogeater from the Neck, so Bran couldn't really blame her for catching so many frogs, he supposed, but even so . . . "I wanted to eat the deer." For a moment he remembered the taste of it, the blood and the raw rich meat, and his mouth watered. I won the fight for it. I won.

"Did you mark the trees?"

Bran flushed. Jojen was always telling him to do things when he opened his third eye and put on Summer's skin. To claw the bark of a tree, to catch a rabbit and bring it back in his jaws uneaten, to push some rocks in a line. Stupid things. "I forgot," he said.

"You always forget."
It was true. He meant to do the things that Jojen asked, but once he was a wolf they never seemed important. There were always things to see and things to smell, a whole green world to hunt. And he could run! There was nothing better than running, unless it was running after prey. "I was a prince, Jojen," he told the older boy. "I was the prince of the woods."
"You are a prince," Jojen reminded him softly. "You remember, don't you? Tell me who you are."
"You know." Jojen was his friend and his teacher, but sometimes Bran just wanted to hit him.
...
"Bran," he said sullenly. Bran the Broken. "Brandon Stark." The cripple boy. "The Prince of Winterfell." Of Winterfell burned and tumbled, its people scattered and slain. The glass gardens were smashed, and hot water gushed from the cracked walls to steam beneath the sun. How can you be the prince of someplace you might never see again?
...

 He liked Summer's skin better than his own. What good is it to be a skinchanger if you can't wear the skin you like?

"Will you remember? And next time, mark the tree. Any tree, it doesn't matter, so long as you do it."

"I will. I'll remember. I could go back and do it now, if you like. I won't forget this time." But I'll eat my deer first, and fight with those little wolves some more.

 

3 hours ago, Seams said:

So now I'm going to look for situations where Arya is guarding and protecting and trying to get back North and to Winterfell. (I think Nymeria and Winterfell are the same for her, perhaps in the way that weirwood trees and Ghost are the same in Jon's POVs. "...it wasn’t until a few of Arya’s stones struck home that the direwolf had finally stopped following them.")

'Stick them with the pointy end' could refer to a wolf's teeth/fangs.  Needle is also home for her, as it is a way home:

Quote

A Feast for Crows - Arya II

Needle was Robb and Bran and Rickon, her mother and her father, even Sansa. Needle was Winterfell's grey walls, and the laughter of its people. Needle was the summer snows, Old Nan's stories, the heart tree with its red leaves and scary face, the warm earthy smell of the glass gardens, the sound of the north wind rattling the shutters of her room. Needle was Jon Snow's smile. He used to mess my hair and call me "little sister," she remembered, and suddenly there were tears in her eyes.

Polliver had stolen the sword from her when the Mountain's men took her captive, but when she and the Hound walked into the inn at the crossroads, there it was. The gods wanted me to have it. Not the Seven, nor Him of Many Faces, but her father's gods, the old gods of the north. The Many-Faced God can have the rest, she thought, but he can't have this.

 

3 hours ago, Seams said:

"The only wolves we got to fear are the ones wear manskin, like those who done for that village.” It dawns on me that he might be talking about Arya here. Maybe he knows enough about his "brother," Benjen Stark to know that the Starks are wargs. Maybe he realizes that Arya is a hidden weapon or monster.

Yes, it's ironic in that same passage Arya refers to herself as 'a wolverine.'  Also, the faceless men, of which Arya is to be their youngest member, as face-wearing assassins are 'wolves in manskin.'  The process of preparing the facial masks is also rather gruesome, like flaying.  Arya suggestively compares them to 'leather hoods' blurring the boundaries between human and animal:

Quote
Quote

A Dance with Dragons - The Ugly Little Girl

"Do they frighten you, child?" asked the kindly man. "It is not too late for you to leave us. Is this truly what you want?"

Arya bit her lip. She did not know what she wanted. If I leave, where will I go? She had washed and stripped a hundred corpses, dead things did not frighten her. They carry them down here and slice their faces off, so what? She was the night wolf, no scraps of skin could frighten her. Leather hoods, that's all they are, they cannot hurt me. "Do it," she blurted out.

 

At the same time as initiating her in the art of wearing these 'skins' and encouraging her to dehumanize herself,  the faceless men are trying to purge Arya of her wolfish Stark identity.  However, in her quest to comply and become 'no-one' she finds she cannot peel away the deepest level of herself, no more than she could bring herself to discard Needle.  Indeed, her last remaining skin, after she's peeled back all her other 'manskin' disguises, is the wolf.  

3 hours ago, Seams said:

Yoren: "...no man’s our enemy.”

Arya: And no man is our friend, she thought.

This isn't an exact match for Arya's identity as "no one," but it is close. How much does Yoren know? Why does he see "no man" as an enemy, while Arya sees "no man" as a friend? Later, she is concerned by the threat that "someone" is coming. Is "someone" the enemy of "no one"? Just a little foreshadowing, I think.

Certainly foreshadowing.  It's an odd construction.  Going back to the Prologue, in which Ser Waymar asks Gared which sound - wolf, wind, tree -- has 'unmanned' him, prefiguring their own undead 'unmanning' by the white walkers, being 'unmanned' is magically transformative and may be associated with bonding with a wolf, wind, or tree.

Quote

A Game of Thrones - Prologue

"We have a long ride before us," Gared pointed out. "Eight days, maybe nine. And night is falling."

Ser Waymar Royce glanced at the sky with disinterest. "It does that every day about this time. Are you unmanned by the dark, Gared?"

 

A Game of Thrones - Prologue

Will could feel it. Four years in the Night's Watch, and he had never been so afraid. What was it?

"Wind. Trees rustling. A wolf. Which sound is it that unmans you so, Gared?"

Wind, tree, wolf -- those three are Stark allies!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now