Tag Archives: cultureOfViolence

AGoT Daenerys 8

When first we met MMD, she had a simpering attitude towards Dany whose sincerity I could not judge. Now, after a number of days of ill treatment at the hands of the Dothraki (Dany didn’t think to keep MMD in her own train where she could see how she was treated?) her antipathy is clear, and she’s no longer afraid enough of further punishment to modulate her tone (maybe she doesn’t think things can get much worse). I doubt her original prescription for Drogo was actually poisonous (since he didn’t follow it anyway, it can hardly be blamed for his current condition), but she’s willing to mislead Dany by omission.

Of course, Dany is willing to be misled. I’ve always found her naivete here a little unbelievable, though not completely so if taken in context. She’s so focused on the present situation that she’s not thinking about the future: she “tells herself” that she would die, presumably killing her unborn child as well and thus, so far as she knows, ending the Targaryen line forever, to save Drogo. And she’s still unable to see that the people she “saves” may not consider themselves helped, or be grateful. (I think she’s still working on that lesson as the end of ADwD, although she’s much closer to getting it by then.)

What would have happened if Dany and Jorah had gone to Asshai? If they had taken the dragon eggs, would someone there know how to hatch them?

Through the walls of the tent Dany glimpses “the shadow of a great wolf, and another like a man wreathed in flames.” Something Stark-related, and something R’hllor-related? But presumably Jorah and the others do not see anything particularly paranormal, or they would not think to take her into the tent. Is Dany the only one who can see the apparitions? If so, is it because MMD “aimed” them at Dany, or because of some inherent quality of Dany? Or are the apparitions all in Dany’s own mind?

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AGoT Bran 6

Speaking of stuff I have to get through to get to the good stuff … it’s a Bran chapter. Still, I found a lot to remark on here.

  • Old Nan says: the Karstarks have Stark blood in them. Also, Maester Lewin dismissively equates Osha’s warning about the Others to an Old Nan story.
  • The Karstarks are described as barbarians with “hair worn loose past the shoulders.” Once again, except for a couple of baldies, pretty much every man whose hair length has been described so far has been identified as having long hair, including such civilized types as Jaime, Tommen, Renly, Loras, et al., as well as Ned — so how does having long hair suddenly make one a barbarian? (Especially when it somehow also makes one a woman?)
  • Here Bran approaches the Old Gods as some modern American Christians do Yahweh, i.e. with prayers phrased as a list of requests. The Old Gods religion has in general struck me as more like animism: the spirits are out there in nature, you may or may not be able to appease them, but they are definitely not your personable, human-like sugar daddy. Does Bran’s behavior reflect the influence of the Faith on the Stark children, as transmitted by Catelyn?
  • In any case, Bran is also becoming more comfortable being watched by the weirwood.
  • What would have happened if Robb had given the command to Theon, as he was apparently advised? I don’t see Theon turning cloak under those circumstances–he would probably have never had the chance to visit the Iron Islands, and this show of faith on Robb’s part would have inspired him to be his best self. Then again, Theon, being no great strategist, might well have lost the war, in which case the Lannisters would have executed Robb (though not burned Winterfell; that would be a waste of good capital).
  • Robb seems to have taken some anger management lessons, and still shows his vulnerable side only to Bran.
  • Who will go south and return? (Sansa? Arya?)
  • TMI about your sex life, Osha, not to mention that of your giant friends.
  • Smiling is a bad thing, judging by the constant contemptuous descriptions of Theon doing so.
  • You know you’re living in a culture of violence when an eight-year-old can be described as “too craven to take his own life.”
  • “‘Hodor,’ Bran agreed, wondering what it meant.” Will we ever find out?

AGoT Daenerys 5 – more spoilery

As of the end of ADwD, I’m beginning to think it’s the mare (Dany) who will “unite the Dothraki into a single khalasar” and all that.

Viserys’ end is one of the series’ great scenes. Daenerys, like Sansa, goes “cold” and “curiously distant,” but here it feels like an appropriate response to the situation. Maybe because, unlike those whose deaths Sansa dismisses from her consciousness, Viserys is known to have brought his fate upon himself. (And Daenerys will never remember this as the most magical time of her life, or silver-lining philosophize that now she can find someone handsomer to hang out with.)


AGoT Sansa 3

Sansa is still a frigging psychopath, or at least in a highly dissociated state … and it’s still totally entertaining to read about! The tournament, where she watched a man die a horrible violent death, is now “the most magical time of her whole life”; she thinks spiked heads are appropriate brunch conversation; she’s not too concerned with murder so long as the victim is replaced by someone more handsome. Not to mention the utter self-absorption of “[Arya] hates that [I, Sansa, am] going to marry the prince” — yeah, and they hate us for our freedom.

More random thoughts:

  • Sansa’s idealized Loras resembles one of Old Nan’s stories? Sandor would seem more at home in the ones we’ve heard so far.
  • “Lord Beric would never look at [Jeyne Poole], even if she hadn’t been half his age.” Isn’t marrying women half one’s age too common to be remarked on in this social milieu? Though maybe the issue is that Jeyne isn’t a woman at all yet, even by their standards. (Speaking of which, that blood orange thrown at Sansa’s dress foreshadows another “blotchy red stain.”)

AGoT Tyrion 5

Tyrion: “Lord Eddard is a proud, honorable, and honest man, and his lady wife is worse.

This implies that Catelyn is prouder, more honorable, and more honest than Ned. Is this true? She is proud, as in vain: by treating the existence of a bastard child, which seems quite common in noble families, as an egregious crime, she implicitly holds herself above other noblewomen. Pride also prevents her from seeing that her actions are problematic, even in the face of mounting evidence. She is honorable in the sense of adhering to the letter of prescribed standards for noble behavior, but much less so in examining her own actions for their adherence to the spirit of those standards. No doubt she believes she is honest, but she can be self-deceiving: she thinks of herself as devoted to her sons and, to a lesser extent, her husband, but her actions tend to undermine and endanger them. It’s as if Catelyn’s outer construction of honor is indeed more elaborate than Ned’s, but lacks the inner scaffolding that makes him this story arc’s most honorable (to an ultimately self-destructive fault) character by modern standards. Where Ned’s appreciation for his common soldiers and servants is repeatedly depicted, Tyrion knows that the most appreciation Catelyn could ever summon for someone like Bronn is “a polite word and a look of distaste.”

Elsewhere in this chapter:

  • Will Mord ever show up at the gates of Casterly Rock?
  • The Tysha story is told for the first time (I guess this is where we begin to approach those twenty thousand million rapes). Bronn, as the voice of common(er) sense, suggests a psychologically appropriate response.
  • Are the mountain clans matriarchal? The clan chiefs repeatedly refer to their desire to please, feed, etc. “the mothers.” At minimum they clearly appreciate the miracle of childbirth.

AGoT Catelyn 7: Catelyn, Littlefinger, Tyrion, Lysa, and honor (more spoilery than usual)

This chapter opens with Catelyn explicitly comparing herself to Alyssa Arryn (Catelyn hasn’t actually lost all her loved ones yet, but it still has to be all about her). The legend suggests that the gods punished Alyssa for being stoic through the deaths of her (male) family members. But wouldn’t dignified stoicism be expected of a noblewoman? When Catelyn believed Bran was dying, Robb told her she was crying too much.

It’s almost enough to give me some sympathy for Catelyn. Until she says, “My place is at Winterfell with my sons” — to which the only possible reaction is, then why on earth didn’t you stay there? I tend to find characters defined solely as mothers annoying or just uninteresting — no doubt sometimes unfairly so, so on this reread I’ve made a conscious effort to find Catelyn’s admirable side. Nonetheless, I continue to find her beliefs and behaviors very problematic.

In addition to equating herself with Alyssa, Catelyn associates the duel between Bronn and Ser Vardis with that between Petyr Baelish and Brandon Stark. This is a much more complex comparison. Petyr and Bronn, the more lowborn contenders in their respective matches, are also alike in being lightly armored against heavily armored opponents. Surrounding nobles implicitly assume both men will lose (though I think Vardis may have some idea what he’s in for). Both duels begin with the favored contender raining blows on the less favored contender, while the latter flees. The Petyr/Brandon duel “was over almost as soon as it began”; a few paragraphs later, Bronn and Vardis’ initial skirmish “end[s] as swiftly as it had begun.” I’m thinking that the presumed end of the Petyr/Brandon duel was only the end of the initial skirmish, and that the opponent wasn’t just Brandon.

Petyr believed (believes) he was (is) fighting for an honorable cause, his love for Catelyn. Bronn is fighting for potential future earnings, but he is a surrogate for Tyrion, whose honorable cause is his own innocence. By the standards of Westeros, both men behave dishonorably: Tyrion by tricking Lysa into allowing the trial by combat and then using a dirty-fighting mercenary as a surrogate; Petyr, in his ongoing duel with the social forces that oppress him, by his shameless and ultimately murderous manipulation of other people. Tyrion, of course, is in the right, and his real opponent, Lysa, is secretly behaving even more dishonorably than he is by accusing him of a crime that she herself committed. Petyr’s actions are monstrous, but in a society whose concept of honor leads to predicaments like Tyrion’s, is it surprising that the concept could be so perverted?

I have to stop, this is making my head spin.

Elsewhere in this chapter:

  • First mention (I think) of Edmure.
  • “I believe the Lannisters murdered Lord Arryn,” says Catelyn. Once again, it’s great to read a story where a major “good” character’s gut feeling can be so well-founded and yet so wrong.
  • Lysa’s maester tries to tell Catelyn that Jon Arryn intended his son to be fostered by Stannis.
  • Too bad we’ll probably never know what Tyrion whispered in Bronn’s ear before the duel.
  • Lysa, unlike HBO, can afford to give Tyrion and Bronn horses.

AGoT Daenerys 4: rape and patriarchy

Something about the wording and arrangement makes it hilarious, as well as a wonderfully economical illumination of Viserys’ character:

Spying an obscene likeness of a woman with six breasts and a ferret’s head, he rode off to inspect it more closely.

But to get serious about the objectification of women, ferret-headed or otherwise: so far this reread has not accorded with charges that the Song of Ice and Fire books contain “TWENTY THOUSAND MILLION” rape scenes — there has only been Daenerys’ wedding, at which both she and some bystanders were subjected to sex that was to at least some degree non-consensual. Now there’s the additional assertion one of the bloodriders “sometimes made Irri sob in the night.” Not a huge amount for being halfway through the first, long book, and all the descriptions have been matter-of-fact, almost perfunctory; if they’re meant to titillate the reader they’re not doing a very good job. Rather, the rape instances are meant to say something, and not something approving, about the kind of society in which slavery and the type of “marriage”  equivalent to the selling of women exist.

In this chapter we also learn that Viserys, like Robert, considers Daenerys a “slut” for having a child with her husband (the one he sold her too, remember?)