Tag Archives: gender

AGoT Catelyn 10

  • “Her men had always made her wait.” Reasonably true to the condition of women in Catelyn’s milieu, although a bit whiny-sounding in the moment. (But worthwhile as a set up for the wonderfully evocative “Jaime Lannister … who men said had never learned to wait at all.”)
  • Sounds like Brynden is the source of some, but not all, of Robb’s supposed precocious strategic brilliance.
  • Robb is “near as tall as [Catelyn]”? It seems like he was described as taller than that before.
  • Dacey Mormont is introduced, and it doesn’t sound like she does much waiting around for men.
  • Jaime’s not in his white armor. Isn’t he at least theoretically supposed to still be acting on behalf of the King?
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AGoT Daenerys 7

I guess this is the Chapter of the Rapes, although they are not depicted approvingly, and are hard to call “gratuitous” as the occasion for Dany’s development as a humanitarian and leader. Whether using rape as a tool of character development is that good of an idea is another discussion. But I appreciate that the rapes are not glamorized or fetishized, as seems to happen in much ostensibly feminist fiction I read lately: Martin never lets his readers have their disapproval cake while eating lasciviously-lingered-over play-by-play rape details.

And just when we thought there wasn’t enough male-on-male rape in the books: “the brothels are paying double for healthy young girls, and triple for boys under ten.”

Elsewhere in this chapter:

  • What is known? “The Lamb Men lay with sheep.”
  • How many times can this chapter mention Mirri Maz Duur’s plumpness, flat-nosed-ness, and middle-aged-ness? At least four. It appears to be impossible to mention her at all without hitting on the above characteristics. This tic seems too obvious not to be deliberate, but what could its purpose be?
  • Does Mirri intend, from the start, to harm Drogo, Dany and/or The Fetus That Mounts The World? I find it impossible to tell (and I like that ambiguity).
  • “Dany felt she could trust [Mirri Maz Duur]; she had saved her from … her rapers, after all.” A bit heavy-handed there, but once again an effective reminder that “saving” the downtrodden doesn’t always have the effect the privileged intend.

AGoT Catelyn 9

  • More disapproving descriptions of Theon smiling (plus the probable origin of The Podcast of Ice and Fire’s feathered hat theory). Walder Frey also “smirks.”
  • Catelyn once again patronizes her son, then thinks less of him for acting patronized.
  • Catelyn knows the exact number of Frey’s in-wedlock sons, but hasn’t bothered to count daughters or bastards. Frey also demonstrates institutionalized sexism with his “all of the Crakehall women are sluts.”
  • Frey: “I’ll still have eighteen [sons] when yours are all dead.” This has the ring of prophecy, but I don’t think Bran and Rickon are going to die. Jaime and Tyrion dying seems more likely, but isn’t Frey already down at least two sons by the end of ADwD, leaving him without “nineteen and a half” sons?

AGoT Tyrion 6

  • Note how Tyrion pins the mountain clans’ ineffectiveness on their relatively democratic (not to mention relatively gender equitable) social organization.
  • A two-foot-long unicorn horn on one’s helmet would probably wreak havoc with one’s balance.
  • We meet Tywin: a tall, physically fit older man, with a shaved head except for the sideburns.
    Kevan is similarly large, but portly and balding: Tywin had he let himself go?
  • “May they take fifty more.” Love it.
  • People with the right idea in this chapter: Kevan (doesn’t want to take Robb’s bait) and Chella (alone of the clan chiefs, realizes they need to keep Tyrion hostage).

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.