Tag Archives: obesity

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 Arya 5

Wow, I’d actually forgotten that Ned’s last chapter was Ned’s last chapter. The single paragraph after Joffrey’s pronouncement does an incredible job of portraying the shocked surprise of the Lannisters and cabinet (especially Varys, who’s either truly surprised or acting like it to an admirable degree) while remaining plausibly within Arya’s POV.

Random thoughts:

  • Is “the Others take your [object of derision]” a common oath in the South?
  • I like that Arya doesn’t instantly become a perfectly street-smart hustler: her things are stolen and her accent or  manner of speech gives her away to the other urchins.
  • Old Nan told boys’ adventure stories.
  • That is one cold trick the Lannisters pull with the fake Stark soldiers at the docks.
  • Nice image of the galloping Redwyne twins.
  • Another morbidly obese character: the High Septon.

 


AGoT Catelyn 8

Catelyn once again manages to belittle her son in the guise (probably sincere) of “supporting” him. “[Robb submitting to her like a child] would not do,” she thinks, having just browbeaten him into doing just that.

Elsewhere in this chapter:

  • We’re introduced to the Manderlys, yet more fattest-guys-POV-has-ever-seen, with comic relief names to boot.
  • Thanks to Brynden for pointing out that he (and therefore his niece) is a southron. (And Robb looks like Edmure, not a good omen.)

AGoT Sansa 4: this is why I love Sansa chapters

…which is not the same as loving Sansa.

The presentation of her insensitivity to, and denial of, Jeyne’s plight … just classic Sansa, wildly pathological adn totally believable. The hostage/brainwashing stuff is pitch-perfect, too.

  • Sansa dreams of being queen with Joffrey … the Joffrey part won’t come to pass, but could “everyone she had ever known came before her, to bend the knee” be foreshadowing?
  • The mere fact that Petyr asks for Jeyne ought to clue anyone in that he has some plan for her which will likely be to his advantage and no one else’s, and that therefore the person able to hand her over to him shouldn’t, if only to guard their own self-interest. Cersei takes the bait, though.
  • We only learn indirectly that Fat Tom is probably dead.

AGoT Eddard 13

Boros Blount, Preston Greenfield, and Barristan Selmy are explicitly compared to the three knights at the Tower of Joy. Presumably only Selmy resembles the stylized, archetypal knights of Ned’s fever dream. (I say presumably because I’m not sure about Greenfield: if the books ever tell us anything of note about him, I don’t remember it.)

That fever dream left me with the feeling that Ned believes, sometimes and on some levels, that he should not have survived the encounter at the tower. Are the present “three men in white cloaks” ghosts come to take the life that he got to keep only by mistake, as Jaqen H’gar will later take three lives in recompense for the three Arya prolongs?

Then Robert becomes Lyanna: “Promise me, Ned.” Will we eventually find out that Lyanna’s demand was as mundane as “eat the pig that killed me?” I somehow doubt it. Now the three knights look more like a debased mirror of the past: noble knights and noble promises replaced by base and shallow ones. But if that were the idea being communicated, it would have been more effective to use a third lesser knight in Selmy’s place.

On reread, the irony in this chapter is nearly unbearable: “His regency would be a short one.” “[S]harp as the difference between right and wrong, between true and false, between life and death” — even the last being, in this world, not a very sharp distinction at all.

Miscellanea from this chapter:

  • Third occurrence of the phrase game of thrones, in Ned’s head as a memory of Cersei saying it.
  • Ned continues to perceive Tomard, the overweight commoner, as a real and valuable human being.

AGoT Eddard 12 – more spoilery than usual

Ah, the irony: Ned will someday tell Sansa how helpful(!) she was to him this day. Varys is “worse” than Littlefinger because he “[does] too little.” (Yeah, what was he thinking prepping only three or four Targaryen heirs?) Jon Arryn died “for the truth” (although Ned is finally right about Bran almost-dying for it).

I forgot that Sandor is now technically lord of Cleganeland, or whatever it may be called.

To Ned, the guardsman Tomard isn’t laughable “Fat Tom,” but a sensible and trustworthy supporter.

This chapter is probably Cersei’s sympathetic peak.

“What would Catelyn do, if it were Jon’s life, against the children of her body?” Is that some kinda foreshadowing?

Ned, still snarky!

Second use of the titular phrase, by Cersei.


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.