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ASOIAF's overall theme: The Protection of Children. Starting with Sandor's arc, and his threefold death, I will show it to you

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Hello, so far I've only read the initial post, but I wanted to let you know that I find your interpretation of Sandor/Hound and the Stark sisters relationship very beautiful. Thank you for posting this.

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Don't forget Sunspear's prosaic and soothing Water Gardens, where the children of the great and small all play so beautifully together.

Notice whom those gardens were first created for: Princess Daenerys Targaryen!

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Posted (edited)

Renly Baratheon

 

At first I couldn't figure out if his story fit the theme. Then all of a sudden it became clear, just like the rest:

Early Life Trauma:

We don’t “see” a great deal of Renly, but we can infer from all indications that his family did not know of his sexuality. It’s hard to imagine that growing up homosexual in that world without close support couldn’t have been traumatic. At the very least, confusing and frightening.

Headfallsoff also notes he was without his family for much of his youth, and that he underwent the brutal siege that Stannis refused to break.

This makes Renly's act of throwing a peach at Stannis, in an entreaty to "enjoy life", all the more symbolic of the deep behavioural impact of childhood trauma.

 

Lack of Healthy Survival Skills:

This calls into question his political alliance with the Tyrells. Is it actually based on sound politics, or is it hinged entirely on his love for Loras? Loras did love him, but the rest of the Tyrells were using this connection for power grabs. The desperation for love and protection from the rest of the world who would have persecuted him may have led him to ally with them on a purely emotional basis. If all or at least Olenna/Margarey knew of Loras's relationship, that made it not just one confidante but potentially a whole family giving him the open support he lacked.

He had an inferior claim to the throne to Stannis. He really had no right to try and overstep him. But he knew Stannis’s moral hardline would keep people like himself locked in the dark, cowering with their secrets. His childhood trauma compelled him to challenge this.

 

 

Harm to Children:

Well, let’s consider that he’s murdered by, effectively, a “nephew” of his.

When he fled the city in a hurry after Robert died, he spared no thought to all of his nieces and nephews left behind…

Who were all murdered.

Headfallsoff also notes he supported the assassination of Dany.

Edited by pudgiebudgie
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On 5/17/2019 at 11:30 AM, CrypticWeirwood said:

Don't forget Sunspear's prosaic and soothing Water Gardens, where the children of the great and small all play so beautifully together.

Notice whom those gardens were first created for: Princess Daenerys Targaryen!

Indeed, the many lost possibilities of Dany's childhood are littered through the story, many of which she is even unaware of, in addition to the many she was. I have updated her section significantly, since i figured much more of it out.

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4 hours ago, pudgiebudgie said:

Renly Baratheon

 

At first I couldn't figure out if his story fit the theme. Then all of a sudden it became clear, just like the rest:

We don’t “see” a great deal of Renly, but we can infer from all indications that his family did not know of his sexuality. It’s hard to imagine that growing up homosexual in that world without close support couldn’t have been traumatic. At the very least, confusing and frightening.

This calls into question his political alliance with the Tyrells. Is it actually based on sound politics, or is it hinged entirely on his love for Loras? Loras did love him, but the rest of the Tyrells were using this connection for power grabs. The desperation for love and protection from the rest of the world who would have persecuted him may have led him to ally with them on a purely emotional basis. If all or at least Olenna/Margarey knew of Loras's relationship, that made it not just one confidante but potentially a whole family giving him the open support he lacked.

He had an inferior claim to the throne to Stannis. He really had no right to try and overstep him. But he knew Stannis’s moral hardline would keep people like himself locked in the dark, cowering with their secrets. His childhood trauma compelled him to challenge this.

So that’s his “damage”, but that surely didn’t earn his bad fate. And what children did he ever hurt?

Well, let’s consider that he’s murdered by, effectively, a “nephew” of his.

When he fled the city in a hurry after Robert died, he spared no thought to all of his nieces and nephews left behind…

Who were all murdered.

 

I'll add that, in the books at least, Renly was left effectively alone to rule Storm's End at the age of 8. He also underwent trauma at the Siege of Storm's End, where he and Stannis were starved for a year.

He was not close to either of his brothers, and might have blamed Stannis for his suffering during the Siege. This lack of familial security might have led to his kinship with the Tyrells, and him going against Stannis. 

To the children he "hurts" he did advocate for Daenerys' assassination, who was pregnant at the time. 

Very interesting series of posts, and I agree that the protection of children/lack thereof is very much a theme of ASOIAF! 

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Posted (edited)

Jaime Lannister

 

The apparently "confusing" choices Jaime makes at the end are not confusing at all. As follows:

 

Harm to Children:

Just like the Hound, Jaime's service for Cersei includes the murder of children. Jaime attempts to murder a child (Bran), and also offers to murder Arya after the direwolf incident. He has no personal drive to murder children, but he's willing to do it for the woman he loves. Bran's death you could claim was to protect her. But the offer to murder Arya was purely to please her

As Jaime begins to question his principles, we see him become critical of children's abuse. He chastises a kingsguard for beating Sansa.

Yet when besieging Riverrun, he threatens to catapult an infant

Would he have done it? Probably not... but it does show a deep struggle in his quest to become a better person.

Finally, one is forced to consider the responsibility he had to protect his own children both from Cersei’s toxic influence and Robert’s emotional neglect. The latter one he seems to have attempted to some extent, but he never rebuked Cersei, and fear of their secret being found out would have limited his options greatly. Simply by creating children in the situation they did, they put children into danger.

 

Early Life Trauma:

Jaime and Cersei’s secret relationship was a joint trauma. A terrible secret, one which would have caused guilt, lies, and paranoia… and that’s all before Cersei even got married to the king. At that point Jaime was trampling over so many ideals of knighthood, but he’d trampled his way up to where he was anyway. There’s no difficulty in seeing how all other morals and social conventions became just as flimsy to them, when they started breaking such serious ones so young.

They key part is that they lived this ordeal together. From the moment their relationship became sexual, they shared a secret from the entire world. Even in youth, if widely discovered it would have terrible personal consequences. It also would have been such a deep wound in House Lannister’s pride that it’s inconceivable Tywin would have given them much mercy.

After Jaime became kingsguard, he stood to lose that if discovered. After Cersei became Queen, they both would have lost their heads, their children’s heads, and a massive blow dealt to their House.

Cersei and Jaime were constantly, every single day, upping the stakes of their secret.

In a mutual self-destruction pact, Cersei protected Jaime just as much as Jaime ever protected Cersei. Every indication is given in the book to see Jaime as her protector. But the truth is more subtle. Jaime never got healthy affection or morally correct adult life skills from his own father; you can’t get blood from a stone. The death of their mother left the Lannister children emotional orphans.

Cersei protected him.

 

The gross secret of Tyrion’s marriage that Tywin placed on Jaime’s head prevented him from ever forming a true intimate connection with his only other sibling. And his revelation of the truth puts a permanent wedge between them.

 

In the show, much is made of his attempts - and failure - to protect his remaining children. In the books, he is gone before they die. It’s thus hard to view his children dying in his absence is what will bring him back to Cersei. He also clearly felt compelled to protect the realm even over protecting their "new" child together.

This is perhaps Jaime's underlying character: He believes he must protect the realm, the people, generally. But not individual people specifically.

On top of the failure to protect his children, I have come to believe the major blockade for Jaime was public shame.

Cersei’s story provides a clue to Jaime’s in the form of her public shaming. Both Margarey and Cersei undergo no change of heart whatsoever from their ordeals. Throughout ASOIAF, internal shame causes some people’s behaviour to change, but external shame causes very little true change I can recall.

Although Jaime didn’t undergo the ordeal, he still faced constant public shame once the truth became known. And the second clue for this being a major factor is his past history; even though most of the realm probably wanted Aerys dead by that point, Jaime was still tarred forever with the shame of having killed him.

As a man who had betrayed the king he swore to serve in a most intimate fashion AND betrayed a grave taboo, only more shame was piled onto him by the world.

 

Lack of Healthy Survival Tools:

Brienne’s appearance in the story offers Jaime the opportunity to reconnect with his innate, desired ideals. To cut himself loose from Cersei and be able to protect himself, as well as others.

While Brienne's own trauma was similar to his - scorn and shame of the outside world - her tools to deal with it were the opposite of his. She faced the world every day, throwing their shame back at them, and never compromising her morals. This must have been part of what attracted Jaime.

But this approach only worked for Brienne because critically, she had never done anything of which she felt she should be ashamed. Jaime had.

Jaime does find the will to break with Cersei after her actions begin to strip away everything else of value in his life. Essentially, Cersei is Jaime’s childhood protection mechanism, and like so many others, she begins to go wrong and destroy his life.

But his attempt at redemption does not account for one factor: that still present external shame.

Despite defending all of the world from the undead, he must have realised afterwards that even this most selfless act… did not free him from the binds of public shaming. There literally was no good deed he could perform to be free of that curse.

I can't recall how it is between them when they reunite, but by that point, Brienne has now done things she is ashamed of, she has let herself down. She herself is probably searching for a new set of tools to handle her trauma. Previously Jaime could see her as having "the answer" for his problem. Now he sees her approach could never have worked for him, because it no longer works for her.

Jaime is thus a highly tragic figure, because he attempted redemption with a true heart, and he did lose almost all of value to him to do so. But in the end, the world around him would NOT LET him be redeemed in anyone’s eyes but his own and Brienne’s.

In that way, he had simply gone from one “the two of us against the world” relationship to another. But Brienne was not going to protect him like Cersei would; protect him from personal accountability and guilt. She wouldn’t lie to him, and she wouldn’t try to believe his evil deeds to not matter. To be with her required that he face his shame – his trauma – every single day for the rest of his life.

As Tyrion reminds him, he always knew how toxic Cersei was, but loved her anyway. He knew how self-destructive and dangerous his “coping mechanism” was; he only turned from it when it began to hurt him though. The slightly selfish colour to this motivation provides precedent for a slightly selfish colour to escaping other hurts. And at that point, he probably felt he has suffered enough. Lost enough. He can’t hurt himself any further by continuing to subject himself to public shame.

To return to Cersei meant return to a relationship where none of the deeds the outside world shamed him for were rebuked. If they lived, maybe they could even escape to somewhere no-one knew them; a place without shame.

He chooses the self-destructive shelter, that carried him through his childhood pain. He chooses Cersei. Who he knows only protects him to protect herself. Who even only loves him due to loving herself and seeing him as symbiotic. But Cersei won’t ask him to face any more painful truths or defend others. The only responsibility she asks is for herself.

Just him and Cersei, against the world.

 

Protection of Children:

In another case of the tragedy of Jaime's story, Jaime does eventually genuinely want to protect children. But he fails at every attempt. Too late to help Sansa, unable to prevent the deaths of his own children. There is no incident I can recall where Jaime successfully protects an individual child.

This may be symbolic of his attempt but failure to redeem himself.

Edited by pudgiebudgie
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Posted (edited)

So those who've read to here might be saying "OK, but even if you can connect every character and story in ASOIAF to the need to protect children, how can you claim it's the core theme, when it's so obscure and subtle? Surely GRRM would have made it more apparent if it were so important."

I can't rule that out, nor that GRRM, while being technically excellent at prose, is not an effective story-teller.

But actually, my confidence that this is the theme is because it is not obvious.

I have three reasons for this. Maybe that's coincidence, maybe not.

 

#1 Early Life Trauma - Every single one of us carries trauma from our childhoods, and the vast majority of them are hidden from each other. The people you know, you can usually understand them fairly well. But for strangers, their behaviour can seem random, unexplainable, confusing! Does that sound familiar as you read your favourite character's ending?

Some characters we get to sit in on the trauma formation. Others we hear accounts of as events past. Even more must be inferred from hints and clues. This is exactly the way we learn about each other's trauma in real life!

Almost nobody simply goes about openly telling people their worst fears. (Except Sandor, who consistently sets speed records for Telling All His Secrets to Little Girls, but that may be an intentional kick at convention from him.)

 

#2 Survival and Coping Skills - Just like childhood trauma, people's life skills are very often concealed. In fact, poor coping skills are most often hidden from the person who is using them.

Some people's poor coping mechanism are obvious, like Cersei's alcoholism or Robert's whoring. In fact, both Ned and Cat receive a shock from finding someone they knew from childhood has transitioned to adulthood with a glaring deficit of coping skills (Robert and Lysa respectively). 

Many more characters have more subtle revelations of their possession - or lack - of healthy ways to survive and cope in the real world. Some characters are aware of their own flaws on this front, but most are not. 

We see characters carry out and experience their coping skills the same way we often carry out and experience our own. 

 

#3 Harm to Children - Yes, horrible as it is to contemplate and say, most harm to children takes place where it is hidden from other's eyes. The violence to children in ASOIAF is openly apparent, but the forms it takes are as varied as it is in real life.

We, the reader, may easily see the similarity between a child's murder and a child's beating, but be less easy to see the connection to a child being betrayed, a child being deprived of love, a child being neglected, a child being abandoned...

When you look for children being harmed in ASOIAF, it is absolutely everywhere. But even while I was looking for it, sometimes it took me quite a while considering a character's story to actually spot it. Renly is a perfect example. There is no direct connection ever made in the text to his nephew and niece's murders and Renly himself, or to the way he dies, or that his "assassin" is also a nephew/niece. 

Dany's reaction to her brother's murder is clearly emotionally abnormal, but because Drogo saved her life, we don't immediately realise she has just been traumatised by she saw happen.

You actively have to be on the look out for the harm to children to spot it, just like real life.

Edited by pudgiebudgie

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While I said above I feel totally confident in declaring "the need to protect children" to both be the core theme and to explain every character's actions and fates, I also encourage people to challenge me on this.

Maybe my confidence comes from the fact that, being a child myself who lacked protection and had to create her own ways to cope with life from scraps, suddenly seeing the evidence for it in one story (only a day before I first posted here), then two, then five, then ten, like an avalanche it became almost impossible NOT to keep seeing it, again and again and again.

Is that colouring my interpretation of these stories, the whole story? I'm willing to hear it.

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Posted (edited)

Bran Stark

 

I can’t do justice to this character, but I can make a start for someone else to.

Protection of Children:

Bran protects his younger brother, he tries to protect his people when he serves as lord in Winterfell, but he is too young and incapable to actually achieve either task.

Very quickly in the story, Bran’s own protectors are reduced to only other children. His only adult defender, Hodor, was mentally damaged and prevented from ever developing out of the mind of a child. (Ironically by Bran himself) As with so many other protectors in ASOIAF, he gives physical defense, but cannot provide healthy adult skills.

 

Harm to Children:

Bran also suffers the single biggest “trauma cycle” incident in the series, when the literal memories and trauma of millions of people are placed on his shoulders. The imagery of a prior generation of children pushing their damage onto the next is openly blatant in Bran’s story with the children of the forest.

Blood Raven only gives him enough skills to prevent this trauma from driving him insane. He himself oversees this massive damage to Bran, which although he probably is aware is a great evil, also knows is critical to saving the entire world.

Bran's mental damage to Hodor in the past, his putting Hodor in danger and warging him could possibly be considered harm that Bran commits against another child, and even the act of taking Hodor deep into danger is questionable. By himself, Hodor would almost certainly not survive. Bran’s harm to him was never a product of malice, but rather neglect, and simply failing to consider Hodor’s needs and wishes.

 

Lack of Healthy Survival Skills:

Bran thus was taught no healthy coping skills and has no means of developing normally.

When Bran’s two primary protectors, Hodor and Summer, are killed, Bran himself dies as a person. Summer’s name symbolised hope, just as Sansa’s summer silks did. His hope lost, Bran loses himself completely in the terrible fate he knows he has no choice but to endure.

The girl who loves him and who he loves departs, knowing that she can never get through to him or help him any longer. She enters symbolic widowhood.

 

Only Bran’s innate goodness and the underlying foundation of love and moral upbringing his family provided keep him afloat in his dark ocean of inner torment.

Edited by pudgiebudgie

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On 5/17/2019 at 11:30 AM, CrypticWeirwood said:

Don't forget Sunspear's prosaic and soothing Water Gardens, where the children of the great and small all play so beautifully together.

Notice whom those gardens were first created for: Princess Daenerys Targaryen!

In light of the ending, I think what CrypticWeirwood has said here is massively symbolic.

Westeros finishes in a position where "great and small" are mingling much more than before, and the realm moving forward will try to serve both of them better, instead of crushing the poor under the rich.

Just like the water gardens, Daenerys' "inheritence" or birthright was the realm of Westeros, but she will not get to enjoy it. It will be enjoyed by the people in her absence. 

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Rickon Stark

 

Rickon, being the youngest child, was inherently the most vulnerable. The show indicates he has no major role in the story beyond serving as motivation and plot development for other characters.

Despite this, he also serves an important secondary function; he provides an additional symbol of well-meaning but flawed child protection.

Lack of Healthy Survival Skills:

Rickon’s care is given to “wild people”, who can’t interact easily with the rest of society. Although keeping a child physically safe is the single most important part of protecting them, failing to teach them the skills to transition from that protection to the adult world is a grave flaw. If Rickon had lived and returned to his family, he would have been permanently marked by his time with these people. His view of how the world worked, what was moral and correct, and how to interact with people would all have been deformed.

Harm to Children:

Solely physical protection, without also protecting the child's moral development, is the mistake Ned made with Sansa and to a lesser extent with the rest of his children. It’s the mistake Drogo made with Dany. The mistake the Hound made with Sansa and then tried to compensate for by providing it for Arya. It’s Lysa’s mistake, and so, so many other characters mistake as well.

Because children’s self-created tools are highly likely to simply continue the cycle of trauma and abuse. Most of the characters who were deprived of a healthy survival skillset cause repeated damage either to themselves, or themselves and others, again and again.

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The Ending

 

The wheel was broken.

Not by Dany, despite how badly she wanted to, but by Jon. Her trauma had been too deep, and the help offered to her to heal it too flawed. Violence came to seem to her to be the only real way of protecting others and herself. Diplomacy was useless against the undead, diplomacy required she re-submit herself to traumatic experiences, like her political marriages and treasonous allies. Dany decided violence was the answer, and Jon could see despite all she had done to save the world, she was going to keep turning the wheel.

 

At the end of the story we see multiple major House bloodlines being extinguished or set to be so. Lannister, Targareyen and Stark will see no more offspring. Baratheon is gone. Martell is possibly gone? Robyn Arryn remains, though his ability to sire healthy offspring is clearly up for question.

This is fairly historically accurate for how many dynastic power conflicts came to an end, although it was also just as likely for one faction to remain in existence after completely wiping others out. There’s also many historical examples of the exact opposite providing an end to hostilities; rather than destroying bloodlines, they are intentionally merged together.

But those two latter examples still leave damaged and suffering people to possibly perpetuate their trauma on their children and subjects. Even Queen Victoria, who provided direct links for many of the major royal families of Europe, did not actually prevent her descendants from continuing in conflict despite being closely related. This inter-relation also caused harm to their children by removing genetic diversity and leaving them physically compromised.

 

By contrast, the complete extinguishing of all the major antagonistic dynasties symbolises an end to their self-contained cycles of trauma. Although trauma and abuse will continue in Westeros, it won’t be due to deeply entrenched feuds and centuries-old political power plays. This “salting of the earth” has given the country a chance to catch its collective breath and create new social structures in the period of rebuilding.

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Let's look at two of the worst villains, and how they both underscore the consequences of harming children, and embody the antithesis of protecting children from harm.

 

Gregor Clegane

 

Early Life Trauma:

As we all know, Gregor's trauma was he was perpetually in pain due to a skull deformity. Which, like Tywin, is an amazingly empty excuse for all that he did. 

Lack of Healthy Survival Skills:

Gregor becomes addicted to opiates as the only way to escape his traumatic pain. We aren't given any information on whether his family tried to teach him to compensate for the pain, or whether he was simply left with no options.

Harm to Children:

Yeah. 

Yeaaaaaahhh....

 

Ramsay Bolton

Early Life Trauma:

Since the whole world seemed to know, Ramsay knew he was the product of rape. He knew his mother was not only tortured mentally and sexually, but probably tossed aside like garbage (if not killed) after giving birth to her Bolton bastard. Then he was raised wrong.

Harm to Children:

Another case where I don't have to make my case. His worst crime is clearly the murder of his own infant step-brother.

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On 5/15/2019 at 1:50 PM, pudgiebudgie said:

ASOIAF does have a CORE message, which intersects EVERY major character and story.

Well, while I believe you over-interpret a lot, I agree that one of the main topics of "A Song of Ice and Fire" is how children are formed by circumstances and, along your lines, that protecting your children is important. 

However, one other core topic is greed for power and what it leads to. The "Game of Thrones" topic is pivotal and not just a side-note. This is about the Game of Thrones, a game "you either win or die".

A third important topic is to defend the realms against the threat from the North, a threat that can only be beaten by working together.

Of course, now that we now the ending and whole arc of the storyline, we know that the story was presented by following the two sisters Sansa and Arya as our to main protagonists, as well as Daenerys, Jon and Bran. I agree with you that the main characters are strikingly young and so, yes, this is about children.

 

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Littlefinger

 

It feels dirty just to think about this character, so I probably won't write as much as I could.

 

Early Life Trauma:

Petyr's trauma is linked and similar to Cat's, except on the opposite side of the social rank divide. 

He is prevented from gaining the love he desires because his rank is too low. Rather than realise that the problem here is with the woman he loves, he seems to decide the problem is with the world for not letting him have that rank.

Petyr first tries to "raise himself" in Cat's eyes by "protecting" her from a faux threat. Except Cat doesn't view marrying a man who doesn't love her as a threat at all. So this fails terribly, emotionally wounding him further.

At this point, however, he was also offered a solution to his pain: Lysa's love. Lysa was willing to love him with almost unmatched devotion, and in the complete inversion of Cat's attitude, was even willing to "debase" her rank by getting pregnant with his child.

If Hoster hadn't forced her to abort it, perhaps Petyr could have seen this love for what it was. But since the child was destroyed and Lysa also married solely based on rank, this compounded his trauma.

I still am of the view that because Lysa continued to help, protect and love Petyr, he always had the option there to heal from his wounds. The social power and rank that he craved was gained almost entirely through her influence. This horrible betrayal of someone who truly loved him was his worst crime.

 

Harm to Children:

Ugh.

Jeyne Poole. Robyn. Sansa. 

He pretended he was going to protect every one of them, at some point or another. He damaged each of them permanently.

In the show, he let the bastard infant of Robert's be murdered, and had no sympathy for the woman who was disturbed by it.

 

I'm sure there could be a massively deep analysis written of the theme's overlap with this character, but I am not the person to do it.

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Posted (edited)
28 minutes ago, Kajjo said:

children are formed by circumstances and, along your lines, that protecting your children is important. 

That is why children must be protected while they are young. If they have no safety to form in a healthy manner, they will be warped by the pressure to make their own survival tools.

In addition, it is not only protecting "your" children that is vital. Many of the characters protect children who are not their own. In fact, who ends up on the council? Bronn, Sam and Tyrion? All people who protected children who were not their own. 

This is what I mean about it being such a core theme. It is not one's own family or children that are important. It is all children, the fact that children are literally the future being formed by those that currently control the world.

Quote

However, one other core topic is greed for power and what it leads to. The "Game of Thrones" topic is pivotal and not just a side-note.

While that topic exists in many character's storylines, it is entirely absent from many, many others, especially minor characters. Yet the theme of protecting children is in every single one. If I had time, I could lay it all out.

Quote

A third important topic is to defend the realms against the threat from the North, a threat that can only be beaten by working together.

Working together is mutual protection of each other. Which is something that requires love and trust.

As we see, the characters that are capable of doing this are mostly those that had the best foundation of love and trust in their childhood. The ones who were genuinely moral people but lacked enough love and protection ultimately fail to trust others, or protect others from themselves.

The White Walkers were just a massive, magical coping mechanism created by children who had no other means to protect themselves.

Edited by pudgiebudgie

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Posted (edited)

Gendry

 

Early Life Trauma:

Neither being poor nor being a bastard was Gendry's trauma. Rather, it was the fact that this was true while his father was obviously an extremely powerful man. He was given protection, by being paid to enter a very prestigious trade that would set him up for life. But this couldn't overcome the lack of love from his father.

As well as being made plain that money was no object to his father, he was visited by two Hands of the King, asking him questions about his mother. It's hard to believe Gendry wouldn't have had some inkling of who his father was, no matter how much he denied it to keep himself from feeling hurt.

So the trauma wasn't his living circumstances, but being "cut out" of his father's life, both emotionally and physically. The shame of being a bastard must be so much compounded for someone who knows he's literally half royalty, but this can never be overcome by the "taint" of a non-noble mother.

This makes the choices he makes extremely understandable. He can't see or listen to Arya's real needs because he's too busy trying to heal his own. He lets himself believe that he can do both, but he can't. He focuses on his personal trauma and effectively leaves Arya to her own.

Arya knows he does love her, but because what he wants is so contrary to what she wants, and he can't understand this, he would only keep hurting her.

 

On further reflection, Arya and Gendry's break-up is itself a symbolic "ending" of a cycle of abuse: the repression of women, their individual dreams and desires, in order to adapt to their role in a male-oriented society. Their story is of course a parallel to the story of Robert and Lyanna. 

Lyanna must have dreamed of giving Robert the reply that Arya gave Gendry. But unlike Arya, she still had too many restrictions around her for it to be feasible. Rhaegar's love, and the power he must have seemed to have to keep her family from pulling her back into line, must have been a huge part of her attraction to him. Rhaegar saw her for who she was, and was willing to "rescue" her from the fate House Stark demanded.

Edited by pudgiebudgie
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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, pudgiebudgie said:

That is why children must be protected while they are young. If they have no safety to form in a healthy manner, they will be warped by the pressure to make their own survival tools.

Agreed.

13 minutes ago, pudgiebudgie said:

While that topic exists in many character's storylines, it is entirely absent from many, many others, especially minor characters. Yet the theme of protecting children is in every single one. If I had time, I could lay it all out.

Of course, not every topic need to be present in every arc. And yes, the childhood issue is ubiquitous. Of course, with the main protagonists being children this is not surprising. Anyway, childhood is extremely important for developing into an adult. This is straight forward. Protection is an important part of upbringing, but not the only one. The brainwashing of Daenerys into believing the birthright issue is for example not predominantly about lack of protection, but about imprinting children to stupid notions such as religions or greed for power. 

13 minutes ago, pudgiebudgie said:

Working together is mutual protection of each other. Which is something that requires love and trust.

Trust to a certain degree, yes. Love not so much, at least not in the common definition.

13 minutes ago, pudgiebudgie said:

The White Walkers were just a massive, magical coping mechanism created by children who had no other means to protect themselves.

Agreed. The name "Children (otF)" indiciates this quite well, even if disguised by a more complex storyline.

Edited by Kajjo

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3 minutes ago, pudgiebudgie said:

He can't see or listen to Arya's real needs because he's too busy trying to heal his own.

Again, this is not really wrong, but from my perspective so over-interpreted, made to sound so much deeper than it is. 

Gendry is a quite simple man, with a good heart, a very good craftsman. Arya seduces him and he falls immediately in love with her. This in immature and somehow simple-minded. It's a teenage reaction tio first sex and first love. I am not even sure whether I would really call it "love" or maybe just infatuation.

Gendry does not understand Arya mainly because they grew up in different worlds and because Aryas arc is so much deeper, more cruel, complex. He has no idea about her being a faceless-men assassin, about her callously killing so many people. He sees her scars, but that's all. He could have known, though, that she does not seek to be a "Lady of Storm's End", to be on his side, to be a man's side in general.

Gendry thinks in the "normal" old-fashioned ways of that world. He does not understand tomboy Arya really.

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