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"The Winged Wolf" A Bran Stark Re-read Project - Part 1: AGOT

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Bran V: A ride out of Winterfell

Bran nodded, trying not to let his fear show.

Nice job Queen Alysanne, as always!

I’m strong and I’m not young anymore.

Nicely done. This section touches on some things we've been discussing in passing, namely the cultural pressure put on (high born) boys to be a certain thing: warriors, husbands, and fathers. While Bran could potentially marry someday, he'll never be a knight, and he can never have children. He could, in theory, hold a castle in Robb's name as a second son of Ned Stark is supposed to do, but that seems shaky given that we are told time and time again--across all cultures like Westeros, The Wildlings, and the Dothraki--that men only follow the strong. We'll see very shortly that even Ned's own bannermen aren't sure what to make of Bran and his disability. While the Stark names carries its weight in the North, I doubt it would be easy for Bran to rule a castle and a people when he is now incapable of doing the things men are "supposed" to do.

The key phrase of “just the two” of them shows Bran wanting to prove he is at the same level of Robb, which is another reference of Bran trying to show he isn’t young anymore.

I also think this shows Bran's own intelligence. Note that Dancer and Summer are both described as being smarter than the others animals of their ilk. I think this applies to Bran as well. He's smart kid. He knows that after Robb he is heir to WF until Robb marries and has his own children. Wanting to prove that he is just as capable as Robb isn't just a personal idea, it's a political one as I stated up above.

“Dark wings, dark words” is the key phrase here as they reflect all the messages Bran and his family have been receiving by raven. Nothing has been good news so this again shows that Old Nan’s point of the words from the raven being dark is coming to life.

I'll just throw this out here, though I'm not sure how much emphasis I want to put on it...Bran's linkage with actual black birds, be they crows or ravens. If we're doing a strict Bran = dark wings (bird) = dark words = bad news.

Well..I'll leave it there.

The symbols of nature in connection to Bran are mostly in relation to him as a climber, without jumping ahead, there will be similar things whiles he skinchanges.

I definitely agree that he has the natural connection. But as I point out in the Misc Notes section, he has a lot of snow surrounding him this chapter too. And with the long summer ending, I don't think it's a coincidence that Bran's is broken during summer but learns to thrive during winter.

Also Benjen Stark is still missing according to the Night’s Watch Lord Commander.

I go back and forth so much about what has happened to good ol' Benjen....

Misc Notes

1) Snowflakes. So there is a semi-crackpotish theory that I see float around sometimes about "snowfall in the hair." Whenever someone is described or remembered as having snow in their hair, it signals their death. For example, Jon remembers that the last time he saw Robb, the future KitN had snowflakes melting in his hair. Whether or not this is an actual clue from GRRM, I don't know, but I couldn't help but noticing as I re-read this chapter for this week that there was a LOT of snow with Bran, melting on his, touching him, surrounding him.

"A light snow was falling. Bran could feel the flakes on his face, melting as they touched his skin like the gentlest of rains.

...

The joy Bran had felt at the ride was gone, melted away like the snowflakes on his face.

...

The snow was falling more heavily now. Where it touched the ground it melted, but all about him rock and root and branch wore a think blanket of white.

2) Theon. Bran never warmed to Ned's ward...and that's going to come up again in a bit.

3) Continuing with some Bran/Dany parallels...the chapter immediately preceding Bran V is a Dany chapter. Both Bran and Dany are coming amongst people that they've never really encountered before. For Dany, this is her first time in Vaes Dothrak where she'll meet other Dothraki horselords outside of Drogo's khalasar and the crones (mystical women). She is entering into a new home. For Bran, people are coming into his home, including Osha (a semi-mystical woman).

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Nice analysis, Queen Alysanne!



I really like the bit about Bran sorting out his own strength as against the perceptions of others that he is weak. The references to Tyrion also pop (he's riding on the Tyrion designed saddle, we learn that Tyrion has been taken prisoner by Catelyn), and bring to mind Tyrion's important advice to Bran, that he come to terms with the fact that he is a cripple. As BearQueen suggests, Bran has to learn how to cope with others who don't know how to respond to his paralysis, and we'll see this in future chapters, too. He's riding out in public for the first time since his fall, and I think he wants to do so "as proud as any knight" to overpower what he anticipates as people's response to his disability, override their whispers or averted faces or other negative reactions. Like Tyrion, he's marked as an outsider. He's had his brush with death, he's flown to the other side, he more like the Stranger (also like Tyrion) than the Warrior.



The chapter explores these matters of strength and weakness so beautifully. Of course, Bran is made incredibly vulnerable again, in the "attack" by the wildlings. But we're also given much to make us think that Bran has these other sources of strength (and in time we'll see that they may make him as powerful as any man, if not more so). Again, the Tyrion parallel holds: he's not marked for the conventional forms of male power in Westeros, but he's got other gifts, if he can use his wits and other gifts to figure out how to negotiate a world that has no place for broken things. Men may only follow the strong, but other sources of strength allow those who appear weak to have profound impact on the world.



Queen Alysanne: I also liked your analysis of Old Nan's tales coming to life, such an important motif in Bran's story!



I'll have to admit that I felt a little bit for Theon here, getting berated after he saved Bran! I mean, I hear where Robb was coming from, had Theon's arrow been off, he might have killed Bran instead, but his arrow wasn't off! I mean, how many movies have we seen in which the well-placed shot rescues the hostage from the attackers! It's a little unclear how things would have ended otherwise. Stiv had just ordered Robb to kill the direwolves, and Bran himself knew that if that were done the wildling would kill him anyway. I just think that it's interesting that the chapter sets up scorn for Theon (there's that bit about him taking the men off after a turkey, for good measure!), and glosses over the fact that he did, after all, save Bran.



And yeah, the snowflake business. I don't know that I buy them as foreshadowing death, I think of the snowflake motif as being sentimental, as being associated with the Stark characters' bonds of memory and love to Winterfell and family and retainers.

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Wonderful insight Good Queen!



If a near death experience is a prerequisite for a boost in supernatural abilities Bran is getting strong quickly. Only our 5th chapter in his POV and he was almost killed in 2 of them (3 if you count Cats POV - I tend to bc I think he's knee deep in the coma dream while the assassination attempt is going on around him).



It's interesting that he remarks on how nice it is under the trees. He'll be REALLY under them later. His description of the woods around him is very detailed. Almost as if he's seeing them through sharper eyes. He also says that Stiv smells of fear, not something people normally smell on others. It's common to think that animals smell fear though so I wonder if this too is a connection between him and Summer; maybe too weak to notice it's existence, but strong enough to affect his senses.



It seems as though the direwolves can sense immediate danger, I wonder, why did they leave Bran and Robb? Did they not smell the wildlings and deserters?



I was very glad to see Robb confide in Bran. Bran is being violently forced into adulthood and needs to learn as much as he can before he's left as the Stark in WF. It also shows Bran that he's respected by Robb. For this boy that wants so desperately to be grown and whole again, it's important that his older brother still treat him the same and not like he's incapable due to his injury (bc he certainly isn't). It also showed that Robb suspects there's much more to the wolves than just ancient creatures.



I too felt bad for Theon. I know what Robb is getting at but there didn't seem to be any other choice. Would a "thanks, but that shit better not happen again" been so difficult?



Huh, I almost forgot how early we're introduced to Osha.



Do either of you have the snowflake link? I couldn't find it and I don't think I've read that one before. I need to make sure it's bs, for Bran's sake and my sanity. :)


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Nice job, Queen Alysanne


I also think this shows Bran's own intelligence. Note that Dancer and Summer are both described as being smarter than the others animals of their ilk. I think this applies to Bran as well. He's smart kid. He knows that after Robb he is heir to WF until Robb marries and has his own children. Wanting to prove that he is just as capable as Robb isn't just a personal idea, it's a political one as I stated up above.

Yup, Bran is definitely the Crone in this family.

"We saw Uncle Benjen when the king came to visit,' Robb pointed out. "Jon will visit too, you'll see."

Another instance of Jon being connected to a king.

She'll come back to Winterfell with us . . . and live or die by the truths she gives us.

Something tells me she will die at WF over being posed a question she refuses to answer, likely the location of Rickon when Dany comes (she's the only one I think is capable of making it that far North).

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Do either of you have the snowflake link? I couldn't find it and I don't think I've read that one before. I need to make sure it's bs, for Bran's sake and my sanity. :)

I don't know that there is a specific link...I just read it around every now and then. But, before you dismiss it as total BS (and FWIW, I'm not sure how much I even put into it) you did bring up all his near death experiences. Is it not odd that Bran is having a near death experience while in the snowflakes of DOOM?

It could be something it could be nothing.

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I don't know that there is a specific link...I just read it around every now and then. But, before you dismiss it as total BS (and FWIW, I'm not sure how much I even put into it) you did bring up all his near death experiences. Is it not odd that Bran is having a near death experience while in the snowflakes of DOOM?

It could be something it could be nothing.

Hey everyone.

I don't have the ADWD near me, so I may be wrong. But IIRF when Sam leaves Castle Black for Eastwatch with Gilly, Aemon, Jon says to Sam to pull his hood up because the snow flakes are melting in his hair. I think at the same time Jon was remembering Robb and maybe was associating those snow flakes with Robb's death.

Also when Sansa is building her snow castle, she also remember Robb hugging her with melting snow flakes in his hair.

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My quote function isn't working on my surface. But BearQueen I said near death, lol. It's nice and warm in my denial bubble. All lolly pops and roses. :)


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My quote function isn't working on my surface. But BearQueen I said near death, lol. It's nice and warm in my denial bubble. All lolly pops and roses. :)

Oh far be it from me to disturb the bubble. :)

FWIW, I honestly don't know how much stock I put in the snowflakes of DOOOOOOOOM theory. I think Hrafntyr might be right that is has more to do with sentiment and sentimentality than THIS PERSON IS DOOOOOOOMED. It also serves to connect Bran, in this isolated incident, to nature and to winter. In the last snowflake reference I gave, Bran is all alone and is at peace in the natural white filled world. Everything except the ground, which Bran is no longer connected to after his "fall" in a literal sense and not connected to metaphorically with all the bird imagery surrounding him, is covered in white.

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I don't know that there is a specific link...I just read it around every now and then. But, before you dismiss it as total BS (and FWIW, I'm not sure how much I even put into it) you did bring up all his near death experiences. Is it not odd that Bran is having a near death experience while in the snowflakes of DOOM?

It could be something it could be nothing.

"For me too", Rob said. He had snow in his hair, melting from the heat of his body.

AGOT - Jon II

The cold trickles on his face reminded Jon of the day he'd bid farewell to Robb at Winterfell, never knowing it was for the last time. "And pull your hood up. The snowflakes are melting in your hair."

ADWD

And both Robb and Jonn (?) are dead... So I'm sorry to tell you; maybe they are really snow flakes of doom

Or maybe the readers are just associating death with those snow flakes because they were influenced by Jon's point of view. For Jon those snow flakes are a reminder for the last time he saw his brother. And after reading that last particular quote, readers of ISOIAF believe that melting snow flakes mean that the character in question will die, have a near death experience, ... While maybe it doesn't foreshadow anything and while maybe it is just the wording of Jon's grief.

Furthermore, in literature deep and falling snow is used to represent hardships or death. At the same time melting snow can be used to show a new beginning or the end of hardships. In all the quotes the snow is falling and melting at the same time. So maybe it can mean that they (Jon, Bran, Robb...) will be confronted with hardships but those hardships will end. So there can be hope for Jon and Bran?

(and now less unpleasant analyses)

Snow is also associated with transformation and life-changing situation. Becoming paralyzed was a life-changing situation for Bran. When Ned leaves Winterfell, Robb becomes the Lord of Winterfell and needs to be a leader. In the same chapter as when Jon mentions those snow flakes falling on him and Sam, Jon tries to "kill the boy within" himself and Sam so that they can become a man. Both of them are also confronted with a life-changing situation: Jon is becoming the Lord Commander and Sam is on his way to study at the citadel. The transformation happens here even literal: the snow transform into water.

And finally, snow can also represent innocence. Maybe the melting of the snow means that they are going of are starting to lose their innocence and are growing up and starting to become adults?

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Very good analysis, Queen Alysanne!

Character analysis

This chapter focuses on several changes of Bran’s character since his fall, there are moments where we see a boy trying to prove he is older and doesn’t need help despite his fall, lamenting on the loss of his loved ones, wishing that things were the same as they were, and also finally starting to see the reality of the world.

I’m strong and I’m not young anymore.

After Bran’s fall both his family and those close to him have tried to be more careful and pampering to him as we see from this quote.

Because of this, throughout the chapter we see Bran trying to prove to everyone that he isn’t young anymore and also that he doesn’t need help despite his fall.

We first notice this at the beginning as he rides out of Winterfell. It’s his first ride out of Winterfell since his fall and Bran is afraid however he wants to show everyone that he isn’t.

We also see a similar thing from Bran’s opinion of the Winterfell guard party coming with him and Robb.

The key phrase of “just the two” of them shows Bran wanting to prove he is at the same level of Robb, which is another reference of Bran trying to show he isn’t young anymore.

He also compares himself to Robb again later in the chapter, which again is another example of Bran trying to prove that he isn’t young and is on a similar level as Robb.

Loved ones die and the reality of the world

In this Chapter Bran also feels deeply sad at the news of the loved ones he has lost.

“The message was from Alyn in King’s Landing. Jory Cassel is dead. And Wyl and Heward as well. Murdered by the Kingslayer.” Robb lifted his face to the snow, and the flakes melted on his cheeks. “May the gods give them rest.” Bran did not know what to say. He felt as if he’d been punched.

After this message Bran goes on to wonder why anyone would kill a nice person such as Jory and he also gets nostalgic at the remembrance of the woods him and Robb enter, as it was Jory that brought them there first years ago. And with everyone starting to disappear or something bad happening to them Bran begins to wonder if he will ever see Jon again.

These changes and deaths also serve as a wakeup call to Bran as he begins to notice the reality of the harsh world Westeros is, just as his sibilings Arya and Sansa will also find out. This quote shows his change of perspective on the matter of war.

Good observation. In the last chapter we got Bran's frustration at being constantly watched over and his lack of independence. Now he can ride out and actually be mobile and do someting on his own, even if he has an escort. His sentiment about his age is also continuing in this chapter:

"I'm eight now!" Bran said. "Eight isn't so much younger than fifteen, and I'm the heir to Winterfell, after you."

He wants to be taken seriously by his brother and in general and tries to assert his status. And then Robb does tell him what happens and he tells him of the deaths of Jory and the others. He gets what he wants, he gets to be part of the situation and it immediately hits him. This mirrors his sentiment about the upcoming war you already mentioned.

Also interesting is the stark contrast of him being in control and being absolutely powerless. At first he rides, he can choose where he wants to go (within limits of course), which he was not able to do since his fall. Then he has the feeling of 'being whole' in the wolfswood. After this Robb leaves and he encounters the wildlings and deserters and is at their mercy. Then Robb comes back and the direwolves seem to clear the situation, putting him in control again. Then Stiv holds his dagger at Bran's throat and he is in immediate danger and cannot do anything and gets rescued by Theon eventually. These contrasts will only get stronger with his emerging powers. Him being a child, crippled and dependent on help on the one side and his skinchanging and greenseeing powers on the other.

As Bear Queen mentioned it other parts like the societal roles are also a theme here, but I have not much to add here. In general I have the feeling that the chapter does not bring any new themes, but reinforces the ones from earlier chapters (only the links to nature come up here for the first time as a main theme).

Some other observations:

- A quote from Robb: When our lord father took his leave of us, he told me to be strong for you and for Rickon. I'm almost a man grown, Bran.

Not only Bran is struggling with growing up, duties and expectations. Robb has the same problems to deal with. And even if I don't agree with 'eight isn't so much younger than fifteen', the quote has some truth to it. But the other way around.

- The chapter shows two things about Luwin: He cares deeply about Bran and will not leave him in danger and he is a voice that calls for reason, caution and mercy. He is the reason Robb spares Osha.

And a question:

Has someone a problem when I write a comparison between Luwin and Jojen after the relevant chapters in ACoK (after chapter V). I initially wanted to do it for my analysis of Jojen, but found out that it had more to do with their relation to Bran. And here we are, I think it might be helpful.

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And both Robb and Jonn (?) are dead... So I'm sorry to tell you; maybe they are really snow flakes of doom

Or maybe the readers are just associating death with those snow flakes because they were influenced by Jon's point of view. For Jon those snow flakes are a reminder for the last time he saw his brother. And after reading that last particular quote, readers of ISOIAF believe that melting snow flakes mean that the character in question will die, have a near death experience, ... While maybe it doesn't foreshadow anything and while maybe it is just the wording of Jon's grief.

Furthermore, in literature deep and falling snow is used to represent hardships or death. At the same time melting snow can be used to show a new beginning or the end of hardships. In all the quotes the snow is falling and melting at the same time. So maybe it can mean that they (Jon, Bran, Robb...) will be confronted with hardships but those hardships will end. So there can be hope for Jon and Bran?

(and now less unpleasant analyses)

Snow is also associated with transformation and life-changing situation. Becoming paralyzed was a life-changing situation for Bran. When Ned leaves Winterfell, Robb becomes the Lord of Winterfell and needs to be a leader. In the same chapter as when Jon mentions those snow flakes falling on him and Sam, Jon tries to "kill the boy within" himself and Sam so that they can become a man. Both of them are also confronted with a life-changing situation: Jon is becoming the Lord Commander and Sam is on his way to study at the citadel. The transformation happens here even literal: the snow transform into water.

And finally, snow can also represent innocence. Maybe the melting of the snow means that they are going of are starting to lose their innocence and are growing up and starting to become adults?

Nice! Very nice! Thanks for bringing up all the layers snow can have as a symbol.

And a question:

Has someone a problem when I write a comparison between Luwin and Jojen after the relevant chapters in ACoK (after chapter V). I initially wanted to do it for my analysis of Jojen, but found out that it had more to do with their relation to Bran. And here we are, I think it might be helpful.

Not I. They are both very important characters to Bran and his development--serving as guides for various subjects.

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Bran V: A ride out of Winterfell

Thank you Queen Alysanne, very nicely done. :thumbsup:

I don't have much to say as most has been covered but I did notice a couple of things:

"Bran had sort of liked the little man, yet the name Lannister sent cold fingers creeping up his spine. There was something about the Lannisters, something he ought to remember, but when he tried to think what, he felt dizzy and his stomach clenched hard as a stone."

GRRM is very consistent and he continues to point at Bran's repression of the events that lead to his fall. It's a little thing but it's there to reminds us of the mental/emotional trauma Bran suffered compounded with his physical one.

"Robb reined his horse in, breathing hard. The fury went out of his eyes, and his sword arm dropped. In that moment Bran saw everything . Summer was savaging Hali, pulling glistening blue snakes from her belly. Her eyes were wide and staring. Bran could not tell whether she was alive or dead. The grey stubbly man and the one with the axe lay unmoving , but Osha was on her knees, crawling toward her fallen spear. Grey Wind padded toward her, dripping wet."

An interesting choice of words to say the least. We've seen from the beginning that Bran is a highly observant child, he notices things that most don't, he even points this out in the chapter where he is climbing Winterfell. He is very much aware of his surrounding.

As for the snowflakes, I think more than anything they represent lost. For Jon they represented the lost of Robb and Sam. As has been noted already Bran continues to lose his innocence, especially in this chapter where he witness a small massacre. He isn't safe anymore, no in his home (his fall from Winterfell) and neither in his surroundings.

Has someone a problem when I write a comparison between Luwin and Jojen after the relevant chapters in ACoK (after chapter V). I initially wanted to do it for my analysis of Jojen, but found out that it had more to do with their relation to Bran. And here we are, I think it might be helpful.

Go right ahead!

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Thank you Queen Alysanne, very nicely done. :thumbsup:

I don't have much to say as most has been covered but I did notice a couple of things:

"Bran had sort of liked the little man, yet the name Lannister sent cold fingers creeping up his spine. There was something about the Lannisters, something he ought to remember, but when he tried to think what, he felt dizzy and his stomach clenched hard as a stone."

GRRM is very consistent and he continues to point at Bran's repression of the events that lead to his fall. It's a little thing but it's there to reminds us of the mental/emotional trauma Bran suffered compounded with his physical one.

"Robb reined his horse in, breathing hard. The fury went out of his eyes, and his sword arm dropped. In that moment Bran saw everything . Summer was savaging Hali, pulling glistening blue snakes from her belly. Her eyes were wide and staring. Bran could not tell whether she was alive or dead. The grey stubbly man and the one with the axe lay unmoving , but Osha was on her knees, crawling toward her fallen spear. Grey Wind padded toward her, dripping wet."

An interesting choice of words to say the least. We've seen from the beginning that Bran is a highly observant child, he notices things that most don't, he even points this out in the chapter where he is climbing Winterfell. He is very much aware of his surrounding.

Good points. The latter part could be an allusion to his emerging abilities, a bit like a zoom out of the situation to see the whole picture. But that is always hard to tell. Regarding the repression of his memories I am interested at what point he gets his memories back. I know that he remembers when the Reed come into the picture, but not the first chapter where he remembers again.

To the comparison: I will keep it in mind, but I do not really want to post it before we have some chapters with the Reeds, else I obviously would need to jump ahead.

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To the comparison: I will keep it in mind, but I do not really want to post it before we have some chapters with the Reeds, else I obviously would need to jump ahead.

That sounds reasonable, let's wait until they appear and then you can post it. That way we don't get too far ahead.

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Bran V: A ride out of Winterfell



Bran nodded, trying not to let his fear show.





Excellent analysis, Queen Alysanne! Thank you.



I know this is irrelevant but I just could not help myself. As soon as I saw this....





Bran and the Nature symbol





...I immediately thought of Nat King Cole's Nature Boy.

There was a boy


A very strange enchanted boy


They say he wandered very far


Very far, over land and sea



A little shy and sad of eye


But very wise was he... ... ...



With regard to the snowflakes, I don't think they foretell DOOOOOOOM! I do, however, think they are significant. I agree with Tijgy. I think they may represent transformation. Water is one of those very few fluids that happen to be denser than their frozen/solid forms. The Starks are very much associated with the North and snow and all things ice; they even had a sword named Ice. But throughout these books we have watched them changing, thrust unwillingly into situations I doubt any of them would have chosen for themselves. We watch the solid ice melt into its more fluid, and denser form.



Another possible meaning is that the author is using the surroundings experienced by the characters and familiar language to link each of the characters. Arya always explicitly thinks of how much she misses Jon. The others, especially Sansa, do this to a lesser degree. It makes sense for the author to use familiar language to remind us of the bond these children share. I'm reaching here and I admit it. It is only that I do not think the melting snowflakes are insignificant.



Illuminated by Fire, I agree.



I also have to say that I am really enjoying this re-read. I don't comment much because most of the time I'm just trying to digest all the interesting ideas posited. Great stuff!




P.S: Welcome to the re-read, Tijgy!


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....I immediately thought of Nat King Cole's Nature Boy.

There was a boy

A very strange enchanted boy

They say he wandered very far

Very far, over land and sea

A little shy and sad of eye

But very wise was he... ... ...

I suddenly have an overwhelming urge to watch Moulin Rouge

But throughout these books we have watched them changing, thrust unwillingly into situations I doubt any of them would have chosen for themselves. We watch the solid ice melt into its more fluid, and denser form.

Good point. But, I do want to point out (and I'm not trying to harp on this unnecessarily), but not all the snow flakes melt. The ones that hit the ground do, but the last time snow is referenced in regards to Bran, he is surrounded by unmelted flakes on rocks and trees and all things not "the ground"

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Thanks everyone ! :)





I definitely agree that he has the natural connection. But as I point out in the Misc Notes section, he has a lot of snow surrounding him this chapter too. And with the long summer ending, I don't think it's a coincidence that Bran's is broken during summer but learns to thrive during winter.




I agree he has the winter connection aswell, I see winter as just the other side of the coin of nature/summer.


Just like the Greek goddess Demeter, she is the goddess of harvest but she also causes winter when she chooses not to use her powers.


They are both part of the cycle of life.





Wonderful insight Good Queen!



If a near death experience is a prerequisite for a boost in supernatural abilities




I agree with this, we've seen it happen to Jojen, Bran and Dany. I wonder if something similar will happen to Jon if he doesn't die.






- A quote from Robb: When our lord father took his leave of us, he told me to be strong for you and for Rickon. I'm almost a man grown, Bran.


Not only Bran is struggling with growing up, duties and expectations. Robb has the same problems to deal with.


And a question:



Has someone a problem when I write a comparison between Luwin and Jojen after the relevant chapters in ACoK (after chapter V). I initially wanted to do it for my analysis of Jojen, but found out that it had more to do with their relation to Bran. And here we are, I think it might be helpful.




I agree on Robb and GRRM is consistent with that among his young leaders, as we see both Jon and Dany going through similar things.



I look forward to your analysis :)







As for the snowflakes, I think more than anything they represent lost. For Jon they represented the lost of Robb and Sam. As has been noted already Bran continues to lose his innocence, especially in this chapter where he witness a small massacre. He isn't safe anymore, no in his home (his fall from Winterfell) and neither in his surroundings.





That was also my take, that they represent loss for the Starks. This chapter also highlights a lot of changes and losses for the Stark family in Winterfell.


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A Game of Thrones



Bran VI



They would never cheer for him that way, he realized with a dull ache. He might be the lord of Winterfell while his brother and father were gone, but he was still Bran the Broken.



Summary



With Lord Eddard Stark a prisoner in King’s Landing, his son and heir, Robb, has called the banners and begins preparations to go south to fight the Lannister’s and free Ned. Bran observes these happenings while mostly cut off from the wartime action and still mourning over the loss of his legs and knightly future. The chapter, in part, is a series of conversations Bran has with his two “Yoda” figures—Maester Luwin and Osha, the Wildling Woman. We also get a bit of a taste of Robb’s leading abilities and Rickon’s growing wildness as the former must make his father’s bannermen respect him and the latter fails to comprehend people leaving the North and never coming back. The bannermen of Winterfell are a loud and raucous group who might pay Bran respect as a Stark but also whisper about him behind his back, something that makes Bran sad and angry. The chapter ends with Robb riding south with the bannermen and Bran’s melancholy feeling over the whole situation.



Observations



1. The Greatjon Umber is a fantastic character.



2. The motif of Bran as a bird continues with him “perched on Hodor’s shoulders,” watching all the action below and being carried in a little cage-like basket.



3. During Bran’s talk with Osha, he becomes uncomfortable talking about “mating.” Is this because he is a young boy, or does this have to do with his repressed memories of Jaime and Cersei and the Lightening Struck Tower?



4. I’ll touch on this quite a bit below, but both Bran and Robb are being given a choice concerning which direction they’ll “march.” Robb can march south and fight the Lannister’s and possibly never come back like Ned, Arya, Sansa, Cat, and the Winterfell household or he could stay at Winterfell and send out his bannermen. He could also listen to Osha who tries to tell Robb to march North. Bran could go south to Oldtown and become a maester or he could turn north, beyond the Wall.



Analysis



I want to start off this analysis by looking at Bran’s conversation with his two mentors, whom I like to call his “Yoda” figures. Maester Luwin and Osha represent two opposite ends of the spectrum. On the one hand, Luwin is empirical knowledge, and that which is tangible and concrete. He can teach Bran things that can be verified and known. Osha, on the other hand, roots herself in magic and myth and mysticism. Her knowledge and what she can offer Bran is based off spiritualism and things most men believe to be either dead or to have never existed. While both of these figures care for Bran—and in return Bran cares for both of them—I believe George RR Martin is setting Bran up with a choice: science or faith; the way of the maester or the way of the singers.



Conversations With Yoda: Maester Luwin



This chapter begins with Bran watching the final bannermen family—the Karstarks—come into Winterfell. We can easily imagine that this scene has played out many times before as the other families arrived. Bran can no longer be part of the action, so he is sequestered away, watching through Luwin’s “fareye.” We learn that Maester Luwin has “taught him all the banners.”



Bran seems to spend a lot of time with the good Maester now that Robb is Lord of Winterfell and Cat has gone south. Apart from his direwolf, Summer, Bran has little in the way of company and Maester Luwin continues to serve as his teacher, but there is also a more familiar element to them now that Bran confines himself inside the walls of Winterfell when necessary. I am actually reminded of another maester and second son, Cressen and Stannis. We know that Cressen felt a fatherly love for Stannis because Stannis needed it more than his Baratheon brothers. In the end, to continue the parallel, Stannis took up with a woman of mystical origins, though that one was of fire, not ice.



Notice that Bran, while with Luwin, uses equipment like the lens tube and asks pressing questions that have to do with quantity or politics. These are not of the more spiritual variety, a conversation that happens later with Osha.





“How many is it now?” Bran asked Maester Luwin as Lord Karstark and his sons rode through the gates in the outer wall.


“Twelve thousand men, or near enough as makes no matter.”


“How many knights?”


“Few enough,” the master said with a touch of impatience. “To be a knight, you must stand your vigil in a sept, and be anointed with the seven oils to consecrate your vows. In the north, only a few of the great houses worship the Seven. The rest honor the old gods, and name no knights…but those lords and their sons and sworn worth is not marked by a ser before his name. As I have told you a hundred time before.”


“Still,” said Bran,” “how many knights?”





I love the slightly exasperated banter between this “father” and “son.” But notice that the information Luwin provides is of a practical nature: how one becomes a knight; the number of men at arms; the demographic of religions in Westeros. The external conversation continues with Luwin explaining what awaits Robb in the south—more bannermen—and what would happen if everyone stayed at Winterfell—a shortage of food. It’s all concrete information.



We also learn that it was Maester Luwin who came up with the idea for a new transportation method for Bran:





Luwin had gotten the idea [of the basket] from the baskets the women used to carry firewood on their backs; after that it had been a simple matter of cutting legholes and attaching some new straps to spread Bran’s weight more evenly.





In his own way, Luwin is trying to make life as normal as possible for Bran; he has made it so Bran can move about with Hodor’s help though as I stated in the “Observation” section, the basket is a bit like a cage you keep a bird in. Luwin continues to educate and encourage Bran while being the responsible parental figure. Luwin is also the one who first tells Bran that his life will never be normal again; he will be looked at and there will be whispers. Notice that Luwin isn’t going so far as to tell Bran not to mind the mocking, rather Luwin is giving Bran a realistic depiction of what Bran can except from life now.





The riders gave them [Hodor and Bran] queer looks as they went by, and once Bran heard someone gaffaw. He refused to let it trouble him. “Men will look at you,” Maester Luwin had warned him the first time they had strapped the wicker basket around Hodor’s chest. “They will look, and they will talk, and some will mock you.” Let them mock, Bran thought. No one mocked him in his bedchamber, but he would not live his life in bed.





Skipping ahead a wee bit in the chapter, we have another conversation between Bran and Luwin that reinforces several of these ideas: empirical knowledge and the fatherly/son affection between the two.





Broken, Bran though bitterly as he clutched his knife. Is that what he was now? Bran the Broken? “I don’t want to be broken,” he whispered fiercely to Maester Luwin, who’d been seated to his right. “I want to be a knight.”


“There are some who call my order the knights of the mind,” Luwin replied. “You are a surpassing clever boy when you work at it, Bran. Have you ever thought that you might wear a maester’s chain? There is no limit to what you might learn.”


“I want to learn magic,” Bran told him. “The crow promised I would fly.”


Maester Luwin sighed, “I can teach you history, healing, herblore. I can teach you the speech of ravens, and how to build a castle, and the way a sailor steers his ship by the stars. I can teach you to measure the days and mark the seasons, and at the Citadel in Oldtown they can teach you a thousand things more. But, Bran, no man teach you magic.”





Luwin is simultaneously praising Bran but also trying to be realistic: you are clever, when you work at it. Luwin cares for Bran a great deal but isn’t going to sugar coat the harsh realities of Planetos. Bran’s lofty dreams came crashing down with him and Luwin is too grounded in this reality to ever imagine Bran being able to achieve the more magical reality Bran longs for.



Next, notice also two things here. First, no man can teach you magic should remind you of the rumors about Bloodraven’s supposed dark magic/less than human qualities we learn about in the Dunk and Egg novellas. And, I think GRRM is making a quip here. The Citadel can teach Bran a thousand things….but Bloodraven can teach you a thousand and one (the one being the thing Bran wants to learn more than anything else).



Second, the list of things Luwin promises Bran he can learn were he to become a Maester are once again all things that are practical and rooted in math, science, and history. When Bran mentions the Children of the Forest and the giants that Osha tells him still live beyond the Wall, Luwin dismisses it by saying, “the wildling woman could give Old Nan lessons in telling tales, I think.” Luwin, of course, does not want to discourage Bran, but he’s being realistic. Bran cannot be a knight but that doesn’t mean he can’t live a good life. Bran is a clever and curious boy; he could easily wear a maester’s chain and serve the realm in another way. However, there is another option open to Bran if he decides to “march” the other way.



Conversations with Yoda: Osha



After Bran watches the Karstarks come into the castle, he decides to visit the godswood, which “was an island of peace in the sea of chaos that Winterfell had become.” This should sound pretty familiar; it’s the same sort of sentiment Cat expresses in her first POV while she is searching for Ned: “But she knew she would find her husband here tonight. Whenever he took a man’s life, afterward he would seek the quiet of the godswood.”



In Bran II, we learn that Bran was scared of the heart tree, but since the fall, things have changed quite a bit for the young boy:





Summer lapped at the water and settled down at Bran’s side. He rubbed the wolf under the jaw, and for a moment boy and beast both felt at peace. Bran had always liked the godswood, even before, but of late he found himself drawn to it more and more. Even the heart tree no longer scared him the way it used to. The deep red eyes carved into the pale trunk still watched him, yet somehow he took comfort in that now. The gods were looking over him, he told himself, the old gods, gods of the Starks and the First Men and the Children of the Forest, his father’s gods. He felt safe in their sight, and the deep silence of the trees helped him to think. Bran had been thinking a lot since his fall; thinking and dreaming, and talking with the gods.





Despite still clinging to the former southron dreams of being a knight, Bran has begun embracing his “northern Stark side.” He is not only drawn to the godswood to escape the chaos of Winterfell, but once there he feels more at peace than anywhere else. Cut off from the rest of the world, Bran can do things that he finds difficult in the presence of others like think and dream and pray.



It’s important that it’s during this time with the gods, while Bran is beseeching them in this scared place, that Osha, Bran’s second “Yoda” figure, comes to him.





A faint wind signed through the godswood and the red leaves stirred and whispered. Summer bared his teeth. “You hear them, boy?” a voice asked.


Bran lifted his head. Osha stood across the pool, beneath an ancient oak, her face shadowed by the leaves. Even in irons, the wildling moved quiet as a cat. Summer circled the pool, sniffed at her. The tall woman flinched.





A few things to point out here. First, Osha appears with the wind, moments after Bran has prayed to the gods for help and protection. She is like the answer to his prayer. This is not to say that Osha is some sort of mystical avatar, but rather she serves a spiritual guide until another one will come. She prepares the way for Bran, opening his mind to the idea that the Children and Giants and weights still exist beyond the Wall. If the crow opened Bran’s third eye, and Jojen Reed will help Bran with his gift, then Osha’s job is to make Bran aware of what is going on beyond the Wall.



Second, going along with this, notice that not only does Osha come with the wind, but she almost blends into the tree, her face being shadowed by leaves. She is a part of the “old-gods world.” At this time, it might be worth pointing out that with the World Book, there is an idea Yandel presents that the Wildlings are really just a group of First Men that exist beyond the Wall. The Starks, of course, pride themselves on having blood of the First Men. Osha and Bran are tied by blood (should Yandel’s idea be true) as well as religion and their magical expectations.





”What are you doing here?” He [bran] had not seen Osha since they’d taken her captive in the wolfswood, though he knew she’d been set to working in the kitchens.


“They are my gods too,” Osha said. “Beyond the Wall, they are the only gods.”


[snip]


“No, stay,” Bran commanded her. “Tell me what you meant, about hearing the gods.”


Osha studied him. “You asked them and they’re answering. Open your ears, listen, you’ll hear.”


Bran listened. “It’s only the wind,” he said after a moment, uncertain. “The leaves are rustling.”


“Who do you think sends the wind, if not the gods?” She seated herself across the pool from him, clinking faintly as she moved. Mikken had fixed iron manacles to her ankles, with a heavy chain between them; she could walk, so long as she kept her strides small, but there was no way for her to run, or climb, or mount a horse. “They see you, boy. They hear you talking. That rustling, that’s them talking back.”


“What are they saying?”


“They’re sad. Your lord brother will get no help from them, not where he’s going. The old gods have no power in the south. The weirwoods there were all cut down, thousands of years ago. How can they watch your brother when they have no eyes?”


Bran had not thought of that. It frightened him. If even the gods could not help his brother, what hope was there? Maybe Osha wasn’t hearing them right. He cocked his head and tried to listen again. He thought he could hear the sadness now, but nothing more than that.





Unlike Bran’s first conversation with his other Yoda figure, there are neither instruments nor quantifiable data for Bran to latch on to here. Osha isn’t offering Bran empirical wisdom or numbers; she’s telling him—more or less—to believe in something he can neither prove nor see.



I think it’s worth pointing out that there are godwoods in the south. For example, from the World Book, we learn that there is an immense weirwood tree in the Reach known as the Three Sisters; Catelyn informs us early on that every great castle has a godswood; Arya pratcies her “needlework” in front of a white tree at Harrenhal; The Isle of Faces has many weirwoods and, Sansa prays in the godswood in King’s Landing. Osha’s ignorance about Westeros shows here but she takes on faith that the gods simply can’t see because there are no trees in the south. Bran, who is quite clever and educated, fears that this might be the case, though surely he would know that godswoods do exist south of the Neck, and if he did not already know, he could ask Luwin about it. But he doesn’t. Bran’s own mind is more inclined to trust in what Osha believes than what Luwin has taught him. We should probably keep that in mind moving forward.



Osha goes on to provide more information that is of a less concrete variety. All of these things Bran is expected to take on faith; they are not something that can be proven to him. Osha’s reasoning for believing that these creatures—giants and worse—exist is because “we remember.” She cannot give Bran anything other than cultural remembrance of a people that he is not apart of. And yet, as we saw in the second conversation with Luwin in which Bran references Osha’s words, Bran is more inclined to believe Osha’s tales than Luwin’s knowledge.



1. Giants





”Maester Luwin says there are no more giants. He says they’re all dead, like the children of the forest. All that’s left of them are old bones in the earth that men turn up with plows from time to time.”


“Let Maester Luwin ride beyond the Wall,” Osha said. “He’ll find giants then, or they’ll find him. My brother killed one. Ten foot tall she was, and stunted at that. They’ve been known to grow big as twelve and thirteen feet. Fierce things they are too, all hair and teeth, and the wives have beards like their husbands, so there’s not telling them apart.”





Notice here that the dichotomy of Luwin and Osha is once again presented. Luwin can provide something tangible—bones—to prove his point that the giants are all gone. Osha cannot produce anything other than fanciful stories that may or may not be true.



2. Worse than Giants





Giants and worse than giants, Lordling, I tried to tell your brother when he asked his questions, him and your maester and that smiley boy, Greyjoy. The cold winds are rising, and men go out from their fires and never come back…or if they do, they’re not men no more, but only wights with blue eyes and cold black hands. Why do you think I run south with Stiv and Hali and the rest of them fools? Mance thinks he’ll fight, the brave sweet stubborn man, like the white walkers were no more than rangers, but what does he know? He can call himself King-Beyond-The-Wall all he likes, but he’s still just another old black crow who flew down from the Shadow Tower. He’s never tasted winter. I was born up there, child, like my mother and her mother before her and her mother before her, born of the Free Folk. We remember.”





What is most interesting here is Bran’s belief. It’s simple and straightforward. If he wants to listen he has to hear, so he encourages Osha to tell him and he’ll tell Robb. Bran doesn’t want Robb—and I think we can extend this to Bran himself—to march the wrong way. Before his fall, Bran would have dearly loved the idea of going south as a knight to fight a noble war against he Lannisters to free his father. Now, Bran’s mind goes elsewhere, to the godswood and the Old Gods and old powers rising in the cold winds.



Band of Brothers



Apart from Bran’s conversations with Osha and Luwin, we get a peek into the three Stark boys and how home life is going in the wake of Ned and Cat leaving Winterfell. The eldest boy, Robb, has become Robb the Lord and “seemed half a stranger to Bran now, transformed, a lord in truth, thought he had not yet seen his sixteenth name day. Even their father’s bannermen seemed to sense it.”



Bran notices how Robb wears different faces—Robb the Lord when he’s dealing with the Greatjon or the Boltons—and his brother Robb when they are alone. This is the same observation Bran has about Ned in Bran I, the difference between Lord Eddard who would end a man’s life with one swing of Ice, and their father who would tell his children stories around the night fire. Bran’s is a very observant boy and sees what others might not. For example, it takes a rather bloody demonstration of power from Robb before the Greatjon will accept Robb as being in charge of the bannermen—Stark or not. But at night, Robb takes off that Lords mask and confesses how scared he was to Bran.



Rickon, almost four, is a different story:





His baby brother had been wild as a winter storm since he learned Robb was riding off to war, weeping and angry by turns. He’d refuse to eat, cried and screamed for most of a night, even punched Old Nan when she tried to sing him to sleep, and the next day he’d vanished. Robb had set half the castle searching for him, and when at they’d found him down in the crypts, Rickon had slashed at them with a rusted iron sword he’s snatched from a dead king’s hand…





The three Stark boys are all becoming quite different: the Lord, the Mystic, and a Wolf-in-Human-Clothing and I would like to point out that description with Rickon is that he is as wild as a winter storm. The idea of winter being wild and dangerous is something to keep in mind as we move forward and learn more about the Stark Family. The only thing all three Stark brothers can agree on is that they wish Ned were home.



I want to mention the wolves as well at this point. As each of the Stark boys changes and transforms, so to their wolves change. Grey Wind never leaves Robb’s side and has a certain regal dignity to him. Robb and Grey Wind are like the Stark Kings of Winter down in the crypts: they are one unit, working together (like in the aforementioned Greatjon incident). One almost envisions Robb with a sword across his lap, Grey Wind sitting beside. Summer, like Bran, is most calm when in the godswood. As Bran and Summer lay about the pool, Summer lapping at the dark waters, the text reads that “boy and beast both felt at peace.” Notice that for some odd (as of now) reason Bran almost senses that Summer is at peace at the exact same moment that he himself as found peace in the godswood, away from Winterfell. Shaggydog is just as wild as Rickon, a veritable “green-eyed demon” who is “near as wild as Rickon; he’d bitten Gage on the arm and torn a chunk of flesh from Mikken’s thigh. It had taken Robb himself and Grey Wind to bring him to bay. Farlan had the black wolf chained up in the kennels now, and Rickon cried all the more for being without him.” The wolves continue to be a reflection of the Stark’s personalities, their familiars. Also interesting to note that the wolves also sense each other grief at the passing of their sister, Lady. When the she-wolf’s bones are returned to Winterfell, all three of the other wolves howl and mourn together.



Bran the Broken



I made note of this in the “Observations” section, but when Osha mentions mating, Bran is uncomfortable. Bran is also eight, so it’s not out of the ordinary, except when you take into account the way Bran thinks about his life and how he structures it in regards to the passing of time. Things are either before or now, with before having the connotation of “before the fall.” There is a theory in psychology known as “repressed memories.” A quick definition:





Repressed memories are hypothesized memories having been unconsciously blocked, due to the memory being associated with a high level of stress or trauma. The theory postulates that even though the individual cannot recall the memory, it may still be affecting them consciously.





Bran believes that he fell from the lightening struck tower whereas the audience knows that Jaime Lannister pushed him. I think it’s fairly obvious that Bran is repressing these painful memories—not only his fall, but what he heard and saw in the room before the push. According to Freud, repression “is a completely automatic psychological defense against emotional trauma and does not involve conscious intent.” Of course, in the case of Bran, we have a sort of warped winged therapist telling Bran to repress his memories because he doesn’t need them for what is to come.



I bring this up because I want to examine how Bran’s repressed trauma is manifesting itself inwardly, what changes Bran has undergone (of the none physical variety). For example, before Bran was scared of the heart tree, but now that he is grounded (for want of a better term) the tree doesn’t frighten him so much. However, in Bran II we learned that apart from the heart tree, nothing frightens Bran because he has his family with him. Now his family is scattered—Ned and his sisters in King’s Landing, Cat in the Eyrie/Riverrun—and moreover, this scattering of Starks is, in large part, due to his fall, at least in Bran’s mind.



Soon Robb will leave him too. The loss of his family—his pack—coupled with the unconscious knowledge that Winterfell isn’t safe anymore makes Bran frightened of things he might not be otherwise. During his conversation with Osha, the Wildling woman notes that the gods cannot watch over Robb in the south. Bran’s internal response is:





Bran had not thought of that. It frightened him. If even the gods could not help his brother, what hope was there?





I believe Bran is blocking his memories of what happened to him at the tower out of fear and misplaced anger—had he not gone climbing that day, none of this would have happened—and it’s manifesting in an outward display of caution and fear, which might not be a wholly bad thing given the state of Westeros and Planetos at large. To Bran’s credit, though, the anger isn’t directed towards anyone else, at least in this chapter. He is still a kind, sweet, thoughtful boy. He doesn’t abuse Hodor or Maester Luwin or even Osha. He still has his wolf—and I think having Summer helps quite a bit. When Robb becomes angry/frustrated with Sansa when she fails to mention Arya in the letter Queen Cersei forced her to send, Bran’s rationale is “she lost her wolf.” It suggests that in Bran’s mind, losing your wolf is like losing a big part of yourself; so while Bran lost the use of his legs, he still has Summer (foreshadowing alert!)



Conclusions



I think this is an interesting chapter for all three of the Stark boys. Robb is becoming a proper Lord and has earned the respect of his bannermen. Bran is opening himself up more to magic and what might lie beyond the Wall in the land of the Wildlings. Rickon grows more fierce and wild every day, a child who is truly too young to understand the hardships of his world. For Bran, a subtle choice is being laid before him: the “southron” route of being a Maester and donning a chain; or the more mystical “northern” route of the Old Gods and the Wildings and giants and worse than giants. Even though Bran has found a physical place of peace in the godswood, he still has internal struggles over how his young life has been so rudely interrupted.


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A Game of Thrones

Bran VI

They would never cheer for him that way, he realized with a dull ache. He might be the lord of Winterfell while his brother and father were gone, but he was still Bran the Broken.

Excellent analysis!

Analysis

I want to start off this analysis by looking at Bran’s conversation with his two mentors, whom I like to call his “Yoda” figures. Maester Luwin and Osha represent two opposite ends of the spectrum. On the one hand, Luwin is empirical knowledge, and that which is tangible and concrete. He can teach Bran things that can be verified and known. Osha, on the other hand, roots herself in magic and myth and mysticism. Her knowledge and what she can offer Bran is based off spiritualism and things most men believe to be either dead or to have never existed. While both of these figures care for Bran—and in return Bran cares for both of them—I believe George RR Martin is setting Bran up with a choice: science or faith; the way of the maester or the way of the singers.

I completely agree here, although I would phrase the choice slightly differently: the mundane or the mystical?

Conversations With Yoda: Maester Luwin

This chapter begins with Bran watching the final bannermen family—the Karstarks—come into Winterfell. We can easily imagine that this scene has played out many times before as the other families arrived. Bran can no longer be part of the action, so he is sequestered away, watching through Luwin’s “fareye.” We learn that Maester Luwin has “taught him all the banners.”

Bran seems to spend a lot of time with the good Maester now that Robb is Lord of Winterfell and Cat has gone south. Apart from his direwolf, Summer, Bran has little in the way of company and Maester Luwin continues to serve as his teacher, but there is also a more familiar element to them now that Bran confines himself inside the walls of Winterfell when necessary. I am actually reminded of another maester and second son, Cressen and Stannis. We know that Cressen felt a fatherly love for Stannis because Stannis needed it more than his Baratheon brothers. In the end, to continue the parallel, Stannis took up with a woman of mystical origins, though that one was of fire, not ice.

Notice that Bran, while with Luwin, uses equipment like the lens tube and asks pressing questions that have to do with quantity or politics. These are not of the more spiritual variety, a conversation that happens later with Osha.

[...]

What Luwin essentially does is what he is supposed to do: Teaching Bran everything he needs to know as a lord's son and potential heir to Winterfell. He teaches him about banners and the noble houses and everything else you listed. It is the world of lords and noble houses, about society and how to rule. This is Luwin's world, a world where magic does not work. The only problem with that is that this was never the case and that the world is changing in a way which exposes that.

As you pointed out there is a father/son relationship between the two. Lwuin genuinely cares about Bran and that is part of the reason why he is that dismissive of Osha's stories. He does not want Bran to believe something that is not true and can only lead to disappointment later on. He is trying to protect him from that. Instead he offers him the possibility of becoming a maester, a path he walked himself and from which he knows that it is valid and simultaneously offers Bran a possibility to excel in an area that is not hindered by his disability. At the end he tries to help him to succeed in the world he thinks they live in and does not hide the uglier truths from Bran.

Bran however still clings to his dreams as evidenced by his question about the knights which - interestingly enough - has nothing to do for him with becoming a warrior sworn to the seven, but with an ideal of a hero he wants to become. But he clings to the word itself which he does not really understand, which is something Luwin tries to tell him, with not that much success.

Another point I want to bring up here is how Luwin adresses Bran: He uses 'Bran' or 'child', which reinforces the roles between them. Luwin is the teacher and the guardian and Bran is the student and the ward, which is a distinction Luwin always keeps up.

Conversations with Yoda: Osha

After Bran watches the Karstarks come into the castle, he decides to visit the godswood, which “was an island of peace in the sea of chaos that Winterfell had become.” This should sound pretty familiar; it’s the same sort of sentiment Cat expresses in her first POV while she is searching for Ned: “But she knew she would find her husband here tonight. Whenever he took a man’s life, afterward he would seek the quiet of the godswood.”

In Bran II, we learn that Bran was scared of the heart tree, but since the fall, things have changed quite a bit for the young boy:

Despite still clinging to the former southron dreams of being a knight, Bran has begun embracing his “northern Stark side.” He is not only drawn to the godswood to escape the chaos of Winterfell, but once there he feels more at peace than anywhere else. Cut off from the rest of the world, Bran can do things that he finds difficult in the presence of others like think and dream and pray.

It’s important that it’s during this time with the gods, while Bran is beseeching them in this scared place, that Osha, Bran’s second “Yoda” figure, comes to him.

[...]

The change is indeed remarkable, with his awaking powers the godswood and the heart tree especially become a place of peace instead of one that frightens Bran. I do not know if it is necessarily 'embracing his northern Stark side', because I do not think that he ever made the distinction between his wishes and his northern identity. It has probably more to do with the fact that he now has a reason the seek refuge in its connection with the old gods because of all the things that are going on. He never had a important reason to pray before.

I largely agree with the rest. The world Osha knows is a different one than the one Maester Luwin knows. She reinforces Old Nan's stories, which Luwin pointed out in the text, but supplements it with the experiences she made and the things she knows from her ancestors. The distinction you made between the provable knowledge can probably be more aptly summarized as the distinction between written and traditional knowledge. Maths, science, healing and more on the one side and the old knowledge of the mystical on the other. I think it is a bit unfair to extend the first distinction to everything Osha and Luwin say, since the reason why Osha cannot prove that there are giants is that they are in the wrong place. Luwin would have similar problems up north in regards to Westerosi society. Interestingly enough the contest between both kinds of knowledge flares up even today from time to time, for example with ways of life of natives that may be justified with thought out stories over the times, but have their roots in practical experience of generations.

That Bran has tends to believe Osha more in regards to magic is because of his own wishes, but I think the chapter gives a bit of a scewed impression about it on its own, because Bran will lean the one and the other way depending on what is happening in his life.

As a personal side note: I dislike the use of the Yoda comparison a bit, alone because I think that every mentor figure in this series is a better one than him. He is the 'appearing wise' figure that comes up so often in fiction and that I like Jojen so much is that he subverts it completely.

Band of Brothers

Apart from Bran’s conversations with Osha and Luwin, we get a peek into the three Stark boys and how home life is going in the wake of Ned and Cat leaving Winterfell. The eldest boy, Robb, has become Robb the Lord and “seemed half a stranger to Bran now, transformed, a lord in truth, thought he had not yet seen his sixteenth name day. Even their father’s bannermen seemed to sense it.”

Bran notices how Robb wears different faces—Robb the Lord when he’s dealing with the Greatjon or the Boltons—and his brother Robb when they are alone. This is the same observation Bran has about Ned in Bran I, the difference between Lord Eddard who would end a man’s life with one swing of Ice, and their father who would tell his children stories around the night fire. Bran’s is a very observant boy and sees what others might not. For example, it takes a rather bloody demonstration of power from Robb before the Greatjon will accept Robb as being in charge of the bannermen—Stark or not. But at night, Robb takes off that Lords mask and confesses how scared he was to Bran.

[...]

I do not have much to add here, you pretty much wrote it all already. The three main points are that we see here in which direction the Stark children go, how their wolves mirror this development and that they care about each other and share a deep bond despite their different developments and suffer together because of the recent developments. How Shaggydog acts is also a reminder that wolves are wolves, predators, ready to hurt and ready to kill. It is the responsibility of the Stark children to keep them at bay and not letting themselves getting influenced the other way around.

Bran the Broken

I made note of this in the “Observations” section, but when Osha mentions mating, Bran is uncomfortable. Bran is also eight, so it’s not out of the ordinary, except when you take into account the way Bran thinks about his life and how he structures it in regards to the passing of time. Things are either before or now, with before having the connotation of “before the fall.” There is a theory in psychology known as “repressed memories.” A quick definition:

Bran believes that he fell from the lightening struck tower whereas the audience knows that Jaime Lannister pushed him. I think it’s fairly obvious that Bran is repressing these painful memories—not only his fall, but what he heard and saw in the room before the push. According to Freud, repression “is a completely automatic psychological defense against emotional trauma and does not involve conscious intent.” Of course, in the case of Bran, we have a sort of warped winged therapist telling Bran to repress his memories because he doesn’t need them for what is to come.

[...]

Yes, the trauma of his fall continues to haunt him, but I disagree that his fear is the reason why his memory is repressed. The problem, and that is something you are talking about, that the problems pile up. He already needs to deal with being a cripple and that his parents are not there anymore, that his friends were killed in the south and now even Robb leaves to war where he could die and Rickon loses himself in grief and anger. There is just no respite for him where he could deal with these issues. They keep on coming and coming.

What i want to add is that in this chapter he is confronted with the full societal responses to him being a cripple. What seemed abstract before is now reality:

"...sooner die than live like that," muttered one, his father's namesake Eddard, and his brother Torrhen said likely the boy was broken inside as well as out, too craven to take his own life.

People look at him with pity or disgust, they stare at him when he gets carried around by Hodor. Please think about his for a moment: An eight year old boy listens to his father's bannermen while they say that he should have killed himself. That he is a craven for not doing so. That he takes that as well as he does is remarkable. It also pays off here that Maester Luwin did not shield him from that and helps him to lead a normal life as much as that is possible. I could write a bit more about that but I would probably just repeat myself, so I just say that Bran's ambivalent attitude to his disability is best summarized by the following two quotes:

Broken. Bran thought bitterly as he clutched his knife. Is that what he was now? Bran the Broken? "I don't want to be broken," he whispered fiercely to Maester Luwin, who'd been seated to his right. "I want to be a knight."

Here Bran is bitter about his disability and clings to his original dream, being a knight. But he is also fierce and refuses to just succumb to his situation, which continues here:

The riders gave them queer looks as they went by, and once Bran heard someone guffaw. He refused to let it trouble him. "Men will look at you," Maester Luwin had warned him the first time they had strapped the wicker basket around Hodor's chest. "They will look, and they will talk, and some will mock you." Let them mock, Bran thought. No one mocked him in his bedchamber, but he would not live his life in bed.

Which is incidentally one of the most admirable actions in the series in my opinion.

As an afterthought this chapter gives us two lines that rank high in the category "little moments that make me angry and disgusted":

- the one about Bran being broken from Eddard and Torrhen

- "Gage lets me have my prayers from time to time, when I feel the need, and I let him do what he likes under my skirt, when he feels the need."

And the line which hits the hardest in hindsight:

Rickon had refused to come down. He was up in his chambers, red-eyed and defiant. "No!" he'd screamed when Bran had asked if he didn't want to say farewell to Robb. "NO farewell!"

"I told him," Bran said. "He says no one ever comes back."

Now I'm done, that reply took a few hours.

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