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Travis

Has anyone ever successfully left the Night's Watch?

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Thank you all for your responses so far. While I want to chime in here, I want you all to know before I get started that I will not be responding to any specific person or response (it takes up too much time on my smartphone and I always run into problems when I try). Not now, anyway.

I just want to say that I am glad that George did not let Jon take up Stannis' offer for the North and Winterfell. It would have been an unprecedented (in my opinion) and easy out that would have diminished the value and sanctity of the Night's Watch vows for everyone who swore them before and after Jon. Even if a member were "dismissed" from their vows by the leadership, I cannot see how it would go well for them in regards to other members of the Watch or Lords of the noble houses of Westeros. And so I think Jon would have been labeled an oathbreaker and harassed for the rest of his life.

So when Jon does walk away from the Watch, which is what I believe will happen (by all appearances), it will be a huge struggle for Jon the rest of the story. He will be fought at every turn, even when we readers know he is trying to do the right thing. Although I believe he will gain some respect from a small group of people who choose to follow and serve him, it will be a very small group (mainly his family, Sam, and Val), when the story ends he will be known as the oathbreaking Stark bastard to characters in-story. But to us (or some anyway), he will be the character who sacrificed everything - his life, his honor, his reputation, even his relationships - to be hero that no one except for the reader recognizes. And this will all hinge on the appearance that he walked away from the Night's Watch.

I'll respond again in a bit. It's early morning here and my thoughts are a little too fast for me to catch up with them. Perhaps after some coffee...

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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, Travis said:

I just want to say that I am glad that George did not let Jon take up Stannis' offer for the North and Winterfell. It would have been an unprecedented (in my opinion) and easy out that would have diminished the value and sanctity of the Night's Watch vows for everyone who swore them before and after Jon. Even if a member were "dismissed" from their vows by the leadership, I cannot see how it would go well for them in regards to other members of the Watch or Lords of the noble houses of Westeros. And so I think Jon would have been labeled an oathbreaker and harassed for the rest of his life.

What is being toyed with here is giving Jon legitimacy as a great bastard.  A legitimized son of royalty, just like Bloodraven.  Longclaw is also a great bastard sword.

Quote

A Storm of Swords - Jon II

He flexed the burned fingers of his sword hand. Longclaw was slung to his saddle, the carved stone wolf's-head pommel and soft leather grip of the great bastard sword within easy reach.

So Jon may decline Stannis' offer; but I think we are being told something about Jon's bloodline.

Edited by LynnS

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1 minute ago, LynnS said:

What is being toyed with here is giving Jon legitimacy as a great bastard.  A legitimized son of royalty, just like Bloodraven.  Longclaw is also a great bastard sword.

So Jon may decline Stannis' offer; but I think we are being told something about Jon's bloodline.

Sure. I agree. And/but I think Jon leaving the Watch will be lens through which all the other characters view that information about his bloodline, if they ever find out (the truth) at all.

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1 minute ago, Travis said:

Sure. I agree. And/but I think Jon leaving the Watch will be lens through which all the other characters view that information about his bloodline, if they ever find out (the truth) at all.

It depends on whether Jon believes his watch is done; rather he is released from his oath by death.  I wonder about Mel's actions here as well.  She could have just come out and told Jon about an assassination plot, but she didn't.  Now he is dead (presumably) and his watch is done. 

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Just now, LynnS said:

It depends on whether Jon believes his watch is done; rather he is released from his oath by death.  I wonder about Mel's actions here as well.  She could have just come out and told Jon about an assassination plot, but she didn't.  Now he is dead (presumably) and his watch is done. 

True, true. But who will believe him, or anyone else that says Jon died and was raised back to life? The characters are not us readers, and only a VERY small few have been exposed to the little bit of magic/sorcery that we've seen on page. These are all just stories for children as far as 99% of the characters are concerned.

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, Travis said:

True, true. But who will believe him, or anyone else that says Jon died and was raised back to life? The characters are not us readers, and only a VERY small few have been exposed to the little bit of magic/sorcery that we've seen on page. These are all just stories for children as far as 99% of the characters are concerned.

Well anyone who believes their eyes,  if Jon is raised as a dead guy or as a fire wight.  Not sure who is going to be around though or how soon his resurrection will take place.  If Jon is going to be king of anything; I'm guessing it's King of Winter.  His dreams seem to foreshadow going back the crypts of Winterfell, denying that he is a Stark and guarding the Wall from the undead.

The great bastard stuff is subtext about his lineage.

ETA:  On the question of the OP; there is only one way out.  
 

Quote

A Dance with Dragons - Jon III

One arrow took Mance Rayder in the chest, one in the gut, one in the throat. The fourth struck one of the cage's wooden bars, and quivered for an instant before catching fire. A woman's sobs echoed off the Wall as the wildling king slid bonelessly to the floor of his cage, wreathed in fire. "And now his Watch is done," Jon murmured softly. Mance Rayder had been a man of the Night's Watch once, before he changed his black cloak for one slashed with bright red silk.

 

Edited by LynnS

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Posted (edited)
On 5/26/2020 at 8:47 PM, The Fattest Leech said:

GRRM: Yes, there have been a few other cases, but they have been very rare. Such vows are taken very seriously.

I think in the course of 8000 years almost everything that can physically happen and is in accordance with human nature must have already happened. Rules surely have been bent before. I think it is a safe bet that there have been many fathers during the 8000 years of the Watch who wished to get back a son from the Watch either because they hadn't approved of the joining in the first place or because circumstances had changed (for example, the House was suddenly on the verge of extinction and the son in the NW could have saved it).  Many of those lords may have been willing to pay a price. Then, I also think that there have been Lord Commanders who were in dire need of support from a certain lord and were ready to go to great lengths to get or to keep it. There must also have been times in the course of 8000 years when a Lord Commander wished a certain boy hadn't joined the Watch because he wasn't cut out for it at all and / or because he only caused trouble - but the father of the boy could not be offended.   

And then sometimes - in "a few other cases" -, the wish of a suitably situated father may have coincided with the wish or willingness of the Lord Commander in charge and a deal may have been struck. It may not have been afterwards written in golden letters in the annals of NW history, and the lord may not have told about it to his granchildren by the fireside. Society may have frowned on it, but a lord who was powerful enough to get such a thing done was probably also powerful enough to get away with it. The Lord Commander may have lost the respect of his men - but if he was charismatic and a good battle commander and managed to increase the power of the Watch, and / or the men were properly appeased by some obvious advantage, then not necessarily. Either way, it is said when there is a will, there is a way, and it is very probable that in 8000 years, there were occasions (a few cases) when someone's will was strong enough to get this done despite the general rule. 

Edited by Julia H.

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Posted (edited)

Imagine that Ned and his family were drowned at sea while on a visit to Eyrie.

In that case, do people really believe it would be unthinkable to free Benjen from his vows, at least for a while, to produce a Stark heir to continue the House? Do you think that a situation like this never happened in the 8000 years long history where young heirs were regularly sent to the Night's Watch?

Edited by Mithras

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24 minutes ago, Mithras said:

Imagine that Ned and his family were drowned at sea while on a visit to Eyrie.

In that case, do people really believe it would be unthinkable to free Benjen from his vows, at least for a while, to produce a Stark heir to continue the House? Do you think that a situation like this never happened in the 8000 years long history where young heirs were regularly sent to the Night's Watch?

There are always other descendants and cousins around who could fill in in such a case. Catelyn herself points the real alternatives to Jon Snow out in ASoS. And, you know, most lords would actually be rather relieved if their royal family or liege lord's family bit the dust ... because that means they could move in and claim the ultimate price. Roose Bolton certainly isn't sad that he and his son have eradicated the Starks, is he?

If something like you suggested happened the author never bothered to mention it, which means when can safely ignore such a possibility.

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On 5/26/2020 at 1:39 PM, Malgoth said:

Technically yes.. Brynden Rivers "Bloodraven" was Lord Commander in 239 AC., While he wasn't mentioned as a deserter, he certainly isn't dead and left the Night's Watch for the lands beyond the Wall.

Bloodraven is likely presumed dead.

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I hope that if Jon can escape his vows, this will extend to the rest of Night's Watch excluding real bad criminals. 

 

Dareon did not wrong. He was not served justics! Quite the opposite in fact.

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7 hours ago, norwaywolf123 said:

Bloodraven is likely presumed dead.

That's exactly the point : Jon Snow is also presumed dead and black brothers serving in the Night's Watch till death.  So if Melisandre will resurect Jon later on, there will be no more questions to him.

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4 hours ago, Malgoth said:

That's exactly the point : Jon Snow is also presumed dead and black brothers serving in the Night's Watch till death.  So if Melisandre will resurect Jon later on, there will be no more questions to him.

Had bloodraven showed up a year after he was presumed dead, would he not then be expected to remain part of the Night's Watch?

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10 hours ago, QhorinQuarterhand said:

Benjen, potentially.

Probably also presumed dead.  If he does show up alive, I doubt he will be accused of desertion. 

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