Tag Archives: LysaArryn

AGoT summation: obesity

I chose to track obese characters on this reread because I remembered the series as being curiously full of contenders for “fattest dude POV Character X has ever seen,” and wondered if there were any discernible patterns in the ways Martin uses this characteristic.

Obesity played for simple comic relief. Here we have Mord the Eyrie jailor and the pseudo-Baratheon kids’ nameless septa. As of the end of AGoT, the Manderlys are in this category; it’ll be a few books before we find out that at least the paterfamilias is actually/also an exemplar of…

Obesity as disguise. Varys manages to at least partially hide his scheming under his obese and effeminate appearance (not to mention his perfume). Illyrio belongs here, too. These characters might not have become obese on purpose, but they certainly use the characteristic to their advantage in distracting others from their more important non-physical qualities. Then there’s…

Obesity as the outward sign of corruption or fallen-ness. Here are Robert, Lysa, and the High Septon.

Obese characters who defy categorization.Sam Tarly is the prime exemplar here: he’s not corrupt or fallen, he’s not comic relief (sure, Jon pokes a little silent fun at him, but his hazing is mostly played as the horror it is), and he’s not cleverly hiding behind his bulk (though he might learn). He’s simply Sam, a person with many characteristics, one of which — but not the only defining one — happens to be great physical size. (Judging by Sam’s dialog in this book, his self-declared cowardice is much more central to his own self-concept than his obesity.)

I think Fat Tom belongs in this last category too: to Arya he’s comic relief, but Ned clearly views him as a full-fledged person and valuable employee.

Overall, Martin has a good record of portraying obese characters: most obese characters (like most non-obese characters) are occasionally the butt of humor, but only “extras” are played strictly for comic relief (and one senses a little sympathy even for Mord). Obese characters can be smart, brave, and likeable (or smart, scheming, and dislikable). And they’re not always fat because they’re lazy or decadent, although occasionally (Robert, the High Septon) this may be the case. I’m most fascinated by the characters who use their obesity to help make themselves seem innocuous, and wonder if Sam, jaded by his exposure to those scheming southron maesters, will eventually end up in this category.


AGoT Tyrion 5 (more spoilery than usual)

Another obese comic relief character: Mord the jailer, “twenty stone of gross stupidity” with a “heavy white belly.” He comes through for Tyrion in the end, though.

Lysa is pretty shameless in accusing Tyrion of killing her husband. Did she not really understand what “the tears” Baelish had her put in her husband’s wine were? Or is she simply capable, like some people I’ve known, of conveniently “forgetting” the truth and truly believing her own lies?

“Catelyn Stark might take a man prisoner, but she’d never stoop to rob him. That wouldn’t be honorable.” A nice description both of Catelyn and of what’s wrong with Westerosi noble ethics.

Lyn Corbray: “‘The gods favor the man with just cause … yet often that turns out to be the man with the surest sword.” Interesting that they seem perfectly aware that trials by combat are bunk, yet continue to use them.


AGoT Catelyn 6

“Sometimes [Catelyn] felt as though her heart had turned to stone.” Yuk, yuk.

Seriously though, in paying more attention to Catelyn on this reread, I find that her monomaniacal focus on her goal (which is protecting her children … or protecting her own self-concept as the perfect noble mother?) is much more destructive than I had realized on past readings. She undermines her oldest son, ignores her youngest, and even her exaggerated grief over the comatose Bran seems more about her than him (after all, he’s not conscious to observe or benefit from her behavior). Her attitude toward Jon is deplorable, but understandable — but this chapter’s transfer of those feelings to Mya Stone, a stranger who has nothing to do with her marriage, is plain pathological. She kidnaps a member of a major house on the “evidence” of a story that is easily hole-poked by anyone aware of court social dynamics, from a source who she seems to be at least marginally aware is untrustworthy; persists in taking her prisoner to a place she has never visited (a fact I realized only on rereading this chapter), even after discovering that most of her party is likely to die on the journey (I’m sure all her father’s bannerman whose men she commandeered will love that); and when indeed they are killed, she pushes away what feelings of guilt or self-doubt she has. Sansa doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Elsewhere in this chapter:

  • We meet Brynden: weathered, gray-haired, and good-humored with a “hoarse, smoky voice.”
  • Tyrion remarks that Tywin is “the soul of avarice” (as Jaime is of arrogance and Cersei of power-lust), but I’ve never really seen monetary greed as Tywin’s primary motivation.
  • WiC #6.
  • Catelyn thinks she is “becoming a Stark at last” — when actually she’s straying further from the Starks’ ancestral home and concerns, into games orchestrated by others.
  • I’m having dirty-minded fun imagining what “the topless towers of Valyria” look like.
  • Finally, we meet Lysa, like Robert an obese character who once wasn’t, and whose current obesity is serving as a symbol of current moral or psychological failings. She has long auburn hair, blue eyes and a small mouth. Her son Robert Arryn (henceforth to be referred to as Sweetrobin) is six, small for his age and sickly, with fine brown hair.