Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Lady Dacey

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

Recommended Posts

23 hours ago, Lady Dacey said:

On Sansa:

I'm not really seeing it.  With Sansa, she has an inferiority complex.  She regards herself as not being as good as her sister, and it bothers her.  With Denyo, she knows she's as good as he is, but he is no more than a temporary traveling companion to her.

 

23 hours ago, Lady Dacey said:

On adults who'd rather be rid of her:

Septa Mordane was frowning because she wanted the girls to be working on their stitches, not gossiping and giggling.  And it was targeting Sansa as much as Arya.  And then she notices Arya's stitches are ragged, which doesn't help.  But she wants Arya to be more proper, like a lady, not to be rid of her.  

With the ship's captain, he wants her off his ship.  He probably thinks she is a Faceless Man in disguise, and wants as little to do with her as he can possibly get away with.  his attitude is due to who he thinks she is, not what she has done in his presence, which is faultless.

23 hours ago, Lady Dacey said:

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:

Actually, I thought Jon was being quite friendly.  He is either puzzled, as in "Wait, I thought you were doing stitches", or he is joking with her.  Either way, I think he is friendly.  Yorko is unfriendly for the same reason everyone else is: they think she is a Faceless Man.  

23 hours ago, Lady Dacey said:

In AFFC, she again says nothing, only nods, because she is not strong enough to do what she truly wants.

It's not that she isn't strong enough.  It's because (1) there is no room for her, and (2), they think she is a Faceless Man.

 

I'm perfectly happy to see parallels, and think there are some in Arya's story, and even useful comparisons between AGOT and AFFC.  But I do't they are any more significant than anyone else's.  By the way, I think the best parallel between the chapters is between AGOT Arya III and ADWD The Blind Girl, where she is in darkness and overhears an important conversation.  Also a major connection to cats in the chapters.  But one is no.3, and the other no. 4.  

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi there @Nevets. Thanks for joining us and sharing your thoughts. 

I see the differences between the interactions in each chapter, of course. Denyo isn't Sansa, Terys isn't Mordane. I'm not claiming they are perfect representations of each other by any means.

There are subtleties I don’t think I can capture very well in my writing, but I like to believe I improve the more I do it. The text I posted here today about Arya I was written months ago, and I was rusty… Maybe I could’ve/should’ve rewritten it with more attention to detail and analysis, and shared more of my own process and reasoning, I don’t know.

I do see a larger pattern of paralleling. It’s fine if you don’t, but I invite you to hang around and read the other pairs. Then, going back, the stuff that seems too thin now might make some sense. Or not, and that absolutely okay too, of course. 

47 minutes ago, Nevets said:

By the way, I think the best parallel between the chapters is between AGOT Arya III and ADWD The Blind Girl, where she is in darkness and overhears an important conversation.  Also a major connection to cats in the chapters.  But one is no.3, and the other no. 4.  

The essay that compares Arya IV and The Blind Girl is the longest I’ve written so far, and maybe my favourite. Arya III and Cat of the Canals are full of similarities too. Arya actually goes blind in Cat of the Canals, not The Blind Girl – but I prefer to leave this particular discussion for another day. I would love to have you here when I post the essays on chapters III and IV so we could go over them together and see what we can find.

Edited by Lady Dacey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, Daendrew said:

Great post. I look forward to reading the rest.

Good to know! My thoughts on Arya's second chapters in AGOT and AFFC are coming later today or maybe tomorrow. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Lady Dacey said:

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?

I agree fully. Arya is one of my favorites! As to the question: I think by the time she gets to see her sister again she will react much differently than before. Not only because she is so different but also because Sansa will be too. I can't even imagine Sansa or Arya quibbling over the trivial things they did before AFTER everything they have been through. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
34 minutes ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

I agree fully. Arya is one of my favorites! As to the question: I think by the time she gets to see her sister again she will react much differently than before. Not only because she is so different but also because Sansa will be too. I can't even imagine Sansa or Arya quibbling over the trivial things they did before AFTER everything they have been through. 

I guess I could say Arya is the favourite for me. I love so many of them, but I just love her more. I know it's a weird thing to say of a child assassin, but I identify with her a great deal. Well, not nowadays, but I recognize my nine-year-old self in her feelings and actions. 

I'm absolutely sure Arya and Sansa would not quibble over trivial things after meeting again, but that does not mean it will be a simple reunion. I really don't know what's in store for us, I'm hopeful for a warm and trusting relationship though. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 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. 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.

I used to see Septa Mordane as a variation on the "bad stepmother" (instead of Catelyn Stark), with Arya replaying the part of Cinderella. There is much allusions to Cinderella in Arya's story : she has "2 sisters" (Sansa and Jeyne, or Sansa and Myrcella in Sansa's very first chapter, where Jeyne doesn't appear; at Braavos, there are Brusco's 2 daughters, if I remember well), a "fairy godmother" with lady Smallwood giving her a new skirt (after that, she went out with her "prince Gendry", Arya IV ASOS), the mother dead (or absent), a father whom she is the "preferred" daughter ... The tale of the waif in the HOBAW seems to tell also a Cinderella's story. 

Cinderella's themes are in Arya's arc, but with some differences (Arya is the "ugly" daughter, like the "ugly little duck") and different issues (Arya flees and escapes to find a new life in others places, like Nymeria did in the past) : Arya is a kind of adventurous and dangerous Cinderella.

 

Good stuff, Lady Dacey, which opens many ways to explore !

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi there, fellow Portuguese speaker! 

I'd never consciously made the connection that her chapters looked quite so cyclical when compared closely. So I'm looking forward to your following essays as you develop this.

It's the same, but not. There are subtle changes, evolution. 

Arya was born in a landlocked place, she is stubborn and resistant to change. She is like stone. She prefers to upright say 'that's not me' or run from the room.

But when the 'cycle' repeats, she is more mature, more aware, she starts to bend, to mold herself and her reactions. She knows she has no place with the crew, she walks into the House of Black and White.

Her journey, her training, Water, the Sea, has eroded her, rounded her edges so she's not quite as confrontational, she is smooth, like rounded stones at the bottom of the river. As we say 'Água mole em pedra dura, tanto bate até que fura'. Which on the surface would translate to her becoming smooth, without identifying marks, no one. But the lesson from our saying is to be like Water, like the sea. Always persistent until you succeed against adversity.

If it is so, imo it could be that the repetition is the tide? And she would be one with the Sea, like Nymeria, more persistent than any rock standing still until she succeeds.

I prefer to look at it like this, because it feels slightly optimistic, but it could also be that her path, like the Sea, is beating down her resistance until she accepts her place with the Faceless Men and she becomes NoOne.

Edited by It_spelt_Magalhaes
Missing a word

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Lady Dacey said:

I guess I could say Arya is the favourite for me. I love so many of them, but I just love her more. I know it's a weird thing to say of a child assassin, but I identify with her a great deal. Well, not nowadays, but I recognize my nine-year-old self in her feelings and actions. 

I'm absolutely sure Arya and Sansa would not quibble over trivial things after meeting again, but that does not mean it will be a simple reunion. I really don't know what's in store for us, I'm hopeful for a warm and trusting relationship though. 

Yes! I don't think it's a weird thing to say at all. I identify with Arya as well. 

It definitely will not be a simple reunion. I wonder if some of the past feelings of resentment will crop up between the two when they first see each other again or if they will just be happy to see another of their clan alive. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, GloubieBoulga said:

I used to see Septa Mordane as a variation on the "bad stepmother" (instead of Catelyn Stark), with Arya replaying the part of Cinderella. There is much allusions to Cinderella in Arya's story : she has "2 sisters" (Sansa and Jeyne, or Sansa and Myrcella in Sansa's very first chapter, where Jeyne doesn't appear; at Braavos, there are Brusco's 2 daughters, if I remember well), a "fairy godmother" with lady Smallwood giving her a new skirt (after that, she went out with her "prince Gendry", Arya IV ASOS), the mother dead (or absent), a father whom she is the "preferred" daughter ... The tale of the waif in the HOBAW seems to tell also a Cinderella's story. 

Cinderella's themes are in Arya's arc, but with some differences (Arya is the "ugly" daughter, like the "ugly little duck") and different issues (Arya flees and escapes to find a new life in others places, like Nymeria did in the past) : Arya is a kind of adventurous and dangerous Cinderella.

That's a new angle for me, thank you! I'm sure @Seams will be interested. 

 

6 hours ago, GloubieBoulga said:

Good stuff, Lady Dacey, which opens many ways to explore !

Glad you see it that way!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/27/2019 at 7:56 PM, Lady Dacey said:

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.

 

On 6/27/2019 at 7:56 PM, Lady Dacey said:

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?"

You established a solid parallel between Septa Mordane and Ternesio Terys, and I think it is accurate.

The new line of thinking for me, however, is that Mordane and Ned Stark may be linked characters, which could explain why Ternesio Terys is both a parallel for Mordane and a father figure. A link between Ned and Mordane could explain why Septa Mordane's head is the only one that is singled out for display next to Ned's severed head on the walls of the Red Keep. I have speculated that, in addition to being central to the sewing symbolism in the series, the name "Needle" is a composite of the names "Ned" and "Lyanna," emphasizing Arya's connection to those characters. If that wordplay connection is correct, a stronger connection between sewing instructor Septa Mordane and ancestral-sword-Ice heir Eddard Stark would make sense. Maybe the juxtaposition of the two heads is a kind of Maelys-the-Monstrous hint about a character with two heads. (See also Jaime + Cersei, Tyrion + Bronn, Bran + Hodor, other twins, etc.)

The description you cite of Septa Mordane's face sounds like a skull - bony, lipless. (I will try to remember to search on the key word "frown" when I have time at work or at the library. That Search of Ice and Fire website doesn't work on my home computer.) The sharp eyes are significant because Catelyn will particularly mourn the absence of Ned's eyes when his bones are delivered to Riverrun by the silent sisters. The absence of his eyes is, of course, linked to the absence of the sharp sword, Ice, which we believe was retained by Tywin after Joffrey orders skull-like Ilyn Payne to use it to behead Ned. The threads really start to come together if Septa Mordane is a symbolic skull and an embodiment of the sword Ice. (It also adds to the wordplay possibilities of rhyming Payne - Dayne - Mordane.)

A Ned / Mordane / Ice connection could be useful to your Arya focus in this discussion because Arya will have the sword Needle even after Septa Mordane and Ned (and long-gone Aunt Lyanna?) have shuffled off their mortal coils (but likely been reborn in other forms). It could also be useful in understanding the linked story of Sansa: when Aunt Lysa tries to push Sansa out of the moon door, she directs Merillion to play music and he plays a song about a lady sewing in her garden. Both Arya and Sansa (and Aunt Lysa?) are embroidery moiderers. ;)

Another detail that stands out in the description of these characters is the "long captain's coat of purple wool." Up until recently, my best guess about the symbolism color purple is that it is a Targaryen color because of the violet eyes in that family. But this never quite worked 100% of the time - House Mallister seems to have a unique association with indigo and there are some other purples and many variations (lavender, violet, plum, etc.) that take on shades of meaning (so to speak). Lately, I've been wondering if the colors themselves are associated with certain qualities or foundational characters in Westeros, with characters or Houses temporarily fulfilling a role associated with a given color and then giving way to another character who embodies that color for the next generation. For instance, House Tyrell takes over green from House Gardener, and all are the heirs of Garth Greenhands. (This doesn't preclude Lommy Greenhands or Jon Snow's friend Gren from also embodying green qualities.)

But I digress.

The Captain's purple coat would be odd at this point in the story, if it is telling us that he is a symbolic Targaryen. A sudden injection of Targaryen presence into the Mordane / Ned / Ice symbolism doesn't feel right here. So the purple coat might be telling us to dig deeper for the meaning of purple. Maybe the Targaryens became associated with purple but they were "usurping" a symbol that preceded them and has deeper roots than their violet eyes. Arya will spend some time at the Purple Harbor, in Braavos, which is a special, cleaner and exclusive harbor that is set aside for selected ships and business people; definitely a "highborn" kind of place, but also the place where she will kill the money lender (a Petyr Baelish parallel?) with the poisoned coin. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, It_spelt_Magalhaes said:

Her journey, her training, Water, the Sea, has eroded her, rounded her edges so she's not quite as confrontational, she is smooth, like rounded stones at the bottom of the river. As we say 'Água mole em pedra dura, tanto bate até que fura'. Which on the surface would translate to her becoming smooth, without identifying marks, no one. But the lesson from our saying is to be like Water, like the sea. Always persistent until you succeed against adversity.

If it is so, imo it could be that the repetition is the tide? And she would be one with the Sea, like Nymeria, more persistent than any rock standing still until she succeeds.

This is beautiful. Arya is very sotringly associated with water and I really like the saying you brought up. As Arya navigates situations that repeat again and again (tanto bate) she might unlock just what she needs to overcome the chellanges she faces (até que fura). She is maleable, and not rock hard. I want to look at it with optimism too. Thank you so much for contributing. Obrigada!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

Yes! I don't think it's a weird thing to say at all. I identify with Arya as well. 

Nice to know I'm not alone!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Arya II AGOT / Arya II AFFC

Arya II in AGOT opens with a dinner scene. It takes place a long time after Arya I, and a lot has happened: the royal party journeyed down the King’s Road, Mycah and Lady were killed, and Nymeria was chased off. We learned about all of that through Sansa’s and Eddard’s points of view. The chapter is concise when compared with Arya II in AFFC, but there are several parallels between them.

On communication and isolation:

When we get to be inside Arya’s head again, she is mourning, feeling very sad and depressed. She is isolated, even if she is among other people: she states her sister won’t talk to her unless father makes her, and she doesn’t want to talk to the household guards because she accounts them responsible for letting Mycah be killed and not avenging him:

Quote

No one talked to Arya. She didn't care. She liked it that way. She would have eaten her meals alone in her bedchamber if they let her. Sometimes they did, when Father had to dine with the king or some lord or the envoys from this place or that place. The rest of the time, they ate in his solar, just him and her and Sansa. That was when Arya missed her brothers most. She wanted to tease Bran and play with baby Rickon and have Robb smile at her. She wanted Jon to muss up her hair and call her "little sister" and finish her sentences with her. But all of them were gone. She had no one left but Sansa, and Sansa wouldn't even talk to her unless Father made her.

When she feeling isolated, Arya longs for her brothers.

At the beginning of Arya’s second chapter in AFFC, we are unsure of how much time has elapsed, but Arya has become accustomed to a routine. She situates the reader, describing where she is and who lives in the HoBaW, and even though there are other acolytes and servants there it is clear they don’t even try to talk to her, and she feels isolated, not being able to communicate with anyone except the Kindly man, who knows the common tongue.

Quote

He never told her his name. Neither did the waif, the little girl with the big eyes and hollow face who reminded her of another little girl, named Weasel. Like Arya, the waif lived below the temple, along with three acolytes, two serving men, and a cook called Umma. Umma liked to talk as she worked, but Arya could not understand a word she said. The others had no names, or did not choose to share them. One serving man was very old, his back bent like a bow. The second was red-faced, with hair growing from his ears. She took them both for mutes until she heard them praying. The acolytes were younger. The eldest was her father's age; the other two could not have been much older than Sansa, who had been her sister. The acolytes wore black and white too, but their robes had no cowls, and were black on the left side and white on the right. With the kindly man and the waif, it was the opposite. Arya was given servant's garb: a tunic of undyed wool, baggy breeches, linen smallclothes, cloth slippers for her feet.

Only the kindly man knew the Common Tongue. “Who are you?" he would ask her every day.

"No one," she would answer, she who had been Arya of House Stark, Arya Underfoot, Arya Horseface. She had been Arry and Weasel too, and Squab and Salty, Nan the cupbearer, a grey mouse, a sheep, the ghost of Harrenhal… but not for true, not in her heart of hearts. In there she was Arya of Winterfell, the daughter of Lord Eddard Stark and Lady Catelyn, who had once had brothers named Robb and Bran and Rickon, a sister named Sansa, a direwolf called Nymeria, a half brother named Jon Snow. In there she was someone… but that was not the answer that he wanted.

Without a common language, Arya had no way of talking to the others.

Needle:

In AGOT, sad because she remembers Mycah, Arya feels the need to cry and stay alone, in the safety of her room. She refuses to open her door when Fat Tom and Septa Mordane try to reach for her, but is finally able to speak with her father about what she is feeling. He seems to be the only one who understands her. He comes in her room to find needle in her hands:

Quote

Arya crossed the room and lifted the crossbar. Father was alone. He seemed more sad than angry. That made Arya feel even worse. "May I come in?" Arya nodded, then dropped her eyes, ashamed. Father closed the door. "Whose sword is that?"

"Mine." Arya had almost forgotten Needle, in her hand.

"Give it to me."

Reluctantly Arya surrendered her sword, wondering if she would ever hold it again.

Needle is discovered in both chapters: it is upon arriving in her room that Ned finds out about Needle, and it is watching Arya in her cell that the Waif finds Arya practicing with Needle.

Quote

Though her duties left her little time for needlework, she practiced when she could, dueling with her shadow by the light of a blue candle. One night the waif happened to be passing and saw Arya at her swordplay. The girl did not say a word, but the next day, the kindly man walked Arya back to her cell. "You need to rid yourself of all this," he said of her treasures.

She does as she is bid, and it’s interesting to see some inversions at play here. In one instance, Arya surrenders Needle, but gets to keep it, and that is what kick-starts her training, or “needlework” as she comes to think of it. After the kindly man tells her to, she rids herself of all the stuff she had, but she can’t bring herself to surrender her sword again. She keeps it hidden, parting way with it for a while, which puts a stop in her needlework for the first time, but is what kick-starts her training as an acolyte of the HoBaW.

After Ned enters Arya’s room, he begins a conversation with her that touches upon many topics. In Arya II in AFFC we get various snippets of conversations between Arya and the kindly man, and several times Ned’s words seem to echo, somewhat distorted, in his.   

Lies:

Quote

"A bravo's blade," he said. "Yet it seems to me that I know this maker's mark. This is Mikken's work."

Arya could not lie to him. She lowered her eyes.

(…)

"I hate them," Arya confided, red-faced, sniffling. "The Hound and the queen and the king and Prince Joffrey. I hate all of them. Joffrey lied, it wasn't the way he said. I hate Sansa too. She did remember, she just lied so Joffrey would like her."

"We all lie," her father said. "Or did you truly think I'd believe that Nymeria ran off?"

Arya blushed guiltily. "Jory promised not to tell."

"Jory kept his word," her father said with a smile. "There are some things I do not need to be told. Even a blind man could see that wolf would never have left you willingly."

"We had to throw rocks," she said miserably. "I told her to run, to go be free, that I didn't want her anymore. There were other wolves for her to play with, we heard them howling, and Jory said the woods were full of game, so she'd have deer to hunt. Only she kept following, and finally we had to throw rocks. I hit her twice. She whined and looked at me and I felt so 'shamed, but it was right, wasn't it? The queen would have killed her."

"It was right," her father said. "And even the lie was… not without honor."

Sansa lied and Arya lied, both out of fear of what would happen to them and their loved ones if they told the truth. Lies will become one of the most import things in Arya’s Braavos arc, we know. It comes up many times, it’s true, but it does so for the first time at Arya II, and it’s the one time the nature of lies is discussed.

In AFFC Arya finds out that she cannot lie to kindly man:

Quote

"Child," said the kindly man one day, "what are those names you whisper of a night?"

"I don't whisper any names," she said.

"You lie," he said. "All men lie when they are afraid. Some tell many lies, some but a few. Some have only one great lie they tell so often that they almost come to believe it... though some small part of them will always know that it is still a lie, and that will show upon their faces. Tell me of these names."

She chewed her lip. "The names don't matter."

What she doesn’t want:

Another parallel between the conversations that take place in these chapters is that in both of them Arya refuses stereotypical women’s roles that are assigned or offered to her:

Quote

"That's enough." Her father's voice was curt and hard. "The septa is doing no more than is her duty, though gods know you have made it a struggle for the poor woman. Your mother and I have charged her with the impossible task of making you a lady."

"I don't want to be a lady!" Arya flared.

 

Quote

“Speak the word, and we will send you to the Black Pearl or the Daughter of the Dusk. You will sleep on rose petals and wear silken skirts that rustle when you walk, and great lords will beggar themselves for your maiden's blood. Or if it is marriage and children you desire, tell me, and we shall find a husband for you. Some honest apprentice boy, a rich old man, a seafarer, whatever you desire."

She wanted none of that. Wordless, she shook her head.

The first time she flared, the second she was wordless. Ned disapproves of Arya’s tone and behaviour, and briefly threatens to break Needle, but goes on to give Arya a different option: compliance. He is very honest with her about it. The kindly man ultimately reaches the same end as Ned, though by different means. He subtlety manipulates Arya into adhering to the HoBaW rules after she refuses the offers to leave temple.

Heart, Strength and Obedience:

Quote

"Let me tell you something about wolves, child. When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives. Summer is the time for squabbles. In winter, we must protect one another, keep each other warm, share our strengths. So if you must hate, Arya, hate those who would truly do us harm. Septa Mordane is a good woman, and Sansa… Sansa is your sister. You may be as different as the sun and the moon, but the same blood flows through both your hearts. You need her, as she needs you… and I need both of you, gods help me."

He sounded so tired that it made Arya sad. "I don't hate Sansa," she told him. "Not truly." It was only half a lie.

"I do not mean to frighten you, but neither will I lie to you. We have come to a dark dangerous place, child. This is not Winterfell. We have enemies who mean us ill. We cannot fight a war among ourselves. This willfulness of yours, the running off, the angry words, the disobedience… at home, these were only the summer games of a child. Here and now, with winter soon upon us, that is a different matter. It is time to begin growing up."

"I will," Arya vowed. She had never loved him so much as she did in that instant. "I can be strong too. I can be as strong as Robb."

He held Needle out to her, hilt first. "Here."

When Arya assures Ned she will be obedient and that she can be strong, she gets Needle back. When Arya says to the kindly man that she can obey, and that is strong and hard, she is allowed to stay in the HoBaW as a servant.

Quote

"Then stay… but remember, the House of Black and White is not a home for orphans. All men must serve beneath this roof. Valar dohaeris is how we say it here. Remain if you will, but know that we shall require your obedience. At all times and in all things. If you cannot obey, you must depart."

"I can obey."

(…)

"What we offer cannot be bought with gold. The cost is all of you. Men take many paths through this vale of tears and pain. Ours is the hardest. Few are made to walk it. It takes uncommon strength of body and spirit, and a heart both hard and strong."

I have a hole where my heart should be, she thought, and nowhere else to go. "I'm strong. As strong as you. I'm hard."

Another thing that repeats in these two conversations is the heart mention. Even though it’s brief and passing, it is of extreme importance to Arya’s decision each time.

Her identity as a Stark, as Ned’s daughter, or in other words the Stark blood flowing through her heart, is crucial for her decision to assert to her father she will comply with his rules. Martin could have chosen to have Ned tell Arya “the same blood flows through both your veins” which is actually a more common way of expressing kinship, so I don’t think “heart” is there gratuitously. He is using her heart to express her connection to her family and her Stark identity.

In AFFC it is Arya’s grief, the “hole where her heart should be” that drives her to stay in the HoBaW. "The hole inside of her" (link) comes up for the first time when she is mourning the loss of her mother and brother and the loss of hope to ever be reunited with her family as well. In Arya II, AFFC, it comes up again as believes she has nowhere else to go, and that is crucial for her to make her decision to stay and shed her identity as Arya of House Stark to try and become no one. 

Of course I could never not mention the fact the “lone wolf” speech that Ned gives in Arya’s second AGOT chapter is repeated word for word in Arya’s second chapter in AFFC (link).

Learning as reward:

Another plot-point that repeats between the two chapters is the introduction of the figure of a tutor. At the end of Arya 2, AGOT, we are introduced to Syrio Forel, who is going to teach Arya the Braavosi water dance.

Quote

"Who are you?" Arya asked.

"I am your dancing master." He tossed her one of the wooden blades. She grabbed for it, missed, and heard it clatter to the floor. "Tomorrow you will catch it. Now pick it up."

In Arya 2, AFFC, the Waif becomes Arya’s teacher on the braavosi language and the lying game, and she actively compares what she is learning now with the lessons she once had from Syrio.

Quote

"She will teach you," said the kindly man as the waif appeared outside her door. "Starting with the tongue of Braavos. What use are you if you cannot speak or understand? And you shall teach her your own tongue. The two of you shall learn together, each from the other. Will you do this?"

"Yes," (…)

Thereafter she and the waif spent their time together touching things and pointing, as each tried to teach the other a few words of her own tongue. Simple words at first, cup and candle and shoe; then harder words; then sentences. Once Syrio Forel used to make Arya stand on one leg until she was trembling. Later he sent her chasing after cats. She had danced the water dance on the limbs of trees, a stick sword in her hand. Those things had all been hard, but this was harder.

It is no coincidence that she begins each of these trainings after promising to obey and actually showing compliance. In AGOT she apologizes to Mordane under her father’s watchful eyes before being taken to her lesson, while in AFFC she lets go of her personal belongings before beginning her training as an acolyte.

Beauty:

Beauty or lack thereof, and what that means, is a theme in itself in ASOIAF, and of course it should come up in Arya’s arc as well. What is unusual, though, that the word itself is very scarce in her chapters – she usually goes for words like “pretty”, “handsome” and “nice”. Beautiful/beauty only show up a few times (link) in Arya’s chapters throughout the books.

From her own POV the word is used to describe Sansa, Gendry’s helm, the braavosi courtesans, her wolf dreams and the candle she sees when she gains her vision back.  She witnesses someone using the word even less often, once in the dungeons when Varys is describing Margaery, and once in the title of one of Tom’s songs. When it comes to Arya’s own appearance, beauty comes up only twice, and it’s in AGOT Arya II and AFFC Arya II:

Quote

"Lyanna might have carried a sword, if my lord father had allowed it. You remind me of her sometimes. You even look like her."

"Lyanna was beautiful," Arya said, startled. Everybody said so. It was not a thing that was ever said of Arya.

"She was," Eddard Stark agreed

Among the offers the kindly man has for Arya, one is to become a courtesan and “having songs sung about your beauty” – making it sort of a call back, as it’s the first time that such a thing “is said of Arya”:

Quote

"You believe this is the only place for you." It was as if he'd heard her thoughts. "You are wrong in that. You would find softer service in the household of some merchant. Or would you sooner be a courtesan, and have songs sung of your beauty?”

Rocks separate Arya and her loved ones:

Arya parted ways with her direwolf Nymeria on the Kingsroad, but we only learn about it in Arya II:

Quote

"There are some things I do not need to be told. Even a blind man could see that wolf would never have left you willingly."

"We had to throw rocks," she said miserably. "I told her to run, to go be free, that I didn't want her anymore. There were other wolves for her to play with, we heard them howling, and Jory said the woods were full of game, so she'd have deer to hunt. Only she kept following, and finally we had to throw rocks. I hit her twice. She whined and looked at me and I felt so 'shamed, but it was right, wasn't it? The queen would have killed her."

It is very hard for Arya to part with part with Nymeria in AGOT, and it’s impossible for her to give up Needle completely in AFFC. Arya decides she can’t throw Needle in the canal. When she is hiding it, this is the passage we get:

Quote

Polliver had stolen the sword from her when the Mountain's men took her captive, but when she and the Hound walked into the inn at the crossroads, there it was. The gods wanted me to have it. Not the Seven, nor Him of Many Faces, but her father's gods, the old gods of the north. The Many-Faced God can have the rest, she thought, but he can't have this.

She padded up the steps as naked as her name day, clutching Needle. Halfway up, one of the stones rocked beneath her feet. Arya knelt and dug around its edges with her fingers. It would not move at first, but she persisted, picking at the crumbling mortar with her nails. Finally, the stone shifted. She grunted and got both hands in and pulled. A crack opened before her.

"You'll be safe here," she told Needle. "No one will know where you are but me." She pushed the sword and sheath behind the step, then shoved the stone back into place, so it looked like all the other stones. As she climbed back to the temple, she counted steps, so she would know where to find the sword again. One day she might have need of it. "One day," she whispered to herself.

And while Needle is hidden safely behind a rock, Nymeria was chased off with rocks for her own safety.

Back to the beginning, dancing this time:

The arc itself, the way each chapter beings and ends is full of similarities. In AGOT, we first see Arya in the small hall eating with the Wintefel men at the trestle tables, and the chapter ends in the small hall again, only this time the trestle tables have been dismantled and the benches shoved against the walls:

Quote

"Boy, girl," Syrio Forel said. "You are a sword, that is all." He clicked his teeth together. "Just so, that is the grip. You are not holding a battle-axe, you are holding a—"

"—needle," Arya finished for him, fiercely.

"Just so. Now we will begin the dance. Remember, child, this is not the iron dance of Westeros we are learning, the knight's dance, hacking and hammering, no. This is the bravo's dance, the water dance, swift and sudden. All men are made of water, do you know this? When you pierce them, the water leaks out and they die." He took a step backward, raised his own wooden blade. "Now you will try to strike me."

Arya tried to strike him. She tried for four hours, until every muscle in her body was sore and aching, while Syrio Forel clicked his teeth together and told her what to do.

The next day their real work began.

The place we are talking about in AFFC is m

The place we are talking about in AFFC is metaphorical, but the chapter starts and ends with Arya’s list.

Quote

"Ser Gregor," she chanted, as she crossed a stone bridge supported by four arches. From the center of its span she could see the masts of ships in the Ragman's Harbor. "Dunsen, Raff the Sweetling, Ser Ilyn, Ser Meryn, Queen Cersei." Rain began to fall. Arya turned her face up to let the raindrops wash her cheeks, so happy she could dance. "Valar morghulis," she said, "valar morghulis, valar morghulis."

If we take a look at state of mind, we have a clear transition, in both chapters, from an opening with a sad and isolated Arya to an end with Arya on the same place again but happier, dancing. In King’s Landing, Arya is doing something she enjoys for the first time since Mycah was killed, while in Braavos Arya is allowed to leave the windowless HoBaW for the first time since she got there.

Death:

Death is a theme that is always present when we consider Arya’s arc, of course. She is heavily associated with it in many ways through the novels. Even if it’s something that comes up time and time again, it seems to me that it’s no coincidence Arya’s second chapters show so much of it. They are actually all about death, in a very clear, unambiguous way. It’s not on a symbolic level, like in other moments of Arya’s story, but in our faces. The constant presence of the guilt Arya feels over Mycah means there is a lot of death looming over her second AGOT chapter, and Ned talks to Arya about his siblings’ early graves. The second chapter from Arya’s POV in AFFC opens with Arya’s prayer for death, and we learn about her routine with the dead and dying the HoBaW.

If we look at the five chapters as a whole, there is a clear pattern when dealing with death and I intend to explore that in a sort of conclusion, after posting the five analysis.

A tiny detail:

On an imagery level, I find it interesting that we see detailed descriptions of the rich and fancy food Arya eats in both second chapters – thick sweet pumpkin soup and ribs crusted with garlic and herbs in King’s Landing; mussels and muskfish, frogs and turtles, mud crabs and leopard crabs and climber crabs, eels and lampreys and oysters, with sea salt, pepper corns, garlic and even saffron in the House of Black and White. This sort of description isn’t common for Arya’s chapters, and though I will concede she usually doesn’t eat that very well, there are other chapters where rich, tasty dinners could have had more attention and never did, so I think maybe it's not a coincidence?

Edited by Lady Dacey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wish I had more to add to the discussion because I very much enjoy this thread. I think if we could figure out why GRRM is giving these parallels we could possibly unlock a huge clue to Arya's future. Alas, I haven't been able to come up with any ideas as to why George so very deliberately gave us this. 

Also @Seams, have you made a thread on your colors & what you think they mean? If so I would be very interested in reading it. If not - you should :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

Also @Seams, have you made a thread on your colors & what you think they mean? If so I would be very interested in reading it. If not - you should :)

I tried to take a stab at analyzing color symbolism in this thread. There is some more on fruit and colors and gems here.

Both of those threads are fairly old, though, and I am starting to think in new ways about colors. I would love to see a fresh discussion of color symbolism in this forum.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/29/2019 at 10:18 PM, Lady Dacey said:

"What we offer cannot be bought with gold. The cost is all of you. Men take many paths through this vale of tears and pain. Ours is the hardest. Few are made to walk it. It takes uncommon strength of body and spirit, and a heart both hard and strong."

I have a hole where my heart should be, she thought, and nowhere else to go. "I'm strong. As strong as you. I'm hard."

This description of Arya's heart as having a hole in it is immediately interesting to me.

I had the spark of a thought about possible wordplay involving the words whole / hole / wohl / howl and well. Arya having a hole in her heart could be part of that larger set of linked symbols, particularly in the context of the "lone wolf" speech from Ned. That linked post about the whole / hole wordplay is a couple years old already. I think I didn't recognize the significance of the German word "wohl" and I later started to think that wells in ASOIAF are the opposite of wells. Arya falls in a hole when Yoren's wagon train is attacked by Amory Lorch's troops, explores dragon skulls in the lower levels of the Red Keep and watches Ilyrio and Varys (we believe) emerge from a well-like hole in the Red keep. The hole in her heart may be a match for the many holes and hollows in her story.

I don't want to hijack the thread with wordplay clues, but I can't help but wonder whether the hole in Arya's heart + the blood flow comparison to Sansa:

On 6/29/2019 at 10:18 PM, Lady Dacey said:

Sansa is your sister. You may be as different as the sun and the moon, but the same blood flows through both your hearts.

relates to the wolf / flow / fowl set of puns associated with the Starks. Sansa and Arya both have wolf blood (if Catelyn has been straightforward with us about the paternity of all of her children) but they would also for sure have Tully blood. I don't think of Tully blood as fish blood, but as "river" blood. What do rivers do? They flow, just as blood does. So Ned is reminding Arya both of her wolf pack survival strategy as well as the flow of blood in her heart.

Adding a layer of interest is Catelyn's transformation to Lady Stoneheart. She no longer has blood flowing through her heart but her body did spend a few days in a river.

Too tired to write more now but I will try to come back tomorrow with some other thoughts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Lyanna<3Rhaegar said:

I think if we could figure out why GRRM is giving these parallels we could possibly unlock a huge clue to Arya's future. Alas, I haven't been able to come up with any ideas as to why George so very deliberately gave us this.

:cheers: 

that's how I've been feeling. It's frustrating... I see it's there, and I believe there is a reason behind it, but I can't figure it out. Maddening. 

11 hours ago, Seams said:

I tried to take a stab at analyzing color symbolism in this thread. There is some more on fruit and colors and gems here.

Thanks for sharing those links! I'm excited to read them.

10 hours ago, Seams said:

I don't think of Tully blood as fish blood, but as "river" blood. What do rivers do? They flow, just as blood does. So Ned is reminding Arya both of her wolf pack survival strategy as well as the flow of blood in her heart.

I think this relates to what @It_spelt_Magalhaes brought up about Arya being persistent like the water that shapes the stones (água mole), and her overall Tullyness we don't talk about as much as we should.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Lady Dacey said:

:cheers: 

that's how I've been feeling. It's frustrating... I see it's there, and I believe there is a reason behind it, but I can't figure it out. Maddening. 

Thanks for sharing those links! I'm excited to read them.

I think this relates to what @It_spelt_Magalhaes brought up about Arya being persistent like the water that shapes the stones (água mole), and her overall Tullyness we don't talk about as much as we should.  

There's a thread around here about the elements and their symbolism as the four points in Westeros. I'm going to try to find it as there's a pretty in depth description about the characters of the four elements as points of a balanced pentacle and how they relate to each other.

Found it. Element symbolism. @Aldarion was nice enough to start the thread. 

If the hipothetical evolution of Arya is a 'rise' in terms of the elements from earth to water, it would then maybe imply she'd  sort of revert back to Ice as a melange of water and earth , as I don't want to believe she would ever truly abandon her Northern roots but it would be in keeping with her apprenticing with the Faceless, who serve a God of Death. 

Or I'm completely fudging the paralells or Arya's character and her evolution leans very heavily on this. Even her skinchanging and the reoccurrence of an association of the CotF with these abilities fits in all too nicely.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/29/2019 at 10:18 PM, Lady Dacey said:

No one talked to Arya. She didn't care. She liked it that way.

I wonder whether this foregoing of speech and/or hearing is part of a larger motif involving the loss of the five senses. You noted that there is a connection between Arya avoiding talking with others or being given the silent treatment by people, on the one hand, and her subsequent effort to teach the common tongue to the Waif while learning to speak Bravosi, on the other.

But these lines use idioms to disguise a similar "loss" of vision:

On 6/29/2019 at 10:18 PM, Lady Dacey said:

Arya nodded, then dropped her eyes, ashamed.

...

Reluctantly Arya surrendered her sword, wondering if she would ever hold it again.

...

Arya could not lie to him. She lowered her eyes.

Arya is not literally dropping her eyes but, through the use of idioms, GRRM is telling us that the sword she hands to Ned is symbolic of the sword Ice / Eyes. By giving it up, Arya is afraid she is losing her eyes. This is relevant, I think, because we know that the Waif and the Kindly Man not only instruct her to give up her sword and other possessions, but they will soon give her a potion that causes temporary blindness. Arya learns to develop her other senses during her Blind Beth interlude but we are all relieved when she passes a test (hitting the Kindly Man with a stick, similar to her attempts to hit Syrio Forel with a stick during her sword fighting lessons?) and a different potion is given to her to restore her eyesight.

I suspect GRRM wants us to compare any loss or reduction in the five senses across characters: among others, Tyrion loses his nose, Myrcella loses an ear, Jon Snow's hand is burned, Davos and Jaime lose fingers, Ser Ilyn loses his tongue, Crowfood Umber loses an eye, Gared has lost ears and fingers to frostbite - Craster jokes that frostbite caused Gared to lose his head (but it was actually Ice that beheaded him).

Maybe the burn on Jon's hand represents a heightening of senses, instead of a loss: he is conscious of the pain of the burn for quite awhile. Similarly, Bran opens a third eye after losing all sensory input below his waist. The point may be that characters have to give up one of the five senses in order to develop greater abilities in using one of the other senses.

Also interesting is that, after dropping her eyes/Ice and after going blind, she is learning how to function in new ways through the mentorship of symbolically blind men:

On 6/29/2019 at 10:18 PM, Lady Dacey said:

"There are some things I do not need to be told. Even a blind man could see that wolf would never have left you willingly."

Quote

"Do you fear death?"

She bit her lip. "No."

"Let us see." The priest lowered his cowl. Beneath he had no face; only a yellowed skull with a few scraps of skin still clinging to the cheeks, and a white worm wriggling from one empty eye socket. "Kiss me, child," he croaked, in a voice as dry and husky as a death rattle.

In reading your good posts, another thing that struck me is the parallel to Arianne Martell. After her misadventure with Myrcella, her father imprisons her in a tower where no one speaks to her, similar to Arya's experiences in King's Landing and during her early days in the HoBaW. Instead of learning to be a waterdancer or a faceless man, Prince Doran's intent is that Arianne will focus on the game of cyvasse as well as books and maps. Maybe the choice of the name "Nymeria" for Arya's direwolf is a hint that we should be looking for parallels between the Dorne story and Arya's story. In TWOW,

Spoiler

Elia "Lady Lance" Sand, one of the Sand Snakes, is a lot like Arya. She is skilled at jousting and declares that she is not, and does not want to be, a lady.

Another parallel that strikes me is to the murdered daughter of Rhaegar, Princess Rhaenys. Just as Ser Gregor Clegane murdered the baby Aegon (or so people have been led to believe), Sandor Clegane murdered Micah, the butcher's boy. The Martell family seeks vengeance on Ser Gregor and Arya seeks revenge on The Hound. If we can assume the parallel between Sandor and Gregor, perhaps there is an implied parallel between Arya and Rhaenys, who would surely want justice for the murder of her baby brother. Before leaving King's Landing, Arya successfully caught the mean old tom cat that may have been the kitten Balerion, once owned by Rhaenys. This might make Arya a symbolic dragon rider (or a skin changer), taking over the "riderless" Balerion from the departed Rhaenys.

Of course, Ser Gregor lives on as Ser Robert Strong after his skull is sent to Dorne to prove that he died. Sandor Clegane seems to live on as the Gravedigger after his helmet is set upon his grave by the Elder Brother.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...