[Re-Read] A Clash of Kings – Arya VIII


Summary:

a-clash-of-kings

Lord Tywin is preparing to march. Ser Addam left the day before with the outriders. Arya is worried that all the people she hates will be leaving and that Jaqen will too before she can have anyone else killed. She learns that Ser Gregor and his men will go, as Ser Gregor will lead the van, but Ser Amory is staying as castellan of Harrenhal. Vargo Hoat will be staying as well. Weese has her carry various messages all day. She goes to the forge to see the blacksmith, Lucan, about a sword for Ser Lyonel. Gendry tells her that Hot Pie asked him if Arya had yelled Winterfell during the battle at the holdfast. Gendry told him he heard wrong, and he warns Arya to be careful. Weese hits her for taking too long getting the sword, and Arya resolves to have him killed. On her way to take a message to Tuffleberry, the brewer, she runs into Rorge, who threatens her until she mentions Jaqen’s name. He grows fearful and tells her he is in the bathhouse. She goes there and whispers Weese’s name in Jaqen’s ear before delivering the message to the brewer. The next morning, the Lannister host marches out with Lord Tywin and Ser Kevan at its head. Ser Gregor rides out near the end with Polliver carrying his banner. She realizes that she should have called for Tywin’s death and tries to find Jaqen, hoping it is not too late. She hears a commotion and sees Weese lying on the ground with his dog taking bites out of his corpse. Amabel says the ghosts of Harrenhal caused the death. Arya looks up to the walls and sees Jaqen, who casually lays two fingers against his cheek.

Source

Commentary:

And that’s strike two for Arya. It’s hard to argue that Weese didn’t deserve it but it’s hard still to argue that he deserved it over many of Harrenhal’s current occupants. I guess that, on one hand, it just goes to show how relative it is all is; I’m sure that Arya knows, consciously at least, that Tywin, Gregor and Amory are all many times worse than Weese yet she doesn’t have to deal with them on a daily basis and so when her frustration and hatred boils over, Weese is the target she chooses because his absence will improve her life greatly. Of course, I’m not going to pretend that that was the only reason that Tywin and his dogs were spared Arya’s justice – it would be rather poor writing to simply kill off these great monstrous villains you so carefully built up in just one simple stroke. No, Martin had bigger plans for this lot (excepting Amory Lorch, who serves no further plot purpose than to die to a bear and provide dramatic irony) than just being an assassin’s road back to his god’s good books.

He could look at you and smell what you were thinking, he always said so.

I’m quite a fan of the way Martin portrays fear. I’m no expert on the matter but it feels right that Martin’s characters experience fear in a way that twists their rationality. In other circumstances, I’m sure the character of Arya Stark would have called bullshit on Weese’s claim of smell lies but she is so tightly wound in his clutches, and he controls so many (almost every, really) aspect of her life that it’s almost inevitable that she caves in to his bullshit. It’s also kind of fucked up just how often we’ve already seen that kind of fear and mental torture exerted on people in Arya’s chapters alone.

For a moment she had been a wolf again, but Weese’s slap took it all away and left her with nothing but the taste of her own blood in her mouth.

So the above line isn’t remarkable at all but I wanted to point out the lovely juxtaposition that accompanied it. Here you have Arya, building up a head full of angry, vicious steam – run, you assholes, me and my half-wolf brother are coming for you! And then suddenly, she’s back to being a nobody; just another Weasel in Weese’s army of stewards and errand boys. The disdainful slap that Weese deals seals the deal – regardless of what she might think of herself, Arya is no wolf, not just yet. It is also troubling, though fitting too, that of all of Weese’s abuse, it is this one act of reminding her that she is just a mouse in Harrenhal that turns her full anger against him. Now, I might be reading too much into it – after all, it’s equally possible (and perhaps more likely) that him hitting her just angered her to the point that she wanted to lash out, but I prefer the interpretation that she hated being reminded of how powerless she truly was so much that her fear of Weese transformed into hatred and gave her the courage to act. Make of it what you will.

Something in his eyes . . . could it be that he was scared of Jaqen H’ghar?

This is something that is never explained though I actually feel it works better that way. We know that Biter and Rorge belong to the same class of psychos as Gregor Clegane and Vargo Hoat yet, Jaqen apparently knows enough to put the fear of god into them. It’s hard to really imagine what it could be that he has on them. It can’t be any sort of skill of arms or threat of violence – men like these two grew up on threats and beatings the way the rest of us were raised with positive words and kisses. If I had to hazard a guess, they might have seen him change his face and decided that the supernatural was the one thing that they couldn’t beat bloody and have thus decided to give him a wide berth. Still, it would be entertaining to see how that exchange played out.

Lord Tywin, why didn’t I say Lord Tywin?

In the end, I really have mixed feelings about this. I mean, we were all thinking that Arya should have said Tywin’s name but at the same time, it is pretty realistic for people to forget about the bigger picture in the midst of hardship and their own emotions, and that obviously goes twice for a young girl that’s been through what Arya has. I guess what bothers me is the way Martin draws attention to it. Like he does the immutability of prophecy in the series (like we discussed before), he tends to emphasize his tinkering with established tropes and while the end result isn’t bad, per se, I think it might be more elegant if he didn’t.

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