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Immediate consequences of Jon's betrayal of the NW


Rondo
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The concept of neutrality was invented to prevent the NW - at the time probably a strong military force - from starting its private military enterprise within the realm and to keep it focused on the border guard task. That was it. No one has ever said that the Watch cannot handle its own affairs or that the Lord Commander cannot take a step this way or that way for fear of breaking the famous neutrality. If you always think about how you should not do anything that might be taken amiss by someone but keep up an infinitely neutral position, you will end up doing nothing - certainly not defending a realm or taking responsible decisions.

Jon is clearly working towards the goal of strengthening the realm's defences, whereas Marsh mainly worries about staying in the good books of the powers that be at whatever cost. How politically neautral Marsh remains in the process everybody can decide for themselves, but it is not the neutrality that he insists on. He sometimes reminds me of little Rhaenys, who hid under her daddy's bed hoping that the cruel monsters wouldn't find her. But Marsh should know better, because he is not a two-year-old child, and the Watch is clearly not going to be protected or rewarded for "good behaviour". Marsh may think he will kill Jon "for the Watch", but he seems to have totally forgotten that the Watch exists "for" something, and that something is the real purpose, not the daydream of comfortably staying out of trouble, which is right now rather impossible anyway. 

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14 minutes ago, sifth said:

The Warden of the North and his heir are psychopaths. How are you suppose to stay neutral during events like this?

Quite simply you can't, because whether you are attacked isn't reliably based on what you do, it's based on what Ramsay feels like doing which is random and unpredictable. You could do nothing and he could attack you. You could do exactly what he wanted and he could attack you. There is no way to stay neutral with these people. You can't even predict what will offend them and so what to avoid doing because it seems random.

Edited by Craving Peaches
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7 minutes ago, Craving Peaches said:

Quite simply you can't, because whether you are attacked isn't reliably based on what you do, it's based on what Ramsay feels like doing which is random and unpredictable. You could do nothing and he could attack you. You could do exactly what he wanted and he could attack you. There is no way to stay neutral with these people. You can't even predict what will offend them and so what to avoid doing because it seems random.

This is absolutely true. However, it is still rather predictable that Jon is and will be a problem for the Boltons no matter what he does or does not do - and we know how they deal with problems. As Alys Karstark says, Jon is "the last living son" of Eddard Stark. Bastard or not, watchman or not, he is regarded or can be regarded as the last Stark and therefore his existence is a risk that the Boltons do not want to put up with.  

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We are shown how erratic and unstable Ramsay is when he kills people for no reason or inflicts completely disproportionate punishment on them, and when he goes back on his word regarding the Ironborn prisoners. We are shown that Bowen Marsh is cowardly when he wants to seal the gates of the wall, when he tries to convince Jon to have new recruits take vows only in the Sept instead of the Haunted Forest, and when he wants to back Janos Slynt just to appease the Lannisters who are thousands of miles away.

I understand that everyone can have their own interpretation of the characters, but ascribing Ramsay rationality and Bowen bravery when everything they are shown to do depicts the opposite suggests to me that some people either don't have good reading comprehension skills or are fabricating characters' attributes based on their dislike of another character.

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10 minutes ago, Julia H. said:

This is absolutely true. However, it is still rather predictable that Jon is and will be a problem for the Boltons no matter what he does or does not do - and we know how they deal with problems. As Alys Karstark says, Jon is "the last living son" of Eddard Stark. Bastard or not, watchman or not, he is regarded or can be regarded as the last Stark and therefore his existence is a risk that the Boltons do not want to put up with. 

That's true, but even then I don't think they could reasonably expect that Ramsay would go so far as to threaten to attack the whole of the Watch. As a sworn member of the watch Jon can reasonably be expected to take no part in the Boltons' affairs. I don't think the possibility of antagonising the Boltons is brought up when Jon is elected. I think it's only mentioned that not electing Slynt would antagonise the Lannisters. But I could be wrong, I don't have the books to hand. We of course fully know what Ramsay is capable of, but I don't think anyone else imagined that he would threaten the whole of the Watch, though tales of his cruelty/madness were beginning to spread by then.

I'd imagine that people in the story thought the Boltons would have Jon assassinated if they were to do anything about him, rather than threaten the whole of the Night's Watch.

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2 hours ago, Julia H. said:

No one has ever said that the Watch cannot handle its own affairs or that the Lord Commander cannot take a step this way or that way for fear of breaking the famous neutrality. If you always think about how you should not do anything that might be taken amiss by someone but keep up an infinitely neutral position, you will end up doing nothing - certainly not defending a realm or taking responsible decisions.

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The Lord Commander took no notice of the irritating bird. "Gared was near as old as I am and longer on the Wall," he went on, "yet it would seem he forswore himself and fled. I should never have believed it, not of him, but Lord Eddard sent me his head from Winterfell.

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The lords of Westeros have some final says over the NW. This is obviously detrimental almost anyway you look at it. But without neutrality means your a player. And when playing the game against 7 kingdoms there is no winning, only death. Although this is probably a good thing because there's plenty wrong with the NW, not specifically it's suicidal relationship with it's outer world 

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1 minute ago, Hugorfonics said:

The lords of Westeros have some final says over the NW. This is obviously detrimental almost anyway you look at it. But without neutrality means your a player. And when playing the game against 7 kingdoms there is no winning, only death. Although this is probably a good thing because there's plenty wrong with the NW, not specifically it's suicidal relationship with it's outer world

I get the sense that the NW policies worked really well in the past which is why they maintain them even though it's clear that the institution has declined over the relatively recent years.

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4 minutes ago, Craving Peaches said:

That's true, but even then I don't think they could reasonably expect that Ramsay would go so far as to threaten to attack the whole of the Watch. As a sworn member of the watch Jon can reasonably be expected to take no part in the Boltons' affairs. I don't think the possibility of antagonising the Boltons is brought up when Jon is elected. I think it's only mentioned that not electing Slynt would antagonise the Lannisters. But I could be wrong, I don't have the books to hand. We of course fully know what Ramsay is capable of, but I don't think anyone else imagined that he would threaten the whole of the Watch, though tales of his cruelty/madness were beginning to spread by then.

I'd imagine that people in the story thought the Boltons would have Jon assassinated if they were to do anything about him, rather than threaten the whole of the Night's Watch.

Well, yes, Roose probably had or would have had different plans for Jon if he had found the time to deal with him. The Pink Letter is Ramsay-style.

I don't think anyone on page speculates about what the Boltons think of Jon. But then the average person does not seem to know that Ramsay's wife is not a real Stark - the Boltons, however, know that they could be exposed as fraud. And who is in a better position to discover the deception than Jon? Also, the average outsider does not think that a bastard serving on the Wall should normally be regarded as a legal threat to the lord in the castle, but again, the Boltons know how weak their claim is, how unpopular they are and, well, things may change, so, from their viewpoint, when it is about their own skin, you just never know, Jon is a danger in more ways than one. In the novel, we do see examples that hint at Jon being regarded by some as the current Stark. Therefore, it is logical that the Boltons will sooner or later find the time to eliminate this danger. It is, after all, nothing compared to the practical need of eliminating one's own siblings.     

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Just now, Julia H. said:

Therefore, it is logical that the Boltons will sooner or later find the time to eliminate this danger. It is, after all, nothing compared to the practical need of eliminating one's own siblings.

I agree entirely, I just don't think the Watch was expecting such a reaction from the Boltons when they chose Jon. If they suspected anything, I think they would believe that Roose may have Jon assassinated.

As readers, we, of course, knew that Jon could become a target, I'm just not sure that the people of the Watch were aware of this.

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19 minutes ago, Hugorfonics said:

The lords of Westeros have some final says over the NW. This is obviously detrimental almost anyway you look at it. But without neutrality means your a player. And when playing the game against 7 kingdoms there is no winning, only death. Although this is probably a good thing because there's plenty wrong with the NW, not specifically it's suicidal relationship with it's outer world 

Ned executed Gared because Gared had broken the law and was found in Northern territory and Ned was responsible for guarding law and order in the North. That does not mean the Watch has no say in their own affairs. (And I think had Gared been caught in NW territory and taken to Mormont, the LC would have had the final word about him even if Ned had just happened to be visiting in Castle Black.)  

No one has defined what exactly they mean by NW neutrality. It makes sense that they should not get involved in the quarrels of various lords or become sellswords. But why wouldn't the NW have the right to make decisons regarding their own affairs? Neither Mormont, nor Aemon thought it was against the rules to ask the various lords / kings to come and help against the wildlings - so when one lord (king) arrives in the middle of the battle and brings help, should the watchmen really say "go back, the Watch takes no part"? It would be ridiculous - the Watch has the right to handle its own affairs and look after its own needs and is not obliged to remain neutral to the point of idiocy.

 

 

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I often wonder how Ned or anyone really can tell the difference between a deserter and a wandering crow.

I also wonder if members of the NW get paid. How else do they pay for whores in Moles Town.

Edited by sifth
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8 minutes ago, sifth said:

I also wonder if members of the NW get paid. How else do they pay for whores in Moles Town.

I was wondering about that the other day. I never got the impression it was paid, I don't think the Kingsguard is paid either...But how else could Mole's Town sustain itself? There doesn't seem to be much else there...

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44 minutes ago, Craving Peaches said:

I agree entirely, I just don't think the Watch was expecting such a reaction from the Boltons when they chose Jon. If they suspected anything, I think they would believe that Roose may have Jon assassinated.

As readers, we, of course, knew that Jon could become a target, I'm just not sure that the people of the Watch were aware of this.

I'm not totally sure about the timeline but I believe the Boltons weren't yet physically established in Winterfell at the time of the LC election. The "wordly-wise" of the watchmen were looking to the Lannisters for whatever advantages they hoped to get. The rise of the Boltons took some time to sink in. 

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15 minutes ago, sifth said:

I often wonder how Ned or anyone really can tell the difference between a desert and a wandering crow.

I also wonder if members of the NW get paid. How else do they pay for whores in Moles Town.

That's two things I've been wondering, too.

The first one may be easier, perhaps wandering crows are few and they are well-known in Winterfell, as they visit the castle quite openly on their way south (as Yoren does). They may also carry a letter from the LC. Gared was probably behaving like a deserter, hiding and fleeing. 

It is never mentioned that NW members get paid, yet they do go to Moles Town. Perhaps they get a few coins now and then, not necessarily regularly but as a reward. Alternatively, they may not pay with coins but with goods. They may hunt on their way to Moles Town, gather the eggs of wild birds or perhaps save some food from their own dinner. Who knows how desperate the situation in Moles Town can be... Also, rangers may have some chance to obtain things beyond the Wall - granted, there isn't much there, but the wildlings raid the North, and some of the stolen goods may end up with the rangers and perhaps eventually in Moles Town.

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5 hours ago, Angel Eyes said:

That tends to happen when characters get punished a lot for heroism, mercy, or even decency.

You are not describing Jon Snow because he is a traitor to the watch.  Your traits partially describe Bowen Marsh. Bowen Marsh may not be a merciful guy at all times, but then he could not show any mercy to Jon.  It was necessary to stop Jon.  It gave Bowen no joy to have to do it.  Bowen is heroic in a way.  He did what needed doing and it may cost his own life.  

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5 hours ago, Craving Peaches said:

If Bowen Marsh is a hero for murdering Jon then either there is a very low bar for heroism or the definition of heroism is inverted.

Bowen assassinated a dangerous traitor and stopped that traitor from doing more harm than he has already done.  In a way, Bowen is heroic because it may cost him his life.  He did it to save the watch and Westeros from Jon.

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