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Chapter-by-chapter analysis of A Song of Ice and Fire. Essays about my favorites, Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth, and others as the mood strikes me!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Was it your hand they hacked off in Harrenhal, or your manhood? - A Storm of Swords, Chapter 72 (Jaime IX)

These words from Cersei to Jaime, spoken in anger when he refuses have sex with her in the White Sword Tower, or murder Tyrion on her behalf, are an echo of Jaime’s own thoughts after his maiming, and I would argue that they (and the many other times - especially in A Feast for Crows - that Cersei equates Jaime’s loss of his hand to his loss of masculinity) are equally as important in the deterioration of the twins’ relationship as Jaime’s mantra of sexual jealousy (Lancel and Osmond and Moonboy) and Cersei’s increasing paranoia about anyone who disagrees with her.

Westeros, of course, is a place filled with what some people call “toxic masculinity” (I prefer to call it “hegemonic masculinity” mostly because I really like Gramsci). Whatever you want to call it, this is a value system that creates an ideal of masculinity defined by certain characteristics like violence and aggression, emotional restraint/repression, physical courage and toughness, risk-taking/thrill seeking, competitiveness with other men, and a narrowly defined version of “success.” (As we see with Sam, or Tyrion, being less than physically perfect, being afraid of violence or aggression, caring more about books, etc., are all things that make you less than a man.)

When Jaime is maimed, he completely buys into the idea of hegemonic masculinity. Let them kill me, so long as I die fighting. Jaime attempts to give himself that “good” death, by fighting Hoat’s men with his left hand, a suicidal move if they actually intended to kill him. And when that fails, he gives up, willing himself to die. Without his hand, without his sword, he sees himself as no longer a man, no longer a person (why would the stars want to look down on such as me?)

And at that moment, Brienne, whose very existence challenges the concept of hegemonic masculinity (more on that later), gives Jaime a different path, a new way of looking at the world. She does it very simply - with two words: Jaime and craven.

Brienne calls Jaime by his name for the very first time right at this juncture, when he’s decided that there is no value to his life beyond his skill with a sword, and therefore he should just die. Names are important (”you have to know your name” from a different storyline, Reek doesn’t become Theon again until he rescues the false Arya, the real Jeyne), and here, Brienne is showing us (and Jaime) that she sees him as an individual, a person, not just “the Kingslayer/oathbreaker” or “Jaime Lannister, Tywin’s son, or a Lion of the Rock or any of the other shells that Jaime has built up and hidden behind all of these years. Brienne has experienced Jaime’s physicality in a very concrete way (she’s cleaned him up when he vomited after the Brave Companions gave him horsepiss to drink; she’s cleaned him when he soiled himself) and she is seeing him as a human being in pain, not as the embodiment of a role (warrior, knight, enactor of masculinity) - and this touches Jaime (who has just wondered what worth he has as a person) enough that he keeps listening.

And then Brienne asks him if he’s so craven that he can’t imagine living without his sword hand. That, of course, is exactly the problem that faces Jaime; he cannot imagine such a life.

In asking this question, Brienne is challenging another aspect of hegemonic masculinity, the idea that physical courage is the highest attainment, a man must be physically brave or not be a man (this is something Jon and the other NW boys think about Sam when they first meet him, because Sam challenges all those ideas of masculinity, but Jon does reflect that it must take a lot of courage for Sam to admit that he’s a coward.) Jaime has plenty of physical courage; that has never been in doubt. But Brienne’s words make him wonder whether he has any other kind of courage (because it will take courage for Jaime to go forward as a cripple, knowing exactly how a cripple is valued in Westeros; that is not only what Jaime’s brother has experienced his entire life, but exactly what he personally thought when he crippled Bran, when he told Tyrion that it was better to have a good clean death than to live as a cripple).) Jaime makes a choice here, to listen to Brienne, to live and go on and learn how to live as someone who no longer measures up to the idealized masculinity of Westeros. (This, by the way, is why I straight-up hate that Show!Brienne asks Jaime if he’s a “bloody woman” for “whining and crying” about losing his hand. That simply reinforces that Real Men Don’t Cry and only women are whiny and weepy and … just NO!)

Brienne’s challenge to Jaime to live, and to find other ways to be courageous, of course has an almost immediate payoff for her personally, (though that is not in the least why she says what she says). A Lannister always pays his debts. Jaime pays his debt to Brienne by saving her from rape and from death and to do so, he has to figure out how to protect her without a sword or a swordhand. The first time, he uses his wits (calling out “sapphires”) to save her from rape; then he uses his maimed and blemished body as Brienne’s shield (the body that Brienne will later remember as simultaneously godlike and corpselike, beautiful and monstrous.) It’s not a coincidence that Jaime’s most heroic moment in the series (so far) is a subversion of all of those stories where knights save maidens from monsters: Jaime saves Brienne from the bear by placing his (Lannister, and therefore precious to his father) body in front of hers, because he can’t defend her any other way.

Book!Brienne challenges hegemonic masculinity in multiple ways (she is physically tough and brave, but she also values songs and stories - a characteristic she shares with the very feminine Sansa Stark; she is skilled with a sword, but she is also gentle and nurturing when she cares for Jaime after his maiming) and that seems to make her very existence an affront to men like Randyll Tarly (perhaps the epitome of a “man’s man” and an all around nasty but of goods.) Of course we meet Wildling women and of course the Mormont ladies in the North, and to some extent, Asha Greyjoy (though she is also much more conventionally attractive and sexy than Brienne) who also fight AND do feminine things (alas, Dacey Mormont in her dress!) but they are denizens of the periphery of Westeros (beyond the Wall; Bear Island; the Iron Islands), rather than its heartlands, which are, not coincidentally, the heartlands of the chivalric system and its idealization of specific masculine and feminine roles.

I would argue as well that Jaime is more receptive to Brienne’s message because he is a lot less sexist than many of the other men in Westeros, by virtue of his lifelong connection to Cersei, whom he sees for a long time as his other self. If I were a woman, I’d be Cersei, is what Book!Jaime thinks (as opposed to the show’s “I’m not a woman, thank the Gods!” which is quite a different viewpoint!!) But his journey with Brienne, even before he loses his hand, actually shows us a Jaime who’s not particularly hung up on gender roles. Oh, sure, he says some nasty things about Brienne’s appearance (and thinks even more of them, though he also thinks early on that her eyes are “pretty and calm”) but he is also cognizant right from the beginning of her determination (the incident with Robin Ryger), her shrewd read of a situation (at the inn), and her strength and skill (the duel). He comes to respect both Brienne’s traditionally masculine attributes and her feminine ones (in this light, she could almost be a beauty; in this light, she could almost be a knight), and by the climax of their journey, in the bear pit, I would argue that he really sees her as an equal. He is perfectly fine with letting her save herself (in fact, he believes she can vanquish the bear, no problem, until he realizes that she’s essentially armed with a wooden stick, which is when he does what he can to help her.)

When they return to King’s Landing, Jaime vouches for Brienne’s honor to Loras without a second thought, even though … well, it’s a bit revolutionary to have a maiden’s honor NOT be about her virginity, but about the fact that she’s telling the truth about not killing Renly. It’s almost as though Jaime sees Brienne as a person (in the way that she saw him as a person) rather than as a flagrant breaking of gender norms!

And then he gives her his sword, the sword his father gave him, in effect ignoring the fact that Jaime isn’t a “man” by Westerosi standards any more, and there are countless layers of metaphor here, besides the very obvious sexual one. For one thing, he is giving over his role as the knight in the story to Brienne; he names the sword Oathkeeper FOR HER and she later thinks that it’s a sword fit for a hero (which she is, but bless her, she just doesn’t see that about herself.) For another, it’s a very Lannister- looking sword, so he’s also giving the true knight *his* favor (in a reversal of all the narratives of chivalric tourneys, where the lady gives the knight her favor). And lastly, he gives Brienne the sword and a quest not just for Sansa Stark but for Jaime’s own “last chance for honor ; - all three things, sword, quest and honor explicitly tied into hegemonic masculinity; all three things entrusted to a woman. (And lest anyone think I am saying that Jaime sees Brienne as brother-in-arms or whatever, I'm not. This is the culmination of a scene in which Jaime admires the fit and color of her gown, and thinks that it brings out the blue of her astonishing eyes.) Just as in his dream, he sees her both as a woman and a knight; he doesn’t think the one precludes the other, or that Brienne can't be a hero. And Brienne … Brienne turns right around with a compliment to him, rejecting some of her earliest words to him about soiling his white cloak by telling him in this scene that his cloak looks good on him. That he is suited to wear honor and vows and all the knightly things she admires (and that he knows she admires) right after Cersei has explicitly told him that he isn’t a man any more.

In short, Jaime’s road from Riverrun to Pennytree is filled with this push and pull of what it means to be a man and a quest for identity, and Brienne and Cersei are part of that. By the end of A Storm of Swords, when he writes in the White Book about Brienne's returning him to King's Landing, he has fully accepted her as a knight. He spends A Feast for Crows losing Cersei as his ideal of womanhood, and during his one all-too-brief chapter in A Dance with Dragons, he says that he looks for "innocence" in a woman - we will find out in The Winds of Winter whether Jaime sees Brienne not just as a knight, and as an "innocent", but as a woman whom he can love. I think everything in this storyline leads towards that, towards Jaime's acceptance of his own limitations, and his ability to reshape himself to be a man who can love and respect Brienne, but we shall see!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

All of it came pouring out of Brienne then, like black blood from a wound: the betrayals and betrothals, Red Ronnet and his rose, Lord Renly dancing with her, the wager for her maidenhead, the bitter tears she shed the night her king wed Margaery Tyrell, the melee at Bitterbridge, the rainbow cloak the the had been so proud of, the shadow in the king's pavilion, Renly dying in her arms, Riverrun and Lady Catelyn, the voyage down the Trident, dueling Jaime in the woods, the Bloody Mummers, Jaime crying "Sapphires", Jaime in the tub at Harrenhal with steam rising from his body, the taste of Vargo Hoat's blood when she bit down on his ear, the bear pit, Jaime leaping down onto the sand, the long ride to King's Landing, Sansa Stark, the vow she'd sworn to Jaime, the vow she'd sworn to Lady Catelyn, Oathkeeper, Duskendale, Maidenpool, Nimble Dick and Crackclaw and the Whispers, the men she'd killed ...
"I have to find her," she finished. "There are others looking, all wanting to capture her, and sell her to the queen. I have to find her first. I promised Jaime. Oathkeeper, he named the sword. I have to try to save her ... or die in the attempt."  - Brienne VI (Chapter 31), A Feast for Crows, George R. R. Martin

By the middle of A Feast for Crows, it's incredibly clear that Brienne is completely in love with Jaime Lannister:

1. “The vow she’d sworn to Jaime, the vow she’d sworn to Lady Catelyn” - these are conflated in her mind now. She is finding Sansa Stark for Lady Catelyn AND for Jaime Lannister - and her vow to the living man, for whom Sansa Stark is “my last chance for honor,”  comes first. The quest for Jaime’s honor, because she knows him, because she watched him change before her eyes, and saw the man underneath his monstrous reputation, because he risked himself for her more than once: this vow is one that Brienne takes incredibly seriously. (Yes, of course, quite a few times during the course of Brienne’s inner monologue, she does feel compassion, and fear, and dedication to Sansa, but given that Brienne has never met Sansa, this is a more generalized compassion for others, which is certainly something Book!Brienne has in spades. Brienne is “beautiful” because she certainly can put herself in other people’s positions and she can imagine all of Sansa’s fear and anxiety in the face of the danger she’s in. I’m not saying that Sansa doesn’t matter to Brienne, but oaths matter too, a LOT, and the oaths are about Jaime and Catelyn.)

2. “I promised Jaime. Oathkeeper, he named the sword. I have to try to save her ... or die in the attempt.” When Brienne loves you, she will give her life for you. She dedicated herself to Renly’s service because he was nicer to her in public than any other non-related man had ever been; Jaime gives her a Valyrian sword and entrusts his honor into her keeping and vouchsafes HER honor to Loras Tyrell, which is like orders of magnitude greater than “being nice.” Over the course of their Riverlands journey, Brienne has learned that Jaime has a different side to him, that he was once just as concerned about honor, chivalry and oaths as she is; when he gives her Oathkeeper and her quest, he is entrusting her with something else as well: his fragile, newly rediscovered honor, and Brienne recognizes how precious this gift is (because she was in a sense the catalyst for his rediscovery of himself). In return, she will fulfill her quest or die trying because, well, Jaime and his honor mean that much to her.

3. “Jaime in the tub at Harrenhal with steam rising from his body” -  clearly SOMEONE made quite the impression on Brienne (it’s so funny in retrospect that Jaime thinks the “wench” is just being surly and gets in the tub with her in part to annoy her, and then we find out from Brienne’s POV that she was speechless because despite everything he’d been through, Jaime’s body was at least half godlike when he got into the tub with her. And she sure remembers that body.) I find it extremely amusing that she’s telling ALL of this to the Elder Brother, including her lustful thoughts about Jaime's naked body.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Courtly love and loathly maidens

I've talked before about the trope of "courtly love" with Jaime and Cersei, because they are a wonderful, twisted version of something we have seen a lot in literature before (Guinevere/Lancelot, Tristan/Isolde) and there’s even a precedent for their relationship in Westerosi history with Prince Aemon the Dragonknight (member of the Kingsguard, which he joined because he wanted to be near his sister) and his sister Queen Naerys, and a widespread belief that her children were actually Aemon’s, not those of her husband the King. (So Jaime isn’t quite so crazy when he tells Cersei that the Targaryens did it too, whether he means incest, or cheating on the king, and passing of their children as his.)

I want to talk more specifically on somewhat more obscure Arthurian tale that is very interesting in terms of Jaime/Brienne, that of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnall. It’s also a bit of a Beauty and the Beast tale (mirroring Jaime/Brienne, because the man is the beauty, and the woman is the beast, physically, in this one!) but where Beauty breaks the Beast’s enchantment by falling in love with him, Gawain breaks Ragnall’s enchantment by holding to his promises and respecting her as an individual, which is where I think the similarities come in to Jaime/Brienne.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Beauty and the Beast - Part II - Rose Petals and Mirrors

Continuing my discussion of George R. R. Martin's recasting of Beauty and the Beast with Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth, this post is about roses and mirroring of arcs in their storylines.

Roses play a huge part in the Beauty & the Beast fairy tale (indeed Robin McKinley’s adaptation is called Rose Daughter): in the fairy-tale, Beauty’s father, once rich, has lost all of his wealth and he and his three daughters live in modest circumstances. He receives word that one of his ships has come in to harbor, and, in the hopes of recovering any of his wealth, goes to town to meet it; his two older daughters ask for rich presents, but Beauty asks only for a rose as a gift. Unfortunately, the ship is not carrying much wealth and/or the wealth is seized or something, anyway, the father has no presents for anyone and nearly dies in a snowstorm on his way home until he finds refuge in a beautiful enchanted castle where he is richly fed and kept warm through the night and which also has a rose-garden. On his way out, Beauty’s father plucks the most beautiful rose he can find to give to his daughter; the Beast, the owner of the castle, who has so far kept out of sight, emerges, furious that Beauty’s father has taken his most precious possession and says that Beauty’s father must die. Dad argues that he didn’t know, and that he’s only taking the rose for his youngest daughter and then tells the whole sobstory to the Beast. The Beast agrees to let him go with gifts for his daughters, including the rose (which, in some versions, is immortal, never losing its petals.) Dad will return and face the Beast’s wrath after he gives the gifts to his daughters.

Beauty finds out about her father’s deal and substitutes herself for her father; the Beast is charmed by her, and she’s happy with him, but eventually she becomes homesick and begs leave of the Beast to return to her home for a visit. He agrees, but gives her either a mirror/the magical rose and tells her that she has only to look in the mirror or look at the rose and see whether it still has its petals to see how he fares. Beauty’s sisters, jealous of what appears to be her happy life with the Beast, convince her to stay with them longer than she had promised the Beast and she does so out of love for them, until one day she sees the Beast dying in the magic mirror he gave her (or, in some versions, the magical rose begins to shrivel and die.) Beauty is guilt-stricken and returns just in time to find the dying Beast, to whom she swears her love (she either cries, kisses him or both, and he is healed by her tears/kisses.)

Roses also play a huge role in the stories of Brienne and to a somewhat lesser degree, that of Sansa and Jon. (There's the crown of blue roses that Rhaegar gives Lyanna Stark at the tournament of Harrenhal, with such disastrous consequences; many people think Jon is the blue rose growing in a Wall of Ice that Dany sees in one of her visions in the House of the Undying in Qarth because it's very strongly hinted that Jon is the child of Rhaegar and Lyanna. At the Hand's Tournament in King's Landing, Sansa gets a rose from Loras Tyrell - the Knight of the Flowers - that is a sort of disguise for his real love for Renly Baratheon. The rose he gives to Sansa is a lie, but it comes just before she encounters Sandor Clegane - her own Beast, though he is a Hound, not a Lion - and hears the truth from him about his dreadful mutilation.)

Monday, June 13, 2016

Beauty and the Beast - Part I - Who is the Beauty and who the Beast?

It's probably no surprise that George R. R. Martin, who wrote for the TV show "Beauty and the Beast," really seems to like this fairy tale and has included two major Beauty and the Beast stories in A Song of Ice and Fire, those of Brienne of Tarth and Jaime Lannister, and Sansa Stark and Sandor Clegane. 

I've just read the chapter in A Clash of Kings where Catelyn visits Jaime in the dungeons of Riverrun (one of my favorite chapters in that novel and in the series, because it’s so packed full of interesting things and quotable lines. “What’s a brother’s life when honor’s at stake?” “So many vows, they make you swear and swear” “There are no men like me.”) and it’s very, very striking to me that GRRM puts all this Beauty and the Beast stuff for Brienne and Jaime into Catelyn’s head, assigning her the role that Beauty's father plays in the original fairytale, of introducing Beauty and the Beast to one another. 

Catelyn (and the readers) meet Brienne at Renly’s tournament at Bitterbridge; before Brienne ever speaks a line of dialogue, we (and Catelyn) are informed that this woman is mockingly called “Brienne the Beauty” (in the same way that a giant might be called “Tiny.”)

"That's Brienne of Tarth, daughter to Lord Welwyn the Evenstar."
 "Daughter?" Catelyn was horrified 
"Brienne the Beauty, they name her ... though not to her face, lest they be called upon to defend those words with their bodies.
Catelyn also notices Brienne’s eyes, foreshadowing Jaime’s noticing them. And this is imo, very, very deliberate, because of that unattributable but very popular quote about eyes being the windows to your soul.

Beauty, they called her ... mocking... Brienne's eyes were large and very blue, a young girl's eyes, trusting and guileless, but the rest ... 
Catelyn, who sees elements of Sansa and Arya in Brienne, is wonderfully motherly and kind to this girl whose inability to fit into the norms of society is so manifest. She is with Brienne when Renly - the first man Brienne has loved - is murdered by the sorcery of a devotee of Rh’llor, and dissuades Brienne from fruitlessly seeking revenge against Stannis that will only lead to Brienne’s own death. Brienne, whose habit is to recklessly pledge her life and allegiance to anyone who’s kind to her, says her vows as Catelyn’s sworn sword, putting her on the tragic path to meet Catelyn’s horrifying revenant, Lady Stoneheart, who was raised from the dead by a devotee of Rh’llor, and, who in her quest for vengeance, makes Brienne swear a heartbreaking oath to kill the man she loves, in order to save the life of an innocent.
At Riverrun, Catelyn, who comforted Brienne in her grief for Renly, tells Brienne about Bran’s and Rickon’s supposed deaths - in fact, aside from the Riverrun Maester who gave Catelyn the message, Brienne is the only person in Riverrun who knows about Bran and Rickon at this point, just as Catelyn was the only witness besides Brienne to the shadow that killed Renly. Again, this is important. There are reasons why Catelyn, Brienne and Jaime form these alliances and connections and I really think Catelyn’s role in pushing Brienne and Jaime together cannot be understated. The dinner where Catelyn reveals this tragedy to Brienne is actually quite weird because Catelyn has this strange, dissociative conversation with Brienne, leaping from topic to topic, almost talking to herself. At one point, the reader is led to think that Catelyn will seek revenge on Jaime right then and there, since he is the only enemy who is within her power. 
And then we get to the dungeon, and (sadly) the only scene Catelyn and Jaime share. 

Jaime Lannister had been allowed no razor since the night he was taken in the Whispering Wood, and a shaggy beard covered his face, once so like the queen's. Glinting gold in the lamplight, the whiskers made him look like some great yellow beast, magnificent even in chains. His unwashed hair fell to his shoulders in ropes and tangles, the clothes were rotting on his body, his face was pale and wasted ... and even so, the power and the beauty of the man were apparent.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Of Swords and Men

After Jaime loses his right hand, he wonders "is that all I was? A swordhand?"; his maiming presents him with a severe identity crisis: he has always thought of himself as "the Warrior" and nothing more, and now suddenly, he cannot physically be that person any more. His initial reaction to the obliteration of his identity is to will himself to die, until Brienne asks if he is so craven that he's willing to give up, implying that she sees that there is more to him than his notorious reputation, that there is a man there who exists apart from his swordhand.

After Jaime and Brienne return to King's Landing, Tywin Lannister urges his son to break his Kingsguard vows, and even gives him one of the two Valyrian steel swords reforged from Ned Stark's great sword Ice. Jaime, who once would have given his right hand for such a sword, has no use for it now, and sees it as a bribe from Tywin - so instead, he turns around and gives the sword, which he names Oathkeeper, to Brienne of Tarth. Along with the sword, he gives Brienne a quest to find Sansa Stark, and in doing so, to find Jaime's own lost honor. That last part of the quest, Jaime's honor, which becomes the foremost thing in Brienne's mind in A Feast for Crows, is a sign that in some important ways, Jaime, in many important ways, actually is the sword he gives to Brienne.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Beauty, Love, and Honor - Jaime, Brienne and Cersei

In A Song of Ice and Fire, George R. R. Martin frequently gives us twisted versions of different tropes: tropes that are common in fantasy (the hidden "commoner" who turns out to be a prince in reality which seems to be where Jon's story is headed), in romance (he definitely loves Beauty and the Beast because he's telling it at least twice in ASOIAF), as well as older tropes of courtly love and chivalry. And nowhere are those tropes, and their subversions, more apparent than in the story of Jaime Lannister, the soiled knight, who looks like a "king" according to Jon Snow, who is the most beautiful and most vile man Catelyn Stark has ever known, and whose white cloak "becomes him" as Brienne of Tarth says. In keeping with Jaime's complex inner life and storyline, his romantic relationships are equally complex and equally subvert our expectations.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Jaime Lannister and redemption arcs

Redemption is a very loaded word, because of its meaning for Christianity, where Christ the Redeemer is considered to have paid for the souls of sinners with his own life, there by redeeming - buying them back - from sin. Whereas when I talk about redemption, I mean the secondary meaning of the word, which is “the act of making something better” and by this definition I think Jaime IS on a redemption arc.

For me, redemption is a journey for which there is no endpoint. There’s no balance sheet, no moment in a redemption arc (or shouldn’t be) when someone says “OK, you did this and this and this and now you’ve paid for these bad things you did and you’re redeemed.” There’s never going to be a moment where we can say “Oh, Jaime did this, and that makes up for Bran”; if that were the case, then he already build up 500,000 souls worth of good karma when he saved King’s Landing and he can still kill 499,999 people and be on the plus side of the ledger, which is obviously a ridiculous assertion. It never works that way. (I prefer what the Talmud says: “Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.” In other words, each action - good or bad - is complete in itself, and is not a tick in a cosmic ledger of good and evil.)

Redemption is also not about restitution; Jaime can’t restore Bran’s legs any more than he can grow a new hand for himself. He can never “make it up” to the person he actually injured. He can only do his best to do right by others he encounters, NOT to do those evil things for love again. For me, redemption lies less in adding up the measure of “good things vs. bad things” ("what’s one boy against a kingdom?" as Stannis asked when the answer is always going to be "one boy's life" as Davos answered) and more in recognizing what you have done that is evil, changing what you can change and trying to be a good person even if no one around you believes you can be. It’s holding your ground even when your sister mocks you and your father disowns you and doing what you KNOW is right. And so for me, by that measure, Jaime IS on a redemption arc.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

A Game of Thrones - Chapter 10 - Jon II

"It should have been you."

Catelyn Stark's words to Jon Snow in this chapter guaranteed that so many fans of the series would hate her forever for being mean to Jon. I don't share that view, by the way - I think Catelyn's words are cruel and unjustifiable, but don't signify that she's either a bad person. Martin is showing us that someone can be an essentially good person, who does or says one or two terrible things, which don't change the fact that they are not terrible people (he will do the inverse as well, making some people who may strike as terrible have done noble things as well.) And having read two chapters of Catelyn's POV already, we know that she doesn't sit around and think about how much she hates Jon all the time when she's not maddened by grief and guilt (we'll learn later in this chapter she thinks it was her fervent desire to have Ned leave Bran with her in Winterfell that resulted in her prayers being answered in the cruelest possible way). It's unfair and cruel, I don't deny, but I must say I find fandom's reaction of placing Catelyn on a par with Gregor Clegane on the scale of evil people we hate is disturbing to me. I can like and sympathize with both Jon and Catelyn, and I do.

Onto the chapter: