Oh, sweet she was, and pure and fair! The ugly duckling!   I will leave the arguments for Gendry as a bear for the moment, though I will come back to that. Instead I will focus for a while on a character that I have as a POV used for Gendry's evidence as a bear - Arya Stark. She will inadvertently lead us back to the hidden bear. Some swan themes may be glaringly obvious plot wise, but just as much as Gendry is a very well rounded bear in symbolism, Arya is very much written out as a maiden by GRRM in very different ways. As a main character she has several plots, references and roles going.   I'm not the first to remark on the fact that Arya seems to have the "ugly duckling" role. We all know she was harrassed by Jeyne Poole to believe she's ugly, and yet all expect her to grow into a pretty or beautiful young woman, since Eddard Stark recognizes features of Lyanna in her. But upon my research I actually came upon a swan reference, in her pov. So, I decided to grab the Anderson story book that once was given to my mother in the 50s and actually reread the "Ugly Duckling" story as it was written by Anderson.   Anderson's story can be broken down in as follows: (link to ugly duckling) A cygnet grows up with a duck family at a castle’s moat. They regard him as a big-sized ugly duck, bully and pester him, and he comes to believe it.   Te “ugly duckling” runs off, away from the ducks and hens pecking at him, and the girl that throws the food kicking at him. Wild ducks and exclusive male geese accept him friendly enough, though they still regard him as an ugly duckling. The wild ducks and geese all get shot by hunters at the lake and reeds. A fearsome, big dog with cruel eyes gleaming bares his teeth at him, growling, but eventually takes off. The duckling dares not to move for a while, until eventually it runs off out of the swamp. During a storm the cygnet gets taken in by an old woman with a cat and hen at a farmstead that’s half in ruins, with a door swinging on its old and broken hinges. The cat and hen act as if they are the lord and lady of the household, think and speak as if they're half the world - the better half of course - that they know better and that the ugly duckling is dumb, and should listen to his wise elders, and not talk back. The hen has "short legs" and the cat can "spark when rubbed the wrong way". The cat and hen don’t understand why he wants to swim on a lake, when it’s warm and cozy within. All that is required from them is to do their job: purr and "crackle" (cat) and lay eggs (hen). He is kept by the old woman to see if he can lay duck eggs. He decides to leave to swim on the lake and sees swans flying, thinks they’re beautiful and wishes he could join them, but can’t fly yet. The lake freezes shut and he’s trapped. Famished and nearly frozen himself he is found by a farmer who takes him home, where he revives and gets well again. The children of the farmer are so noisy that they frighten him. He ends up in a bowl of milk, then butter and finally flower, until it looks awful. Scared by all the noise and shrieks, he runs off again. The “ugly duckling” spends a winter in a cave by a lake all by himself, suffering increasingly in his isolation, loneliness, cold and hunger. With the coming of spring, he does admire the sun and the blooms, but has also come to a point of not wanting to live alone anymore, let alone another winter like it. And yet, he believes it is unavoidable, for surely no one will accept him. He wants to end his shame and misery, by ending his life. He sees 3 regal swans and swims towards them, thinking they will peck him to death.. As he bows his head to be executed he discovers he sees his reflection in the water and discovers he’s all grown up and in fact a swan, instead of a duck. The other swans welcome him and those who visit the lake say he is the most beautiful swan of all, making him shy, but also happy.   Now let's see how Arya's story compares to it. Arya does not have the Tully look as the other trueborn siblings, she’s not a proper lady but a tomboy, she often has to point out that she’s a girl, not a boy. And on top of that Jeyne Poole and Sansa call her ‘horsefaced’. She believes she can’t be a proper lady and is ugly, and therefore never paired with the handsome boys. While she thinks it isn't fair and is angry, she also blames herself more than others.     Arya contemplates running away. She gets her wish when she must run from the Red Keep surviving in Flea Bottom.     Eventually, she's forced to run and travel with Yoren and the men and boys for the Wall (like the all male geese), pretending to be a boy herself, and through a fight earn her respect amongst the 'gutter rats'. It's rather confusing that now when she pretends to be what normally the majority of the people believe her to be, some Gold Cloak actually sees she's a girl (despite her hair cut). Now she must deny she's a girl.   They are being hunted by Gold Cloaks, hunted by a foraging Ser Amory, hunted by the foraging Mountain. Yoren intended to travel for Harrenhal to seek help with House Whent, not even knowing that is only wishful thinking, since Tywin Lannister has taken Harrenhal already. They dig in at the hodlfast with the towerhouse, where KR meets the God's Eye lake, making them basically "sitting ducks" for Ser Amory where The majority get slaughtered. Later Lommy is killed by Raff.     They get caught by the Mountain with Dogs for a sigil. At the burned village at the God’s Eye, Arya sees black swans gliding over the water and wants to be a swan. She also wants to swim, like the Ugly Duckling yearns for the lake when safe with the cat and hen. She is brought to the ruinous Harrenhal, where Goodwife Amabel, Harra and later Weese act as if they are the lords and ladies of Harrenhal themselves, and often refer to her being ugly and themselves as wise. Originally Arya is meant for the kitchens (laying eggs?) by the "clucking" Amabel, but eventually used as an errand girl under Weese who can "purr" and "crack" and has his eyes on her, like a cat.   Hot Pie (as short legged hen) and Gendry (as the cat that can spark if rubbed in the wrong way) don’t understand why Arya wants to escape the ruinous Harrenhal. They have their jobs in the kitchen and forge, get food and aren’t hunted.     Arya still escapes (taking Hot Pie and Gendry along) and manages to reach the Trident, but after the food of Harrenhal ran out many days before that, they venture out into a garden to steal vegetables, and end up taken by the Brotherhood, where she gets a period of reprieve and heal enough to become a little girl again. Initially she is highly suspicious, still hating to be seen as a 'little girl', reminding herself that this one and that one are not her friends, but eventually can interact normally with them, relax, not mind the singing, even share some of the experiences and thereby heal from the horror, until in the end she allows herself to be a little girl that misses her mother. GRRM shows us this in the way he has Arya describe events or people. There is a lot of 'stupid'(stupid songs, stupid little lady) or sometimes a 'silly' added to it, especially in relation to 'little girl', something she loudly protest against being called, but less and less so with each chapter. I give just a few selected examples.   [compare these two descriptions, from the same night. The first bath and dress experience is full of negative judgmental terms. Though the second dress is even a 'worse' dress than before, there is no actual negative judgmental term used. She says it's worse, but the descriptive language betrays she is not as bothered by it] Arya ends up tearing and soiling the dress she’s given, causing a roar of laughter, as if she ended up in a tub of milk, butter and flower. When Tom, Lem and Beric argue over what to do with her, her head pounds with all the noise and she runs outside the “barn/stable”. She is taken by the Hound, who snarls at her, talks mean, but ultimately does not harm her. Here we get a repeat of the Ugly Duckling's meeting with the mean hunting dog.     Winter has come, and Arya hides with the FM, at a swamp-lake region, basically emotionally isolated and groomed into becoming “no one”.     Also, as Cat of the Canals in Braavos she admires and is fascinated by the courtesans (beautiful, independent women admired by men), as if she regards them as the swans of the female world (and Lynesse, Jorah’s swan maiden is a courtesan in Lys)   If GRRM is incorporating the “ugly duckling” story, then he’ll have Arya grow up, possibly surrender to be executed, or may even contemplate suicide in a conflict of the heart and mind, over shame of what she has done. But she will discover she has grown into a beautiful woman (on the inside as well), welcomed with open arms. I’m not sure but the courtesans of Braavos may end up helping her somehow. Or the “regality” of swans implies she joins the court. Here follow some quotes of suicides she learns about, about philosophy of death as a gift to end pain, to contemplate the possibility whether GRRM might include Arya becoming pre-suicidal at some point. She learns how Ashara died by Edric Dayne; she considers jumping into the Trident as the ferry crosses, despite the risk of drowning, and thinking that drowning is better than Joffrey; witness to the gift of mercy on the man of Pinkmaiden; Sandor wanting her to give him the gift of mercy; she gives the bravo the gift of mercy to a bravo shortly after entering the House of Black and White; the kindly man explains how death can be an end to pain and suffering when sins and burdens become too much to bear; she remembers the old Northmen claiming they go out to hunt in the middle of winter as an expression to die in the snow.     Conclusion   Though we know Arya as a she-wolf, a great part of her plot is analogues to the ugly duckling's plot. We solely miss the ending. If a major part of her story is that of the ugly duckling, then this implies we can regard har as a swan in a plot sense.