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Lady Dacey

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

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10 minutes ago, Lady Dacey said:

An instersting possibility! I shall look into it before starting to write a conclusion. Initially I had thief/stealing as a parallel between Arya V and The Ugly Little Girl, because:

 which ties to what the kindly man tells her in ADWD

 I ultimately decided agaist this particular parallel precisely because the stealing/thief shows up in other places of Arya's arc where they seem more significant. You've opened my eyes to a new possibility though, and I'm curious to see what I can find once I dive into Arya I in ACOK. I have read this chapter before, when I tried to find parallels either with the Mercy chapter or Arya I in AGOT and ADWD, but found nothing. Now I'll have a completely different outlook on it... I'm excited. Thank you for the insight. 

Yes, because it's in aCoK 1 that Hot Pie try to call her a thief and try to get Needle, while it's hers. She never stole it. And Mercy might line up much better perhaps with aCoK II, where she begins to befriend the boys with Yoren and is more seen as one of them, except for those 3 in the cages, with Rorge making vile comments etc. 

Edited by sweetsunray

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Nice work. Lots to think about here. 

I am still thinking of the parallel between Qhorin and Yoren, with your added insight that the singer, Dareon, took Yoren's recruiting job with the Night's Watch and that Arya eventually kills Dareon much the same way Jon Snow kills Qhorin Halfhand. I have another to add to the mix: in Jon Snow's arc, there is a mountain clan leader who is called The Norrey. (Bran also thinks about House Norrey.) I have always wondered if the name is wordplay on Yoren's name, but I also wonder whether there is wordplay on "North" hidden in the name, and whether he might somehow embody the region or its people. If Qhorin / Yoren / The Norrey are part of a related group of mentors for Arya and Jon, the fact that Yoren cuts Arya's hair might mean that, in spite of the transformation in her appearance and identity, she is still a northerner. 

The comparison of Arya changing her face with the beheading of Ned is inspired! Nice catch. It is reassuring (in retrospect) to know that Arya will recover from blindness and will get her regular face back, just as she will some day reclaim the sword Needle that is hidden in the steps by the canal. This makes me feel better about Ned, too. Perhaps he has already gotten his head back (Catelyn says the silent sisters attached his skull to his neck bones using silver wire) and will -- eventually, figuratively -- recover his missing Ice / eyes.

I'm also struck by your observations about the literal and figurative doors through which Arya passes at each transition. I've assumed that Bowls of Brown and the bowl of weirwood paste given to Bran are similar (along with the Sister Stew Davos eats in the Sister Isles). The tart potion given to Arya by the Kindly Man is clearly part of the same "transformation stew" that allows a character to enter a new realm of existence, or to change identities, or something. It's all a kind of "Alice in Wonderland" situation with little bottles that say "drink me" and cakes that say "eat me" leading to a new world for the character. In ASOIAF, I thought bowls of stew-like mixtures are the thing to look for, usually, but maybe they are part of a larger set of magical mixtures. (Jaime may also enter another plane of existence when he falls asleep against the bole of a tree.)

The detail about the salty taste reminds me of a different transition for Bran: when he passes through the Black Gate under the Wall, a drop of water falls on him and he notices that it tastes salty. I wonder whether Arya's observation about the salty flavor in the tart potion was GRRM's way of calling attention to a comparison of her transition and Bran's transition?

Quote

In fact, lemons come up very scarcely in Arya’s whole story. She only thinks about the fruit in her inner monologues in Arya V and The Ugly Little Girl, both times prompted from external stimuli (there is the lemon tart she could not steal moments before she wishes for the lemon cake in AGOT, and the magical tart drink she is given in The Ugly Little Girl). The word comes up a handful of times in A Storm of Swords while Arya is in the company of Lem Lemoncloak, but that is all (link). 

Lemons are a unique category, and the parallel between the paired chapters must be significant. Do they represent a longing for home? The last time I looked at lemons, I concluded that their primary function was to strengthen teeth (or so people believe in Westeros) and they are the opposite of honey, which rots teeth. It's interesting that Arya also craves a glass of milk along with the lemon cake. The Milkwater and the wet nurse brought to Castle Black by The Norrey could be Jon-Snow-parallels for Arya's craving for milk.

The other word, tart, is probably also significant, but not in a way that is exclusive to the chapter pair. 

Arya successfully steals some tarts in ACOK, when she goes to see Hot Pie in the kitchen at Harrenhal. He has baked some fruit tarts for Vargo Hoat and says Arya cannot have any because they are all for Hoat. I don't believe lemon is specified as a flavor, just fruit. She suggests that they spit on them but eventually steals some as she makes her way out of the kitchen.

Is this another food-related magical transition? Right after she leaves the kitchen, the "captured" northern bannermen are led into the court yard, marking the first step of a transition from Vargo Hoat/Lannister occupation to Roose Bolton/Stark (but actually still Lannister) occupation. The final step in the northern takeover is the use of the Weasel Soup - maybe that's the stew-like transitional food at that stage of Arya's story. (Interesting to note that Biter eats the fingers of the guards who died after the soup was thrown on them. Perhaps similar to the mystery meat that can be found in bowls of brown.) 

Another possible tart association would be the similarity to the name, The Maid of Tarth. (If Vargo Hoat tried to say the word "tart," would it sound like "Tarth"?) There are a number of similarities between Arya and Brienne. (Brienne's transitional foods occur when she gives stew to the dwarf septon; in the Stinking Goose while waiting for Nimble Dick to show up; with Septon Meribald's oranges and when Thoros of Myr feeds her after she recovers from her fight with Rorge and Biter.) 

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@Lady Dacey Great, seriously great work. I like Arya and chapters are very fun to read/inspect.

 

I don’t feel like these parallels are random, the way GRRM wrote it feels like they were intentional. Arya had very few chapters in adwd/affc and George said 5 year gap would’ve worked perfectly for her. This adds value to her few chapters. He would’ve skipped those years but instead  he ended up parallelling her story with backwards. Which layered and richened her transformation.

 

So Mercy chapter might be a total resemblance of ACoK, instead of one chapter. She killed the guard to escape Harrenhal in the end, and fed him to the rains/ like Mercy feds Raff to eels. Also Harrenhal was a home to many Targaryens, including Daemon Targaryen, Rhaena Targaryen, who once were ghosts of Harrenhal. She mentions Dragons in Mercy chapter too.

I’ll try to contribute to this post as soon as I can. I’m curious of what’ll come out!!

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I'm so glad this thread has bubbled up for discussion again. As with the books themselves, one sees new things when re-reading this thread with fresh eyes.

For instance, a key to some very important symbolism:

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

Ghost, already larger than his litter mates, smelled her, gave her ear a careful nip, and settled back down.

 

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

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.

 

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

"The show is done," he said. He bent to scratch Ghost behind the ears.

GRRM makes strategic references to ears - Gared has lost his ears to frostbite, Myrcella loses an ear to the sword of Gerold Dayne - and I have wondered about their symbolic meaning. I had forgotten that the German word for "ear" is "Ohr." I'm quite sure that GRRM has used English-German wordplay in puns such as "Ei / eye" (the German word for egg and the English word eye) and "Wohl / howl" (the German word for well and the English word for the sound made by a wolf). So this elusive "ear" symbolism can finally start to click into place because you have identified the parallel between ears and oars.

I also highlighted the word "nip" in the first excerpt because I think it might be wordplay on the word "pin" and therefore relates to the sewing symbolism that is so strong in these chapters. We know that Jon will soon give Arya a needle; here we see the direwolf Ghost giving the direwolf Nymeria a "pin."

I am only recently starting to think about the ways GRRM breaks and recombines syllables in the names of characters, but your parallel between ears and oars leads me to wonder whether characters such as Yoren and Qhorin and The Norey are linked to the oar / Ohr pun. These characters appear at key moments when one of our main characters needs to make a journey or get past an obstacle. This kind of association could also help to clarify the ear / oar symbolism and purpose in the books.

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?"

 

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

The dock was shadowed, the steps steep. ... 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.

 

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

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

I had started to make some connections about "step / sept" wordplay, but it's always clearer to zero in on specific examples that show how GRRM applies the symbolism. It seems that climbing steep, scary, stone steps is similar in Arya's mind to dealing with the Septa. We know that Septa Mordane was her sewing instructor at Winterfell and that Arya, in Braavos, will hide the sword Needle behind the loose stone in some stone steps. Looking at additional steps in Arya's chapters and keeping in mind the parallels you have laid out for the Septa Mordane character could lead to additional insights about Mordane's purpose in the narrative, lost swords and Arya's growth as well as the sewing symbolism throughout the books.

I suspect we need to reexamine Septa Mordane and assign her a more benevolent role in Arya's story. I may be wrong but I think the Septa / steps are carefully helping Arya by hiding her sword (symbolic of Arya's true identity) while she does her undercover work, staying safe and learning to be an assassin. I mentioned in an earlier comment that Septa Mordane is the first character GRRM describes as having a rustling skirt and that this image is usually associated with a Queen Mother (Cersei, Catelyn, etc.) hiding her son behind her skirt. If the steps (Septa) are hiding Arya's sword / identity, then we should probably reexamine the skirt-hiding metaphor to see if these queen mothers hide more than princes.

The fact that steps are made of stone and that Arya finds Septa Mordane and Catelyn together is probably foreshadowing about Catelyn turning into Lady Stoneheart.

Arya spends a lot of her time at Harrenhal scrubbing the steps.

On 6/28/2019 at 5:30 PM, Lady Dacey said:

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.

As for Septa Mordane's frown, I think GRRM wants us to contrast this with Arya's thoughts about Jon Snow:

Quote

Needle was Robb and Bran and Rickon, her mother and her father, even Sansa. Needle was Winterfell's grey walls, and the laughter of its people. Needle was the summer snows, Old Nan's stories, the heart tree with its red leaves and scary face, the warm earthy smell of the glass gardens, the sound of the north wind rattling the shutters of her room. Needle was Jon Snow's smile. (AFfC, Chap. 22, Arya II)

The grim mentor frowns at Arya, but "she" instructs her in "needlework" and she protects the "smile" that is so important to Arya. I think this symbolism will not only help us to decode Arya's story, but will also help us to understand some hidden depths in the relationship of Catelyn (the other stone woman waiting in Arya's room) and Jon Snow.

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Long time no see lovely folks. It's nice to see this thread getting some attention again. I have put a lot of thought and time to writting all that and every time I reread I find my effots lacking, but there is no mending it, only going fowards right? @a black swan you made my day by calling the thread brilliant! Amazing posters have contributed to this thread with insights on the rich and complex world Martin has crafted for us. 

I have been rereading Arya's chapters in ACOK and ASOS with the hope to continue to scratch the surface of this story. Some symbolic or metaphorical layers have become more clear  to me recentely. There are so many details to explore, I have been dedicated to unsterstanding the role of weapons as stand ins for different people and situations, taking the hint from Needle representing Jon. What does it mean that Gendry gives Arya a stolen sword? What does it mean that she wants to learn how shoot a bow? What about the dirk Sandor gives her? I really hope to do a write up on that sooner or later. Also, windows and doors! I am cataloging every time Arya goes through a window in the story and it's really impressive, I'm absolutely positive this means something (or a few things). There is much and more to explore. I'm glad to be back!

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I never did write the conclusion I promised for this series of essays. I don't know if I have it in me to go back to those ten chapters and work on a "summary of evidence" kind of write up, but maybe? Would that be interesting? I don't know. 

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On 7/17/2019 at 6:14 AM, Dilekless said:

Arya had very few chapters in adwd/affc and George said 5 year gap would’ve worked perfectly for her. This adds value to her few chapters. He would’ve skipped those years but instead  he ended up parallelling her story with backwards. Which layered and richened her transformation.

Hi Dilekless, sorry for being almost a year late to respond. I really like this take of yours and believe it adds to the significance of the parallels we agree axiste between Arya's chapters in the first and the last two books.

On 7/17/2019 at 6:14 AM, Dilekless said:

So Mercy chapter might be a total resemblance of ACoK, instead of one chapter. She killed the guard to escape Harrenhal in the end, and fed him to the rains/ like Mercy feds Raff to eels.

Oh, I like this very much! It makes sense. I have just reread Arya's chapters from ACOK taking notes, but I haven't read Mercy in ages, so nothing spring to mind immediately, but it's worth exploring.

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On 5/8/2020 at 12:28 PM, Seams said:

Arya, in Braavos, will hide the sword Needle behind the loose stone in some stone steps.

Ah, @Seams, your input is always lovely. I believe you will like what I have been thinking about weapons in Arya's story if I ever get that organized and writen and posted. But I quoted this part of your post because when I read it Stoney Sept just sprung to my mind, and how Robert hid in the town, recovering from wounds, only to come out when the battle was being fought. When is Needle going to come out of hiding? This has to be a really important moment. And if Needle is a stand in for Jon Snow, what does it mean that it is in a similar position to Robert, then a rebel who would become king? 

 

On 5/8/2020 at 12:28 PM, Seams said:

So this elusive "ear" symbolism can finally start to click into place because you have identified the parallel between ears and oars.

Oarsmen are also well known for taking information from here to there, which I think maybe adds to this possible parallel? Sailor's tales aren't a reliable source of information, but they travel distances and reach many ears. 

 

On 5/8/2020 at 12:28 PM, Seams said:

As for Septa Mordane's frown, I think GRRM wants us to contrast this with Arya's thoughts about Jon Snow: ... "Needle was Jon Snow's smile. "

This obervation of your actually had me thinking of Gendry and his constant frowning... Gendry makes Arya think of Jon sometimes, but he is definitely "not her brother". How can these two young men in Arya's life be compared or act as foil for each other? Oh, there is so much to think about...

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Posted (edited)
On 6/27/2019 at 8:56 PM, Lady Dacey said:

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.

Quote

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.

@Seams your interest in oars made me think of this parallel again. Arya is too skinny to "even lift" a longsword, but she is given Needle a few chapters later. Will she have to "man an oar" at some point? She never wielded a longsword (though she did lift one against Anguy, Tom and Lem) but she did get a sword all to herself. Maybe similarly she will never be oaring on a bravoosi galley, but a rowboat may feature significantly in her story? In Braavos most vessels are poled through the canals, so my mind goes to the riverlands... 

Edited by Lady Dacey

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13 hours ago, Lady Dacey said:

@Seams your interest in oars made me think of this parallel again. Arya is to skinny to even lift a longsword, but she is given Needle a few chapters later. Will she have to "man an oar" at some point? She never wielded a longsword (though she did lift one against Anguy, Tom and Lem) but she did get a sword all to herself. Maybe similarly she will never be oaring on a bravoosi galley, but a tow boat may feature significantly in her story? In Braavos most vessels are poled through the canals, so my mind goes to the riverlands... 

That doesn't make any sense Long Swords do not weigh a lot they are like 2 or 3lbs.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Darksnider05 said:

That doesn't make any sense Long Swords do not weigh a lot they are like 2 or 3lbs.

Say that to Jon Snow, not to me :dunno:

Edited by Lady Dacey

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