Jon and Ghost come to see Bran. Lady Catelyn has been by his side for almost two weeks, taking her meals in the room and barely sleeping, and so Jon had not come before, but this is his last opportunity. Catelyn is very rude to him and tells him to go away, but he stands his ground. Bran is only skin and bones, with sunken eyes staring blankly and legs bent at odd angles. He cries and tells Bran’s still form goodbye, explaining that he is leaving with Benjen that day to join the Night’s Watch. Catelyn says that she had prayed for Eddard to leave Bran when he went south and that it appears sometimes prayers are answered. When Jon tries to comfort her, she is rude again. As Jon prepares to leave, Catelyn calls out to him and says it should have been him that fell before breaking into sobs.
Jon heads to the yard and sees Robb shouting orders with Grey Wind at his side. He has seemed to grow into authority since Bran’s fall. They say their farewells. Finally he goes to see Arya, who is packing with Nymeria’s help. Arya is happy to see him, as she was not allowed to leave her room to say goodbye. She had already packed her chest once, but she had just tossed everything in and Septa Mordane made her do it again properly. Jon gives Arya a present, a sword. He had Mikken forge the blade, which is slender and pointed like the swords used by bravos in Pentos, Myr and the other Free Cities. They say their goodbyes, and Jon tells her the sword has a name, Needle.
Catelyn really doesn’t do herself any favors in this chapter, does she? On paper, there are plenty of perfectly logical, reasonable explanations for her behavior here – the anguish of having one’s (favorite) child on his deathbed, the impending departure of both your daughters and your husband as well as the general fatigue and stress from her lack of food/sleep. However, somehow I still end up really feeling for Jon in this chapter mainly because well, he hasn’t quite done anything to deserve it, and oh, he’s 14 years old or something. Seriously, Catelyn is the mother of 5 children, I don’t think it’s too much to expect her to have her shit somewhat together, especially after nearly 2 weeks after the accident. One can only imagine how Rickon must feel at this point. In any event, Catelyn took a big hit in my popularity rankings after this chapter and nothing she does after this point really helps either. However, having said that, I can see why Martin played Catelyn and Jon’s relationship out like this – it would be ruinously implausible that Catelyn and Jon got along perfectly. The fact that she’s almost entirely forgiven Ned for his supposed indiscretions is already a little hard for me to swallow considering how hard it is for anyone in this series to let shit go, regardless of how much time has passed (looking at you Robert, Littlefinger, Walder Frey).
On Jon’s side of things, I find it curious that after all this time, his fear of Catelyn hasn’t manifested itself as hatred. I feel there is only so long that you can go on fearing something before you begin to hate it (possibly for inspiring that fear in you in the first place). Perhaps he learned early on to just stay the heck out of Catelyn’s way and not do anything to piss her off unduly and in any case, there is little he could do against Catelyn, perhaps aside from running to his father (who hardly seems the cuddling sort). I can’t think whether Jon demonstrates any of the long term issues that are usually associated with the lack of mother figure, apart from say the ability to show and display affection (or in Jon’s case, any emotion at all, except angst). His good-bye to Bran was unsurprisingly heartfelt and one of several rather touching moments in this chapter and indeed, this book. One of the other moments of course was his good bye to Robb. I always pay special attention to any instances of the Stark children sharing time ‘on-screen’ since these moments are so very rare. Jon and Robb’s farewells have a businesslike feel to them, with both brothers trying to hide the pain this separation is causing them. I winced a little at Jon’s line ‘You Starks are hard to kill’. With Ned, Benjen, Robb, Jon and Catelyn all seemingly down for the count (Jon, Ben and Catelyn are iffy at this point, true), one has to wonder whether Martin was chuckling a little to himself as he penned that line down. I doubt we’ll ever really know why Martin kept the Stark children separated for so very long – I suspect that it was to give us a wider set of eyes throughout Westeros and Essos. If they had remained together, our knowledge of events around the continent would have been much more limited and we would have missed out on some real gems.
The most heartwarming farewell of course was between Jon and Arya. I could tell even at this stage that there was a significance to the bond the siblings shared – now, after ADwD, obviously their connection was set-up here to ensure, in a sense, that Jon would react to Ramsay Bolton’s threat and try to help Arya. I wouldn’t even be surprised if Arya hears of Jon’s ‘assassination’ on returnsing from her sojourn to Essos along with Dany (all these plot threads have to merge at some point right?!?) to get some revenge. In any case, I found it a little hard to believe that Needle somehow survives for so very long in Arya’s hands. As far as I can remember it isn’t Valyrian steel so it isn’t extremely valuable, but all the same it is a well-made blade and Arya has been through enough (mis)adventures that it’s quite impressive that she hasn’t lost it or had it stolen from her (or rather, that it keeps coming back to her).
The one interaction I was most curious to see (though it seems unlikely now) was between Sansa and Jon. We don’t see his goodbye to her here and Sansa is enough of an ass to give him the cold shoulder even if he did try to but on reflection, think about this: all of Jon’s goodbyes involved siblings that affect him later on (though not directly). Firstly, Bran saves him from the Wildlings, next there is the matter of Robb’s letter to Jon, possibly granting him Winterfell and the North and lastly there is Arya and the Ramsay Bolton threats. At no point do Sansa and Rickon figure into his thoughts after this point (as far as I can recall).
And on that interesting note, let’s end this chapter’s post. Don’t forget to ‘Like’ and tell your friends if you enjoyed it or comment and tell your enemies if you didn’t!