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Nameless but essential characters

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- The one Melisandre refers to as the great Other whose name may not be spoken

- the Others 

- the ghost of Winterfell

- the guy who cut Varys 

- and Victarion's salt wife (don't remember if we know her name)

- the old gods are called the nameless gods several times

And all that made me think about Theon who always points the importance of the names, and knowing them.

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On 6/18/2021 at 11:22 PM, Nevets said:

The traveler that the wildlings that Jon was with ran into near Queenscross. 

Excellent example. My guess about this man is that he is a symbolic version of the direwolf Ghost. His death is like the death of the lion Aslan in the Narnia books. Aslan is killed by the White Witch; "Ghost" is killed by Ygritte.

On 6/18/2021 at 11:22 PM, Nevets said:

The man Bran and his companions met on their way to the Wall.

Also a key player!

Quote

He offered them oatcakes and blood sausage and a swallow of ale from a skin he carried, but never his name; nor did he ask theirs. Bran figured him for a Liddle. The clasp that fastened his squirrelskin cloak was gold and bronze and wrought in the shape of a pinecone, and the Liddles bore pinecones on the white half of their green-and-white shields.

...

When they woke the next morning, the fire had gone out and the Liddle was gone, but he'd left a sausage for them, and a dozen oatcakes folded up neatly in a green and white cloth. Some of the cakes had pinenuts baked in them and some had blackberries. Bran ate one of each, and still did not know which sort he liked the best. One day there would be Starks in Winterfell again, he told himself, and then he'd send for the Liddles and pay them back a hundredfold for every nut and berry. (ASoS, Bran II)

In Jon's arc, it is Qhorin Halfhand who feeds him oats and blood and takes him into a mountain tunnel. In trying to sort out the symbolism in Jon's POV, I wondered whether the oats (mixed with horse blood) were wordplay on "oath" as Qhorin makes Jon repeat his Night's Watch oath about the same time he feeds him oats. Also interesting that some of the oatcakes from the Liddle have blackberries in them, like he berry given to Bran by the man in the glass house at Winterfell. I associate nuts with Arya's layover at Acorn Hall when she is with the Brotherhood Without Banners. She wears the clothing of Lady Smallwood's daughter. Is wearing acorn-adorned clothes similar to eating weirwood paste?

On 6/18/2021 at 11:22 PM, Nevets said:

3.  The miller's boys that Theon killed and made to look like Bran and Rickon.  Their mother, who Theon also killed, is nameless too.

4.  The miller's wife that Roose Bolton raped, resulting in Ramsay.  Hmm, it looks like miller's wives have it rough in Westeros.

Very nice. If the surmise is correct that GRRM is using "flour" and "flower" as a wordplay pair, then these miller characters must be mixed up in it somehow. And I suspect Arya's friend Hot Pie is also part of the flour motif. We have a flashback where Jon emerges from a tomb in the Winterfell crypt covered with flour, working with Robb to try to scare the younger children into thinking he is a ghost. Osha later emerges from the Winterfell kitchen covered in flour when Theon arrives to take over. But I don't know how this all connects with the flower symbolism, which is widespread. I suppose it might also connect with the oatcake symbolism we just discussed.

On 6/18/2021 at 11:22 PM, Nevets said:

The insurance broker killed by Arya on FM orders in Braavos.

Also an excellent example. We learn so much about him, he must be important symbolically, if not literally. The role of coins in his death and his location in The Purple Harbor seem to be important clues. Because Littlefinger has a pointy black beard and he is a longtime Master of Coin, I wondered whether GRRM was giving us parallel between the insurance broker and Petyr Baelish. Is the death of the insurance broker foreshadowing the fate of Petyr?

The poisoned coin is delivered to the old man in a purse: possibly wordplay on "usurper," based on other uses of the word in the series. And I believe the coin is a gold dragon. Death symbolically delivered by a Targaryen usurper?

But we are told that the man likes onion broth. My first strong association with onions is Davos, the Onion Knight. But the onions are eaten by Stannis and his household, trapped inside Storm's End. But I also associate onions with all root vegetables as symbols of the Underworld - life that grows underground.

The Purple Harbor is a ritzy section of Braavos that is set aside for wealthy and highborn people. In my attempts to analyze rainbow colors, purple seems to be associated with Targaryen eye colors and with Ser Parmen Crane, a member of Renly's Rainbow Guard. Cranes take us back to Targaryens as the word "crane" is often associated with the craning necks of dragons. 

On 6/19/2021 at 3:31 AM, LynnS said:

Martin has also grouped willows together with the oak and the elm tree:

Elm trees would be worth examining in greater detail because they are probably linked to people named Lem and (possibly) to the important lemon motif that touches so many arcs of major characters. Lem Lemoncloak pulls the rope that hangs Brienne. Her rope is looped over a crooked willow limb; "Hyle Hunt and Podrick Payne were given elms." Ser Duncan the Tall makes camp under an elm in The Hedge Knight and ends up with the elm on his sigil (later adopted by Brienne). There might also be "elm" and "helm" wordplay. 

On 6/19/2021 at 7:21 AM, Fool Stands On Giant’s Toe said:

All those at the ... stinking goose? And the lady that serves drinks within. Dick Crab meets Brienne there. 

Yes! I remember noting that the bartender appeared to be made of dough, which could tie in to that flour symbolism or to bread symbolism. 

The bartender is also balding, which is associated with characters such as Aegon V / Egg or Varys, who is suspected in this forum of being a hidden Blackfyre or Targaryen. I doubt the bartender is a literal Targaryen, but there could be symbolism here about a dragonseed, as she works in a seedy tavern. She serves Brienne a drink with a hair in it and "hair" and "heir" are a wordplay pair. The hint could be that Brienne is a dragonseed.

Like the Purple Harbor, The Stinking Goose seems symbolic. Bad smells are associated with Lannisters. But "stinking" may be part of a larger wordplay game involving words like "walking," "choking," "thinking" and "talking," each designating a different king. Jon Snow as the Wall King, Joffrey as "choking," Gendry as the Thin King, etc. There are many anagrams that could be significant with The Stinking Goose. Brienne is on a quest, so she may be "seeking" and the anagram could be "seeking into ghost." (Onion, egg, kitten, knight, noose and other anagrams could also fit.)

She mentions the "stink" of Shagwell as she kills him. 

On 6/19/2021 at 7:21 AM, Fool Stands On Giant’s Toe said:

That farmer who tells Jamie Tywin shits silver.

The merchant/trader who sold the grey scale doll? To Stanis. 
That woodcarver guy as well.

These have already fallen out of my memory. Can you narrow down which part of which book I could find these. All very intriguing. 

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7 hours ago, Seams said:

These have already fallen out of my memory. Can you narrow down which part of which book I could find these. All very intriguing. 

Oh, it was a miller not a farmer.

Jamie SoS 7

Jaime looked at the long line of wayns, carts, and laden horses. "Yet they still line up to pay?"
"There's good coin to be made here now that the fighting's done," the miller in the nearest wagon told them cheerfully. "It's the Lannisters hold the city now, old Lord Tywin of the Rock. They say he shits silver."
"Gold," Jaime corrected dryly. "And Littlefinger mints the stuff from goldenrod, I vow."
 
I am getting the show mixed in with the books. I thought Stanis bought a doll from a Dornish trader. I always thought the Hound and Shireen may have had the same toys.

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Seams said:

Elm trees

(Nice. Ive been thinking of Elm trees.)
Not sure if these two count as nameless but...
Mad Axe and Mad Huntsman
 

 

According to the story, he took his boots off and prowled the halls of the Nightfort silently at night and murdered his brothers. The only noise he made came from the blood dripping from his axe, his elbows and his wet beard.

Could elbows be Elm boughs? Or am I way off?

 

Edited by Fool Stands On Giant’s Toe

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On 6/18/2021 at 7:20 PM, Mourning Star said:

A part of me understands that the captains daughter plays her role in the story and then leaves the scene, even the fact that Theon seemingly doesn't bother to learn her name is kind of meaningful in its own way, and there is no reason for her to be returned to the stage. But then I want to theorize!

 

Was the girl really the captain's daughter at all? I know I know, everyone has a secret identity, but bare with me a moment.

The captain never calls her his daughter, all we get are Theon's assumptions and her words.

She is oddly old for being a virgin and the captain is seemingly offended by Theon's behavior, but we never see him actually call her his daughter. Is it possible that she was another honored guest and not his daughter at all?

Then there is this:

And the girl is constantly begging Theon to take her ashore with him.

And if we interpret the Ghost of Highheart's vision as representing a faceless man:

Is it possible that the faceless man who killed Balon got to the Iron Islands on the Myraham, disguised as the captains daughter?

 

The Captain's Daughter is emphasised by the writer and dismissed by the character (Theon).

In one of Tyrion's chapters in the same book, he observes 

Quote

The ones who look the most suspicious are likely innocent, he decided. It’s the ones who look innocent I need to beware.

 

Quote

[The Myraham's] captain had tried to sail a fortnight past, but Lord Balon would not permit it. None of the merchantmen that called at Lordsport had been allowed to depart again.

 

 

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The little girl Yoren and company find, they end up calling her Weasel - because they can't keep calling her the crying girl - but we never know her real name or even what happened to her after everyone is caught by Gregor's men.

And I think it's the same with that one woman who had her arm(?) cut off and can't stop saying "please."

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On 6/18/2021 at 5:20 PM, Mourning Star said:

A part of me understands that the captains daughter plays her role in the story and then leaves the scene, even the fact that Theon seemingly doesn't bother to learn her name is kind of meaningful in its own way, and there is no reason for her to be returned to the stage. But then I want to theorize!

First, there is the possibility that Theon has a child out there he is unaware of. I don't think this is much of a stretch, as you point out he even mentions the possibility himself.

...

This repeats itself later on with the miller's wife and sons, the younger of whom may well also be Theon's child.

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On 6/19/2021 at 7:58 AM, Lunabricot said:

- The one Melisandre refers to as the great Other whose name may not be spoken

- the Others 

- the ghost of Winterfell

- the guy who cut Varys 

- and Victarion's salt wife (don't remember if we know her name)

- the old gods are called the nameless gods several times

And all that made me think about Theon who always points the importance of the names, and knowing them.

Many excellent examples here!

Quote

The Great Other, also known as the Other, the Lord of Darkness, the Soul of Ice, and the God of Night and Terror, is a god considered the enemy of R'hllor, the Lord of Light. His true name is never spoken. (Wiki)

I've seen theories that the Great Other might be either the Drowned God or the Storm God. It does seem beyond coincidence that the Others and the Great Other share the same non-name in the series.

I've wondered whether there is significance in characters with similar names: Othor is the Night's Watch brother whose wighted zombie body attacks Jon Snow in Mormont's chamber. The German word for "other" is "ander," so I am suspicious of Andar Royce, heir to House Royce. And Myranda, of the cadet branch of House Royce, insists that Sansa call her Randa. There's something fishy about Ser Waymar Royce being the first on-screen casualty of the prologue - killed by the Others - and these "other" Royces cropping up in the family tree.

The Ghost of Winterfell (or the hooded man who talks to Theon) and the guy who cut Varys are both key players in the plot, I would think. I hope GRRM will reveal their identities at some point.

I just double-checked and, you're right, Victarion's late wife is listed in the wiki under "Victarion Greyjoy's third wife." This reminds me a little of the character called Sam Stoop's wife in The Sworn Sword. There's also a guy called Husband, who is the husband of the innkeeper Sharna when Jaime and Brienne stop at the Inn of the Kneeling Man. Grrm must have a reason for keeping these characters unnamed.

I wonder whether the old gods being the "nameless" gods is like Arya being "No One"?

I love your point about Theon / Reek and the importance of names. I wish I knew how to apply that logic to this discussion! These nameless characters must know their own names; it is the readers of ASOIAF who don't know them!

On 6/21/2021 at 1:10 AM, Fool Stands On Giant’s Toe said:

Oh, it was a miller not a farmer.

Another miller! Seems like all of these millers are without names. And this one gets the saying wrong about Tywin: he shits gold, Jaime says, not silver.

What could it all mean?

On 6/21/2021 at 1:21 AM, Fool Stands On Giant’s Toe said:

Mad Axe and Mad Huntsman

Interesting. I do think of most of the characters from Nan's tales as having names - maybe "identity" is a better word than "name" for some of them, though. She says that the identity of the Night's King changes, depending on the version of the tale, but then tells us only that he was a Stark without giving a more specific name. At one point, I suspected that the brief bits of tales that Bran reveals in connection with the Night Fort were all reflections of things that happen at Winterfell. So Mad Axe would have to be similar to someone at Winterfell - probably Ramsay, although I don't remember what I said in my original post.

The Mad Huntsman is a super duper example of an unnamed character. His story does seem like one of Nan's gruesome tales in the making. Extra bonus points because Ser Beric sends him to buy grain: this could be another character associated with the nameless miller motif.

On 6/21/2021 at 6:02 AM, Lady_Qohor said:

The Princess of Dorne (mother to Elia, Doran and Oberyn) 

At first I thought you meant Lady Mellario but now I see who you're talking about. Good point! Why do we know her brother's name, and that she was a friend of Joanna Lannister, but we don't know her name?

On 6/21/2021 at 10:38 PM, Khal Eazy said:

The little girl Yoren and company find, they end up calling her Weasel - because they can't keep calling her the crying girl - but we never know her real name or even what happened to her after everyone is caught by Gregor's men.

And I think it's the same with that one woman who had her arm(?) cut off and can't stop saying "please."

Nice catches.

Small folk are definitely left out in these stories. I suspect this is a deliberate choice by the author to emphasize that "highborn" people rarely consider the effect on "smallfolk" of war and famine and cold.

Weasel seems particularly important among these unnamed characters because Arya tells her to run away but then adopts her name. The name is used to label the legendary "Weasel Soup" incident. It is also close to the name Weese, who is one of Arya's "only death can pay for life" selections for Jaqen. It may also link to the symbolism of sable (Ser Waymar's fur cloak), stoats (the Frey family is noted for their stoat-like faces) and Arya's daydream of being a pink otter that can swim to Winterfell.

At one point, I theorized that Weasel somehow symbolizes Arya's self as a child, and that she suddenly grows up when she sends away the crying girl. But that doesn't explain the specific choice of Weasel as a name. And why would Arya use that name if she had "sent away" her inner crying girl? I think that theory was flawed.

Quote

The woman's right arm ended in a bloody stump at her elbow, and her eyes didn't seem to see anything, even when she was looking right at it. She talked, but she only said one thing. "Please," she cried, over and over. "Please. Please." Rorge thought that was funny.

...

The one-armed woman died at evenfall. Gendry and Cutjack dug her grave on a hillside beneath a weeping willow. When the wind blew, Arya thought she could hear the long trailing branches whispering, "Please. Please. Please." The little hairs on the back of her neck rose, and she almost ran from the graveside.

Whenever someone says something three times, it seems to be important. It also seems significant that the woman dies at evenfall, which is a word associated with the seat of House Tarth. And then there's a willow that seems to speak. What could it all mean?

Thanks to everyone who suggested really good examples. Feel free to add more if they occur to you.

I listed one person in the "one-dimensional characters" thread but she really belongs in the "nameless" thread:

Quote

The sister of the captain of the guard at Duskendale who repaints Brienne's shield - Feast, Chap. 9.

She's a favorite of mine because the mysterious Tanselle paints the shield of Ser Duncan the Tall with the same design this anonymous shield-painter puts on Brienne's shield.

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23 hours ago, Seams said:

At one point, I theorized that Weasel somehow symbolizes Arya's self as a child, and that she suddenly grows up when she sends away the crying girl. But that doesn't explain the specific choice of Weasel as a name. And why would Arya use that name if she had "sent away" her inner crying girl? I think that theory was flawed.

No, I like this, it's good. I put Weasel down as a shadow of the Weeping Woman, but she's definitely in a form relateable to Arya. And she's not so much abandoned, as let loose, like Nymeria. iirc, Arya tells Weasel to run fast, be free. She's still out there.

Weasel's a strange name though - as a kind of spirit sigil, it doesn't fit very well; she's not bold and predatory like a real weasel. I can't help thinking it's more about the letters and the sounds, but who knows.

I nominate Hot Pie for your nameless list - when he leaves Arya, his name just evaporates; the innkeepers just call him 'boy'. (I think his departure marks something in Arya's life as well: the last of mass fighting and the madness of war. From now on she's a water dancer and an assassin, and only that.)

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