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a black swan

Arya "the singing bird" Stark

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I think her very name, Aria from the opera, more likely points to her being the lone wolf that will die in winter.  She's a solo operator and a merciless murderer.  Getting killed while attempting to work on her hit list would be a satisfactory conclusion to her arc. 

Maybe a drunk Gregor will try to saddle Arya thinking she's his horse and she gets crushed from the weight of his enormous saddle.  :D

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16 hours ago, DutchArya said:

Arya has a strong connection with Swan/Bird imagery in the books. One of her identities while in the Riverlands is Squab which is another word for "little bird" or "baby dove". 

 

Thanks to Slipguard for pointing this out:

So according to that translation it literally means "the singing bird".

Aria is also the Latin word for Air. And we know she has wished for wings. A beautiful coincidence?

Arya means Lioness in Hebrew, which is ironic considering her clashes with the Lannisters.

~*~

BLACK SWANS

A black swan was proverbial for "something extremely rare or non-existent".

So while Arya is travelling along the Gods Eye lake, she climbs a tree to get a better vantage point and she sees the Isle of Faces (The Children of the Forest's most Holy place) right in the middle of the Gods Eye lake. 

She sees not one but 3 black swans. A very rare sight! She wants to become one of them but she also wants to eat one. Swans of course became a luxury dish for the royal and highborn class.

From @sweetsunray in this thread:

Arya ends up at Acorn Hall and meets Lady Ravella Smallwood (of House Swann) their sigil is a black & white swan facing each other on a shield. Ravella puts Arya in a dress and tells her she is pretty. Arya remembers her fondly and would only act like a Lady for Ravella.

Swans are black and white and so is the House of Black and White and that is where Arya is being reborn at every full moon.

Arya is literally the odd one out among Ned's children, born with the traditional dark Stark coloring unlike all her siblings who followed the Tully side.

WATER DANCING

Arya stands on her toes, on one leg. This is indeed reminiscent of ballet. Ballet dancers learn to stand upright, on the tip of their toes, often on one leg. It's explicitly linked to the water dancing. So, "water dancing" = "ballet" and Swan Lake is a ballet that also has narrative similarities to Arya's story.

Later on, Arya wishes she could dance on water. This is what the Swan ballet dancers do!

In Winds, grrm highlight's Arya's gracefulness both in character and physical behaviour. And even adds this imagery:

She also walks around Braavos in pinched shoes!

UGLY DUCKLING MOTIFF:

Arya's insecurities and her Ugly Duckling situation (a swan born among ducks): The only child of Ned to actually look like a traditional Stark while all the others followed the Tully coloring. Dirty and unkempt as a child, teased and outcasted - Arya Horseface - she will grow into a beautiful swan.

 

Oh fun fact. Ravella Smallwood. The nice noble lady that tries to clean and dress up Arya in the Riverlands was born Ravella Swann. So she gets cleaned and a makeover from a Swann.

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4 hours ago, The Transporter said:

I think her very name, Aria from the opera, more likely points to her being the lone wolf that will die in winter.  She's a solo operator and a merciless murderer.  Getting killed while attempting to work on her hit list would be a satisfactory conclusion to her arc. 

Maybe a drunk Gregor will try to saddle Arya thinking she's his horse and she gets crushed from the weight of his enormous saddle.  :D

Sandor would reply, "Don't you know that Arya's dead already?" just as he says it to a living Arya.

She wasn't a lone wolf. From the time she was on the KR she tried to be part of a pack, reunite with Starks, and each time it would have meant death if she had.

I find it strange that this saying apparently never is applied to other Starks who struck out on their own - Sansa leaving the pack to tell on them, Bran in the cave ... All the wolves are separated from one another, and are in peril of being hunted down if they come out and attempt to reunite.

She is not merciless, far from it. But those she killed were each of them selfish, harmful scum of Planetos.

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Swan ships. The Southern Islanders. What are the chances Arya will at some point sail on one of these magnificent vessels? Everyone sails into and out of Braavos. Remember, Sam etc left Braavos on "Cinnamon Wind". Then there's the connection between Nymeria (the Queen) and ships. And Arya's voyage from Saltpans to Braavos on "The Titan's Daughter", where she wished she could remain as a sailor. More water associations.

7 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

She wasn't a lone wolf. ...

She is not merciless, far from it. But those she killed were each of them selfish, harmful scum

Good analysis! 

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1 hour ago, zandru said:

Swan ships. The Southern Islanders. What are the chances Arya will at some point sail on one of these magnificent vessels? Everyone sails into and out of Braavos. Remember, Sam etc left Braavos on "Cinnamon Wind". Then there's the connection between Nymeria (the Queen) and ships. And Arya's voyage from Saltpans to Braavos on "The Titan's Daughter", where she wished she could remain as a sailor. More water associations.

I'd say the chance of her returning via swan ship are humongous!

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13 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

I'd say the chance of her returning via swan ship are humongous!

I want her to return with the sellswords the Company of the Rose.

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I read somewhere that the name Aria means "song"

but then i realised that the title of the book series is "A SONG of ice and fire"

and i just was all like: "George...i see what you did there...."

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An 'aria' is a 'self-contained piece for one voice (with or without orchestral accompaniment)' -- i.e. a soloist and musician in her own right

vs. a 'sansa' which is a thumb piano played by others -- i.e. an instrument of other people, not her own musician; except in our story, Sansa is not plucked by a thumb but by a little finger!

 

In summary, plucky Arya does the plucking

vs. Sansa who is plucked (and yes, 'plucked plucked it rhymes with...').  ;)

 

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2 hours ago, ravenous reader said:

An 'aria' is a 'self-contained piece for one voice (with or without orchestral accompaniment)' -- i.e. a soloist and musician in her own right

vs. a 'sansa' which is a thumb piano played by others -- i.e. an instrument of other people, not her own musician; except in our story, Sansa is not plucked by a thumb but by a little finger!

 

In summary, plucky Arya does the plucking

vs. Sansa who is plucked (and yes, 'plucked plucked it rhymes with...').  ;)

 

Sansa is accused of being many things - but a thumb piano? :rolleyes: 

No, grrm does not expect the reader to know about thumb pianos (although they do sound interesting....)

Consider then the instruments that she does play - the high harp and the bells, the choice of Prince Rhaegar and the Drothraki respectively.  People not easily ... played. :blush:

 

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3 hours ago, Springwatch said:

Sansa is accused of being many things - but a thumb piano? :rolleyes: 

I'm not 'accusing' anyone of anything.  It's not even my original thought.  I've read it from more than one source on some of the old threads. 

3 hours ago, Springwatch said:

No, grrm does not expect the reader to know about thumb pianos (although they do sound interesting....)

I wouldn't write off the association so swiftly.  GRRM has admitted (correct me if I'm wrong @The Fattest Leech) to giving a great deal of thought to the symbolism inherent in his name choices; and there is a prominent musical theme running through ASOIAF, from the title 'A SONG of ice and fire' on down.  (Addendum:  also, I really don't think GRRM cares if we can all follow all his associations or not!)

3 hours ago, Springwatch said:

Consider then the instruments that she does play - the high harp and the bells, the choice of Prince Rhaegar and the Drothraki respectively.  People not easily ... played. :blush:

That's a good point.  Currently, however, and regardless of how she or her fans rationalize it, she's under the thumb of, and is dancing to the tune of a very devious and dangerous man; and not doing much 'plucking' of her own.

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On 27/05/2017 at 8:38 PM, ravenous reader said:

...

That's a good point.  Currently, however, and regardless of how she or her fans rationalize it, she's under the thumb of, and is dancing to the tune of a very devious and dangerous man; and not doing much 'plucking' of her own.

Alayne's scope is more limited. Alayne can't play the high harp - it's out of range for that character, metaphorically or no. She can dance, though, which is a clue that she won't stay passive.

It's an odd thing - at the beginning of the book, Sansa can sing, and dance, and sew - in the literal sense - and do all these things well when Arya is still beginning to learn. But in the metaphorical sense, Arya has the name that is music, and impresses early on as a water dancer and a fighter with Needle.

Back to swans.

If we assume the context doesn't matter, and just gather all the swans together, it gets interesting.

The swan ships and Chataya's swan girls suggest a lot of sex appeal somewhere. Arya is too young for this, but it could be part of her future. (Men went crazy for Lyanna.)

Arya wants to be a swan, and Arya wants to eat a swan. Well, if a swan is a metaphor for a beautiful woman, she's unlikely to eat one. But one of Dany's quotes might help here: as a threat to the Drothraki she says the dragon eats both horse and sheep alike. Meaning she conquers big style.

So Arya could be a swan, and eat a swan, by being one of a pair of battling swans. As pictured in the arms of House Swann (as I said, the context doesn't matter).

I thought of Sansa for the white swan, but nothing supports it. Even her skin is never described as white, and you'd think a redhead would be pale.

Cersei, though - her beautiful white skin and slender throat get mentioned a lot. Plus, Cersei gives Tyrion roast swan at a private supper, after which Tyrion repeatedly (and unnecessarily) says he is sick of swan because it reminds him of his sister and that supper. He is pretty much sick of women already, but there might be more to it. Specifically, he refuses the black swan. Arya? Not the most likely candidate, perhaps, but definitely a possibility.

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On 5/25/2017 at 7:11 AM, The Transporter said:

I think her very name, Aria from the opera, more likely points to her being the lone wolf that will die in winter.  She's a solo operator and a merciless murderer.  Getting killed while attempting to work on her hit list would be a satisfactory conclusion to her arc. 

Maybe a drunk Gregor will try to saddle Arya thinking she's his horse and she gets crushed from the weight of his enormous saddle.  :D

UHHHH not really? she has been foreshadowed to play a great role to the ending and getting killed halfway through her kill list would not make sense at all. George gave arya loads of abilities and talents and you're saying all of those should be thrown away? no.

arya also has an army of wolves and nymeria waiting for her in westeros and George said it himself that there is a a reason why constantly reminds us of Nymeria and her army's whereabouts...

so in conclusion, arya dying while she's halfway through her kill list would be very unsatisfactory since she is that type of character that has a lot to give to the story 

also, she is NOT a lone wolf and is far from being merciless. she is literally the kindest character in the entire books with a heart made of pure gold. she helps people, she makes friends with anyone (even those prostitutes/whores in bravoos), she kills the ones who deserve it, the ones that has hurt her friends and loved ones. 

and she values packs sooo much, she tried so hard to find her group/pack.

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Wow, I love these connections. It further cements Arya and Sansa connections and reinforces that though they've been seperated for so long and are so different in the surface, their journeys have many similarities.

However Starks as both birds and wolves goes well beyond Sansa and Arya. Jon is connected to crows, Bran to ravens. Can anyone think of bird connections for Robb and  Rickon? If not, does that mean something for their characters that they are the only Stark children without the duality of a bird and a wolf?

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On 5/30/2017 at 1:35 AM, RevaM said:

also, she is NOT a lone wolf and is far from being merciless. she is literally the kindest character in the entire books with a heart made of pure gold. she helps people, she makes friends with anyone (even those prostitutes/whores in bravoos), she kills the ones who deserve it, the ones that has hurt her friends and loved ones. 

That old man, the insurance agent, that was cold blooded murder.  That had nothing to do with justice, revenge, or making the world a better place.  That was Arya killing a man to please the faceless men.  The FM make an art of lying.  That man she killed was just an honest business man.

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5 hours ago, The Transporter said:

That old man, the insurance agent, that was cold blooded murder.  That had nothing to do with justice, revenge, or making the world a better place.  That was Arya killing a man to please the faceless men.  The FM make an art of lying.  That man she killed was just an honest business man.

How is he honest if he is cheating widows and children out of money that belongs to them after they just lost their husband/father at sea? LOL What?

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6 hours ago, The Transporter said:

That old man, the insurance agent, that was cold blooded murder.  That had nothing to do with justice, revenge, or making the world a better place.  That was Arya killing a man to please the faceless men.  The FM make an art of lying.  That man she killed was just an honest business man.

Someone prayed for that "honest" man's death and sacrificed something for it. The Kindly Man explains how he lets captains pay for insurance, but when the captain and ship sinks he doesn't pay out the insurance to the widow and children. The insurance man steals money from honest captains, and leaving their families out to dry. One of those children or widows prayed and sacrificed for his death.

When the Kindly Man makes the fraudulent practices clear of the man, Arya thinks "someone prayed for him to die", and she empathizes with that, because it means some child or wife wishes the man dead as much as she wishes people on her list dead. She kills hm out of empathy for the anonymous victim of that insurance man.

Regardless of whether the KM lied or told the truth, the point is that Arya believes it and does it not for the FM, but for the person who prayed for it. She believes someone wants justice as bad as she wants it for the wrongs done to her loved ones and family. Once she believes that, she stops with the "why" and focuses on the "how".

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Not really about Arya or the Stark girls but... 

On 2017-5-24 at 6:52 PM, Lollygag said:

I wonder if there is more insight to be gained by looking all 4 Stark kids and their connection to different types of birds in-story.

One of the meanings of "Bran" in Welsh is raven. In Celtic mythology the god Bran (the Blessed) had as symbol a raven. (And Brynden is of course the Riverlands' version of Brandon - it is no wonder Bloodraven actually is called Brynden Rivers)

And through his story Bran is also actually closely connected to stories and songs. But while Arya might be associated to water singing, dancing, ... Bran is associated with the sung of the earth. I mean he is visiting those who sing the song of earth.  

And in Bran I, ACOK Bran wished he could join his direwolves, who sing in a forgotten language, in their song to the stars. 

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A sawn song is a solo song that one sings when they are dying. This also fits the clues in the main post and some of the other ones. I guess this means Arya will die in the spring with her needle in her hand?

I just want to say that I learned this in drama class so I don't know if everyone else knew this.

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20 minutes ago, Sea Dragon said:

A sawn song is a solo song that one sings when they are dying. This also fits the clues in the main post and some of the other ones. I guess this means Arya will die in the spring with her needle in her hand?

I just want to say that I learned this in drama class so I don't know if everyone else knew this.

I've never studied drama, but plenty of times I've heard a last great performance described as a swan song. I hope this is all it means - that Arya will retire from the assassin's life after one last, superb performance. She deserves springtime and peace.

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