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brashcandy

Becoming No One: Rereading Arya IV

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Regarding the girls' eduaction in Winterfell. I am fairly sure they were taught a sense of propriety, to be respectful and kind to those situated bellow them on the social ladder, they were taught fairness and compassion, they were taught their duties in respect to their expected future roles. They also observed the behaviour and demeanour of their parents. In short, they lived in a feudalist utopia. They were shown the value of justice, honor, loyalty and compassion. They learned little of how it works, how it came to be and the fact that it was like that because of their parents' character rather than the merits of feudalism.

What has came up is the fact that Ned did not teach them the answers to those questions. I am starting to wonder if he had them himself.

This is a little different from the Arya we are experiencing in the story to date, yet The Ned was also young once and was also living through profound suffering with the loss of his father, brother and sister - so not so unlike the situations that his children are themselves struggling through in ASOIAF. At the same time of course The Ned's lack of love for the Lannisters was also enduring so we have to see quite where Arya will emerge should she escape the underworld.

Robert's rebellion is regerded as a victory for the Stark-Tully-Aryn-Baratheon block. After all, they overthrew the established dynasty and won the throne. I very much doubt that it felt like a victory to Ned. He saw the treacherous, opportunistic, child-killing, oathbreaking Lannisters being rewarded for their actions, he saw his friend compromised and he saw his beloved sister die and depending on the most likely scenario, he also found out that is was all for nothing to begin with.

He then returns back North, isolates himself and makes it work. He keeps equal distance from his bannermen, he is resolute in his application of justice and gains the respect of his underlings and shapes his home according to his ideals. He didn't create, however, Winterfell and he did have absolute and ultimate authority.

Later on, when he tries to impose the same principles in King's Landing, based on his legal authority, his attempts implode before individuals that in no way, shape, or form share his considerations.

He passed on his moral code to his daughters, though he did not teach them for the most part how he applied it in the North. Then his daughters were faced with the same questions he once did, but from a position in which they had no kind of power whatsoever.

Arya is not in this scene, yet she must know of it. What happens to her through her experiences is the gradual loss of her moral compass due to Westeros' increasing darkness. This may be what Old Nan means as "The Long Night". (Or maybe even "the dark night" of the soul?). The lines between personal and impersonal dispensation of "Justice" have become metaphorically or spritually or intellectually blurred. The "seed" or "acorn" of who Ayra is remains. It is her sense of direction, her moral compass that has been altered.

In a sense her compass points in the same direction, as it always has. She detests cruelty and disloyalty, missing the subtleties, but has adopted a far more extreme attitude. Which is to kill those that don't adhere to it and use any means necessary.

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I have been reading threw the series for the first time. I am recently just started a dance with dragons. I was curious to where you are at in arya's chapters? I would thank any and all who reply on this matter. I would really like to partake in this discussion.

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I have been reading threw the series for the first time. I am recently just started a dance with dragons. I was curious to where you are at in arya's chapters? I would thank any and all who reply on this matter. I would really like to partake in this discussion.

We're just about to start Arya's chapters in AFfC

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The difference is that Ned saw it as a duty where Arya feels it as a need. I have a notion that the FM take the impartiality to the absolute exrtreme, dispensing even with judgement, an attitude which is of course the complete opposite of Arya's mentality.

I think we're in agreement - certainly over the FM. Ned obviously dispenses punishments, such as the execution of the NW deserter, but as you said, I think his key motivation is to preserve the social order. This is a more global sense of justice than Arya possesses at the moment.

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I think we're in agreement - certainly over the FM. Ned obviously dispenses punishments, such as the execution of the NW deserter, but as you said, I think his key motivation is to preserve the social order. This is a more global sense of justice than Arya possesses at the moment.

I think this is sort of inevitable. It would be out of character for an eleven year-old to conceptualize justice in the grand scheme of things. If Arya needed to pursue this course in order for this theme to be explored, her motivation would need to be visceral rather than intellectual, with whatever else this entails about the character. I think it also serves to make the subject more immediate and relatable to the reader, while making it more provocative. It parallels the natural tendency to draw divisions between right and wrong, with a child making decisions of life and death.

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I believe that Arya's arc also poses questions on the fairness of the social order. Legal does not always equal fair, as shown, for examble, in the Mycah incident. Sometimes, one must break the rules in order to do the right thing, but in the process there is the danger to devalue the concept of law in general. For now, she focuses in individual cases of injustice (and extreme, at that) and her response is instinctive, as it is normal for her age, but given the persistence of the justice vs revenge vs fairness theme in her arc, her path and character growth -as the ability to abstract and to generalize develops with age- might quite possibly include the development of some solid ideas on how justice should be. Westeros desperately needs a legal reform, after all.

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AFFC - Arya I

Summary

The first glimpse Arya gets of Braavos is of a shining light on the horizon, which she thinks looks like a star. Denyo, one of the Captain's sons, specifies that it is the "star of home."

The star of home. Arya stood at the prow, one hand resting on the gilded figurehead, a maiden with a bowl of fruit. For half a heartbeat she let herself pretend that it was her home ahead.

She quickly dismisses this as "stupid" and recalls that her parents are dead, and all her brothers except Jon Snow. She had wanted to journey to the Wall, but the Captain had refused:

Arya never seemed to find the places she set out to reach. Yoren had sworn to deliver her to Winterfell, only she had ended up in Harrenhal and Yoren in his grave. When she escaped Harrenhal for Riverrun, Lem and Anguy and Tom O'Sevens took her captive and dragged her to the hollow hill instead. Then the Hound had stolen her and dragged her to the Twins.

She consoles herself with the thought that Syrio was from Braavos, and that Jaqen might be there too. Jaqen isn't a friend like Syrio was, but Arya thinks:

I don't need any friends as long as I have Needle.

As they near the main port of the city, the Titan of Braavos comes into view, and Arya is daunted by the sheer size of the imposing statue. She remembers Old Nan's stories of the Titan, when she claimed that the Braavosi fed him on the "juicy pink flesh of little high highborn girls." Arya rationalizes that she is no longer highborn and is too skinny to offer any succulent meal.

She has acquired yet another name on the journey across the narrow sea - Salty- and whilst none of the sailors ask for her true name, they all make sure that she knows theirs, and gives her gifts as well. She learns from Denyo that the Braavosi recognize all gods, including the Seven of Westeros.

They are not my Seven. They were my mother's gods and they let the Freys murder her at the Twins. She wondered whether she would find a godswood in Braavos, with a weirwood at its heart.... The old gods are dead, she told herself, with Mother and Father and Robb and Bran and Rickon, all dead. A long time ago, she remembered her father saying that when the cold winds blow the lone wolf dies and the pack survives. He had it all backwards. Arya, the lone wolf, still lived, but the wolves of the pack had been taken and slain and skinned.

Denyo tells her of the Moonsingers, and the Many-Faced God, which she will find in the centre of the city along with the other religions. Arya thinks that if the god answered prayers he might be the one she desired, and ruminates on her death prayer, of which now only six remained. She recalls that she left the Hound on the banks of the Trident, feverish and dying:

I should have given him the gift of mercy and put a knife in his heart.

When the boat comes into the harbour, the captain requests that Arya take her leave of them there, and although she is hesitant to depart, she realises that the Captain wants her to be gone.

Gather your belongings, the captain had said, but there were few enough of those. Only the clothes she was wearing, her little pouch of coins, the gifts the crew had given her, the dagger on her left hip and Needle on her right.

She is taken on a boat into the city by Yorko, another of the captain's sons and is afforded a clear view of the city, which has impressive buildings and towers:

Arya had never seen so many big buildings all together in one place. King's Landing had the Red Keep and the Great Sept of Baelor and the Dragonpit, but Braavos seemed to boast a score of temples and towers and palaces that were as large of even larger. I will be a mouse again, she thought glumly, the way I was in Harrenhal before I ran away.

Yorko takes her to temple of the Many Faced God and Arya settles her fear by thinking of herself as a wolf. She notices the left door of the temple is made of weirwood, "pale as bone," while the other is of "gleaming ebony."

In their center was a carved moon face; ebony on the weirwood side, weirwood on the ebony. The look of it reminded her somehow of the heart tree in the godswood at Winterfell. The doors are watching me, she thought.

She bangs on the door and demands to be let in, citing her journey across the narrow sea and that she has the coin given by Jaqen. The doors open and Arya enters a large space, where statues of many gods are lined along the walls. As she walks around she hears whispered voices and smells the scent of snow and pine needles, which encourages her to go further.

In the center of the temple she found the water she had heard; a pool of ten feet across, black as ink and lit by dim red candles. Beside it sat a young man weeping softly. She watched him dip a hand in the water, sending scarlet ripples racing across the pool. When he drew his fingers back he sucked them, one by one. He must be thirsty.

Arya fills a cup of water from the pool and brings it to the man to drink. After this she sees a dark stain spreading below his belt, and finally realizes that the man is going to die.

No, a half-remembered voice seemed to whisper in her head. They are dead, or dying. Look with your eyes.

At this moment she has her first encounter with the waif and the Kindly Man; the latter tells her that she has reached a place of peace:

"You are safe here. This is the House of Black and White, my child. Though you are young to seek the favor of the Many-Faced God."

The man soon gets Arya to reveal her true name despite her reluctance. He asks her if she fears death, and proceeds to test her by changing his face into a disgusting apparition, with a white worm in the empty eye socket. Arya does not shy away, but kisses his face where the nose is missing, and attempts to eat the worm.

"No one had ever tried to eat my worm before," he said. "Are you hungry, child?"

Yes, she thought, but not for food.

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Analysis

The Star of Home

Arya is now a stranger in another land, someone else's home. She will only allow herself a momentary indulgence in thinking that she could be approaching her own land, but this is stifled almost as soon as it begins. That sense of futility and hopelessness that Arya experienced in the Riverlands has been etched unto her psyche, and she no longer even knows what to wish for:

She brushed the ball of her thumb across the sword's smooth pommel, wishing, wishing...

If truth be told, Arya did not know what to wish for, anymore than she knew what awaited her beneath that distant light.

Even thinking of Old Nan's stories brings no happiness:

Winterfell is burned and fallen, Arya reminded herself. Old Nan and Maester Luwin were both dead, most like, and Sansa too. It did no good to think of them. All men must die.

Arya has come to replace these thoughts of family with a much darker philosophy, one that doesn't invite feelings or desires which will only lead to pain and disappointment. I found her regret that she did not say goodbye to Denyo curious from this perspective, as it belies her claim of not needing friends, and supports in my view the overall tone of the chapter which is of a young girl surpressing a lot of hurt she feels and trying to deny the need to make connections with other people because of what she has suffered.

Salty

Another name which Arya accepts with no fuss. As with most of the others, Salty is nondescript and convenient; it's simply something she is referred to because she came on board at Saltpans and lasts for the passage over the narrow sea, but both the sailors and Arya are cognizant of her faceless/nameless status respectively. Ironically, it is through becoming no one that Arya is granted recognition and deference, and later on will be granted a place to belong:

Some of the crew shunned her, but others gave her gifts - a silver fork, fingerless gloves, a floppy woolen hat patched with leather. One man showed her how to tie sailor's knots. Another poured her thimble cups of fire wine. The friendly ones would tap their chests, repeating their names over and over until Arya said them back, though none ever thought to ask her name.

"Salty" also works well in capturing Arya's mood and outlook on the ship. Devoid of any sweetness so that even the Titan of Braavos would find her an unappetising meal.

The lone wolf

Arya believes she is all that remains of her pack and sees the Seven's gods as having deserted her mother at the Twins. She even considers the old gods to be dead, just like mostly everyone else in her family. It's interesting to examine how Arya's faith or lack thereof is functioning at this point in time. The gods have done her a personal injustice and Arya can hold a grudge.

Despite the fear and uncertainty of coming to a new land with very little possessions or connections, and despite the separation that defines her existence now without a pack, Arya continues to demonstrate a strong and audacious spirit. She may be a lone wolf, but she is a wolf all the same:

Salty is a stupid child, she told herself. I am a wolf and will not be afraid. She patted Needle's hilt for luck and plunged into the shadows, taking the steps two at a time so one one could say she'd been afraid.

We see this reluctance to be viewed as weak or frightened when she is passing through the Titan's legs and Denyo laughs at her for jumping at the noise. Her observation that the size of buildings in Braavos would render her a mouse once again like she was in Harrenhal explains some of what is behind Arya's determined bravado: the deep seated and pervasive fear that she will be rendered powerless like before. Ned's wisdom was that a man could only be brave when he is afraid, but Arya lives by the motto that fear cuts deeper than swords.

The House of Black and White

Arya did not know the any Many-Faced God, but if he answered prayers, he might be the god she sought. Ser Gregor, she thought, Dunsen, Raff the Sweetling, Ser Ilyn, Ser Meryn, Queen Cersei. Only six now.

Arya has been praying for death for a while now, but in the FM organization there is no room for personal vengeance. When she goes to the temple and gives the water to the man whom she believes is merely thirsty, Arya is already behaving as a natural acolyte. It's not the first time she's given water to a man eager for death, incidentally with the Hound, the man she thinks that she should have given the gift of mercy to as well, even if her reasoning is lacking in the dispassionate attitude encouraged by the FM. I found this description - of Arya leaving the Titan's daughter - to be significant in suggesting a predestined fate/supernatural hand in her experiences in Braavos:

The wind tugged at her cloak, insistent as a ghost. It was time she was away.

It recalls of course a similar image when she is at High Heart, a place still sacred to the old gods, and where the Ghost of High Heart meets with the BWB to deliver her prophecies.

For reference, here's the quote in Arya VIII of ASOS:

From up here she could see a storm raging to the north, but High Heart stood above the rain. It wasn't above the wind, though; the gusts were blowing so strongly that it felt like someone was behind her, yanking at her cloak. Only when she turned, no one was there.

But perhaps Martin keeps the most unsettling motifs for the final lines of the chapter, when Arya meets with the Kindly man and attempts to eat the worm in his face, something which she had done due to the harsh necessities of survival when she is travelling through the Riverlands. Now though, physical hunger has been replaced by a need for something else. The answer may reside in the GHH's terrible reaction upon seeing Arya:

"You are cruel to come to my hill, cruel. I gorged on grief at Summerhall, I need none of yours. Begone, from here, dark heart. Begone!"

Foreshadowing/Symbolism Discussion Points:

1. The Titan's Daughter/The Titan of Braavos

2. The gilded figurehead prow of the maiden with a bowl of fruit

3. The gifts she receives from the crew

4. The ebony/weirwood doors of the HoB&W/Temple of the Moonsingers

5. Some of the statues of the gods in the HoB&W:

  • ... a marble woman twelve feet tall. Real tears were trickling from her eyes, to fill the bowl she cradled in her arm.
  • Beyond her was man with a lion's head seated on a throne, carved of ebony.
  • On the other side of the doors, a huge horse of bronze and iron reared up on two great legs.
  • Farther on she could make out a great stone face, a pale infant with a sword, a shaggy black goat the size of an aurochs, a hooded man leaning on a staff. The rest were only looming shapes to her, half-seen through the gloom.

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I love how everybody on the ship makes a point of telling Arya their name - as we know post ADWD not out of friendliness but to ensure that she can't kill them at a later date! :laugh:

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Oh yay I'm excited to hear what everyone has to say on these chapters :)

The star of home. Arya stood at the prow, one hand resting on the gilded figurehead, a maiden with a bowl of fruit. For half a heartbeat she let herself pretend that it was her home ahead.

Arya rests on the prow and dreams of home wit her hand on a gilded maiden holding a bowl of fruit. I feel like there should be something there. A young woman with fruit as the representation for the Titan’s Daughter? Perhaps it’s used to denote some of Arya’s physical growth. She is still a child, but she’s nearing maidenhood in Braavos.

Nevertheless, Arya’s dreams of home are soon squashed by herself. Arya knows she’s not going home and believes there is no place for her to go. We find she initially wanted to find Jon at the Wall, but no amount of arguing could get the ship to go off course from Braavos. However, Arya isn’t entirely upset at the idea of Braavos. Syrio Forel, a great influence and figure of awe and respect for Arya, was from Braavos, and so was Jaqen H’ghar. Still, there’s a sense of isolation as Arya shuns the idea of friends because what had friends ever done for her? Arya has faced a good deal of disappointment and abandonment from her companions in the past.

But there’s conflict with these thoughts as she makes friends on the ship.

Some of the crew shunned her, but others gave her gifts—a silver fork, fingerless gloves, a floppy woolen hat patched with leather. One man showed her how to tie sailor’s knots. Another poured her thimble cups of fire wine.

Indeed, these gifts do mean things do something to Arya as she later refers to some them as her ‘treasures.’ The men on the ship also ask her to remember their names while never asking Arya for her own name. This bit did seem strange to me the first time I read it, but I didn’t think too much on it until I reread AFFC. Now it seems like most of the ship did know that Arya has some connection to the FM because of her Valar Morghulis coin.

In addition to taking on these new acquaintances, Arya has also taken the name of ‘Salty.’ Perhaps she’s feeling sharper and wiser. Either way, this salty name and sea travel continue the water motifs in Arya’s arc.

The Titan of Braavos. Old Nan had told them stories of the Titan back in Winterfell. He was a giant as tall as a mountain, and whenever Braavos stood in danger he would wake with fire in his eyes, his rocky limbs grinding and groaning as he waded out into the sea to smash the enemies. “The Braavosi feed him on the juicy pink flesh of little highborn girls,” Nan would end, and Sansa would give a stupid squeak. But Maester Luwin said the Titan was only a statue, and Old Nan’s stories were only stories.

Well, that’s an interesting tale, Old Nan! This story is a little scary when one thinks of the fact that Old Nan’s tales have had a habit of containing more truth than fiction. Can the Titan awake one day? It does seem like a good deal of ASoIaF’s major story lines are headed to a clash in Braavos in the next book.

More disillusionment follows this memory as she must remind herself that Old Nan and Maester Luwin are dead.

Even if the Titan did eat juicy pink girl flesh, Arya would not fear him. She was a scrawny thing, no proper meal for a giant, and almost eleven, practically a woman grown. And Salty isn’t highborn, either. “Is the Titan the god of Braavos?” she asked. “Or do you have the Seven?”

Arya’s identity conflict is present once again as she begins to see herself as Salty or someone other than Arya Stark. Of course, I do find the part about being ‘practically a woman grown’ amusing and sad. Arya’s only eleven, but she sees herself as being far older than she is. Similarly, Bran also thinks of himself as being nearly a man grown even though he is still very much a child like Arya. Yet it makes sense that these children who have been placed in a lot of danger and situations that many adults would find difficult to navigate would start to view themselves as being more adult than they truly are.

“The Moonsingers led us to this place of refuge, where the dragons of Valyria could not find us,” Denyo said. “Theirs is the greatest temple. We esteem the Father of Waters as well, but his house is built anew whenever he takes his bride. The rest of the gods dwell together on an isle in the center of the city. That is where you will find the… the Many-Faced God.”

The Titan’s eyes seemed brighter now, and farther apart

The moon and water are important parts of Braavos so it seems. I do love how hesitant Denyo is to bring up the Many-Faced God. The boy knows where Arya is to goes before Arya even knows. Yet, the Titan’s eyes seem to perk up as Arya hears of this Many-Faced God. Braavos basically comes to life as Arya nears as if the place was expecting her arrival. Arya even wonders if the Many-Faced God could answer her prayer-hit list. Little does she know…

The Titan does not seem to scare Arya as the ship passes through, but she is awe of his grandness and booming voice. Arya simply refuses to be afraid despite all she has heard of in the past of the Titan of Braavos and Braavos itself (as long as she can clutch Needle tightly).

I will be a mouse again, she thought glumly, the way I was in Harrenhal before I ran away.

Braavos is set up as a large, colorful city as Arya first enters. While she seems intrigued, she is also understandably afraid of being alone in the city, of being powerless they she was in Harrenhal. The city is also treeless, full of sealife, canals, boats, and houses in styles Arya has never seen in Westeros. Along the way, Yorko points out the different religious institutions along Braavos. I believe that a similar sequence happens in The Ugly Little Girl. Arya never knew there were so many gods, and that has to be one of her first lessons on this trip. What I find interesting is how very naive Arya still is. Yes, she’s been through a lot of trauma and seen things a person, let alone a child, should never have to witness, and she still has a lot to learn in Braavos. Her eyes open up to a world beyond what she ever dreamt of. Arya Underfoot always wanted adventure, and here she will get just that.

As the swish of oars faded, she could almost hear the beating of her heart. Suddenly she was somewhere else… back in Harrenhal with Gendry, maybe, or with the Hound in the woods along the Trident. Salty is a stupid child, she told herself. I am a wolf, and will not be afraid. 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.

Oh, but how afraid she so clearly is. I gotta admire her moxie. Not surprisingly Arya harks back to her wolf ego in times in this moment of fear and doubt. She thinks of being with Gendry in Harrenhal and of being with Sandor along the trident, the two people she had been closest to since leaving King’s Landing. But Arya is not with them any longer. She is completely alone and walks two steps at a time so no one, but mostly Arya herself, could ever say she’d been afraid.

At the top she found a set of carved wooden doors twelve feet high. The left-hand door was made of weirwood pale as bone, the right of gleaming ebony. In their center was a carved moon face; ebony on the weirwood side, weirwood on the ebony. The look of it reminded her somehow of the heart tree in the godswood at Winterfell. The doors are watching me, she thought.

More moon imagery at the HoB&W’s door. The weirwood seems to suggest some sort of connection to the Old Gods.

Needle was in her hand, though she did not remember drawing it.

Needle has apparently become something akin to a safety blanket for Arya. She just naturally grabs for the weapon when she’s afraid.

She could smell the candles. The scent was unfamiliar, and she put it down to some queer incense, but as she got deeper into the temple, they seemed to smell of snow and pine needles and hot stew. Good smells, Arya told herself, and felt a little braver. Brave enough to slip Needle back into its sheath.

The scents of pine needles and snow seem unusual for a temple in Braavos. There must be some sort of magic with the candles that calms those seeking solace at the temple. The scents of something comforting to the individual must make them braver. Arya certainly feels braver at the smells that are familiar to her home in the North.

The HoBaW is also filled with water that can kill. Arya learns this as she helps a man seeking refuge in the house by giving him water. This would be another time that Arya has given a dying man his last water, last taste of life.

Shortly after that man’s death, Arya meets the Waif and the KM. She is creeped out, startled, and intrigued by the pair. However, Arya is not so easily frightened, and she kisses his grotesque face before trying to eat a worm from the skull.

“Are you hungry, child?”

Yes, she thought, but not for food.

One of my favorite Arya quotes. I have to post it.

The House of Black and White does seem to be some symbolic underworld. Arya's purpose there has yet to be truly unfolded imo, but I'm curious to see where her story goes.

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More later as I have some kid issues, but some food for thought: I often see here on the forum that Arya isn't afraid, but we see here on several occasions that she is but that she does what she can to cope with it, whether it is relying on Needle, or on just facing her fears head on. One of her prime motivations for not giving in to fear also seems to be that she doesn't want to become the "mouse" at Harrenhal again and suffer from that helplessness.

The Weirwood door that "saw" Arya is interesting since Sansa is also faced with a somewhat Weirwood door in the Eyrie. (I also believe Dany saw a Weirwood door at the HotU?). Both these weirwood doors lead to death in one way or another, or the "freedom" of not living anymore, you might say. :)

I agree with fantasmas that the House of Black and White definitely is a sort of underworld and is strongly associated with death and rebirth. Interestingly I wonder how this ties to all the little hints of the moon and water in Arya's chapters, normally two things strongly associated with womanhood. We have the Moonsingers talked about in this chapter, and from Val we learn that they are involved in birthing and the tasks of midwives, of bringing new life into the world, not death.

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... a marble woman twelve feet tall. Real tears were trickling from her eyes, to fill the bowl she cradled in her arm.

This is somewhat similar to the figure of the maiden on the Titan's Daughter, but this stature in the HoBaW is a woman, not a maid. Maybe there's something revealing in that change.

I'm also reminded of this bit from a Cat chapter in AGoT.

Pale white mists rose off Alyssa’s Tears, where the ghost waters plunged over the shoulder of the mountain to begin their long tumble down the face of the Giant’s Lance. Catelyn could feel the faint touch of spray on her face.

Alyssa Arryn had seen her husband, her brothers, and all her children slain, and yet in life she had never shed a tear. So in death, the gods had decreed that she would know no rest until her weeping watered the black earth of the Vale, where the men she had loved were buried. Alyssa had been dead six thousand years now, and still no drop of the torrent had ever reached the valley floor far below. Catelyn wondered how large a waterfall her own tears would make when she died.

Stoneheart and Arya are similiar in their desire for revenge, consuming as it may be. I've wondered before if they're supposed to be counterparts of sorts. The differences being that Arya is still human with conflicting thoughts, but Stoneheart is undead and her motives seem to be unwavering.

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...The scents of pine needles and snow seems unusual for a temple in Braavos. There must be some sort of magic with the candles that calms those seeking solace at the temple. The scents of something comforting to the individual must make them braver. Arya certainly feels braver at the smells that are familiar to her home in the North...

The candle are analogous with the shade of the evening that daenerys drinks or the alleged Jojen paste that Bran wolfs down - apparently generic yet the consumer experiences something highly specific to them - in short it is magic. Subtle and unobtrusive this is a sign that magic is in operation.

I think the 'water' is actually poison, or more precisely as we find out is poisoned. People come to the temple to die or arrange the deaths of others. The place were the young man was resting was euthanasia central.

...The Weirwood door that "saw" Arya is interesting since Sansa is also faced with a somewhat Weirwood door in the Eyrie. (I also believe Dany saw a Weirwood door at the HotU?). Both these weirwood doors lead to death in one way or another, or the "freedom" of not living anymore, you might say...

The weirwood door at the house of the undying is to the penultimate room with the false undying in it, the real undying are behind an ordinary wooden door - in that case the weirwood functions as an (illusory) indicator of richness and importance.

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I think the 'water' is actually poison, or more precisely as we find out is poisoned. People come to the temple to die or arrange the deaths of others. The place were the young man was resting was euthanasia central.

It's chilling to think that Arya might have taken a drink from that pool because she was thirsty, not realising what it was.

Here's a bit that's worth noting:

shore. 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. Denyo had taken her up to the crow's nest once, and she hadn't been afraid at all, though the deck had seemed a tiny thing below her. I can do sums too, and keep a cabin neat.

But the galleas had no need of a second boy. 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. "Ashore," she said, though ashore meant only strangers.

It's interesting to contrast this with later chapters where the FM offer Arya the chance to have a normal life (whether as a street urchin, goodwife or a high class courtesan) and she turns it down. She's tempted at this point because the way ahead isn't clear - she doesn't want to give up the familiar ship for the vast and frightening city. Working as a ship's boy (girl?) would offer friends and adventure but not revenge. One can't help thinking of Dareon's fatal encounter with the happy street urchin Cat though, so maybe it wouldn't have lasted.

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Stoneheart and Arya are similiar in their desire for revenge, consuming as it may be. I've wondered before if they're supposed to be counterparts of sorts. The differences being that Arya is still human with conflicting thoughts, but Stoneheart is undead and her motives seem to be unwavering.

I think that Lady Stoneheart and Arya's arcs are deliberate mirrors, beginning with this line of Arya's in Storm: ‘She could feel the hole inside her every morning when she woke... It was a hollow place, an emptiness where her heart had been’. She has similar lines later in Feast, using the same imagery of heartlessness or dark-heartedness. Both characters now seek vengeance but seem almost beyond emotional gratification or satisfaction when they get it; it only serves to make them 'hungrier' and, by implication, emptier, as Arya's final line in this chapter indicates. As you suggest, though, there is still the possibility for Arya to break this cycle, although at the moment she seems to be going deeper into it as she meets the FM and death and killing is becoming even more meaningless.

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I find Braavos totally fascinating, so I 'll start with a brief Introduction to the city of Braavos

The first impression for the newcomer is the sight of an intimidating statue that serves a double purpose: as a lighthouse, it guides the ships home to the safety of the harbor; as a defensive structure, it threatens and fights, if necessary, the intruders.

The Titan of Braavos is directly inspired by the Colossus of Rhodes. The Colossus was a huge statue of the Titan Helios (Sun), the protector god of the city. Medieval imagination depicted the statue with one foot on either side of the harbor mouth with ships passing under it. It is suggested that he carried a torch on the one hand, serving as a lighthouse.

The statue was built to celebrate a victory that prevented a massive invasion. It’s also interesting that much of the iron and bronze used to build the statue was reforged from the various weapons the defeated army left behind.

The Colossus is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, just like Titan is one of the nine “Wonders Made by Man”.

Past the Titan we get a first view of the Venice of Essos. The analogy is made clear from the very beginning, as the first building described is the Arsenal. The parallels are numerous, but there is also a hint of Amsterdam, as well:

Beyond the harbor she glimpsed streets of grey stone houses, built so close they leaned one upon the other. To Arya’s eyes they were queer-looking, four and five stories tall and very skinny, with sharp-peaked tile roofs like pointed hats.
This kind of architecture is distinctive of Amsterdam, with a buildings’s real estate value depending on its access to the canal. Another Dutch parallel is the function of a proto-capitalistic institution like the Iron Bank that reminds of the Dutch East India Company.

Like Braavos, both real world cities were the great naval powers of their eras and renowned for their religious tolerance, providing a safe place for refugees.

There is also a reference to Athens, the great naval power of the ancient world:

“Our walls are made of wood and painted purple,” he told her. “Our galleys are our walls. We need no other.”

In 480 BC, when Xerxes of Persia, returned to finish the job of conquering the Greeks in which his father had failed, the Athenians consulted the Delphi Oracle for advice. They were told that "a wall of wood alone shall be uncaptured, a boon to you and your children."

Themistocles, a leader figure of Athens (who was already envisioning to turn Athens into a naval power), used the oracle to argue that the wall of wood referred to the navy and persuaded the Athenians to pursue their policy of using wealth from their Attic silver mines at Laurium to continue building their fleet. The Persians were defeated and Athens became the greatest naval power of its era.

Braavos also has an aqueduct that is based on the architecture of the famed Roman constructions. All these references to various cities of different eras on the peak of their power seem to point that Braavos is in / around its golden age.

... and I 'll finish with an optimistic thought of possible Forshadowing in the Titan

Given that the Titan’s Daughter can be viewed as a reference to Sansa, the Titan himself is a symbol of her “father”. This depiction makes Old Nan’s story sound very, very fearsome and unsettling. The "juicy" sister had a good reason to “give a stupid squeak”, it seems.

Wind and wave had the Titan’s Daughter hard in hand now, driving her swiftly toward the channel. Her double bank of oars stroked smoothly, lashing the sea to white foam as the Titan’s shadow fell upon them. For a moment it seemed as though they must surely smash up against the stones beneath his legs.

But then,

More arrow slits dotted the insides of those great stone thighs, and when Arya craned her neck around to watch the crow’s nest slip through with a good ten yards to spare, she spied murder holes beneath the Titan’s armored skirts, and pale faces staring down at them from behind the iron bars.

And then they were past.

I think I can feel safe about Sansa’s future… It’s crazy how many Sansa references are hidden in Arya’s chapters.

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I greatly enjoyed all your posts on the first Arya's chapter in fftc. Great job!

@ShadowCatRivers - I like how you connected the Old Nan's story about the Great Titan of Bravos to Sansa.

Something I only noticed on this reread:

“I will be a mouse again, she thought glumly, the way I was in Harrenhal before I ran away”

Is this possibly foreshadowing that she will run away again?

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@Where is Rickon, thanks. Giving to the Titan and the highborn girl the faces of Littlefinger and Sansa, the story takes a very creepy meaning.

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@Where is Rickon, thanks. Giving to the Titan and the highborn girl the faces of Littlefinger and Sansa, the story takes a very creepy meaning.

The slipping under his legs may mean she slips away in a manner that goes under his radar. Brashcandy had laid out a theory I think on how Sansa can use lowborn people below littlefinger's "radar", like Lothor Brune and Mya Stone to slip out of his grasp.

If the Titan in this chapter is indeed foreshadowing then it looks like that may come to pass in some form.

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