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"Sweetness" as a Negative in ASOIAF, The Blue Flower in the Wall of Ice, and Dany's Future

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This subject came up in the Dany/Jon threads since danm_99 raised the excellent point that "sweetness" has negative associations in Dany's arc and in general, but I think it deserves its own thread. danm_99 tracked down most of the sweetness quotes, and I think WeirwoodTreeHugger chimed in as well. Dr. Pepper also made some good points as well.

Her silver was trotting through the grass, to a darkling stream beneath a sea of stars. A corpse stood at the prow of a ship, eyes bright on his dead face, gray lips smiling sadly. A blue flower grew from a chink in a wall of ice, and filled the air with sweetness...mother of dragons...bride of death...

Unlike the somewhat ominous "darkling stream" (and I can't help but think of "darkling plain," a phrase from a poem GRRM riffs off of in A Song for Lya to discuss the loneliness of human existence and a cold, vast, empty eternity) and corpse imagery for the other elements of the "bride of death" part of the vision, the blue flower "filling the air with sweetness" seems like a positive image. Sweetness! How could that be a bad thing, right?

In ASOIAF, though, "sweetness" and "sweet" are very strongly linked with treachery and deceit (covering up foulness), poison, sinister people, and death, and this is especially true of Dany's arc.

It's useful to look at the many, many instances where "sweet" arises in a context associated with death, poison, deceit, treachery, covering foul smells, or in another negative context.

"A foul, sweet smell rose from the wound..." (Drogo's death)

"There was a smell of death about that room; a heavy smell, sweet and foul, clinging."

"[ser Willem] never left his bed, though, and the smell of sickness clung to him day and night, a hot, moist, sickly sweet odour."

"If you would savour the sweet taste of the fruit, you must water the tree." "This tree has been watered with blood."

Sweetrobin

Raff the Sweetling

Sweets

Cersei ("My sweet sister")

"The smell of [Jorah Mormont's] sweat was an earthy answer to the sweet perfumes that drenched the Astapori."

"The wizards were beckoning her with voices sweeter than song. She ran from them, Drogon flying back down to her."

"Beware the perfumed seneschal."

"'The Qartheen themselves seem sweet enough to my nose.' 'Sweet smells are sometimes used to cover foul ones.'"

"'Sweetness cloys. Tart fruit and tart women give life its savour.' Xaro took another bite, chewed, and swallowed."

"'This is a sweet city,' Quentyn agreed. Sweet enough to rot your teeth."

“If Daenerys is no more than a sweet young girl, the Iron Throne will cut her into sweet young pieces.”

Dany is addressed as "sweet queen" by untrustworthy people.

The smile that Lord Janos Slynt smiled then had all the sweetness of rancid butter.

Marillion has a "sweet" tenor voice.

"Ser Gregor does look lonely," said Tyene in her sweet septa's voice.

Joffrey sings for Sansa as they ride together in AGOT, "his voice high and sweet and pure."

Joffrey tells Sansa "Your sweet words have moved me."

Cersei thanked Sansa sweetly for confessing her father's plans in AGOT.

Margaery smiled sweetly at the PW feast.

"Lord Ramsay is a...a sweet man."

For the sweet each guest was served a skull of spun sugar. When the crust was broken, they found sweet custard inside.

"Said sweetly" or similar looks like it could often be interpreted as "said with elaborately false good cheer" or "lied": "You speak sweetly, Xaro, but underneath your words I hear another no."

Peaches, an extremely sweet fruit, seem to be associated with death in ASOIAF (the equivalent of oranges from The Godfather)

Renly and the peach, of course

Bran, shortly before happening upon Cersei and Jaime in AGOT: "He liked the deep, sweet ache it left in the muscles afterward. He liked the way the air tasted way up high, sweet and cold as a winter peach."

"The Dornishman's Wife," a song about a man who has an affair with the Dornishman's wife and is killed by her husband as a result, tells us that the Dornishman's wife "would sing as she bathed / in a voice that was sweet as a peach."

Which ties in interestingly to this bit with Jorah fetching Dany a sweet peach from the "western wall":

"'I've brought you a peach,' Ser Jorah said, kneeling. It was so small she could hide it in her palm, and overripe too, but when she took the first bite, the flesh was so sweet she almost cried. She ate it slowly, savouring every mouthful, while Ser Jorah told her of the tree it had been plucked from, in a garden near the western wall."

Foreshadowing, maybe?

Poison and sweetness are linked several times by GRRM, especially in Dany's arc:

"The tears of Lys, they call it. A rare and costly thing, clear and sweet as water..."

The poisoned wine offered to Dany in AGOT is sweet (a "sweet red," specifically).

The honeyed locusts meant for Dany were sweet and were poisoned.

Sweetsleep is very sweet. "It's the gentlest of poisons (...) Here, you can smell the sweetness."

"Love is poison. A sweet poison, yes, but it will kill you all the same."

"A poisonous sweetness crept into Cersei's tone."

"...[Cersei] said with poisonous sweetness."

"A sweet offer...yet sweets can be poisoned."

"A sweet child, Ser Kevan had said, yet many a poison was sweet as well."

"...to fill Lord Rickard's ears with poisoned words as sweet as honey."

Love, poison, death, and sweetness also seem to be connected a few times:

"Love is sweet, dearest Ned" (Lyanna)

"Love is madness, and lust is poison" (Tyrion)

"Love is poison. A sweet poison, yes, but it will kill you all the same."

"Her love for Daario is poison. A slower poison than the [honeyed] locusts, but in the end as deadly." (Barristan in ADWD, about Dany)

And on another note, we have Barristan reflecting on the destructive nature of Dany's romantic inclinations:

"...the girl in her still yearned for poetry, passion, and laughter. She wants fire, and Dorne sent her mud. You could make a poultice out of mud to cool a fever. You could plant seeds in mud and grow a crop to feed your children. Mud would nourish you, where fire would only consume you, but fools and children and young girls would choose fire every time."

So, going back to the blue flower in Dany's vision, it seems fairly clear that the "blue flower" which is filling the air with sweetness, growing from a chink in an ice wall seems to reference Jon. In light of the negative associations that "sweetness" seems to have, what could this mean for Jon's significance to Dany?

It could be that Jon is the death of Dany. Maybe it's Jon vs. Dany in the end as many have speculated, in which case he might cause her death directly (by killing her).

Another possibility is that Dany falls in love with Jon, and that love kills her: either she dies giving birth to his child (making Dany Lyanna 2.0 and tying in with the blue rose imagery), or she commits some fatal blunder due to her love for Jon.

Or maybe Dany forms some sort of alliance with Jon--maybe not romantic, who knows--and Jon dies. The "sweetness" filling the air is associated with his death, not Dany's.

As sweetness is also associated with treachery and deceit in Dany's arc, maybe Jon betrays her in some fundamental way. Doesn't seem in character for Jon, but who knows what will happen over the next two books?

Thoughts?

Edited to add in quotes gathered from Queen Alysanne and Fire Eater.

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Or maybe the sweetness is that after conquering half the known world and joining with the North through a political marriage, Dany discovers that her husband has a better claim to the Iron Throne and Dany will never rule Westeros like she envisioned.

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I hadn't thought of it before but Danm's list is pretty compelling. I especially like it because it takes a common interpretation of the blue rose on the Wall — that Jon and Dany will get married and/or fall in lurve — and completely obliterates it. The angsty wailing of a million fangirls (and fanboys) is music to my ears if this turns out to be the case. B)

It's also, let's face it, totally something GRRM would do. I meant what I said in the other thread, that trying to interpret the House of the Undying prophecies with too much certainty is a fool's errand.

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This is very interesting and possible but it won't be popular since everyone loves Jon. As long as the connotations aren't geared towards Jon himself being treacherous and what not then I can get behind this because he will be a central figure in a situation where death and undeath is at the forefront.

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I was just collecting mentions of sweet. I was getting bored and crazy eyed so I'm glad I can stop now. :D

One sweet mention I found interesting. Viserys always called Dany "sweet sister" but Dany never called him sweet brother...until she started becoming her own person and learning to exist without him. The first mention was when she sent her slave to have Viserys come meet her for dinner, he comes in huffing and puffing and she's all "sweet brother, I'd never tell you what to do". Viserys last words were "sweet sister".

Another interesting subject for sweetness is Littlefinger. He uses it a lot. There's that oft recited line, "life is not a song, sweetling." He calls Sansa sweetling from when he meets her and is still calling her that when she's Alayne. Littlfinger has sweet vocab all around him. He describes the Valryian dagger Cat brings as "a sweet piece of steel" with "sweet balance", and in light of what we are fleshing out about sweet nothings, I find that part very interesting.

Ned encounters a lot of sweet in KL. There's a lot of stuff with Pycelle, who offers him lots of sweet drinks. Sometimes they are so sweet they make Ned nearly gag.

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I said once, that sweetness could refer to Jon being the hope for Westeros; should Dany become the antagonist.

It could mean, any number of things.

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This is a great find, but it actually makes me pretty nervous.

She had not thought of Jon in ages. He was only her half brother, but still... with Robb and Bran and Rickon dead, Jon Snow was the only brother that remained to her. I am a bastard too now, just like him. Oh, it would be so sweet to see him once again. But of course that could never be. Alayne Stone had no brothers, baseborn or otherwise.

I really don't want Jon and Sansa to become rivals, though maybe this just means that they will meet again at a bad time that should be sweet, but isn't. Like the eve of the final battle or something.

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I said once, that sweetness could refer to Jon being the hope for Westeros; should Dany become the antagonist.

It could mean, any number of things.

If this is true it also opens a door for Jon to become an antagonist aswell, this is an interesting theory on "sweetness".

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If this is true it also opens a door for Jon to become an antagonist aswell, this is an interesting theory on "sweetness".

Indeed, it does.

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This is very interesting and possible but it won't be popular since everyone loves Jon. As long as the connotations aren't geared towards Jon himself being treacherous and what not then I can get behind this because he will be a central figure in a situation where death and undeath is at the forefront.

We also talked about whether it means that Jon would be objectively treacherous or only be a source of conflict from Dany's point of view, considering that it was a vision that she saw.

If this is true it also opens a door for Jon to become an antagonist aswell, this is an interesting theory on "sweetness".

An antagonist for Dany, perhaps. Which, frankly, I'm fine with.

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This is my new favorite post.

It's not only chock full of textual examples, but those examples lead to a conclusion that takes down what I consider in the deepest recesses of my soul to be the most heinous outcome of this series ever... Jon/Dany.

I don't even care if it means Jon will die from Dany killing him or vice versa, or if it means Dance of the Dragons 2.0 with the two of them plus (f)Aegon. The two of them fighting is far more interesting than the two of them falling in love like this is some Disney story. So I really, really hope it's not your suggested outcome where they fall in love and Dany dies from having his baby. That, too, is barf-inducing, because it reduces her to being nothing more than a baby carrier, her worth summed up by a child that may or may not kill her.

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This is a great find, but it actually makes me pretty nervous.

I really don't want Jon and Sansa to become rivals, though maybe this just means that they will meet again at a bad time that should be sweet, but isn't. Like the eve of the final battle or something.

One thing I've noticed in collecting these sweet mentions is that the Starks routinely refer to or describe one another as sweet. My notes are sort of scattered all over the place right now so I'm not seeing a pattern so far, but none of these sweet mentions seem to foreshadow rivalry or anything like that.

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One thing I've noticed in collecting these sweet mentions is that the Starks routinely refer to or describe one another as sweet. My notes are sort of scattered all over the place right now so I'm not seeing a pattern so far, but none of these sweet mentions seem to foreshadow rivalry or anything like that.

Good. I could manage anything else but the Starks fighting amongst themselves. (In a deadly way, I mean).

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Yea possibly for Dany, as someone pointed out, if she finds out Jon is the rightful heir.

I really hate to bring up the show foreshadowing, but she did see "snow" on the throne. This would not necessarily be something she was willing to tolerate, even if he is her nephew.

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This is a great find, but it actually makes me pretty nervous.

I really don't want Jon and Sansa to become rivals, though maybe this just means that they will meet again at a bad time that should be sweet, but isn't. Like the eve of the final battle or something.

There is a possibility of them becoming rivals (Even though I don't want it to happen)

If for example Robb's will resurfaces and Jon is made KotN, Sansa being a student in the game wont be happy about that.

And Sansa and Jon's relationship isn't that strong compared to Jon and his other siblings.

This is all crackpot, whther or not it happens is up to GRRM.

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One sweet mention I found interesting. Viserys always called Dany "sweet sister" but Dany never called him sweet brother...until she started becoming her own person and learning to exist without him. The first mention was when she sent her slave to have Viserys come meet her for dinner, he comes in huffing and puffing and she's all "sweet brother, I'd never tell you what to do". Viserys last words were "sweet sister".

That's true. Speaking of negative associations, Ned calls Sansa "Sweet one" in that fateful conversation before she goes to Cersei. Around the same time, Arya also meekly says to Ned that she asks her "sweet sister's" forgiveness (or similar). Cersei also calls Sansa "sweet" a number of times around that time in AGOT.

Another interesting subject for sweetness is Littlefinger. He uses it a lot. There's that oft recited line, "life is not a song, sweetling." He calls Sansa sweetling from when he meets her and is still calling her that when she's Alayne. Littlfinger has sweet vocab all around him. He describes the Valryian dagger Cat brings as "a sweet piece of steel" with "sweet balance", and in light of what we are fleshing out about sweet nothings, I find that part very interesting.

Good point. I think Littlefinger also said in ACOK that Sansa brought nothing to the match with Joffrey except her body, "sweet as that may be" (insert heaving noises here).

Ned encounters a lot of sweet in KL. There's a lot of stuff with Pycelle, who offers him lots of sweet drinks. Sometimes they are so sweet they make Ned nearly gag.

Also a good point.

Maybe we should have a running list of all the times "sweetling" is used. It in of itself isn't a gross word (and seems to be used between parents and children: Ned/Arya, Hoster/Catelyn, Dany/Viserion, Alerie/Margaery, Mace/Margaery, etc.), but it seems to be used by a lot of gross people:

Walder, about Roslin

Littlefinger, to Sansa (a lot) and to Lysa

Dontos, to Sansa (a fair bit)

Cersei, to Sansa (a fair bit)

Tyrion, to Shae (a lot and most notably "That was the worst thing you could have said, sweetling"), to Dancy, and to the washerwoman

Theon, to the captain's daughter

Jaime, to Brienne (sarcastically)

Kettleblack, to Sansa

Nurse, of Penny

Victarion commenting of the women he's burning that the "cries of the seven sweetlings" are changed to "joyous song"

Dany uses "sweetling" for her female servants, as well.

So I really, really hope it's not your suggested outcome where they fall in love and Dany dies from having his baby. That, too, is barf-inducing, because it reduces her to being nothing more than a baby carrier, her worth summed up by a child that may or may not kill her.

It's not just the sweetness = death associations, it's the ties between love, sweetness, poison and death. For Dany, especially, Barristan has drawn a pretty clear link between her romantic inclinations and death: "Her love for Daario is poison" and "She wants fire (...) fire would only consume (...) young girls would choose fire every time."

So adding that together, it seems to kind of hint at Dany repeating her mistake with Daario and falling in love with disastrous consquences and Dany's love killing her in some way, and one way that could happen is through childbirth. When you throw in the prophecy about Dany bearing a living child, the theme of the younger generation reliving the fates of the older generation, Dany's vision of Lyanna's blue rose, then it could point to Dany dying in childbirth as a result of a doomed love affair, just as Lyanna did before her.

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I don't even care if it means Jon will die from Dany killing him or vice versa, or if it means Dance of the Dragons 2.0 with the two of them plus (f)Aegon. The two of them fighting is far more interesting than the two of them falling in love like this is some Disney story. So I really, really hope it's not your suggested outcome where they fall in love and Dany dies from having his baby. That, too, is barf-inducing, because it reduces her to being nothing more than a baby carrier, her worth summed up by a child that may or may not kill her.

You know, I have been thinking about this for a bit now. We all seem to think that the Dance 2.0 will be Dany vs. Aegon, but what if Aegon is only a footnote before the real Dance begins?

Dany vs. Jon.

Oh, how sweet that would be.

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