- Jon stumbles on the difference between highly organized modern religions, and older animistic ones: “[The southrons] had their septons to talk to, someone to tell them the gods’ will and help sort out right from wrong.”
- It’s interesting that black clothing functions like an orange or striped prison uniform. I find it hard to believe that “any bit” of black clothing would automatically mark a man as a deserter, though. After all, there are houses whose colors include black (including northern houses like the Karstarks).
- Old Nan strikes yet again.
- “He was after all his father’s son, and Robb’s brother.” Or not.
- Jon romanticizes suicide, just like Sansa.
- How do the watchmen pay the Mole’s Town prostitutes? Since they (at least the ones that aren’t more-equal-than-others highborn volunteers) aren’t allowed to have contact with their families and are supplied with all their own needs, they’d have no need for a salary. Maybe barter with the produce of hunting or handicrafts?
Tag Archives: NightsWatch
After that very heavy Ned chapter, it’s almost a relief to get back to Jon’s after-school special.
Septon Celladar: assigned to the Wall because he was an alcoholic, or an alcoholic because he was assigned to the Wall? Discuss.
“A man of the Night’s Watch lives his life … for the realm … [and] takes no wife and fathers no sons.” Know who else fits that description, or at least claims to?
How could this one-last-chance-to-not-take-the-oath thing work? The boys who were sent to the wall as felons surely can’t get off that easily. Is their choice “take the oath, or leave and be subject to execution/castration/amputation/whatever the alternative punishment was for your crime?” And while the boys in this chapter are told to forget their families, noble-born Benjen has apparently been allowed to maintain his ties. Bit of a double standard going on here!
“On the wall, you grew up or you died.” Interesting flip-side parallel to Cersei’s “when you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.”
Tyrion’s character really comes to life here for me, particularly in the complexity of his reaction to Mormont.
One line that stands out: “most of my kin are bastards” … more true than he knows (or is admitting he knows), if he counts his nieces and nephews.
Tyrion calls Jon “remarkably polite for a bastard.” I’d say he’s remarkably polite because he’s a bastard. Either way, Tyrion manages to break Jon’s cool for the first time in the book, by stating what he believes to be the unromantic truth about the Night’s Watch: that they’re a bunch of criminals (true) guarding the wall against imaginary foes (yeah, right, and–as Tyrion also says in this chapter–“there are no dragons.” But “life is full of these little ironies.”)
Tyrion also reflects that Jon’s unknown mother “had left little of herself in her son.” We’ll see.
Other fun facts about Tyrion we learn in this chapter: he is a pyro(!), has homicidal fantasies about his immediate family, and has difficulty walking (less than a hundred pages after doing a handspring/somersault).
Finally, #love this line:
The Lannisters never declined, graciously or otherwise. The Lannisters took what was offered.
Bonus: in this chapter we meet Yoren: “stooped and sinister” and unwashed, with matted and lice-filled black hair and beard and a twisted shoulder.
Bran demonstrates his observational skills (considerably greater than his father’s!) by noticing that “Jon seemed to be angry at everyone these days” … but immediately demonstrates his naivety by romanticizing the Night’s Watch.
Other notable tidbits from this chapter:
- the first mention of Hodor
- the first mention of Grey Wind, Lady, and Shaggydog’s names
- possibly the first mention of Petyr Baelish, by Cersei (I might have missed an earlier mention of him)
- Ned says “You’re not my son” — fodder for a new theory? (Kidding, kidding. He follows it with, “you’re a squirrel.”)
“My mother told me that dead men sing no songs,” [Will] put in.
“My wet nurse said the same thing, Will,” Royce replied. “Never believe anything you hear at a woman’s tit.”
Paragraph seven, and already with the frank depiction of sexism (and the semi-naughty words!)
Stuff we learn about the social system here: Will, the commoner, had a mother who taught him about life; Royce, the lord’s son, had a wet nurse. (Maybe his mother would have taught him to respect women a bit more; he also expresses his contempt for Gared in sexist terms, by saying fear “unmans” him.) Royce is here to be our red shirt because he’s an “extra” son in a primogeniture-based aristocracy; Will because of a class system that makes wild animals the “property” of certain individuals and a legal system brutal enough to use amputation as punishment (see Race for the Iron Throne on historical precedents for this).
And finally, when Royce gives a bad order,
[T]here was nothing to be done for it. The order had been given, and honor bound them to obey.
Or, “[in] the supposedly meritocratic Night’s Watch, where ‘even a bastard may rise high’ … the class system of feudalism and serfdom is perpetuated.” Though it’s “hard to take orders from a man you laughed at in your cups,” Will repeatedly takes those orders anyway, breaking ranks only when the five additional Others appear and he chooses not to call attention to himself by warning Royce. (Gared, a man with enough ironic awareness of the social order to make fun of his officer and lord while drunk, presumably broke sooner, allowing him to escape.) Future episodes of “fragging” and social breakdown in the Night’s Watch will serve as a measure of the degree of terror inspired by the Others.