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Lady Dacey

Trying to make sense of parallels - Arya’s story repeats

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Parallels, echoes and repetitions in Arya’s arcs in Game and Feast/Dance

It struck me a while ago, and at first I thought I was seeing things, twisting the story in my mind to suit my tastes. As I reread and reread all of Arya’s chapters without bothering with the other POVs it became clear to me that what I was picking up on could not be a mere coincidence, but an intentional pattern the author set out to give us. So I googled and googled and used the search engine on this forum and it seemed to me no one had ever dedicated a write up on this yet, which I found quite curious. I was only active here for a few months more than a year ago, but I could not let this lay. I’ve been writing this essay for weeks now and I hope you enjoy it.

I apologize in advance for any mistakes in grammar or syntax, English is not my mother tongue, that would be Portuguese. Also, I hope I was able to make myself clear without boring readers to death – it’s not easy. Now what I really want to say:      

In A Game of Thrones, the first book of the A Song of Ice and Fire saga, Arya Stark has five chapters as a point of view character. Her participation in the novels grows remarkably through the second and third books, decreasing again after she leaves Westeros at the end of A Storm of Swords. She has three chapters in Feats for Crows and two in A Dance with Dragons. If we take into consideration that the two books were supposed to be only one, though, we get five chapters total, the precise same amount she has in AGOT. This is not a coincidence on Martin’s part, I believe, as there seem to be several parallels between what Arya experiences in the first book and the last two.

I will be analyzing ten chapters in pairs, comparing Arya’s first chapter in A Game of Thrones with Arya’s first chapter in A Feast for Crows and working from there. What I want to do is to look closely at each pair of chapters, highlighting what parallels I could find between them, stuff that is simply repeating, but also things that come back with a twist, and inverse parallels that remind us of something but contradict what we were previously showed. I always try to make sure these are not just a case of things that come up often in Arya’s story appearing again and again somewhat randomly, but intentional parallels intended for each set of chapters. 

I don’t know what it means or why it’s there, but I am sure the parallels are there, as I hope you will agree if you bear with me to the end of the essay(s). I was hoping you could help me expand on why George R. R. Martin chose to go that route, and what that means for Arya both in terms of character and arc analysis and predictions for the future.  

I found I could point out three ‘types’ of parallelism, so to speak. First and more obviously, we can find parallels in the plot, that is, similarities between things that actually happen on page (like needle being discovered, or engaging in a stick fight); on a second level, parallels in Arya’s state of mind will come up, as we experience Arya’s moods, her changing feelings and emotions in each chapter; and on a third layer there is paralleling imagery and even themes. In addition to that, there are phrases and words that are scarce or non-existing in most of Arya’s chapters throughout the books, but that will show up in the paralleling chapters, almost as if Martin is actually waving a hand in front of our faces not to miss it.    

To standardize the way I highlight passages, I’m keeping the italics as they originally appear in the books. If I want highlight passages I mean to compare within the quotes I will underline them, while highlights on my original text will be bolded.

Edited to add: 

I have worked through the first four chapters and I am currently writing about AGOT's Arya V/The Ugly Little Girl. I'm unsure if I should post all the material I've written at once, or if it would be interesting to discuss each pair for a bit before posting the next one, What's your take?


2º edit:

I'm posting each one and giving us some time to discuss them, so I'll add links to the essays as I post them:

  1. Arya I AGOT / Arya I AFFC
  2. Arya II AGOT / Arya II AFFC
  3. Arya III AGOT / Cat of the Canals AFFC
  4. Arya IV AGOT / The Blind Girl ADWD
  5. Arya V AGOT / The Ugly Little Girl ADWD
  6. Conclusion 
Edited by Lady Dacey

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Arya I AGOT / Arya I AFFC

On Sansa:

In AGOT, Arya I, we are introduced to Arya in Winterfell, her home. It is the only chapter from her POV in AGOT that does not take place in King’s Landing, but up North. She is sewing with Sansa, Princess Myrcella, Septa Mordane and other girls and ladies. She tells us Sansa is two years older than her and more skilled, and the first characterization we get about Arya is that she seems to resent and at the same time wish for her sister’s talents.

AFFC, Arya I, Arya is aboard the Titan’s Daughter (which is, in itself, a reference to Sansa) and the first thing we get is a description and a dialog about “the star of home”. This is the only chapter between the two last books that doesn’t take place in Braavos.  In it, Arya reminisces about Winterfell, burned and fallen, and thinks about Old Nan and Maester Luwin. All along she is interacting with Denyo, who she introduces to us as the twelve-year-old son of the captain. At this point in the story Arya is ten, making Denyo two years her senior. At some point, she wishes she could stay in the ship and work as a cabin boy, just like Denyo does, but she can’t because he has already taken that role. I see a parallel there, between Sansa and Denyo, in that they represent similar things to Arya at those two very different moments. 

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It wasn't fair. Sansa had everything. Sansa was two years older; maybe by the time Arya had been born, there had been nothing left. Often it felt that way. Sansa could sew and dance and sing. She wrote poetry. She knew how to dress. She played the high harp and the bells. Worse, she was beautiful. Sansa had gotten their mother's fine high cheekbones and the thick auburn hair of the Tullys. Arya took after their lord father.

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Denyo had taken her up to the crow's nest once, and she hadn't been afraid at all, though the deck had seemed a tiny thing below her. I can do sums too, and keep a cabin neat. But the galleas had no need of a second boy. Besides, she had only to look at the captain's face to know how anxious he was to be rid of her.

Denyo makes fun of Arya when she is startled by the Titan’s hoar, and laughs at her again when she asks about the city walls. Somehow, Denyo seems to embody Sansa and Jeyne Poole simultaneously, and that does make sense, for Arya tends to perceive Sansa and Jeyne as a unity:

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"Joffrey likes your sister," Jeyne whispered, proud as if she had something to do with it. She was the daughter of Winterfell's steward and Sansa's dearest friend. (...) Sansa was too well bred to smile at her sister's disgrace, but Jeyne was smirking on her behalf. (...) Jeyne used to call her Arya Horseface, and neigh whenever she came near. It hurt that the one thing Arya could do better than her sister was ride a horse.

On adults who'd rather be rid of her:

There is another pair of characters I believe we are meant to compare. There is centanly resonance between Septa Mordane and Tradesman-Captain Ternesio Terys in what they symbolize to Arya in each of these chapters. 

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Septa Mordane raised her eyes. She had a bony face, sharp eyes, and a thin lipless mouth made for frowning. It was frowning now. "What are you talking about, children?"

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Arya turned to find Denyo's father looming over them in his long captain's coat of purple wool. Tradesman-Captain Ternesio Terys wore no whiskers and kept his grey hair cut short and neat, framing his square, windburnt face. On the crossing she had oft seen him jesting with his crew, but when he frowned men ran from him as if before a storm. He was frowning now. "Our voyage is at an end," he told Arya.

I actually looked up references to someone “frowning now” (link) and these are the only two instances this phrase comes up in the entire series… Mordane and Ternesio Terys are two adults with whom Arya stablishes uneasy relationships. They are in similar situations, as Arya is imposed on both of them and none are too pleased with this fact. Septa Mordane obviously doesn’t enjoy instructing Arya and believes she is hopeless, but she doesn’t have any other choice as the Stark girls’ tutor, and Terys can’t say no to Arya once she presents him with the iron coin of the faceless men. They are somewhat cordial to Arya, but are stern presences and treat her with distance.   

"Going to Jon" when distressed, and on being a lone wolf

Back in Winterfell Arya never felt like she belonged as much as her other full-siblings, who have the Tully look, and she identified the most with her bastard half-brother, Jon Snow, who she sought for solace after leaving the sewing room. It seems significant to me that in AGOT she thinks about how all of her brothers share the Tully look, while she and Jon have taken after their father; and later in AFFC we see Arya reflect on how all her brothers, “the wolves of the pack”, the ones who share the same traits, have found the same fate (death) while she and Jon, lone wolfs, remain alive:

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Jon had their father's face, as she did. They were the only ones. Robb and Sansa and Bran and even little Rickon all took after the Tullys, with easy smiles and fire in their hair. It had been Jon she had gone to in her fear, and Jon who had reassured her.

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Her home was gone, her parents dead, and all her brothers slain but Jon Snow on the Wall. That was where she had wanted to go. She told the captain as much (…) The old gods are dead, she told herself, with Mother and Father and Robb and Bran and Rickon, all dead. A long time ago, she remembered her father saying that when the cold winds blow the lone wolf dies and the pack survives. He had it all backwards. Arya, the lone wolf, still lived, but the wolves of the pack had been taken and slain and skinned.

Another sibilng, another parallel

In AGOT Arya abruptly leaves the sewing room and has an idea to watch the boys practicing at sword fighting. She finds her older brother Jon is already there, as if waiting for her:

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They arrived, flushed and breathless, to find Jon seated on the sill, one leg drawn up languidly to his chin. He was watching the action, so absorbed that he seemed unaware of her approach until his white wolf moved to meet them. Nymeria stalked closer on wary feet. Ghost, already larger than his litter mates, smelled her, gave her ear a careful nip, and settled back down.

Jon gave her a curious look. "Shouldn't you be working on your stitches, little sister?"

Except for the “little sister” vocative, he doesn’t sound very friendly, does he?

In AFFC, when Arya has to leave the ship, this is how we are introduced to Yorko:

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The boat was ready before she was, and Yorko was at the oars. He was the captain's son as well, but older than Denyo and less friendly.

Even though Arya says Yorko is less friendly, it seems to the reader he is only more guarded (like Jon). He isn’t rude to Arya at any point; he answers all her questions about the things they encounter on their boat ride through Braavos, even giving her much more details than she asked for about the gods worshipped in the city. On the window sill, Arya and Jon have a frank conversation about the injustices they face.

So the “Arya I” chapter in AGOT and AFFC starts with her interactions with Denyo/Sansa, with whom she stablishes confusing relationships, because they seem to occupy a place she’d like to be in, but doesn’t feel she ever could, while at the same time Arya is determined not to be made fun of. Than the chapter goes on to show us her conversation with Jon/Yorko, who are older and explain to her things she didn’t know or hadn’t realized before, but in a way that doesn’t bother her.

Too small:

When it comes to Arya herself and her physical power, there is a very specific comparisons that can be drawn between the chapters: In AGOT, Arya I, Jon dismisses Arya’s wishes to practice with the boys saying she is too skinny to wield a sword. In AFFC, Arya I, Arya dismisses staying on the ship because Salty is too small to man an oar.

Quote

"I could do just as good as Bran," she said. "He's only seven. I'm nine."

Jon looked her over with all his fourteen-year-old wisdom. "You're too skinny," he said. He took her arm to feel her muscle. Then he sighed and shook his head. "I doubt you could even lift a longsword, little sister, never mind swing one."

Arya snatched back her arm and glared at him.

She glares at him, she is angry because she feels devalued, but says nothing because she knows he is right, and they simply go back to watching the training below. On the other hand, when we get to AFFC, even though Arya is aware she could not man an oar, she realizes she has other qualities that could be of use. That is not enough for her to stay on the ship though, and she knows it. In AFFC, she again says nothing, only nods, because she is not strong enough to do what she truly wants.

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Ashore. Arya bit her lip. She had crossed the narrow sea to get here, but if the captain had asked she would have told him she wanted to stay aboard the Titan's Daughter. Salty was too small to man an oar, she knew that now, but she could learn to splice ropes and reef the sails and steer a course across the great salt seas.  (…) Besides, she had only to look at the captain's face to know how anxious he was to be rid of her. So Arya only nodded.

Arya's feelings:

If we choose to take a closer look to Arya’s state of mind throughout both chapters, we will find parallels once again. She starts feeling an outsider in the sewing class, sitting alone somewhat far from the other girls. This feeling of being a bystander is present in her first chapter in AFFC, when she is also an outsider on the ship (due to the fact almost no one can speak the common tongue and she is actively shunned by part of the crew). The middle of the chapter focuses on the connections she does manage to have, with Jon in Winterfell and with the captain’s sons on the ship. Than both chapters end on a gloomy mood:

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Jon watched them leave, and Arya watched Jon. His face had grown as still as the pool at the heart of the godswood. Finally he climbed down off the window. "The show is done," he said. He bent to scratch Ghost behind the ears. The white wolf rose and rubbed against him. "You had best run back to your room, little sister. Septa Mordane will surely be lurking. The longer you hide, the sterner the penance. You'll be sewing all through winter. When the spring thaw comes, they will find your body with a needle still locked tight between your frozen fingers."

Arya didn't think it was funny. "I hate needlework!" she said with passion. "It's not fair!"

"Nothing is fair," Jon said. He messed up her hair again and walked away from her, Ghost moving silently beside him. Nymeria started to follow too, then stopped and came back when she saw that Arya was not coming.

Reluctantly she turned in the other direction.

 

Arya watches Jon go and stays behind unwillingly, before turning to go to her room, just like she watches Yorko’s rowboat disappear before she takes the steps to the temple.

Jon’s words (interpreted by many readers as foreshadowing of Arya’s destiny in the series, tough I’m not so sure) are certainly foreboding, as is the place Arya enters after she leaves Yorko’s rowboat.

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Yorko backed the oars, and the boat bumped gently against stone pilings. He grasped an iron ring set to hold them for a moment. "Here I leave you."

The dock was shadowed, the steps steep. The temple's black tile roof came to a sharp peak, like the houses along the canals. Arya chewed her lip. Syrio came from Braavos. He might have visited this temple. He might have climbed those steps. She grabbed a ring and pulled herself up onto the dock.

"You know my name," said Yorko from the boat.

"Yorko Terys."

"Valar dohaeris." He pushed off with his oar and drifted back off into the deeper water. Arya watched him row back the way they'd come, until he vanished in the shadows of the bridge. As the swish of oars faded, she could almost hear the beating of her heart. Suddenly she was somewhere else... back in Harrenhal with Gendry, maybe, or with the Hound in the woods along the Trident. Salty is a stupid child, she told herself. I am a wolf, and will not be afraid. She patted Needle's hilt for luck and plunged into the shadows, taking the steps two at a time so no one could ever say she'd been afraid.

 

And then there were two:

Finally, in AGOT when Arya, afraid of what she is going to find, goes into her bedroom, there are two authority figures waiting for her:

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It was worse than Jon had thought. It wasn't Septa Mordane waiting in her room. It was Septa Mordane and her mother.

Of course the AFFC chapter ends with Arya entering the House of Black and White, to meet the two priests she will call the Kindly Man and the Waif and who will take the role of authority figures from now on.

One last little thing:

for some reason, George R. R. Martin has Arya liken Jon’s still face with the water on the black pool of the godswood. When she enters the HoBaW Arya encounters a pool “ten feet across, black as ink”. This pool will feature again on all of the HoBaW chapters, but it doesn’t strike me as a coincidence that the author chose to have Arya think of the godswood’s pool on her first chapter in AGOT – though we never see her visiting the place, it’s stablished right there that she is familiar with it. That he chose the first chapter and none other to make that known to us readers is certainly important.

Edited by Lady Dacey

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Very interesting. Reading Arya's chapters initially you get the strong sense she fights and fights and refuses to ever 'do nothing' about her circumstances, but nevertheless she is a child in a war zone and chance plays a big role and she cannot stay on course. But reading your presentation, there is a strong sense that characters move to their pre-ordained fate. Bran is a good example, unlike Arya he is more passive and open to his raven dreams, he doesn't fight the raven drawing him north, and on re-read there is a horrible sense that the little boy is losing the possibility of a life (as a knight, for example) because he has a supernatural destiny. It seems the same with Arya. The parallel about not wanting to go south with the family but north with Jon, and then trying to ask the captain to take her to the wall but being ignored emphasizes this. Unknown to her, the coin she bears can only take her to the house of the Undying and the behaviour of all on board towards her is governed by this.

 

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56 minutes ago, Castellan said:

Very interesting. Reading Arya's chapters initially you get the strong sense she fights and fights and refuses to ever 'do nothing' about her circumstances, but nevertheless she is a child in a war zone and chance plays a big role and she cannot stay on course. But reading your presentation, there is a strong sense that characters move to their pre-ordained fate.

Thanks for joining @Castellan. I knew I wouldn't be sorry to post this thread. Already you bring to our attention one possible interpretation that slipped my mind while I beat my head against the wall trying to figure out why Martin chose to sneak in so many parellels in such a systematic way... This idea that the resemblances and repetitions could be hinting at the unescapability of Arya's situation seems worth exploring to me. It's almost as if she just has to go through some this experiences, and maybe more then once too. But where is her agency amdist all that? Arya is certainly not passive, as you said yourself. I'm thrilled to look into that as we continue to the next chapters.

Edited by Lady Dacey

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Very nice! I'm excited to read the rest. It occurred to me while reading that maybe George is presenting us with the inevitability of Arya's situation while also showing Arya's evolving attitude & reactions to the same/similar situations & thus possibly giving us some clues to her future. I think the more chapters you parallel the more this will prove or disprove it's self but for example: 

In the Sansa/Denyo parallel while many things are similar there is a subtle change in Arya's reaction/thoughts to them. When Sansa & Jeyne make fun of her Arya reflects that it hurts. In contrast when Denyo makes fun of her for being scared she reflects that after climbing up to the Crow's nest she wasn't scared at all &  that she does have some skills that would be helpful on the ship albeit ones that are already filled by Denyo

Similarly in the Too small parallel when Jon remarks she is too skinny to hold a sword she gets angry & glares at him. When she reflects about not being big enough to man an oar she reminds her self that there are things he is big enough to do. 

While she is scared going into her room & tHoB&W she reassures herself approaching the house with a pat on needle & telling herself she is a wolf & will not be afraid. 

What does it mean for Arya? I'm not entirely sure but I think one thing it shows is that Arya is learning. She is learning to over come her trials & tribulations & with any luck it will mean she is going to come out on top of this somehow. 

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Very nice! I'm having a similar impression as @Lyanna<3Rhaegar : cycle of similar experiences, while showing her changing attitudes towards it. Might have to do with her growing up, and how George chooses to depict it to us.

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This is great stuff! I look forward to reading the next installments.

Anything that provides insight about Septa Mordane is particularly welcome, and the parallels between her and the Braavos characters could help tremendously. In my own past efforts to comb through details, I noticed that the first time GRRM mentions a rustling skirt, he is referring to Septa Mordane. Subsequently, he mentions princes or kings hiding behind their mother's skirts. I thought this was a clue that Septa Mordane was the secret mother of a prince or king and that was about all I had on her - aside from her severed head being mounted on the wall of the Red Keep next to Ned's head.

New parallels to the waif or the Kindly Man or to Syrio Forel open up many more possibilities for Mordane. The Syrio comparison comes from the fact that both teach needlework to Arya but also her thought of Syrio as she enters the HoB&W where she will immediately meet the Kindly Man:

17 hours ago, Lady Dacey said:

Syrio came from Braavos. He might have visited this temple. He might have climbed those steps. She grabbed a ring and pulled herself up onto the dock.

I wonder whether the "water dancer" technique associated with Syrio relates back to the motif of the pool that you are uncovering in Arya's arc: Jon Snow's face is a still pool and there is a pool where people come to drink (and die) in the HoB&W. But you also pointed out that Jeyne Poole gave Arya the "horseface" nickname and was part of the circle with Mordane and Sansa and with Arya's mother. If Jeyne embodies the pool in the gods wood at Winterfell, and Arya becomes a water dancer, there may be a message here about Arya's special ability to avoid death or to navigate over water. (Which brings up the parallel with the original Queen Nymeria ... )

The iron rings in the excerpt involving Yorko's row boat are also fascinating details. If I recall correctly, I believe there are iron rings in Ned Stark's cell in the Black Cells of the dungeon in the Red Keep. He can't see anything, but he can feel the ring. Maybe they signal turning points in people's stories. Yorko uses one to stop and steady his boat; then Arya uses one to pull herself out of the boat and begin her climb up the steep steps.

(I think iron rings may also be part of a larger motif of chain mail and linked rings - Tyrion's chain across the mouth of the harbor at King's Landing; maesters' chains - that are parts of the smith symbolism and a metaphor for GRRM's way of structuring the books with interlocking stories and themes.)

I would be curious if you see any parallels between the gifts given to Arya by the sailors on the Titan's Daughter and things she receives or retains from her Winterfell childhood. I believe she receives a silver fork, fingerless gloves and a floppy hat from the sailors. The fork seems similar to the sword Needle, given to her by Jon Snow. Meera uses a trident-like frog spear as a weapon. Tyrion challenges Aliser Thorne to a duel using a crab fork. Ser Jorah gives gloves to the Widow of the Waterfront before asking her help in arranging passage on a ship. Her gloves are not fingerless, however. I suspect the lack of fingers on Arya's gloves relates to the lost fingers of characters such as Great Jon Umber and Davos Seaworth, but I've never quite pinned it down.

Anyway. Lots of great new insights in your analysis. Thanks!

Edited by Seams

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20 hours ago, Lady Dacey said:

It struck me a while ago, and at first I thought I was seeing things, twisting the story in my mind to suit my tastes. As I reread and reread all of Arya’s chapters without bothering with the other POVs it became clear to me that what I was picking up on could not be a mere coincidence, but an intentional pattern the author set out to give us. So I googled and googled and used the search engine on this forum and it seemed to me no one had ever dedicated a write up on this yet, which I found quite curious. I was only active here for a few months more than a year ago, but I could not let this lay. I’ve been writing this essay for weeks now and I hope you enjoy it.

It depends upon what you were searching for. I too have been studying parallels and inversions in ASOIAF for a number of years, but I post most of my work on a different forum. After reading your first few posts I think you are working on something different than I am. You are noting the parallels between Arya POV chapters, but you haven't discovered a reason yet. Is that your meaning?

20 hours ago, Lady Dacey said:

This is not a coincidence on Martin’s part, I believe, as there seem to be several parallels between what Arya experiences in the first book and the last two.

I agree that Martin has been very deliberate with including parallels and I believe it's because he's demonstrating that history does in fact repeat itself. The current characters are repeating historic events from the past, but how they react and what the final outcome is will be different, because individuals have their own mitigating factors like motivation and societal pressures which do cause them to react in different ways. Here's a link to a longer example.

20 hours ago, Lady Dacey said:

don’t know what it means or why it’s there, but I am sure the parallels are there, as I hope you will agree if you bear with me to the end of the essay(s). I was hoping you could help me expand on why George R. R. Martin chose to go that route, and what that means for Arya both in terms of character and arc analysis and predictions for the future.  

In my opinion the big over-arcing theme of ASOIAF has to do with the Children attempting to correct some past wrong that they believe they've committed. In some way you can view this wrong as "breaking the world" or even symbolically in the Azor Ahai story where he inserts the blade into the heart of Nissa Nissa - think of Nissa Nissa as the world and "sister" to the moon. Whatever the Children did they feel like they've "broken" Westeros, and the side effects of breaking the world include the extended seasons. IMO the extended seasons are evidence that time has been placed into a continual loop - the same historical and seasonal events keep repeating, but they happen to different people.  At least that is my theory to explain all the parallels. 

You have noted the parallels between the Arya chapters. I suspect you could do the same with each Stark character - maybe even with every POV character.

Have you also noticed that Arya is repeating Lyanna's life?

Edited by Feather Crystal

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1 hour ago, Seams said:

Ser Jorah gives gloves to the Widow of the Waterfront before asking her help in arranging passage on a ship. Her gloves are not fingerless, however. I suspect the lack of fingers on Arya's gloves relates to the lost fingers of characters such as Great Jon Umber and Davos Seaworth, but I've never quite pinned it down.

There's a theory out there regarding plate tectonic movement. I printed out a map 2 months ago, went about with scissors. I didn't go as far as Ser Jaemes who proposes it, but only cut off land area that are connected to the rest of Westeros via mountain ranges, which usually come about because of two plates bumping up to each other (in our world the Himalayas: Indian plate against the Asian one). One of those areas is the Vale, and mostly comes down to The Fingers. If you turn them 180° (with the Fingers facing west instead of east), you can nicely fit them to the Essosi eastern shore, east of Braavos and most of the land south until Pentos. So, in a way, the land where now lies Braavos lost its "fingers". It's no coincidence that a "fingerless" man like Davos ends up at the Sisters, near the Fingers, in that regard either.

Extra: Dorne and the arm fit the coast of the Disputed Lands all the way to the Valyrian peninsula. Finally, all of Westeros basically floated into the Lands of Always Winter, forming the Frostfangs. If you "choke" the Neck (bring the North closer to the Riverlands), and cut off Dorne and the arm, and cut off the Fingers, you get a continent that fits quite niceley along the northern shore of Essos all the way to Ibben, and makes Skagos one of the Ibbinese islands (both share fauna and geological commonalities). Also places Oldtown and its maze beneath Hightower much closer to the Lorathi mazes. And puts the area north of the Wall close to the Kingdom of the Ifeqevron (who sound very much like CotF).

Edited by sweetsunray

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“To go north, you must journey south. To reach the west, you must go east. To go forward you must go back, and to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow.”

Instructions on how to navigate a backwards rolling wheel of time...

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Circular cycling is part of James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake, Norse myth, Mayan myth. It's more common than linear timeline thinking.

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23 minutes ago, sweetsunray said:

Circular cycling is part of James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake, Norse myth, Mayan myth. It's more common than linear timeline thinking.

It's nice to find something to agree with you on! :D

Edited by Feather Crystal

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I’m excited to see my musings on Arya’s story have prompted you to join in and talk about it. I’m so happy to see some old faces I recognize from the last time I was active in this forum. I missed it! Let’s dive in.

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18 hours ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

Very nice! I'm excited to read the rest. It occurred to me while reading that maybe George is presenting us with the inevitability of Arya's situation while also showing Arya's evolving attitude & reactions to the same/similar situations & thus possibly giving us some clues to her future. I think the more chapters you parallel the more this will prove or disprove it's self but for example: 

In the Sansa/Denyo parallel while many things are similar there is a subtle change in Arya's reaction/thoughts to them. When Sansa & Jeyne make fun of her Arya reflects that it hurts. In contrast when Denyo makes fun of her for being scared she reflects that after climbing up to the Crow's nest she wasn't scared at all &  that she does have some skills that would be helpful on the ship albeit ones that are already filled by Denyo

Similarly in the Too small parallel when Jon remarks she is too skinny to hold a sword she gets angry & glares at him. When she reflects about not being big enough to man an oar she reminds her self that there are things he is big enough to do. 

While she is scared going into her room & tHoB&W she reassures herself approaching the house with a pat on needle & telling herself she is a wolf & will not be afraid. 

What does it mean for Arya? I'm not entirely sure but I think one thing it shows is that Arya is learning. She is learning to over come her trials & tribulations & with any luck it will mean she is going to come out on top of this somehow. 

Thanks so much for the feedback lady. I love your hopeful stance on Arya, I’m hopeful about her too. I have no doubt she is learning a lot throughout the story and that she is putting her knowledge to use time and time again. I have many many notes on Arya’s overall arc, path and personality that I felt shouldn't be in these essays, because I really wanted to focus on the parallels – also, I was afraid it might get way too long (my word document is at 23 pages and I just barely started the Arya V / The Ugly Little Girl analysis). One thing I find remarkable about Arya is that she is always afraid of the unknown, but also only afraid of the unknown. Her strategy to overcome fear is to get acquainted with the object or situations she fears, and through that technique she quickly sheds her distress and overcomes her challenge. I see something similar happening here… It’s almost as if Arya has to distance herself from a situation to be able to overcome it. She deals much better with Denyo and his father than she ever was able to deal with Sansa and the Septa, not only in behaviour, but also internally. She doesn’t take the beliefs they have of her as truths, as she does with her sister and tutor. Obviously Sansa and Septa Mordane are much more important to her than Denyo and Tradesman-Captain Ternesio Terys ever were which begs the question: how would she react meeting her sister again?

Edited by Lady Dacey

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7 hours ago, sweetsunray said:

Very nice! I'm having a similar impression as @Lyanna<3Rhaegar : cycle of similar experiences, while showing her changing attitudes towards it. Might have to do with her growing up, and how George chooses to depict it to us.

I’m convinced that it’s certainly one aspect of it. I don’t think that’s all though. I think it’s too much trouble to work so hard on parallels that are very, very systematic just for this reason. I mean, there would be no need to parallel the chapters in that very specific order (the five first with the five last, pair by pair), it would be enough to have Arya encounter again what she has faced before sprinkled through her journey… which does happen, all throughout the series, in the five books. I’m thinking there is something special with those ten chapters I selected, but I might be wrong. I really enjoy your company and input as we go through all of them and try to reach a conclusion. Thank you

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39 minutes ago, Lady Dacey said:

She deals much better with Denyo and his father than she ever was able to deal with Sansa and the Septa, not only in behaviour, but also internally. She doesn’t take the beliefs they have of her as truths, as she does with her sister and tutor. Obviously Sansa and Septa Mordane are much more important to her than Denyo and Tradesman-Captain Ternesio Terys ever were which begs the question: how would she react meeting her sister again?

Isn't this a basic human truth though? For example, I'm a golfer. If a family member or friend tries to give me "tips" or instruction, I take offense. It's makes me so mad! But, if a golf instructor tells me the same thing, I listen and learn from it. There's no emotional baggage that comes from learning a lesson from someone you're not related to. It's why husbands and wives fight! We cannot bear to hear criticism from someone that is supposed to love and accept us!

That being said, this repeated lesson could also have something to do with repeated history. If Arya is experiencing the same historical events that Lyanna did, then Arya's repeated life lessons have prepared her to have a different outcome than Lyanna. The parallels that you have noticed with regards to Arya repeating her own past lessons are helping her navigate Lyanna's past life. Let me try taking one of your parallels and apply it to Lyanna's life.

Stitching.

Arya never did enjoy stitching, either because she wasn't good at it or it wasn't something she was interested in. Arya was more interested in learning sword fighting. You noted the unkindness in Jon's words that Arya wasn't strong enough to wield a longsword, but Jon regretted his words and clarified what he really meant by lovingly gifting Arya with a sword that she could wield: Needle. Arya practiced her "needlework" and became very adept at using her Needle. She has surprised more than one threat with her "needlework", because no one was expecting a little girl to know how to handle a sword. Now how does this apply to Lyanna? IMO Lyanna's death wasn't due to childbirth. I believe she actually died of a sword wound to the belly that festered. Lyanna died from her wounds, but Arya survived that fate and became "no one", which symbolically is the same thing as being dead.

Edited by Feather Crystal

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5 hours ago, Seams said:

This is great stuff! I look forward to reading the next installments.

It is an honor to hear / read that coming from you. Thank you 

5 hours ago, Seams said:

Anything that provides insight about Septa Mordane is particularly welcome, and the parallels between her and the Braavos characters could help tremendously.

Teneryo Terys is a minor character, certainly much less proeminent than the other braavosi you brought up, but I believe there is merit in looking deeper at him. The Chaptain-Tradesman os the owner of the boat Titan's Daughter, and in that he has the role of 'her' father figure and/or protector. Septa Mordane is a tutor, but also a mother figure and protector to Sansa (but not to Arya)... Who desguises as Alayne, Baelish's daugther. There is the aparently small detail that they both frown at Arya, but I've come to the conclusion that this os very deliberate. I invite you to use the search engine at asearchoficeandfire for "frown" in Arya's POV in the entire series and see If you agree with me. How do you think what we know about Terys could inform us on Mordane? Any thoughts? I will try to dig this deeper.

5 hours ago, Seams said:

I wonder whether the "water dancer" technique associated with Syrio relates back to the motif of the pool that you are uncovering in Arya's arc: Jon Snow's face is a still pool and there is a pool where people come to drink (and die) in the HoB&W. But you also pointed out that Jeyne Poole gave Arya the "horseface" nickname and was part of the circle with Mordane and Sansa and with Arya's mother. If Jeyne embodies the pool in the gods wood at Winterfell, and Arya becomes a water dancer, there may be a message here about Arya's special ability to avoid death or to navigate over water. (Which brings up the parallel with the original Queen Nymeria ... )

I love this. Love It. Thanks for sharing.

 

5 hours ago, Seams said:

I would be curious if you see any parallels between the gifts given to Arya by the sailors on the Titan's Daughter and things she receives or retains from her Winterfell childhood

I will be looking into It.

Edited by Lady Dacey

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3 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

It depends upon what you were searching for. I too have been studying parallels and inversions in ASOIAF for a number of years, but I post most of my work on a different forum. After reading your first few posts I think you are working on something different than I am. You are noting the parallels between Arya POV chapters, but you haven't discovered a reason yet. Is that your meaning?

Oh, I'm aware that most readers realize the story is full to the brim with parallels, and that many have dedicated analysis of those they found and judged relevant. There are parallels between Arya's and Sansa's arcs, between Arya's and Bran's, between Bran's and Jon's, Jon's and Daenerys's, and also many more between events in the past and the present, between songs and real life, etecetera, etecetera. The one thing I couldn't find os anyone commenting on the first and last (so far) of Arya's chapters. I'm talking specifically about those ten chapters, and how things come up when we look at them in pairs. It's uncanny, really! And I've looked for such parallels in other Arya's chapters and did not find them, nor in other POVs, I could not find anything that followed a pattern as systematic and strict as the one I found in Arya's five pair of chapters.

I'm familiar with your work on the titled chapters, and I really enjoyed your essay on the Cat of the Canals, even If I don't agree with all of your conclusions.

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1 hour ago, Feather Crystal said:

 

Edit: Sorry, my celphone posted that

Edited by Lady Dacey

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1 hour ago, Feather Crystal said:

Now how does this apply to Lyanna? IMO Lyanna's death wasn't due to childbirth. I believe she actually died of a sword wound to the belly that festered. Lyanna died from her wounds, but Arya survived that fate and became "no one", which symbolically is the same thing as being dead.

If you want to demonstrate parallels, I sugest you stick with two events we have fairly enough knowledge about. Of course we can use the concrete parallels we do find to infer what is going to happen or what has already happened, but what you are working with can not be called a parallel... Because we don't know the exact circunstances of Lyanna's death, no parellel that relies on how she died to make a point makes a lot of sense to me. If, on the other hand, one would show several parallels between two stories, working with canononic material, and then infer what could have happened to one or what will happen to the other, that makes more sense.

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