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Travis

Why do people believe Bran cannot/will not ever father children.

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This is something that I have read over and over again over the years from readers. And quite frankly, I don't understand it.

Bran fell and was paralyzed. Which means that, most likely, his spine was broken in a certain spot, which prevents him from walking. Okay, I get that. But I don't recall anywhere in the text that says he cannot move his extremities, just that he would never walk again.

I grew up with a friend who was paraplegic. He was born that way. He fathered two children, and had an active sex life. I had another friend who broke his neck diving into a strip-pit when we were kids. He was thereafter confined to a wheelchair. He never had children, but he also had an active sex life. The only problem in that regard for these two friends was finding someone willing to have sex with someone in a wheelchair.

Anyway... there may be something in the text that says he will never father children, I just don't recall it. And even if some certain chararter believes this does not make it so.

So what do you all think? And if you believe this is true (that Bran can never father children), why do you believe it?

Thanks in advance.

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3 minutes ago, Travis said:

Anyway... there may be something in the text that says he will never father children, I just don't recall it. And even if some certain chararter believes this does not make it so.

Here;

"He was going to be a knight," Arya was saying now. "A knight of the Kingsguard. Can he still be a knight?"
"No," Ned said. He saw no use in lying to her. "Yet someday he may be lord of a great holdfast and sit on the king's council. He might raise castles like Brandon the Builder, or sail a ship across the Sunset Sea, or enter your mother's Faith and become the High Septon." But he will never run beside his wolf again, he thought with a sadness too deep for words, or lie with a woman, or hold his own son in his arms. (Eddard V, AGoT 25)

I don't really remember if there's another instance where this sentiment is repeated by someone else, though.

 

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1 minute ago, Alexis-something-Rose said:

Here;

"He was going to be a knight," Arya was saying now. "A knight of the Kingsguard. Can he still be a knight?"
"No," Ned said. He saw no use in lying to her. "Yet someday he may be lord of a great holdfast and sit on the king's council. He might raise castles like Brandon the Builder, or sail a ship across the Sunset Sea, or enter your mother's Faith and become the High Septon." But he will never run beside his wolf again, he thought with a sadness too deep for words, or lie with a woman, or hold his own son in his arms. (Eddard V, AGoT 25)

I don't really remember if there's another instance where this sentiment is repeated by someone else, though.

 

Thank you. I guess what I'm saying is, just because Ned (or any other character) thinks this, doesn't make it true. He is still a child who hasn't even hit puberty yet.

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Posted (edited)

I believe Ned says or thinks so at one point. But I always asked myself the same question. I always thought, they are a bit hasty with this whole subject. He is only 7, not even hit puberty. Way to discourage a kid.

Maybe, that's just their attitude, because it's supposed to be a medieval society (at least when ever GRRM decides rn, it's exactly like in a medival society lol) and medical issues usually don't work out in the patients' favor. Or maybe maester luwin was already able to "diagnose", that he wouldn't be able to have any children- but still it's a bit premature IMO given his age. 

Well, maybe it's just the Starks' way of thinking "winter is coming"- always assume the worse lol

Edited by Nagini's Neville

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Posted (edited)

I always figured it was ableist ignorance behind the idea that because Bran couldn’t walk, that he couldn’t have sex either. Westeros is in a middle age of sorts, they aren’t the most enlightened of people.

Edited by James Steller

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It's good to spread the word that this is part of the story, but not part of real life.

Physically disabled people can have active love lives.

I do think that losing sexual potency or the ability to reproduce is a necessary part of Bran's arc, as it is for Theon, Varys, the Unsullied, etc. Instead of physical challenges, other characters have vows that prevent reproduction. It's a big motif in ASOIAF.

But we may also see a reversal of some of these vows and so-called disabilities. Dany has been told that her womb will quicken again when several unlikely changes occur in the laws of nature. I know a number of people calculating how those reversals can come about. We know that Mance and Craster were the sons of Night's Watch brothers, so those vows against fathering sons are not always effective.

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For me it never had anything to do with Bran's fall and resulting disability. Bran's story is all about leaving the physical plane behind and is all about the spiritual/magical/metaphysical. After all the whole shtick of 'you will fly' is not about actually physically flying, but metaphysically being able to fly through time/space, if you will. That's why I never thought sex, wife and children were in the cards for Bran.

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3 hours ago, Travis said:

Thank you. I guess what I'm saying is, just because Ned (or any other character) thinks this, doesn't make it true. He is still a child who hasn't even hit puberty yet.

Sure, it doesn't make it true and we don't know what Ned is basing this on.

But it's also about perception and cripples, dwarfs, simpleminded people in Westeros are treated differently from able bodied ones. Most men will not want to marry their daughters to a man who can't use his legs. 

We can look at the case of Tyrion. Tyrion came from the richest and most powerful family, but the Houses he was offered to in marriage refused him. Yohn Royce and Leyton Hightower said no. When he offered Hoster Tully to marry Tyrion to Lysa instead of Jaime, the answer was that he wanted a whole man for his daughter. Delena Florent's father preferred to marry her to a household knight instead. The only person who seemed fine making a marriage to Tyrion was Tanda Stokeworth, but she we also know what Lollys situation is. 

Willas Tyrell, the heir to Highgarden and the future Warden of the South, is not even married while Garlan the second son is. In his case, though, we don't know if it's because of the leg situation or if there's another reason.

Bran was already a second son, so prospects already somewhat diminished. Add to that his accident and it's doubly difficult to find a wife for him. But he wanted to be a knight of the Kingsguard. The Kingsguard take no wives and father no children. So it's not like there wasn't already a path that had been traced for Bran. 

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Posted (edited)
54 minutes ago, Alexis-something-Rose said:

Sure, it doesn't make it true and we don't know what Ned is basing this on.

But it's also about perception and cripples, dwarfs, simpleminded people in Westeros are treated differently from able bodied ones. Most men will not want to marry their daughters to a man who can't use his legs. 

We can look at the case of Tyrion. Tyrion came from the richest and most powerful family, but the Houses he was offered to in marriage refused him. Yohn Royce and Leyton Hightower said no. When he offered Hoster Tully to marry Tyrion to Lysa instead of Jaime, the answer was that he wanted a whole man for his daughter. Delena Florent's father preferred to marry her to a household knight instead. The only person who seemed fine making a marriage to Tyrion was Tanda Stokeworth, but she we also know what Lollys situation is. 

Willas Tyrell, the heir to Highgarden and the future Warden of the South, is not even married while Garlan the second son is. In his case, though, we don't know if it's because of the leg situation or if there's another reason.

Bran was already a second son, so prospects already somewhat diminished. Add to that his accident and it's doubly difficult to find a wife for him. But he wanted to be a knight of the Kingsguard. The Kingsguard take no wives and father no children. So it's not like there wasn't already a path that had been traced for Bran. 

But we all know Tyrion has a VERY active sex life. Who knows? He may have several bastards, and even one legitimate child we have knowledge of.

But going back to Bran, just because he is a second or third son and wanted to be a Knight of the Kingsgaurd (keep in mind he is A LITTLE BOY), doesn't mean he will never father children, or cannot father children.

Edited by Travis

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11 minutes ago, Travis said:

But we all know Tyrion has a VERY active sex life. Who knows? He may have several bastards, and even one legitimate child we have knowledge of.

But this has nothing to do with Tyrion having an active sex life. This has to do with his diminished status because he is a dwarf. He is the son of a great lord, but his marriage prospects are practically nonexistent because of his dwarfism. A bunch of Houses refused him as a possible husband for their daughters even though his father was the most powerful man in Westeros, even though he comes from a family that's filthy rich, even though for all intents he was his father's heir after Jaime was named to the Kinsguard.

That's the point I was trying to make with Bran. Sure, Bran might be able to have an active sex life when he comes of age, but his marriage prospects are completely diminished because he is a cripple. 

Ned doesn't think in terms of whores and bastards. It's very possible that he is projecting the things he wouldn't do onto his son. If having children goes hand in hand with marriage in Ned's mind, then Bran's prospects for marriage pretty much evaporated when he fell and broke his back. Bran can have prostitutes, but can't have a wife and if he can't have a wife, then he can't have legitimate children.

That's how I see it, at least.

26 minutes ago, Travis said:

 But going back to Bran, just because he is a second or third son and wanted to be a Knight of the Kingsgaurd (keep in mind he is A LITTLE BOY), doesn't mean he will never father children, or cannot father children.

Of course it doesn't mean that and it comes down to whether Bran Stark, the knight of the Kingsguard, would keep his vows like Barristan Selmy or follow into Jaime and Lucamore the Lusty's footsteps.

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12 minutes ago, Alexis-something-Rose said:

But this has nothing to do with Tyrion having an active sex life. This has to do with his diminished status because he is a dwarf. He is the son of a great lord, but his marriage prospects are practically nonexistent because of his dwarfism. A bunch of Houses refused him as a possible husband for their daughters even though his father was the most powerful man in Westeros, even though he comes from a family that's filthy rich, even though for all intents he was his father's heir after Jaime was named to the Kinsguard.

That's the point I was trying to make with Bran. Sure, Bran might be able to have an active sex life when he comes of age, but his marriage prospects are completely diminished because he is a cripple. 

Ned doesn't think in terms of whores and bastards. It's very possible that he is projecting the things he wouldn't do onto his son. If having children goes hand in hand with marriage in Ned's mind, then Bran's prospects for marriage pretty much evaporated when he fell and broke his back. Bran can have prostitutes, but can't have a wife and if he can't have a wife, then he can't have legitimate children.

That's how I see it, at least.

Of course it doesn't mean that and it comes down to whether Bran Stark, the knight of the Kingsguard, would keep his vows like Barristan Selmy or follow into Jaime and Lucamore the Lusty's footsteps.

I think you mistake me. This conversation has NOTHING to do with first son, second son, bastard, dwarf, or Knight of the Kingsguard. This post has to do with Bran's supposed physical inability to father children. Like I said, Bran wanting to be a KOTKG is irrelevant (he's a very young child). I was going to be a lot of things when I was 10.

Please stick to the topic at hand.

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There's a lot of modern medical diagnosing of the characters, both mentally and physically, on the part of the fandom, but I really don't think GRRM knows or cares that much about this subject. He's not a doctor of any sort and the first book was published in 1996 when you couldn't just google and insta-diagnose stuff like we do now.

If he says Bran can't have kids through Ned and we're never given a single instance to doubt that, then that's what it is even if we may wish it otherwise. Narratively, Bran is set on a different path because the traditional ones are closed to him.

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5 minutes ago, Lollygag said:

There's a lot of modern medical diagnosing of the characters, both mentally and physically, on the part of the fandom, but I really don't think GRRM knows or cares that much about this subject. He's not a doctor of any sort and the first book was published in 1996 when you couldn't just google and insta-diagnose stuff like we do now.

If he says Bran can't have kids through Ned and we're never given a single instance to doubt that, then that's what it is even if we may wish it otherwise. Narratively, Bran is set on a different path because the traditional ones are closed to him.

I respect this. I even agree with it, kind of. What I mean is, I would respect George's to change his mind, since he hasn't given us anything in concrete, except for Ned's thoughts.

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5 minutes ago, Travis said:

I respect this. I even agree with it, kind of. What I mean is, I would respect George's to change his mind, since he hasn't given us anything in concrete, except for Ned's thoughts.

Why would George need to change his mind if it's not important or not a part of Bran's story? Disability or not, he's a child. He will still be a child when the story ends. Either he can have kids or he can't, it's always something GRRM can 'retcon', either because Bran magically healed (if he was indeed unable to) or because other people thought he was, doesn't mean he actually was. But still, if Bran not having kids is part of his storyline, then that's the story GRRM chose to give him.

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13 minutes ago, Mystical said:

Why would George need to change his mind if it's not important or not a part of Bran's story? Disability or not, he's a child. He will still be a child when the story ends. Either he can have kids or he can't, it's always something GRRM can 'retcon', either because Bran magically healed (if he was indeed unable to) or because other people thought he was, doesn't mean he actually was. But still, if Bran not having kids is part of his storyline, then that's the story GRRM chose to give him.

True, true. Never thought of it that way. Glad you brought it up.

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46 minutes ago, Travis said:

I think you mistake me. This conversation has NOTHING to do with first son, second son, bastard, dwarf, or Knight of the Kingsguard. This post has to do with Bran's supposed physical inability to father children. Like I said, Bran wanting to be a KOTKG is irrelevant (he's a very young child). I was going to be a lot of things when I was 10.

Please stick to the topic at hand.

But we don't know, if Bran actually doesn't have the physical ability to have children or if Ned believes Bran won't have any children, because it will be difficult for him as a second son, who is disabled, in this society to get a wife. So I don't think @Alexis-something-Rose is of topic here.

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AGoT, Bran VI

The godswood was an island of peace in the sea of chaos that Winterfell had become. Hodor made his way through the dense stands of oak and ironwood and sentinels, to the still pool beside the heart tree. He stopped under the gnarled limbs of the weirwood, humming. Bran reached up over his head and pulled himself out of his seat, drawing the dead weight of his legs up through the holes in the wicker basket. He hung for a moment, dangling, the dark red leaves brushing against his face, until Hodor lifted him and lowered him to the smooth stone beside the water. "I want to be by myself for a while," he said. "You go soak. Go to the pools."

 

ACoK, Bran II

"Yes," said Bran. "Hodor." He pointed.

On the wall beside the door hung a basket, stoutly made of wicker and leather, with holes cut for Bran's legs. Hodor slid his arms through the straps and cinched the wide belt tight around his chest, then knelt beside the bed. Bran used the bars sunk into the wall to support himself as he swung the dead weight of his legs into the basket and through the holes.

 

ACoK, Bran IV

"Summer!" Bran shouted. "To me, Summer!" He slapped an open palm down on the meat of his thigh. His hand tingled, though his dead leg felt nothing.

 

ASoS, Bran IV

Bran wriggled across the floor, dragging his dead legs behind him until he could reach out and touch Meera on the foot. She woke at once. He had never known anyone to wake as quick as Meera Reed, or to be so alert so fast. Bran pressed a finger to his mouth so she'd know not to speak. She heard the sound at once, he could see that on her face; the echoing footfalls, the faint whimpering, the heavy breathing.

 

ADwD, Bran II

Fifty yards. If he could drag himself fifty yards, they could not get him. Damp seeped through his gloves as he clutched at roots and rocks, crawling toward the light. A little farther, just a little farther. Then you can rest beside the fire.

The last light had vanished from amongst the trees by then. Night had fallen. Coldhands was hacking and cutting at the circle of dead men that surrounded him. Summer was tearing at the one that he'd brought down, its face between his teeth. No one was paying any mind to Bran. He crawled a little higher, dragging his useless legs behind him. If I can reach that cave …

 

The way all these passages are written suggest that Bran’s fall left him w/ a totally severed spinal cord. If that is the case, he won’t be able to have an erection and won’t be able to father children, unless he is magically healed. 

I agree that there’s an awful lot of “diagnosis” being made by readers, and we can’t be sure what exactly are Martin’s intentions in any of these cases. Not yet anyways, That said, Bran’s case seems pretty straightforward. And this is not a super complicated subjective diagnosis that requires vast amounts of medical knowledge. Anyone who’s ever watched any medical drama on the telly will have seen loads of similar cases (sans the sibling-on-sibling action). It would have been very easy for Martin to get this information, even before Google. And all the descriptions we get, as the ones I quoted, fit perfectly w/ this type of lesion, and we get Ned’s words backing it up. 

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexuality_after_spinal_cord_injury

As many as 95% of men with SCI have problems with ejaculation 

Without medical intervention, the male fertility rate after SCI is 5–14%

Even with all available medical interventions, fewer than half of men with SCI can father children. Assisted insemination is usually required.

By two years post-injury, 80% of men recover at least partial erectile function, though many experience problems with the reliability and duration of their erections if they do not use interventions to enhance them.

I've only really had a cursory glance, to be sure, but the idea I'm getting is that most pregnancies from men with SCI is usually assisted by outside measure, and almost always with medications and erection assisting tools. None of which exists for Bran, obviously.

The idea that Bran could go on to father a child with no medication or assistance is unlikely, and nobody in-universe would think it would have even the slightest chance. This precludes the chance of any remotely decent marriage (as the end goal of all such is children). It's not strictly impossible that he could go on to have some sex life and eventually father a child, and marriage is obviously no necessity to create a child, but chances don't seem good.

6 hours ago, Travis said:

But I don't recall anywhere in the text that says he cannot move his extremities, just that he would never walk again.

Do you mean to say that he has partial movement, but not enough to walk? I'm fairly sure that's not the case.

The stroke had been quick and careless, biting deep. Looking down, Bran glimpsed pale flesh where the wool of his leggings had parted. Then the blood began to flow. He watched the red stain spread, feeling light-headed, curiously apart; there had been no pain, not even a hint of feeling. 

That implies a complete injury.

 

Anyway, people with SCI being able to father children today has no real bearing on whether on not it's possible for Bran.

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Bran might never father children (and definitely shouldn't while he is a child) but we certainly are likely to see him have sex sometime - both while in animal form and eventually as Hodor or another human body he takes over.

Hints in that direction have been in the books since the start - Bran is the Stark child who has witnessed the most sexual interactions, and it is his chapters where sex stuff came up as something he is aware from theoretical viewpoint (remember naked Hodor, him chancing on the Winterfell folk fucking during the harvest feast and revealing that he has seen a lot of animals doing it, etc.?).

Knowing that he will never be able to do that part of human life himself with his own body will cause him to explore this thing as skinchanger. And he will likely start as a greenseer voyeur, watching many a Stark fucking in the godswood or elsewhere in Winterfell, including, perhaps, the scene of his own conception.

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Bran's path seem to veer towards forbidden territory.  I can see him mounting another wolf while warging.  Taboo, yes. Will it stop Bran? Not if he's horny enough.  I can also believe the other Starks doing this while warging. Jon will likely mount Arya at some later time.  Perhaps after they die as humans and are then living their second lives as wolves.

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