Seams

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

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1 hour ago, Seams said:

 

I can't believe I never noticed the wordplay between wolf and fowl before re-reading your comments here again today! I had written up wolf and flow on the Puns and Wordplay thread, but fowl never occurred to me.

I guess that's why a Direwolf Re-read was a really good idea. Amazing what kind of new things can be uncovered.

So if birds and wolves are two sides of the same coin, we should really watch for any wolf and bird juxtaposition in the imagery, to understand wolves as well as Starks on a deeper level.

Has this been mentioned yet in the bird/wolf coin, Jon and his Ghost and raven. So it seems that each Stark kid has a bird/wolf theme as well? 

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1 hour ago, The Fattest Leech said:

Has this been mentioned yet in the bird/wolf coin, Jon and his Ghost and raven. So it seems that each Stark kid has a bird/wolf theme as well? 

So it would appear, based on the previous comments.

It makes me wonder whether each Stark kid might also have a flow:

-Jon might have the "tears" of the Wall;

-Robb might have the Trident River, over which he was slain (or perhaps this is an example of a failure to have a "flow);

-Sansa could be associated with the waterfall near the Eyrie called Alyssa's Tears;

-Arya could have the canals;

-Bran could have the underground stream in Bloodraven's cave, especially if it connects to the pools at Winterfell.

But the "flow" symbolism may connect with wet nurses who have flowing milk, moon blood, and flowers as well as sewers, which take us back to the sewing motif. The Starks wouldn't be the only characters associated with a flow, so it would be meaningful only if it sheds light on their wolves (and/or their fowls).

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Catelyn II

Overview

Catelyn travels as Robb’s envoy to Renly Baratheon in the Reach. Brienne defeats Ser Loras in a tournament and becomes a member of Renly’s kings guard. After a feast, Renly shows Catelyn his vast army but they are interrupted by news of Stannis besieging Storm’s End.

Observations

The chapter opens with Catelyn dreaming of her children at an earlier stage, healthy and innocent and safe, baby Rickon at her breast and Ned in her bed, smiling. Later, she wishes she were headed north to home instead of south. The references make me think of the mama wolf in her den. (Ned / den.)

In her Catelyn I analysis in this thread, @Julia pointed out that Great Jon Umber functions almost as a kings guard “wolf” in Robb’s entourage, at one point roaring when Grey Wind howls. In this chapter, Catelyn recalls Robb’s threat to send Great Jon as the envoy to Renly, if she resists this assignment he has given her. She knows that both she and Robb recognize this would be unsuitable.

When Catelyn informs Renly that Jaime Lannister is Robb’s prisoner, Renly says, “It would seem the direwolf is gentler than the lion.” Lord Randyll Tarly chimes in, “I call it weak. . . . (I) t would have been more seemly had Lord Robb come to pay homage to the king himself, rather than hiding behind his mother’s skirts.”

 Analysis

There is little direct direwolf content in this chapter, but a couple interesting descriptive passages may show Margaery Tyrell in the company of a “direwolf” or two. Catelyn notes the highborn people watching the tournament and then observes, “In their midst, watching and laughing with his young queen by his side, sat a ghost in a golden crown.” The “ghost” reference is quickly explained as Renly’s striking resemblance to the young Robert Baratheon but it seems necessary to examine the connection to Jon Snow’s direwolf, too. There will be more ghost references connected to Renly when his armor is worn by Ser Garlan at the Blackwater and in a song at Joffrey and Margaery’s wedding feast.

 

Renly is not like the direwolf Ghost in coloring, temperament or function. My thinking is that the direwolf allusion has more to do with Margaery, and her parallel arc with Sansa, than it does with Renly. In this chapter, we see Renly put a (rainbow guard) cloak on Brienne’s shoulders – a symbolic wedding. But Catelyn observes that Brienne is much taller than Renly, which foreshadows Sansa’s wedding to Tyrion. Immediately following this “wedding,” Renly introduces Lady Stark to Margaery and Margaery expresses her sympathy to Catelyn regarding Ned’s beheading. So here is “Lady” and a Stark beheading in the space of a few lines.

 

Edited by Seams

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On 1/16/2017 at 0:37 PM, Seams said:

 

When Catelyn informs Renly that Jaime Lannister is Robb’s prisoner, Renly says, “It would seem the direwolf is gentler than the lion.” Lord Randyll Tarly chimes in, “I call it weak. . . . t would have been more seemly had Lord Robb come to pay homage to the king himself, rather than hiding behind his mother’s skirts.”

This may be stretching it, but the idea of hiding behind skirts does remind me of skinchanging in that a skinchanger can use an animal's skin for hiding.

On 1/16/2017 at 0:37 PM, Seams said:

 Analysis

 

There is little direct direwolf content in this chapter, but a couple interesting descriptive passages may show Margaery Tyrell in the company of a “direwolf” or two. Catelyn notes the highborn people watching the tournament and then observes, “In their midst, watching and laughing with his young queen by his side, sat a ghost in a golden crown.” The “ghost” reference is quickly explained as Renly’s striking resemblance to the young Robert Baratheon but it seems necessary to examine the connection to Jon Snow’s direwolf, too. There will be more ghost references connected to Renly when his armor is worn by Ser Garlan at the Blackwater and in a song at Joffrey and Margaery’s wedding feast.

IMHO I think Jon will be alive post-ADWD.  I also think the confusion and misunderstanding of what will be happening with Jon will result in many thinking he actually did come back to life, and it will just keep spreading.  One of the reasons I think it will play out this way is because of the many times when someone will mistake someone or attribute something to a ghost when the truth is the ghost is a living person, which includes all the Renly as a ghost moments.   

Also I feel like Jon is a ghost is in this chapter.  Randyll's presence made me think of Sam, which made me think of Jon.  And when Stannis' arrival was announced, my mind couldn't help but think of what will transpire for Stannis in the future.    

 

On 1/16/2017 at 0:37 PM, Seams said:

 

 

Renly is not like the direwolf Ghost in coloring, temperament or function. My thinking is that the direwolf allusion has more to do with Margaery, and her parallel arc with Sansa, than it does with Renly. In this chapter, we see Renly put a (rainbow guard) cloak on Brienne’s shoulders – a symbolic wedding. But Catelyn observes that Brienne is much taller than Renly, which foreshadows Sansa’s wedding to Tyrion. Immediately following this “wedding,” Renly introduces Lady Stark to Margaery and Margaery expresses her sympathy to Catelyn regarding Ned’s beheading. So here is “Lady” and a Stark beheading in the space of a few lines.

 

Given how Renly has a green and black color motif (and didn't he have green eyes in AGOT but GRRM decided that was mistake and gave him blue eyes?), I'm reminded of Rickon.  It might have to do with the Renly as a child metaphor that continues in this chapter.  There's also Rickon refusing to heed Bran, which mirrors Renly and Stannis.  

 

Rereading this chapter and reading your analysis, reminds me how that like the direwolves, Cat is a harbinger.  Earlier she provided exposition for Harrenhal and foreshadowing for Arya.  Besides her own story, the goings on in this chapter foreshadow and have an impact on Sansa, Tyrion, and Jon's stories (and I suppose I should mention Jaime and Brienne too).      

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On 1/18/2017 at 1:58 AM, Harlaw's Book the Sequel said:

This may be stretching it, but the idea of hiding behind skirts does remind me of skinchanging in that a skinchanger can use an animal's skin for hiding.

IMHO I think Jon will be alive post-ADWD.  I also think the confusion and misunderstanding of what will be happening with Jon will result in many thinking he actually did come back to life, and it will just keep spreading.  One of the reasons I think it will play out this way is because of the many times when someone will mistake someone or attribute something to a ghost when the truth is the ghost is a living person, which includes all the Renly as a ghost moments.   

Also I feel like Jon is a ghost is in this chapter.  Randyll's presence made me think of Sam, which made me think of Jon.  And when Stannis' arrival was announced, my mind couldn't help but think of what will transpire for Stannis in the future.    

 

Given how Renly has a green and black color motif (and didn't he have green eyes in AGOT but GRRM decided that was mistake and gave him blue eyes?), I'm reminded of Rickon.  It might have to do with the Renly as a child metaphor that continues in this chapter.  There's also Rickon refusing to heed Bran, which mirrors Renly and Stannis.  

 

Rereading this chapter and reading your analysis, reminds me how that like the direwolves, Cat is a harbinger.  Earlier she provided exposition for Harrenhal and foreshadowing for Arya.  Besides her own story, the goings on in this chapter foreshadow and have an impact on Sansa, Tyrion, and Jon's stories (and I suppose I should mention Jaime and Brienne too).      

Your great insights led me to search on the word "skirt" and then I got completely absorbed in reading all of the skirt-related excerpts and I got completely side-tracked and I'm just returning to this. But it was a fascinating tangent, so thank you for that!

You may be right about the skin-changing potential for the "hiding behind skirts" metaphor. Here we see the world's greatest skinchanger using the phrase:

Bump sees. He is watching me. He knows. Lump could not hide from him, could not slip behind his mother's skirts or run off with the dogs to escape his father's fury. The dogs. Loptail, Sniff, the Growler. They were good dogs. They were my friends.

(ADwD, Prologue)

On the other hand, he is saying he cannot hide from this spirit of his murdered baby brother who, the woods witch says, is "... with the gods now.... The gods have taken him down into the earth, into the trees. The gods are all around us, in the rocks and streams, in the birds and beasts. Your Bump has gone to join them. He'll be the world and all that's in it."

The skirt references in the text have some interesting associations - men put a hand up a woman's skirt for rape or sex, and I think women smooth their skirts when they want to appear calm, collected and in charge. Skirts are in disarray at moments such as Lysa dragging Sansa toward the moon door. In Essos, all of the skirt references are to men except for a referece to Dany's skirt at the moment when she tells Ser Jorah to go away and never come back. Most of the skirt references refer to Cersei, but Lysa and Catelyn also have a number, leading me to suspect that skirts are associated with mother figures. (You want to know what's interesting to me about that possible maternal association? The FIRST reference to a skirt is to Septa Mordane, who is on my short list to be Ned Stark's secret lover.)

Aside from the Varamyr Sixskins passage, uses of the full phrase, "Hide behind skirts," is usually in conjunction with a king: Tarly's reference to Robb Stark is followed by a similar taunt from Jaime, " "Did the old Kings of Winter hide behind their mothers' skirts as well?" (ACoK, Catelyn VII). Tyrion warns that Joffrey must be engaged in the Battle of the Blackwater: "... he needs to be seen. Men fight more fiercely for a king who shares their peril than one who hides behind his mother's skirts" (ACoK, Tyrion XII). Jon Connington uses the phrase to refer to Robert Baratheon, who hid from him before the Battle of the Bells: "The townsfolk were hiding him. ... At the end they had the usurper hidden in a brothel. What sort of king was that, who would hide behind the skirts of women?" (ADwD, The Griffin Reborn).

Since Joffrey and Robert aren't associated with skinchanging, I'm guessing that these excerpts don't support that connection, although they don't rule it out, either. There are a lot of "wannabe" skinchangers among the characters - we have remarked on people who want a wolf skin. Maybe Tyrion is guarding against that skin being a mother's (Cersei's) skin for Joffrey. And maybe Robert achieved a "symbolic" skin change by hiding in Stony Sept. Since all the "hiding behind" references to skirts are from men (except for an interesting passage involving Dany's assessment of the defensive capabilities of Astapor) I want to go back at some point and try to get a better understanding of how women feel about skirts. Are they the woman's equivalent of armor, or are they a hindrance? The metaphor has rich potential.

Oddly, the whole line of thinking around hiding behind skirts may connect to this next topic. This re-read of this chapter had really impressed on me that Renly wore Tyrell colors after his wedding to Margaery: "The crowned stag decorated the king's green velvet tunic as well, worked in gold thread upon his chest; the Baratheon sigil in the colors of Highgarden." You refer to the "Renly as a child metaphor," and maybe we are seeing Renly hiding behind Margaery's skirts. It's as if he took on a Tyrell cloak when he married, instead of giving Margaery a Baratheon cloak. I have this feeling that we are seeing Renly as a man of Highgarden, which means a Tyrell for the moment, or a Garth Greenhands reborn. This has even gotten me wondering whether it's Renly's ghost that kills Joffrey at his wedding feast (as a member of the Tyrell conspirators), but that's a topic for another chapter. I understand your point about all of the Renly-as-ghost moments being explained by the actions of a living person, but I think there is really supposed to be a Renly/specter of some kind - maybe it comes from being killed by a shadow.

I am seeing a ton of Catelyn-related stuff lately, too. On another thread, there was a recent discussion of Joffrey killing the pregnant cat to try to impress Robert. Because of the Lannister lion and its relationship to cats, some people thought this was a kind of Freudian anger at his mother or an expression of self-hate. I think it was Catelyn-related: she is the one nicknamed "Cat" (along with her daughter, Arya, who adopts the nickname as one of her many identity changes in Essos). And the Lady Stoneheart / Alayne Stone parallels will be enormous. Catelyn sees a lot and is a fascinating POV.

Edited by Seams

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2 hours ago, Seams said:

I am seeing a ton of Catelyn-related stuff lately, too. On another thread, there was a recent discussion of Joffrey killing the pregnant cat to try to impress Robert. Because of the Lannister lion and its relationship to cats, some people thought this was a kind of Freudian anger at his mother or an expression of self-hate. I think it was Catelyn-related: she is the one nicknamed "Cat" (along with her daughter, Arya, who adopts the nickname as one of her many identity changes in Essos). And the Lady Stoneheart / Alayne Stone parallels will be enormous. Catelyn sees a lot and is a fascinating POV.

The only problem with this hypothesis is that Joffrey has no emotional connection to Catelyn, despite the symbolism inherent in the name.  In order to vivisect the cat, there has to be a personal connection to cats directing the ferocity of the outlet.

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Jon III

Overview

As they continue their search for Benjen Stark and Mance Rayder beyond the Wall, two hundred Night’s Watch members, led by Lord Commander Mormont, reach Craster’s Keep during a torrential downpour. We meet Craster and then Craster’s pregnant daughter/wife Gilly. Ghost kills two rabbits Gilly had intended to breed. In the morning, Gilly approaches Jon and asks whether Jon might be able to help her to escape Craster. She worries what he will do when her baby is born, saying that Craster, “…gives the boys to the gods.” As they depart the compound, Jon learns that Mormont and all the rangers are aware that Craster “gives his sons to the wood,” but Mormont explains that the Night’s Watch needs Craster: “It would be an ill day for us if Craster died. Your uncle could tell you of the times Craster’s Keep made the difference between life and death for our rangers.”

Observations

Such an important chapter, in terms of characters, plot (learning about the child sacrifices), symbols and foreshadowing. A lot of it is not directly direwolf-related, so I will dump the non-direwolf stuff in this “Observations” section and try to focus on Ghost and other wolf references in the “Analysis” section.

The area the ranging group explores is called the haunted forest. Jon calls it the drowned forest.

Sam wears a floppy hat in this chapter. The only other floppy hat (so far) in ASOIAF is worn by Arya when she crosses from Saltpans to Braavos. When we meet “Young Griff” in ADwD, he will be “waving a wide-brimmed straw hat. I associate these hats with Aegon of the Dunk & Egg stories, who wears a “wide-brimmed floppy straw hat” as part of his disguise while he serves as Dunk’s squire. Is this kind of hat signaling a “voyage” of personal growth? Is it proper attire for a high-born person empathetic to the small folk? Is it simply one type of disguise for someone who wants to hide his origin? After some ironic remarks about Craster’s request for an axe, Dolorous Edd says, “Perhaps Craster would like a nice hat instead.”

If the theory is correct that there is wordplay around tears (the kind that result from crying) and tears (as in torn fabric) the Night’s Watch men may be crossing through a “tear” to another world (or to a magic place) as they reach Craster’s Keep: “Jon turned his horse back the way they’d come. It was pleasant to have the rain out of his face, if only for a little while. Everyone he passed seemed to be weeping.” And later, as Jon wakes up to a glittering, colorful scene where everything is glazed with ice: “So there is magic beyond the Wall after all. He found himself thinking of his sisters, perhaps because he'd dreamed of them last night. Sansa would call this an enchantment, and tears would fill her eyes at the wonder of it, but Arya would run out laughing and shouting, wanting to touch it all.” Interesting that “The Rains of Castamere” has an ominous meaning for Starks, but this rain of Craster is magical.

There are many references to cloaks in the chapter. Sam loans his cloak to Gilly, which seems like a symbolic wedding. Jon hangs his cloak over a rocky outcropping “to keep the rain off his smoky little fire.” He and Sam eat at this location, and Jon and Ghost sleep there, next to the fire. In the morning, “Jon reached to pull aside the cloak he’d hung over the rock, and found it stiff and frozen.  He crept beneath it and stood up in a forest turned to crystal.” Did Jon marry the rock? Or does the cloak over the fire signal the wedding of ice and fire? Is Jon “hatching” from the rock and cloak after being incubated by the fire and ice during the night?

Gilly appears at the moment Jon is taking in the enchanted landscape. Does she represent Lyanna, asking Jon/the King to protect her baby boy? She kneels before Jon – is this the first time we have seen a wildling become a kneeler? The brittle beauty of the icy morning is shattered as Gilly departs.

Dolorous Edd wonders whether Craster’s Keep is built on a giant mound of Craster’s shit.

Craster’s raven shouts, “Corn,” “Wall,” “Slave” “King” and “Corn” over the course of the chapter. Is this foreshadowing the murder of Jon (the Corn King) at the Wall? (If you have time, check out an underappreciated thread from @Bonkers, proposing that corn references are a sign "the character is about to have their fate changed completely, and start on their true path of destiny." A good insight about the things said by Mormont's raven, as well.)

Analysis

Ghost’s first appearance in this chapter comes when Jon is taking a short cut toward Craster’s Keep, away from the line of march taken by the other Night’s Watch brothers. Dywin and Grenn are also present when Ghost appears.

Dogs in Craster's Keep either run away or stand and growl as Ghost passes. A half-dozen black puppies are present near Craster’s table as Craster fondly recalls Gared, who was executed by Ned Stark on the day that the six direwolf pups were found. Craster compares Ser Waymar, Gared and Will to the nearby pups. Craster notes that frostbite caused Gared to lose his ears, and jokingly asks whether frostbite also took Gared’s head. (Answer: No, but close: it was Ice, not frostbite.)

When Jon says that he has been instructed that Craster is a friend to the Watch, Dolorous Edd says, “Do you know the difference between a wildling who’s a friend to the Watch and one who’s not? Our enemies leave our bodies for the crows and the wolves. Our friends bury us in secret graves.” In case anyone missed it, forum member @GloubieBoulga shared a wonderful insight that links Ned Stark to Dolorous Edd and suggests that DE’s remarks are the words of Ned’s spirit. So this remark may be a hint that Ned’s bones are in a secret grave overseen by a friendly wildling. (Or maybe this is a hint about Benjen’s fate?) A moment earlier, DE had – seemingly ironically – expressed his wish that the Night’s Watch could give all of their axes and swords to Craster so they could lighten their load and reach hell’s door more quickly. Interesting that Edd/Dead Ned wants to get to hell as soon as possible, and also that he would rather be buried in a secret grave than eaten by wolves. We know that Ned felt strongly that Lyanna’s bones should be in the Winterfell crypt, and not in a grave.

Dolorous Edd jokes that Ghost “looks hungry enough to eat one of Craster’s children. Well, truth be told, I’m hungry enough to eat one of Craster’s children, so long as he was served hot.” Later, Gilly points out that – technically – Jon is not Craster’s guest because he did not accept food or shelter from him. However, Ghost, Jon and Sam eat Gilly’s rabbits: Ghost swallows one raw, while Jon and Sam roast the other over a fire. Gilly had said she was going to breed the rabbits. Does this make Jon and Sam “guests” of Gilly? Have they symbolically eaten Craster’s (or Gilly’s) offspring?

Jon raises the subject of the absence of sheep and sons at Craster’s Keep just as Ghost emerges from swimming across a brook with “his white fur dripping brown.” The dirty wolf seems like a sign that a dirty secret of the north is about to be sprayed in all directions.

Edited by Seams

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Theon II

Overview

While viewing the new ship that has been built for him, Theon meets a woman who says she is Esgred, the ship builder’s wife. He flirts with her and invites her to the feast at his father’s castle. There he learns that she is actually his sister, Asha, and he is humiliated in front of everyone at the feast. King Balon shares his battle plan: Theon is given a relatively small, decoy role while Asha is assigned the larger task of taking Deepwood Motte. Victarion is given the job of taking Moat Cailin which, Balon explains, will prevent Robb Stark and his army from returning to the North and will allow the Ironborn to take control of the region.

Observations

There is very little wolf-related content in this chapter. 

Analysis

Asha (as Esgred) asks to be told about Theon’s “wolf king . . . and the golden lions he fights.”

After she is revealed as his sister, Asha explains to Theon, “If you had troubled to learn the first thing of Sigrin, I could never have fooled you. Ten years a wolf, and you land here and think to prince about the islands, but you know nothing and no one. Why should men fight and die for you?” This scolding is reminiscent of Ygritte scolding Jon with her famous line, “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”

Balon Greyjoy refers to Robb Stark as “the pup.”

There are some significant dog moments in the chapter: Theon names his ship Sea Bitch, and jokes that he is naming it after Esgred / Asha (who he later calls a bitch when he finds out she has tricked him). The dogs at Pyke greet Asha warmly but run past Theon. This is probably foreshadowing Theon’s future relationship with Ramsay’s “girls,” the pack of hunting dogs named after his victims.

Tyrion VI

Overview

Tyrion works long hours as acting Hand of the King. He gets Cersei out of his way by putting drops in her wine so she will be ill. When Alliser Thorne appears at court to request support for the Night’s Watch, Tyrion dismisses him without taking seriously his report of an attack by the walking dead. Tyrion has Shagga rough up Grand Maester Pycelle as payback for Pycelle informing Cersei about Tyrion’s communication with Dorne.

Observations

Tyrion and Cersei share a brief moment of joy (“Tyrion threw back his head and roared”) over the news that Stannis and Renly are battling each other instead of attacking King’s Landing. The events in the chapter show that Tyrion and Cersei are also battling each other.

The throne / Thorne / Dorne wordplay is rampant, with the throne described as a “tangle of nasty barbs,” a visit from Ser Alliser and a betrothal to the Martells of Dorne. (Dorn is the German word for thorn.)

Tyrion and Ser Alliser both refer to Jon Snow’s direwolf as an active participant in the defense of the Wall and the Night’s Watch.

Analysis

The author may be deliberately presenting a busy “day in the life” of the court at King’s Landing, filled with ritualized diplomacy, security, intrigue and rivalry, to contrast with the real work of protecting the realm, as described in a brief interior monologue by Tyrion and a report from Ser Alliser. When Ser Alliser reports that corpses “rose again in the night,” killing one man and attacking the Lord Commander, Tyrion wonders whether someone at court is playing a practical joke on him, yet he remembers standing on the Wall with Jon Snow and “a great white wolf” and feeling “a dread that cut like that frigid northern wind. A wolf had howled off in the night, and the sound had sent a shiver through him.”

Ser Alliser tries to get Tyrion to take seriously his report saying, “I brought Jared’s hand, torn from his corpse by the bastard’s wolf.” When he adds that only bones remain, people chuckle and Tyrion jokes about buying shovels for the Night’s Watch so they can bury their dead.

Earlier, Tyrion had agreed to send Ned Stark’s bones to Robb Stark, “as a gesture of Joffrey’s good faith.” There is definitely a motif with direwolves and bones, including Ghost tearing the hand, now only bones, from the corpse, and Ned Stark’s bones being returned to the Stark who will be known as the young wolf.

When he dismissed Ser Alliser, Tyrion said, “Give my warm regards to Lord Mormont . . . and to Jon Snow as well.” Given the eventual fate of the two men, who will both be attacked by members of the Night’s Watch, this closing line from Tyrion is an eerie echo of Jaime’s similar remark to Roose Bolton:

Roose: “You will give my warm regards to your father?”

Jaime:  “So long as you give mine to Robb Stark.”

Roose: “That I shall.”                                                                     [Storm, Chap. 44]

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Arya VI

Overview

Arya is held prisoner in a storehouse along with small folk from the village. Each day, one person is tortured to death by the Tickler, who works for Ser Gregor Clegane. The captors seek hidden valuables as well as information about Lord Beric Dondarrion. Eventually, the prisoners are marched to Harrenhal where they are put to work.

Observations

This chapter shows Arya helpless as she is surrounded by the horrors of war. She “watched and listened and polished her hates,” however, observing the Lannister men and trying to understand their individual traits. For the first time, we hear her list of targets for revenge and she compares the reciting of the names to praying.

Analysis

The body of each deceased victim of the Tickler’s torture was “hung beyond the fires for the wolves.” On the long march, one woman fights back after being repeatedly raped. Ser Gregor beheads her and says, “Leave the body for the wolves.”

“By the time they marched, Arya knew she was no water dancer. …The direwolf was the sigil of the Starks, but Arya felt more a lamb, surrounded by a herd of other sheep. She hated the villagers for their sheepishness, almost as much as she hated herself.”

Is irony the point here? The victims have already been savaged and tortured and psychologically destroyed. Haven’t they already been destroyed by “wolves”?

In Sansa III, we will see Sansa decide that she hates knights. Here we see Arya lose her self-image as a water dancer and begin to hate herself as well as hating the villagers, or so she claims.

At the end of this chapter, Arya tells the supervisors of the servants that her name is Weasel. Why does she take the name of the girl who escaped? Why does she say that Lommy called her Weasel?

Bran IV

Overview

Meera and Jojen have stayed on at Winterfell after the Harvest Feast and become Bran’s constant companions. Hanging out in the godswood, Jojen tells Bran that it would be good if Bran left Winterfell, sooner rather than later. He says he has had a vision of a winged wolf bound to the earth with stone chains, and that the three-eyed crow sent him to Winterfell to break Bran’s chains.

Observations

Arya VI began and ended with fear and included the recollection that Harrenhal had been built on fear; Jojen tells Bran that he knows about Bran’s nightmare fears of falling.

Meera and Jojen clearly explain green dreams and the third eye. Jojen also tells Bran that, “Part of you is in Summer, and part of Summer is in you.” Although Jojen tells Bran that the wolves are acting on Bran’s fear and anger, Bran does not acknowledge what Jojen is explaining. After Summer threatens Jojen, Bran’s thought is, “It was the wolves, it wasn’t me. He did not understand why they’d gotten so wild.”

Analysis

Bran says he can’t call off the wolves, but he calls Hodor and asks him to chase the wolves away. Why can’t Bran call off Summer? Why is Hodor able to make the wolves drop their attack mindset when Bran can’t? Is Bran in denial, or does he lose control of Summer (or himself?) in certain circumstances?

Jojen said that he had come to Winterfell to break Bran’s chains – the symbolic chains that prevent Bran from opening his third eye and, perhaps, the stone walls of Winterfell that keep Bran from traveling.

Soon we see a second chain, as Maester Luwin shows Bran the Valyrian steel link on the tight Maester’s “chain collar” around his neck. Are we supposed to think of a dog’s collar? Maester Luwin is responsible for confining the direwolves to the godswood, but is he also confined and constrained by his sworn service as a maester? He seems wistful about his belief that magic – the higher mysteries – has faded from the world.

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Arya VII

Overview

Arya is now known as Weasel. She sleeps below the WailingTower at Harrenhal and spends most of her days scrubbing steps to help make the abandoned upper floors of the vast castle ready for reuse. She sees the Brave Companions, Lord Tywin and the arrival of Jaqen H’ghar with Rorge and Biter, now members of Amory Lorch’s company. She names Chiswyck (one of Gregor Clegane’s men-at-arms) as the first of the three deaths Jaqen says are owed to the Red God.

Observations

Lannister bowmen say that Lord Bolton, still part of the northern army, won’t come south of the Trident “till the Young Wolf marches from Riverrun with his wild northmen and all them wolves.”

The first time the word “warg” is used in the books, it is mentioned among a series of rumors Arya hears at Harrenhal: Tywin had “bought a ton of silver to forge magic swords that would slay the Stark wargs.”

A combination of wolf and stone imagery: “Arya was dreaming of wolves running wild through the wood when a strong hand clamped down over her mouth like smooth warm stone . . .” just before Jaqen H’ghar reappears and tells her she must give three deaths to the Red God. Note: Arya’s primary work at Harrenhal is cleaning. She notices that Jaqen is very clean when she sees and smells him. Is this an allusion to the “white” fur of the direwolf Ghost? Yet Ghost ended the Jon III chapter covered in mud picked up while crossing a river. Jaqen’s hair is both red and white – his hair could represent a combination of the white fur of Ghost and the red hair of the Tully side of the family, which would allude to the wolf and stone imagery as he wakes Arya. Both auburn-haired Catelyn and Sansa will have stone identities as Lady Stoneheart and Alayne Stone.

“She had killed Chiswyck with a whisper, and she would kill two more before she was through. I’m the ghost in Harrenhal, she thought.”

Analysis

There may be some echoes of the Craster arc in this chapter. Amory Lorch is described as having pig’s eyes; Craster snorts and grunts and has a flat nose. Chiswyck describes the rape by Gregor Clegane and his men at the alehouse in this chapter. This brutal attack has elements in common with the two Craster’s Keep chapters including heavy rain, a victimized girl (compared to) a rabbit, a father who doesn’t want the men to touch his daughter(s), payment with coins (Jon thought about offering coins to pay for the rabbits Ghost killed), and a man stabbed in the belly with a dirk. Mormont gives Craster an axe; Medger Cerwyn, whose sigil is a battle axe, dies at Harrenhal during this chapter, ending Arya’s hope that he might help her return to her family. (In Arya IV, Arya had also given Jaqen an axe that allowed him to save himself and Rorge and Biter during the attack by Lorch’s men on the Night’s Watch wagon train.)

Direwolf connection: Arya – thinking of herself as the “Ghost” in Harrenhal – targets Chiswyck as her first Jaqen-delivered kill; eventually we will see Bran’s wolf, Summer, eating the remains of the mutineers who killed Craster and Mormont - after Coldhands kills the mutineers. (Does this pattern of direwolves-eat/kill-mutineers also apply to Arya’s murder of the Night’s Watch deserter Dareon in AFfC?)

It is interesting to compare Coldhands and Jaqen – both are “guides” for young Starks. Similarities in these two characters are consistent with posts in this forum comparing Bloodraven and the Kindly Man, the people toward whom Coldhands and Jaqen lead the Starks.

Sansa III

Overview

Sandor Clegane escorts Sansa to Joffrey at the lower bailey where Joffrey has been shooting things (including a cat) with a crossbow. Joffrey orders that Sansa be beaten and stripped because Robb’s army has just defeated a Lannister force in battle. Ser Dontos tries but fails to prevent harm to Sansa by giving her a fake beating with a melon-morningstar. Tyrion arrives and orders an end to the beating. Sansa is brought to the Tower of the Hand where she is cleaned up, given medical treatment, food and a place to sleep. She asks to return to her own chamber as the chapter ends, telling Tyrion that the ghosts of her father’s men slain in the Tower of the Hand would give her bad dreams.

Observations

Lancel: “Using some vile sorcery, your brother fell upon Ser Stafford Lannister with an army of wargs, not three days ride from Lannisport. Thousands of good men were butchered as they slept, without the chance to lift sword. After the slaughter, the northmen feasted on the flesh of the slain.”

 

Joffrey: “You Starks are as unnatural as those wolves of yours. I’ve not forgotten how your monster savaged me.”

Sansa: “That was Arya’s wolf,” she said. “Lady never hurt you, but you killed her anyway.”

 

Joffrey: “I’m punishing her.”

Tyrion: “For what crime? She did not fight her brother’s battle.”

Joffrey: “She has the blood of a wolf.”

Tyrion: “And you have the wits of a goose.”

 

Sansa: “Ser Lancel said Robb led an army of wargs . . .”

Tyrion: The imp gave a disdainful bark of laughter. “Ser Lancel’s a wineskin warrior who wouldn’t know a warg from a wart. Your brother had his direwolf with him, but I suspect that’s as far as it went. The northmen crept into my uncle’s camp and cut his horse lines, and Lord Stark sent his wolf among them. Even war-trained destriers went mad. . .”

Analysis

After being beaten by Ser Boros Blount (with support from Ser Meryn Trant) Sansa decides that she hates knights.

In AGoT, Arya throwing a blood orange that falls in Sansa’s lap may foreshadow the beheading of Ned Stark. The beheading will occur after Sansa tells Cersei and Joffrey of the Stark family’s secret plan to leave King’s Landing, so one could think of Ned’s death as falling on Sansa. In this chapter, Ser Dontos hits Sansa over the head with a melon. Does this fruit attack also foreshadow another death? Perhaps that of Ser Dontos himself? Or will there be another beheading in Sansa’s future? (I’m thinking of the dwarf jousting act where a jouster is beheaded but the “head” turns out to be a melon in a helmet.) Will Sansa be responsible for the future death – of Ser Dontos or a dwarf - in the same way she could be blamed for Ned’s death?

The differences in Lancel’s and Tyrion’s accounts of the battle show both how unreliable narrators can change a story, and how legends can begin. Similarly, Joffrey says he has not forgotten how Sansa’s direwolf attacked him but Sansa points out that her wolf did not attack him.

If Tyrion’s account of the attack by the northmen is accurate, it is interesting that the combination of horses and the direwolf were key to Robb’s victory. He makes strategic use of the horses’ known fear of direwolves. The direwolf, in this way, becomes a weapon with some of the qualities of a dragon, which was sometimes used as a threat instead of an actual weapon. Fear cuts deeper than swords.

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Jon IV

Overview

Jon and Ghost arrive at the Fist of the First Men with Mormont and the ranging group. The group makes camp within the tumbled stones of an old ringfort. Jon makes and serves hot spiced wine for Mormont and other officers and gives up his own bowl of stew when his Night’s Watch brother Dywen mentions the “smell” of cold, which reminds Jon of the attack by the wight. Ghost leads Jon outside the ringfort and into the dark, windy woods. Digging behind a fallen tree, Ghost guides Jon to what Jon thinks might be a fresh grave or a bundle of treasure. The bundle is filled with dragonglass arrow and spearheads and dagger blades. An old warhorn is also in the bundle. All of the contents are wrapped in a black cloak of the Night’s Watch.

Observations

Many of the details here match details of other turning points in the plot. Searching on key words allows for helpful comparisons. I looked at “bundle,” for this analysis (see analysis, below). I also look at “clink” and “treasure” but did not write down most of the the fascinating findings associated with those words. There are other key words and details that lead to additional parallels and I encourage you to use the search site to dig down (ha!) and find the treasures GRRM has buried in this scene.

Lord Commander Mormont takes a special interest in Ghost’s activities during this chapter. This may relate back to his words at the end of AGoT, “All I know is that the blood of the First Men flows in the veins of the Starks. . . . I think you were meant to be here, and I want you and that wolf of yours with us when we go beyond the Wall.” (AGoT, Jon IX) Note that flow and wolf are both part of what makes Jon special, in Mormont’s wise opinion.

This chapter provides the second mention of the comet using the nickname given to it by the Night’s Watch men: “Overhead, the stars were coming out. The long red tail of Mormont’s Torch burned as bright as the moon.” Later, however, Jon notes, “The night was moonless but a thousand stars shone overhead.”

There is also more discussion about finding Benjen Stark – or about Benjen finding the ranging group – whether he is alive or dead.

There were many layers of meaning to sort out in this chapter, much of which was not directly direwolf-related. If you’re interested in that, look at a thread focused on the “old place” designation for the Fist, and how that might relate to other so-called old places in Westeros. In a discussion started by Illyrio Mo’Parties, there was some discussion of what Mormont knew and when he knew it about Benjen and the obsidian.

Analysis

 

This analysis will wander away from the direwolf focus on this thread, but I think that’s in the nature of this chapter, which is a major symbolic turning point for Jon, and perhaps for the plot as a whole.

Jon brushed the loose soil away to reveal a rounded bundle perhaps two feet across. He jammed his fingers down around the edges and worked it loose. When he pulled it free, whatever was inside shifted and clinked. Treasure, he thought, but the shapes were wrong to be coins, and the sound was wrong for metal.

Bundle – Significantly for this direwolf re-read, the first use of the word “bundle” in the books describes the wolf pup that will become Grey Wind (followed immediately by a reassurance that a dead mother wolf cannot hurt someone):

Robb grinned and looked up from the bundle in his arms. "She can't hurt you," he said. "She's dead, Jory." (AGoT, Bran I)

Bran follows up with a second bundle observation describing the pup in Robb’s arms and also referring to the dead mother direwolf, which he calls a monster:

Half-buried in bloodstained snow, a huge dark shape slumped in death. Ice had formed in its shaggy grey fur, and the faint smell of corruption clung to it like a woman's perfume. Bran glimpsed blind eyes crawling with maggots, a wide mouth full of yellowed teeth. But it was the size of it that made him gasp. It was bigger than his pony, twice the size of the largest hound in his father's kennel.

Bran tore his eyes away from the monster. That was when he noticed the bundle in Robb's arms. He gave a cry of delight and moved closer. The pup was a tiny ball of grey-black fur, its eyes still closed. It nuzzled blindly against Robb's chest as he cradled it, searching for milk among his leathers, making a sad little whimpery sound. (AGoT, Bran I)

So Robb found a direwolf bundle and Jon found a dragonglass bundle (with the help of his direwolf). A bundle is a direwolf pup, a baby and the offspring of a killer / monster mother. It is a blind, tiny fur ball and apparently it seeks milk in the wrong places.

I think GRRM is showing both Robb and Jon delivering babies in these bundle scenes and, on one level, the babies are themselves: Robb is a grey Stark direwolf and Jon is – a bunch of weapons? A dragon? Made of glass? A slayer of The Others? A warhorn?

Compare Robb’s bundle to the first bundle in a Daenerys’ POV:

"He is riding!" the other women answered. "Rakh! Rakh! Rakh haj!" they proclaimed. A boy, a boy, a strong boy.

Bells rang, a sudden clangor of bronze birds. A deep-throated warhorn sounded its long low note. The old women began to chant. Underneath their painted leather vests, their withered dugs swayed back and forth, shiny with oil and sweat. The eunuchs who served them threw bundles of dried grasses into a great bronze brazier, and clouds of fragrant smoke rose up toward the moon and the stars. The Dothraki believed the stars were horses made of fire, a great herd that galloped across the sky by night.

As the smoke ascended, the chanting died away and the ancient crone closed her single eye, the better to peer into the future. The silence that fell was complete. Dany could hear the distant call of night birds, the hiss and crackle of the torches, the gentle lapping of water from the lake. The Dothraki stared at her with eyes of night, waiting.

(AGoT, Daenerys V)

Dany’s first bundle scene follows the ritual of eating the stallion’s heart in order to ensure that her unborn baby will be the stallion that mounts the world. In another thread, I looked at the word “jammed” in Jon’s bundle scene: Jon “jammed his fingers” around the dragonglass bundle as he extracts it from the ground. The word “jammed” echoes the effort the wight Othor had made at Castle Black to jam its fingers down Jon’s throat, possibly to pull his heart out of his chest. In Robb’s bundle scene, “Bran’s heart was thumping in his chest” and “Bran was afire with curiosity.”

Elements in common between Dany and Robb’s bundle scenes: a baby, leathers, breasts that don’t give milk, grey smoke instead of Grey Wind. Stars are horses made of fire; the mother direwolf is bigger than a pony. Also, Robb tells Jory to put away his sword. In Dany’s scene, “No steel was permitted within the sacred confines of Vaes Dothrak, beneath the shadow of the Mother of Mountains. . .”

Elements in common between Dany and Jon’s bundle scenes: Dany is a dragon; Jon finds dragon glass. Dragonglass is used to magically see things when it is a glass candle; in Dany’s scene a crone seems to use the smoke or fire to see the future. There’s a warhorn in Daenerys’ bundle scene, as in Jon’s bundle.

In Robb’s scene, the mother of the bundle (direwolf pup) has died. In Dany’s scene, she is the mother but the bundle is grass that is thrown on a fire. Targaryens are associated with fire, and we know that Dany’s living babies will be her dragons, born in fire. Her human baby will be a monster that lives only briefly – recall that Bran refers to the mother direwolf as a monster. So there is a reversal but a sort of balance in these scenes: monster mother wolf dies; monster Targaryen baby will die. Wolf pup born in snow; dragons will be born in fire.

Maybe the grass in Dany’s scene is wordplay on the glass in Jon’s scene.

So where is the mother in Jon’s bundle scene? Aha. I think this is super important. When Ghost leads Jon to the site, Jon “had been expecting a corpse, fearing a corpse, but this was something else.” Is GRRM telling us that Jon’s mother is still alive? What he does find makes a clinking sound and seems to be treasure, but not coins or metal. And what does it mean that Jon becomes a gravedigger here? Should we compare him to the gravedigger on the Quiet Isle?

Or maybe GRRM is just telling us that the Fist of the First Men is the “mother” of Jon’s bundle: if the bundle is a baby or pup, Jon delivers it by digging it from the surprisingly “loose, sandy” soil of the hillside.

I’ll just follow one more set of symbols in this chapter:

Remember how the sword Dawn was forged from the heart of a comet? And remember how this chapter includes one of the references to the comet as “Mormont’s Torch”? When Jon reaches the spot indicated by Ghost, “Jon lowered the torch, revealing a rounded mound of soft earth. . . . He knelt, jammed the torch into the ground beside him. . .” In other words, Jon brings the light to this scene. Jon opens the black cloak and spills the contents on the ground, “dark and bright . . . featherlight and shiny . . . Torchlight ran along its edge, a thin orange line . . .” I think we may be witnessing here the comet falling to earth again in the form of Jon’s torch as it is jammed into the ground. The obsidian dagger blade may represent the sword that one day Jon will kneel to touch or that will touch him.

Do any characters mention seeing the comet after this scene, or does it disappear from sight?

Edited by Seams

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Further references to bundles show associations with

  • Bear skins (Tyrion bundled into bear skins; Tormund and his she-bear lover bundled up; Maester Aemon in a bearskin; Bowen Marsh in a bear skin; the messenger boy who lures Kevan Lannister to Maester Pycelle’s chamber);
  • Clothes that Arya tries to carry away along with her sword Needle, but which are stolen from her (a similar bundle appears when it is time to help fArya / Jeyne Poole escape from Winterfell);
  • Things that burn (bundles of grasses set on fire in Drogo’s pyre; Sansa’s bedding after she gets her period; a torch made by Qhorin Halfhand);
  • Major and minor characters, often in cloaks but sometimes furs (Bran is light as a bundle of rags; Joffrey bundled out of the throne room by three maesters; Jaime bundled into a cloak for his trip with Brienne; Gilly and her baby in furs at the Night Fort and other locations; Lady Stoneheart in a cloak; Shae’s body bundled up in Tywin’s bedding; Tris Botley in furs; Frenya, one of Abel’s washerwomen in furs);
  • The sword oathkeeper in a bundle of oilcloth;
  • Weapons in general – bundles of arrows and spears among other things,
  • Pages Sam reads in the Castle Black library (Hoster "the hostage" Blackwood also appears with a bundle of scrolls),
  • Food carried by Septon Meribald (are his oranges related to the thin orange line on the dragonglass Jon finds?), and
  • Cloaks, cudgels, short swords, masks and a whip in a bundle from the Tattered Prince to Quentyn Martell.

This may sound like such a broad range of things that no pattern can be discerned. I admit, it’s possible that there is no hidden message – or perhaps there is more than one message. Consider this, though: Jon finds that the dragonglass cache clinks within its cloak bundle. If you search on the word “clink,” it is often associated with chain mail worn under clothing. I think that GRRM is telling us that the dragonglass cache is a central metaphor that connects to other links to form a single, strong fabric, just as the arcs of main characters link to other characters in the books. For instance, Shae’s body is bundled in Tywin’s bedding, Sansa burns the bedding stained with her menstrual blood, and she also imagines herself and Tyrion bundled into bed together for the bedding ritual after their wedding (@GloubieBoulga knows about bundling as a courtship ritual). So there are three characters whose lives are linked, making completely different uses of bundles of bedding, but their bundles, in turn, link to other bundles that are burned, that are presented by Tywin (i.e., the sword Oathkeeper) and that involve blood. Chain mail clinking is a metaphor for linking and an expansion of the chain metaphor in the maester’s chains or Tyrion’s giant chain across the harbor at the Blackwater.

Another possible triple bundle connection: Bran is like a bundle of rags; the Tattered Prince gives Quentyn Martell a bundle containing cloaks made of fabric scraps as well as a whip; When Khal Drogo is burned on the pyre built by Dany (and fueled by grass bundles), one of his possessions that is burned with his body is a whip his father gave him. The grass bundles in Dany's bundle scene might be an allusion to Doran Martell, who describes himself as the grass and his brother as the snake in the grass. Is Bran being compared to the Tattered Prince? Is the Tattered Prince being compared to Quentyn's father, Doran Martell? Is the burning grass bundle also a comparison to Doran? Is Quentyn being compared to Khal Drogo?

Now that I've searched on a few of these key words GRRM uses in related scenes or in chapters that are close to each other within the story, I feel as if he uses them to draw our attention to deliberate parallels in the lives of disparate characters.

Rags and daggers are also related (in the wordplay universe) so the comparison of Bran to a bundle of rags could be a way of contrasting him with Jon's find of the bundle with the obsidian daggers.

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Bran V

Overview

Events at Winterfell reflect things that have happened in Jojen’s dreams, convincing Bran that Jojen’s green dreams really do have prophetic powers. Bran tells Jojen about his own dreams, saying there are three kinds: wolf dreams, dreams where the crow tells him to fly, and dreams where Bran falls. Ser Rodrik Cassel returns to Winterfell with a prisoner, a man called Reek who was a serving man for the Bastard of Bolton. Bran tries to warn others about Jojen’s dream of the sea flowing over the walls of Winterfell. There is discussion of the Ironborn raids on the stony shore. Jojen tells Bran that he has also dreamed of the man called Reek skinning the faces off of Bran and Rickon’s dead bodies.

Observations

Bran reiterates his desire to be a knight and Jojen tells him, “A knight is what you want. A warg is what you are.”  

Jojen seems frustrated that Bran has not yet figured out how to open his third eye. He tells him he must search for the eye with his heart. He also tells him that the past, the future and the truth are found in green dreams, and that these should be feared.

Each of the three people Jojen envisions “drowning” when the sea comes to Winterfell reacts in a different way when Bran informs them: fear and attempts at avoidance; denial (“I’m quite the strong swimmer”) yet acknowledgment of the will of the gods; and joking acceptance.

After Bran finally admits to Jojen and Meera that, in his wolf dreams, he can “run and hunt and kill squirrels,” we finally get some explanation or description of wargs:

Warg,” said Jojen Reed.

Bran looked at him, his eyes wide. “What?”

“Warg. Shapechanger. Beastling. That is what they will call you, if they should ever hear of your wolf dreams.”

The names made him afraid again. “Who will call me?”

“Your own folk. In fear. Some will hate you if they know what you are. Some will even try to kill you.”

Analysis

I suspect that Bran is both a warg and a “knight” – that he will fulfill his knightly ambitions through other people. Hodor will be his horse. He will have a sword from the Stark crypt.

Fear of drowning leads Alebelly to stop bathing to the point that he smells very bad. Ser Rodrik asks Bran, “Do you want [our guardsmen] smelling like this Reek, is that it?” Six other guards finally force Alebelly to bathe. Does this vignette tell us something about how Theon will emerge from his Reek identity? Or does this foreshadow something about Ramsay Bolton? (Ramsay is impersonating Reek at this point.) The bathing of Alebelly may be like the drowning ritual of the Ironborn.

When Bran tries to explain Jojen’s dream to Ser Rodrik, Maester Luwin seems to immediately connect it to the Ironborn raids. No one else has figured out yet what the metaphor of the sea flowing over the walls is supposed to represent.

Elsewhere in this forum, I have tried to puzzle out the relationship between the “mirror image” words wolf and flow:

When Jojen saw “the salt water came flowing over the walls and filled the castle,” the water may have been overpowering the wolf presence that had previously occupied Winterfell. I still have a hunch that “wolf” and “flow” are intended to be in balance – a sort of yin and yang pair. Before the sacking and burning of Winterfell, we had hot water from the hot springs flowing through the walls of the castle but we also had the family with the direwolf sigil living there. If the walls of Winterfell were supposed to be a metaphor for the Wall of ice up the King’s Road to the north, they kept the wolf and flow separate but in balance, each on its own side of the walls. Theon invading Winterfell puts things out of balance: too much “flow,” not enough “wolf”, and the wolf and flow are not on the right sides of the walls. (For those who don’t want to explore the links, I will just add that I believe “flowers” as well as “fowl” may be related to the “flow” wordplay.)

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Theon III

Overview

Carrying out his role in his father’s plan for controlling the North, Theon and the crews of a few longboats harry and burn along the StonyShore. They encounter and slaughter the Wild Hares, a group of young lance-carrying men led by Theon’s old friend, Benfred Tallheart. Theon accedes to his uncle Aeron’s insistence that Benfred be drowned in the sea (although Theon declines to participate in the execution). Over a drink with Dagmer Cleftjaw, Theon reveals a plot to exceed his father’s expectations by sending a decoy force to Torrhen Square, luring defenders away from Winterfell so that Theon can lead an attack there.

Observations

“Robb will gut you, Greyjoy,” Benfred Tallheart screamed. “He’ll feed your turncloak’s heart to his wolf, you piece of sheep dung.”

Benfred had a neck thick as a boar’s, heavy with muscle and fat.

Dagmer Cleftjaw: “With your brothers dead and you taken by the wolves, your sister was his solace. . . . Theon, the Boy Wolf is your friend, and these Starks had you for ten years.”

There are many animals and furs in this chapter: wolves, wild hares, sheep, crows, boar, horses, Fishwhiskers, a cloak of white foxfur, rabbitskins, a seagull, Blackfish, raven.

Analysis

Dagmer has “an ugly smile,” the result of an old axe wound to his face. Theon is known as a smiler (it is also the name of his horse). So the ugly smile may represent a change in Theon as he reverts to his Ironborn upbringing. Because of the split in his face, one could describe Dagmer as literally “two faced,” which is also an idiom in English meaning false or untrustworthy; saying different things to different people in order to gain their approval instead of speaking and behaving honestly.

In Jon IV, we saw Jon thinking about his missing uncle Benjen and digging for treasure (the obsidian cache). In this chapter, Theon is not interested in joining his men in looting the corpses of the slain Wild Hares, looking for valuables. And he kills a “Ben” (Benfred Tallheart) and spends time with his uncles – Aeron is an uncle by blood and Dagmer is an old mentor that Theon thinks of as an uncle.

Perhaps Theon’s lack of interest in taking plunder from corpses shows that he has already set his sites on a larger form of “paying the iron price”: he has in mind to take possession of Winterfell.

Theon’s refusal to personally execute Benfred makes his uncle Aeron unhappy: “You command here; the offering should come from you.” This also contrasts with Ned Stark’s philosophy that the man who passes the sentence should carry out the execution. Is this a case of the turncloak passing the sentence and the northern man being executed? Theon also recalls the day he saved Bran Stark from a NW deserter and was scolded for taking a risky shot instead of being thanked.

Do these themes with desertion and execution deliberately recall Theon’s first appearance in the books, at the beheading of the Night’s Watch deserter Gared? The direwolf pups were discovered immediately after that beheading.

I am mindful of the important - perhaps pivotal - role that Aeron played in Theon I, however, which Theon articulated even though he may not have fully recognized what he was saying:

Aeron: “Kneel. Or are you too proud now, a lordling of the green lands come among us?”

Theon knelt. He had a purpose here, and might need Aeron’s help to achieve it.

By turning away from his uncle Aeron and turning to his non-uncle Dagmer, Theon may be taking a "wrong" path for both his larger goal of becoming a king and the immediate challenge of helping the Ironborn take effective control of the North.

I believe that Robb Stark is connected to boars (wordplay involving Robb / boar) so Benfred’s neck like a boar’s may foreshadow the eventual beheading of Robb Stark.

Arya VIII

Overview

Harrenhal is a busy place as the Lannister army mobilizes to go to war with Robb Stark’s army. As Weasel, Arya runs errands for her boss, Weese. She names a second person to Jaqen - Weese - marking a second target for death, after the man hits her for being slow at her work. The next morning, she changes her mind and wishes she had named Gregor Clegane or Polliver or Tywin Lannister: “Weese did not matter, no more than Chiswyck had. These were the men who mattered, the ones she ought to have killed.” But it’s too late to change the name as she comes upon Weese’s murder scene when she seeks to find Jaqen.

Observations

. . . a group of archers in leather jerkins and iron helms went past, their bows slung across their shoulders. Arya heard snatches of their talk.

“. . . giants I tell you, he’s got giants twenty foot tall come down from beyond the Wall, follow him like dogs . . .”

“. . . not natural, coming on them so fast, in the night and all. He’s more wolf than man, all them Starks are . . .”

“. . . shit on your wolves and giants, the boy’d piss his pants if he knew we was coming. He wasn’t man enough to march on Harrenhal, was he? Ran t’other way, didn’t he? He’d run now if he knew what was best for him.”

“So you say, but might be the boy knows something we don’t, maybe it’s us ought to be run . . .”

Yes, Arya thought. Yes, it’s you who ought to run, you and Lord Tywin and the Mountain and Ser Addam and Ser Amory and stupid Ser Lyonel whoever he is, all of you better run or my brother will kill you, he’s a Stark, he’s more wolf than man, and so am I.

For a moment she had been a wolf again, but Weese’s slap took it all away and left her with nothing but the taste of her own blood in her mouth.

Analysis

In some key details, this chapter almost plays like a parody (perhaps an inverse?) of the purple wedding feast, with Weese in the role of the doomed King Joffrey:

  • Ser Addam Marbrand departs Harrenhal at the beginning of the chapter – he will be the one to take Tyrion and Sansa’s maids into custody after Joffrey’s wedding feast.
  • Arya thinks about fleeing the castle but does not do so. Sansa does flee after the wedding feast.
  • Arya delivers a valuable silver drinking horn, a sword and messages that she can read and the intended recipients often can’t read. (These are like Joffrey’s groom gifts, including the book Joffrey doesn’t read, the sword from Tywin and the wine cup from Mace Tyrell.)
  • Just as Joffrey promised to marry Sansa, which would have involved sharing with her the wedding pie enclosing birds, Weese promised to share half a capon with Arya (as a reward for her theft of the drinking horn with silver bands). Joffrey and Weese both broke their promises: Joffrey married Margaery and Weese gave a wing of the roast bird to a woman who shared his bed but gave Arya nothing. (I bet “capon” is a pun on “cape on,” as a groom would put a cloak - or cape - on a bride’s shoulders.)
  • Weese hits and threatens to beat Arya, similar to Joffrey’s ordered beating of Sansa and his threat to rape her. (Rorge threatens to rape Arya in this chapter.)
  • Smiths work bellows and hammers, similar to the “forging” of Joffrey as people pound on him and bellow while he is choking.
  • Hot Pie’s name is mentioned (by Gendry!) and Arya is told that she can have half of a roast capon but the promise is later forgotten. These are the closest equivalents to the wedding pies with the pigeons.
  • Instead of Ser Ilyn Payne, Jaqen H’Ghar plays the role of the Stranger, delivering death.
  • Instead of the strangler poison that causes the throat to constrict, Weese grabs Arya’s throat to reprimand her for staring at him saying, “Keep those eyes to yourself . . .” (If Weese and Joffrey are to be compared, I am pleased that this line seems to support a theory about Ice / eyes as clues to Joffrey's murder.)
  • The chapter ends with a dog going at the corpse of Weese, licking his blood and eating his face, while horrified bystanders look on. Weese’s dog is killed with an arrow; the dog that sniffs Joffrey’s corpse is shooed away by a guard.
Edited by Seams

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Catelyn V

Overview

Catelyn and Brienne make their way from the camp of the late King Renly in the Reach back toward Riverrun. They hear news of Robb’s victory against Lannister forces at Oxcross. Brienne offers her services as a knight to Catelyn, provided Catelyn won’t hold her back from Stannis when the time comes. Catelyn’s brother Edmure describes a foiled plot by Lannister envoys to try to free the prisoner of war, Jaime Lannister, who is in the Riverrun dungeon. Edmure shares his plan to attack the larger Lannister force by teaming up with Frey and Bolton forces. Catelyn visits her dying father, whose confused remarks reveal that Lysa, before she was married, was involved with a young man of whom her father did not approve. Silent Sisters have delivered Ned Stark’s bones to Riverrun as a peace gesture from Tyrion. Catelyn views the bones, notes that Ned’s sword is missing, and asks the Silent Sisters to deliver the bones to Winterfell.

Observations

A Frey bannerman recounts details of Robb’s victory over Lannister forces at Oxcross, the same engagement already referred to in Sansa III and Arya VIII. A singer has already written a song about it called, “Wolf in the Night.” Grey Wind reportedly led a line of riders along a goat track, slipping undetected around Lannister watchtowers. “There’s some say that after the battle, the king cut out Stafford Lannister’s heart and fed it to the wolf.” When Martyn Rivers says, “The Greatjon’s been heard to say that the old gods of the north sent those direwolves to your children,” Catelyn recalls the day “her boys” found the pups in the late summer snows. “No common wolves, she thought. No indeed.”

At the end of the chapter, Ned’s bones have been laid out and then covered with “the white banner of House Stark with its grey direwolf sigil.” Under the banner, “They had dressed the bones in Ned’s surcoat, the fine white velvet with the direwolf badge over the heart . . .” Catelyn asks that the silent sisters take the bones to Winterfell, and she thinks to herself that “they will make a statue of him, a stone likeness that will sit in the dark with a direwolf at his feet and a sword across his knees.”

Analysis

Catelyn’s recollection of the discovery of the direwolf pups, as well as her reunion with Ned’s bones, may parallel Jon Snow’s discovery of the dragonglass cache wrapped in a cloak in the Jon IV chapter. In the earlier analysis, I pointed out that the obsidian weapons were described as a bundle, and that Robb’s wolf pup was described as a bundle when he was newly discovered.

We are reminded in this chapter that Grey Wind has been a sort of magical weapon for Robb Stark. (The line about the wolf eating Stafford Lannister’s heart may even have been an Azor Ahai allusion, with the second sword plunged into the heart of a lion, or a reference to Joffrey’s sword, Hearteater.)

When Catelyn sees Ned’s bones, she recalls his eyes and compares them to fog and to stone: “… one skull looks much like another, and in those empty hollows she found no trace of her lord’s dark grey eyes, eyes that could be soft as a fog or hard as stone.” The fog could be a Grey Wind reference, and the stone could be an obsidian reference. Soft and hard. Robb and Jon.

Catelyn says to herself, They gave his eyes to crows.” This would be an accurate description of Jon joining the Night’s Watch, the members of which are often described as crows. Is there also a double meaning for Robb in this crow reference? Has he been given to crows? Is it part of a crow / crown pun? Or foreshadowing his “murder”? (In English, a group of crows is called “a murder of crows”.)

Since she is thinking of Ned’s eyes, there is also a pun here about Ice. And that particular sword is the next thing she notices is missing: the sword laid out with the bones is not Ned’s sword. So this bundle is incomplete – it does not contain Ned’s eyes or the weapon that goes with it. By contrast, Robb’s wolf pup bundle contained the “weapon” that would become Grey Wind and Jon’s obsidian cache was full of arrowheads, spear points and dagger blades.

Further reading and discussion

  • NorthernXY started a discussion in March 2017 comparing dragon glass to eyes
  • In April 2016, sweetsunray posted a great analysis of Catelyn noticing Ned’s missing sword compared to the Isis / Osiris myth. (Scroll down to the section labeled “Osiris’ coffin, Isis and the golden phallus and Demeter of the golden sword”.)
  • The part of this chapter that describes the attempt to free Jaime and the hanging of the Lannister envoys seems to foreshadow the situation where Edmure will be made to stand with a noose around his neck until he is freed by Jaime. Some thoughts about the comparison are posted here.
Edited by Seams

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Jon V

Overview

The ranging party led by Qhorin Halfhand meets up with Mormont’s group camped at the Fist of the First Men. As he brings breakfast into Mormont’s tent, Jon hears Qhorin describing the huge wildling army Mance has assembled, and informing the Lord Commander that the wildlings are searching for something that will blast a hole through the Wall using sorcery. Mormont agrees to Qhorin’s plan that three groups of five men be sent “to learn what waits in those mountains.” Both men recognize that the likelihood of death is very great. Mormont tells Qhorin to choose his men, and Qhorin chooses Jon Snow.

Observations

On attacking a larger group of wildlings, Night’s Watch brother Thoren Smallwood says confidently, “Send two hundred wolves against ten thousand sheep, ser, and see what happens.”

Almost as soon as he meets Jon, Qhorin asks about Jon’s wolf: “It is said that a direwolf runs with you.”

Jon overhears Night’s Watch brothers talking about the dangers in the Frostfangs, including giants and wargs and “worse things.” Qhorin reports that wargs and mammoths are among the threats that Mance Rayder has assembled in his wildling army.

Qhorin seems to have a connection to the Starks, telling Jon that he knew Rickard Stark as well as Eddard. When he and Mormont discuss how best to defend the realm against the wildling threat, Qhorin says, “The best hope is Winterfell. The Starks must rally the north.” He later says that the old gods are strong beyond the Wall. “The gods of the First Men . . . and the Starks.”

Analysis

The chapter concludes with Qhorin telling Jon, “Best find that wolf of yours.” This line reminds me of the closing line from AGoT, Jon IX, where Mormont gets Jon to reaffirm his vow to the Night’s Watch and tells him he needs Jon and his wolf “with us when we go beyond the Wall,” and then says, “Now go put on your sword.” If the similarity is intentional, this is another example of a direwolf and a weapon being compared.

Aside from his faith in the Starks and their bond with the old gods, perhaps Qhorin wants Jon in his group of five because he wants to fight fire with fire or, rather, fight wildling wargs with a Stark warg.

Catelyn VI

Overview

Edmure leaves Catelyn at Riverrun to carry out his plan to fight the Lannister army every time they try to cross the Trident. Catelyn is introspective about her history of doing her duty, helping her father and abiding by the marriage pact he made. With Brienne, she has a conversation comparing death in battle to death in childbirth. Word arrives that Storm’s End has capitulated to Stannis. Catelyn thinks about Ser Cortney Penrose trying to protect Edric Storm and Ned protecting Jon Snow, yet Roose Bolton had indicated that he was happy to be rid of Ramsay Snow, who was reported killed by Ser Rodrik Cassel. Catelyn interrogates Ser Cleos Frey, the envoy sent by the Lannisters. She wonders whether she can trust Tyrion, but concludes that all Lannisters are liars. The people of Riverrun celebrate the success of Robb’s army and of Edmure’s river defenses but Catelyn remains uneasy about the state of war.

Observations

Rymund the Rhymer sings part of his song about Robb’s victory at Oxcross: And the stars in the night were the eyes of his wolves, and the wind itself was their song. Between the verses, Rymund threw back his head and howled, and by the end, half of the hall was howling along with him . . .”

Catelyn admits that followers of Stannis would recognize the strong family resemblance of Edric Storm to his Baratheon father as proof of Joffrey’s illegitimacy; while supporters of Joffrey would say it means nothing. She thinks of Arya and Jon’s resemblance to Ned, and then thinks about the rumor that Ashara Dayne had been Jon Snow’s mother.

Analysis

Catelyn thinks about her own dutiful behavior as a daughter and wife, but now feels she does not know what her duty is. The comparison of battle and motherhood seems to be at the core of this chapter:

“Knights die in battle,” Catelyn reminded [Brienne].

Brienne looked at her with those blue and beautiful eyes. “As ladies die in childbed. No one sings songs about them.”

If this Catelyn chapter is compared to the previous Jon chapter (Jon V), the author’s point may be to contrast Qhorin’s focus on Jon as a warg, which is presumed to be a quality inherited through his Stark lineage, with Catelyn’s somewhat contradictory thoughts about the range of factors – including a conscious decision to act as a father – that create or dissolve a family bond. Ser Cortney was willing to give his life to protect Edric Storm, who is not even his son; Roose Bolton is relieved to believe that his natural son Ramsay is dead. All Lannisters are liars, she concludes, as if this were an inbred trait of that family. Edric Storm’s hair color would be proof of his paternity (and of Cersei’s betrayal) in the eyes of Baratheon loyalists, but irrelevant to Joffrey’s followers. There seems to be a theme about perception and intention in Catelyn’s reflections on paternity and lineage. (Are family bonds like glamors? Largely in the eye of the beholder?)

I wonder, too, whether there is a subtle point in the howling that the singer elicits from the assembled people at the Riverrun feast: that they are bewitched by the singing to “become” howling wolves; or whether their loyalty to Robb causes them to symbolically become wolves. Joining in the song (which is a form of a story) is a way of taking part in the original events. Either way, the inference might be that it is not necessary to have Stark blood to “be” a warg on some level; a conscious decision to “run with” a Stark may be enough to achieve this status.

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17 hours ago, Seams said:

On attacking a larger group of wildlings, Night’s Watch brother Thoren Smallwood says confidently, “Send two hundred wolves against ten thousand sheep, ser, and see what happens.”

We could add that from the beginning of the expedition, the Watchers as "wolves" have complitely missed their preys : wildlings villages are totally empty, no trail of Benjen nor Waymar, no animals to hunt (even Ghost can find no prey and must attack Craster's rabbits), and Qhorin arrives at the Fist with exactly the same informations than Mormont and Thoren Smallwood obtained from Craster, the "friend of the Watch" (in other words, Craster's informations are useless). Beyond the Wall, the Watchers are no more the hunters, but the preys, and Thoren's phrasis foreshadows what will happen to the Watchers with the attack of thousands dead preys at the Fist.  

Another observation about Jon's chapter : it begins with the sound of the horn, when the chapter before just ended with Stannis' shadow entering Storm's End. (GrrM chapter's transitions are quite always terrific !)

Edit : 

Quote

I wonder, too, whether there is a subtle point in the howling that the singer elicits from the assembled people at the Riverrun feast: that they are bewitched by the singing to “become” howling wolves; or whether their loyalty to Robb causes them to symbolically become wolves. Joining in the song (which is a form of a story) is a way of taking part in the original events. Either way, the inference might be that it is not necessary to have Stark blood to “be” a warg on some level; a conscious decision to “run with” a Stark may be enough to achieve this status.

I appreciate the observations about the Catelyn's chapter, and also to add some points about this one : the singer could here symbolized the song of the birds, especially the birds familiars with weirwoods (ravens and crows), which suggest that Stark of Winterfell could be wolves because of their weirwood and the blood trapped in it... and the fact that they "howled" the song of their weirwood. 

In that perspective, the phrase "all Lannister are liars" recalls "all crows are liars" and suggests that all Stark could be liars. 

 

Edited by GloubieBoulga

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On 3/28/2017 at 8:12 AM, GloubieBoulga said:

We could add that from the beginning of the expedition, the Watchers as "wolves" have complitely missed their preys : wildlings villages are totally empty, no trail of Benjen nor Waymar, no animals to hunt (even Ghost can find no prey and must attack Craster's rabbits), and Qhorin arrives at the Fist with exactly the same informations than Mormont and Thoren Smallwood obtained from Craster, the "friend of the Watch" (in other words, Craster's informations are useless). Beyond the Wall, the Watchers are no more the hunters, but the prey, and Thoren's phrasis foreshadows what will happen to the Watchers with the attack of thousands dead preys at the Fist. 

Excellent observation. GRRM does this often, showing a Lord or another character who thinks he is in charge but will later find himself a prisoner. For instance, the recent Catelyn chapters in this thread show Edmure keeping hold of prisoner-of-war Jaime, but we know that Edmure will eventually stand with his head in a noose at the same location until Jaime persuades him to yield. And Robb's famous line about the direwolves may apply here, too: "Let's hunt down the hunters then."

I've been thinking I should have devoted more thought to the killing and eating of Gilly's rabbits in the analysis of the Jon III chapter. Direwolves are so closely associated with weirwoods. We learned that Craster gives his sons to the wood, so what does it mean that the direwolf takes and kills the "breeding pair" of rabbits? Does it foreshadow the death of Craster and - eventually - Gilly? In the direwolf re-read for AGOT, we theorized that the Stark whose direwolf bites a person might take on characteristics of the person who is bitten. Does that also apply to animals the direwolf eats? Will Jon become more rabbit-like? (He will soon take the skin-wearing Ygritte as a lover.) What does it mean that Jon and Sam cook and eat the second rabbit?

On 3/28/2017 at 8:12 AM, GloubieBoulga said:

Another observation about Jon's chapter : it begins with the sound of the horn, when the chapter before just ended with Stannis' shadow entering Storm's End. (GrrM chapter's transitions are quite always terrific !)

Very nice catch! I am becoming more aware of the way that GRRM arranges chapters to raise interesting comparisons and contrasts. One of the drawbacks with this direwolf-focused re-read is that I'm skipping chapters that don't include direwolves. So thank you for roping in that Stannis comparison. That does seem significant, especially because Jon will be asked to go with Qhorin to find out more about this magic thing the wildlings seek that will blow a hole through the Wall. Very interesting to compare the "shadow baby" of Stannis and Melisandre with the Horn of Joramun.

On 3/28/2017 at 8:12 AM, GloubieBoulga said:

I appreciate the observations about the Catelyn's chapter, and also to add some points about this one : the singer could here symbolized the song of the birds, especially the birds familiars with weirwoods (ravens and crows), which suggest that Stark of Winterfell could be wolves because of their weirwood and the blood trapped in it... and the fact that they "howled" the song of their weirwood.

I love your ideas and your eye for detail, GB. I know there has been great analysis of singing going back to the early days of this forum. With the close connection between the Children of the Forest (known as singers) and ravens, your interpretation makes sense. The smallfolk of the Riverlands are in the castle because Edmure generously brought them inside to protect them from the Lannister raids. We are about to read a Bran chapter (Bran VI) where he will surrender Winterfell to Theon in order to protect the smallfolk. If the author wants us to compare smallfolk and the CotF, the singing at the feast is a great way to make that point.

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14 hours ago, Seams said:

I've been thinking I should have devoted more thought to the killing and eating of Gilly's rabbits in the analysis of the Jon III chapter. Direwolves are so closely associated with weirwoods. We learned that Craster gives his sons to the wood, so what does it mean that the direwolf takes and kills the "breeding pair" of rabbits? Does it foreshadow the death of Craster and - eventually - Gilly?

For me, their is a link with the crossbow, the weapon for rabbit's hunters : in ACOK, Joffrey hunts rabbits in Red Keep (and I think the one who escapes moving his nose is a little represetation of Tyrion); and when Gilly comes to Jon to ask for help, she explains that Mormont had offered to Craster a crossbow which is 20 rabbits worth. So I see here some clues that Craster is a real hunter. Perhaps wildlings and rangers are also his preys. Sweetsunray had made an very interesting hypothesis about Craster killing and eating some rangers of the NW, and I confess that I was totally convinced, except some details in her explanation about the link between the Others and Craster (but that was only details, and I can't recall them now) : for me, by blood sacrificing, Craster send the Others to other preys than him. And with the NW's expedition, I'm pretty sure he sent himself the Others, like he did for Waymar Royce, Gared and Will who refused to sleep at his home (so Craster couldn't kill nor eat them directly) 

But with GRRM, most often, there are several interpretations in the same time for one scene/image/episod, there is probably others significations for that "rabbit's scene".  

 

14 hours ago, Seams said:

Very nice catch! I am becoming more aware of the way that GRRM arranges chapters to raise interesting comparisons and contrasts. One of the drawbacks with this direwolf-focused re-read is that I'm skipping chapters that don't include direwolves. So thank you for roping in that Stannis comparison. That does seem significant, especially because Jon will be asked to go with Qhorin to find out more about this magic thing the wildlings seek that will blow a hole through the Wall. Very interesting to compare the "shadow baby" of Stannis and Melisandre with the Horn of Joramun.

Funny ! I hadn't thought to Joramun's horn, but here again, the horn is a specific hunter's instrument. For me here, there is an invitation to make parallelism between shadow babies and Others. I think for long time that they are identical/same nature, and my questions are : who created them and why ? Did even someone consciently create them (for example looking for resurrecting someone, but failing and creating Others) ? why Others aren't dissolved after thousands years ? What makes them always hunt now ? What do they really hunt ? (and subsequently, why do they seem most powerfull actually ?) So your connection with Joramun's Horn is totally coherent. 

[Concerning GRRM's chapters arranging, some time ago, I have tried to show how the books were built. I did it for ACOK, but not the others. ACOK has 5 distinct parts : 1. a list of "introduction" chapters : all PoV have one chapter and the main thematics are presented (beyond the Wall for Jon; Tyrion at Red Keep; aso...). 2. The war of the "5 kings" with possible victory for Robb, until Renly's death, a huge climax. 3.Incertitudes for Robb and the Starks : the beginning of the visible fall// incertitudes for Lannisters too at KL. 4. The Blackwater and the fall of Stannis, inducing Roose's treason in the 5th part : the conclusion for each PoV. Each part is separated with a Daenerys chapter.] 

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Bran VI

Overview

Summer and Shaggy Dog are still locked in the gods wood. Through Summer’s senses, Bran becomes aware that strangers are climbing the wall of Winterfell. Bran tries to cause Summer to climb a sentinel pine to intercept the intruders atop the wall. The direwolf nearly makes it up the slanted tree before falling to the ground. Theon appears at Bran’s bedchamber and tells Bran that he has taken the castle and that Bran must yield and instruct the smallfolk to serve and obey Theon. Maester Luwin tells Bran that there is no shame in yielding the castle in order to protect the smallfolk so Bran makes the announcement at the Great Hall. Mikken voices his refusal and is killed by one of the ironmen. Hodor is beaten, and “Reek” and Osha bend the knee and swear fealty to Theon.

Observations

In Summer’s mind, Winterfell is referred to as “piles of man-rock” and there is a lot of imagery that personifies the castle but implies that it is dead or perhaps sleeping. “He howled, a long deep shivery cry, a howl to wake the sleepers, but the piles of man-rock were dark and dead.” The “man-rock” term also would describe the stone Starks in the Winterfell crypt, so the author may be telling us that the Stark family and the family home are all hybrids of human and rock. The castle that is yielded to Theon may or may not be a living thing, dead or asleep for the time being.

The wolf howling in an attempt to “wake the sleepers” alludes to the Night’s Watch oath, “the horn that wakes the sleepers.” So the direwolf is compared to a horn or to a brother of the Night’s Watch here, except the direwolf is unable to wake the sleepers. Bran thinks of himself that he is “still broken” when he is awake, which might also describe the broken horn that Jon found with the obsidian cache. When Bran is required to yield the castle, he tries to sound “stern and lordly” but finds his voice comes out in a “shrill squeak.”

The chapter opens with Summer’s perception that “rain had woken a hundred sleeping smells and made them ripe and strong again.” The chapter closes with Hodor carrying Bran out into the rain, bearing him back to bed. Is the author telling us that the rain will “wake” Bran (and/or Hodor)? Recall that, in Jon III, there is relentless, miserable rain as the Night’s Watch group reaches Craster’s Keep but Jon awakes in the morning to find the rain has frozen on every plant and tree and surface to create a land of enchantment.

But strong smells in ASOIAF are associated with Tywin Lannister and with Reek, whose bad smell remains constant although his identity changes a couple of times. If rain awakes and strengthens smells, maybe this is a sign that Stark enemies and Theon’s own worst enemy are awakening in this chapter. Theon meets Ramsay as Reek for the first time at the Great Hall in this chapter.

When Summer falls from the failed attempt to climb the tree, Bran feels the direwolf’s pain but realizes “it was only the ghost of what the wolf was feeling.” On the opening page, Summer had “remembered dimly” his brother direwolf, “the white one with the eyes of blood.” Interesting that Jon’s wolf is the ghost while, in this instance, the direwolf’s pain is the ghost.

There may be another “ghost” allusion later in the chapter: Osha and Gage emerge from the kitchen spotted with flour. The last person we saw with flour on his person was Jon Snow in a flashback, pretending to be a ghost in the crypt to scare the younger children.

Is there an Icarus and Daedalus allusion in this situation with Bran causing the direwolf to climb the tree and then fall?

Analysis

The first pages are Summer’s point of view but may demonstrate or foreshadow the opening of Bran’s third eye. The sensations in Summer’s mind include, “The voice he did not hear, the scent without a smell” and, when he arrives at the tree Bran had pictured in Summer’s mind, “the shadow he’d glimpsed without seeing.” In the previous Bran chapter, Jojen had nagged Bran to figure out how to open his third eye but Bran didn’t understand how to do it. Later in this chapter, Bran tries to listen to the sounds of the invasion but admits “he did not have Summer’s ears to hear, nor his nose to smell.” The implication (at this point, at any rate) is that Bran is complete only when he is “in” Summer.

If glimpsing without seeing is supposed to represent Bran using his third eye, it’s interesting that the first thing he sees is a tree but the tree is not a weirwood, it’s a sentinel pine. It’s also interesting that Summer’s first interaction with the tree is to pee on it, a lupine or canine activity associated with marking territory. 

This “ghost of pain” notion may evoke an even more complex set of symbols: the author plays with a pun on “pain” and “Payne,” the surname of Ser Ilyn Payne, the executioner known as the King’s Justice. He embodies the Stranger of the seven gods, a representation of death. Ser Ilyn is silent, like the direwolf Ghost, and there are other details common to the direwolf and Ser Ilyn that lead me to wonder whether Ser Ilyn served as the “Lannisters’ direwolf.” As we all know, Jaime caused Bran to fall from the window of the old keep at Winterfell. In this chapter, the direwolf Summer fell. What does it mean that Bran feels the ghost of pain / Payne when the direwolf falls as Bran fell earlier in the story? Maybe I’m wrong about Payne being the Lannisters’ direwolf; maybe Jaime is a direwolf belonging to the King’s Justice, making him “the Ghost of Payne.

The falling rain throughout this chapter may also be a symbol of Lannister justice and pain, if it symbolizes the rains of Castamere. In this chapter, the “sea” flows over the castle wall; in the Castamere situation, Tywin diverted a river to flood an underground castle after plugging all of the outlets. Rain and pain all at once.

As I’ve re-read this chapter, I realized that there may be implied, unspoken wordplay around the words pines / spine / penis. Bran has a spine injury; Theon will experience an amputated penis, and the direwolf here suffers a “pine” injury. For what it’s worth, the word “lupine,” when used as an adjective, means “pertaining to or resembling a wolf.”

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