There were a lot of choices D&D made and one of them was to split up Catelyn’s arc/symbolism between her daughters. And to an extent this decision made sense. I mean I hated it because it threw out Book!Arya’s whole arc about mercy and revenge vs justice, but that plot had been thrown a way a while ago anyway, so it wasn’t a huge loss. Lady Stoneheart wasn’t there and someone had to kill House Frey. Might as well be Arya since her arc wasn’t really going anywhere anyway (don’t tell me her leaving made sense, a one off comment doesn’t equal good foreshadowing). I can understand that.
What I cannot understand is why they gave Cat’s Jenny of Old Stones symbolism to Sansa. And not in a Sansa-stole-her-plot way...just in a this doesn’t really make sense way. Book!Sansa’s fiction (fictional-fictional?) counter part is Jonquil while Cat has Jenny (and Arya has Nymeria). In the show they keep giving Sansa the dragonfly imagery which could hint back to the Prince of Dragonflies which makes sense because growing up Petyr pretended to be Cat’s Prince of Dragonflies.
“We're all just songs in the end. If we are lucky." She had played at being Jenny that day, had even wound flowers in her hair. And Petyr had pretended to be her Prince of Dragonflies. Catelyn could not have been more than twelve, Petyr just a boy.” - Cat V, ASoS
And book-wise this is an interesting little connection between Arya and Cat since Arya meets a woman who may have known Jenny.
“The dwarf woman studied her with dim red eyes. "I see you," she whispered. "I see you, wolf child. Blood child. I thought it was the lord who smelled of death . . ." She began to sob, her little body shaking. "You are cruel to come to my hill, cruel. I gorged on grief at Summerhall, I need none of yours. Begone from here, dark heart. Begone!” - Arya VIII, ASoS
Show-wise this means absolutely nothing. It’s not even a parallel to Cat and Sansa because Cat doesn’t bring up pretending to be Jenny.
And what is so strange to me is that of what we know about Jenny, hers is a really sad story. One thing the show did right was the song about Jenny, its super beautiful and just as sad. Its about a woman who is so tormented by what happens she is basically driven mad by it. That’s so sad.
But what on earth does it have to do with Sansa Stark?
For book!Cat this parallel makes sense. All Lady Stoneheart has are ghosts. She is basically a walking talking ghost herself and she is literally a ghost of herself. She is Jenny after the Tragedy of Summerhall, driven mad by grief.
Sansa isn’t any of those things, in the book or the show. The closest she gets to being Jenny in the show is that she is Winterfell. She’s high in the halls of the kings who are gone and family-wise she is alone. But there is nothing to suggest she has been driven mad by grief or is haunted by ghosts of the past.
I really just don’t get the point of having Sansa affiliated with Jenny instead of Jonquil even if it is a kind of vague connection.
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Arya Stark as a waterbender: My headcanons
Like the Southern Watertribe in Avatar, the women were allowed to learn how fight,(although it wasn't actually encoureged) but since she grew up with Catelyn's ideals that comes from a more conservative thinking, Arya wasn't allowed to learn how to fight.
Since she couldn't attend to fight waterbending classes like her brothers, she attended to healing classes. She wasn't truly interested and excited.
She was a kind of prodigy in bending. Learning quickly the lessons, but her attitude and mood wasn't appreciated by her teacher. Actually, her ability was considered "her only good quality" by the septas.
Jon teached her defensive and offensive waterbending moves when he could, even tho he also was a student and not a great teacher, Arya loved it, It was their secret.
In the North waterbenders are more commun, but airbenders also exist and are a part of their culture as well. Arya always loved to play with Bran, who is an airbender. Together they were a terror duo always making tricks in the Castle and running around.
Like the Kapas in Avatar, the Direwolves are considered sacred. spiritual guides and protectors. So all the Stark kids were considered blessed by having one.
Ned hired Syrio to teach Arya not only sword fighting, but waterbending as well.
On the run as Arry, Weasel, Nan, etc, etc, and after with the Hound she came to appreciate her healing lessons, since she could help and save a lot of people, especially her friends and northern soldiers who were imprisioned and injured.
It had to be a secret, since during the War of Five Kings, all waterbenders were suspect to be enemies of King Joffrey, and all each one of them were being hunted down to be executed.
When she joined the House of Black and White, she learned a lot of new skills and the knowledge of chi blocking. It terrified her that someone could take her bending away. She saw Jaqen doing this in Harrenhal, but still frightned her.
Also with the Faceless Men she learned Blood Bending. She wasn't confortable with it and wasn't something she actually like. For Arya it seemed wrong, even tho she thinks about how easy would it be to avenge her family with this. She kinda have a moral struggle as an identity struggle during this arc
Just like Katara in the Northern Water tribe, Arya learned and prospered, achieving maestry in waterbending during her time in Braavos. Not with the Faceless Men. Bending gets too much attention and they value stealth and deception above anything, so the most part of Waterbending skills she learned from the Black Pearl. (The Black Pearl is still a courtesan, but since her ancestor was a Pirate Queen and a waterbender, it became a tradition that when a Black Pearl is born with a bending skill they should know how to fight and defend themselves)
In Braavos there were non-benders, fire benders, air benders, water benders, Earth benders, etc, etc. It was a place with such cultural diversity that Arya loved it.
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Arya Stark & Femininity
This might turn into a mini rant, so bear with me here. A lot of times whenever I watch old GOT clips, (bc I hate myself) and read stuff about Arya on fansites, I realize that there’s been a lot of misconception about her and her character. Particularly about her being a woman. And a lot of times i see this sort of “justification” from her fans that the reason why she’s such a fan-favorite character in the show (and to some extent, the books?) is because Arya is esentially this “bad-ass ninja asassin tomboy who’s out for revenge against those who’ve killed her family.” And some of her fans and especially her anti’s will call her out expressing that “Arya’s only a child who doesn’t like girly things like dresses and boys and doing her hair. She “identifies” herself as a tomboy because she likes “boyish things” like sword play, and playing in the mud, and gore, wrestling, etc. I was scrolling through the Jonrya tag here on Tumblr, this is a comment I found regarding Arya:
The moment I read that I straight up just wanted to rant! Lol! Also, I’m sorry for the formatting, I’m writing this on mobile. :( Anyways, these people who make those claims about Arya, esentially only see her as this small girl who likes fighting and getting dirty. They completely disregard everything else that makes Arya, Arya. Pretty much just limiting her to her sex, understanding that because Arya likes boyish things, she’s NOT ALLOWED to inherit things, like the North, fall in love and get married, have a high position in the hierarchy and in politics. It’s because that these people see her as someone who hates needlework or everything that isn’t Sansa, everyone believes that she hates everything that makes her FEMALE. Everybody here knows that Arya’s my favorite female character in the books, so I just wanna talk about how the general public views her, and how their views tend to go against Arya’s entire character.
People have this view that she is the “exact opposite” of Sansa. And while that’s true in terms of their different characteristics, it doesn’t mean that Arya is against everything that makes Sansa, feminine. Now lemme elaborate here. Sansa is everything that represents “femininity.” Especially in terms of the inspired time period that ASOIAF takes place in. She’s very girly & lady-like, is mannerful, “soft-spoken.” She daydreams about boys and being a princess. She’s graceful and elegant. She knows her place in terms of society, and as a woman. AND YEAH, Arya is the exact opposite of that. Yes, she has this boyish nature. She’s wild and free spirited. Loud also adventerous. But that’s the thing: Arya has a lot of femininity in her. It’s just not the femininity that we’re used to. What society percieves as “normally feminine.”
Arya is not Sansa. And it’s because she doesn’t act like a “lady” that the audience sees her as this girl who “doesn’t want” or most importantly, should not want/get the same treatment as the typical noblewoman in Westeros should recieve. This idea was engraved into people’s heads because of the show, and that’s how we’re supposed to see her. As this cold hearted ninja assasin warrior who happens to be a girl, but doesn’t act like a typical girl. The audience pretty much places her in the “I’m not like other girls” trope. Which is honestly, so wrong to me. Because yeah okay, Arya isn’t like the typical lady. But god, she is far deeper than that, and is a much more complex character.
Here’s the thing, Arya does not reject being a female, and most importantly, she does not reject the typical ideals of what makes a lady feminine. Of course not. In fact, she actively encourages that women be included in all things, especially in things only made for men. She believes that women should not be held back or ignored because of their sex and femininity.
“The Lannister’s are proud,” Jon observed. “You’d think the royal sigil would be sufficient, but no. He makes his mother’s House equal in honor to the king’s.”
“The woman is important too!” Arya protested.
This excerpt is from Arya’s very first chapter in AGOT. It is also my favorite Jonrya moment, lol. And asides from the scene foreshadowing potential plot points for not only Jon & Arya, the scene introduces to us and examines Arya’s perception of society and more specifically, the women in society. In this scene Arya joins Jon in observing Prince Joffrey, talking about the Lannister/Baratheon coat of arms. Jon makes a point that while the Baratheon sigil should be enough to prove that Joffrey is of royalty, the Lannisters (Cersei) are a proud house, married into the royal family. So therefore Joffrey is of house Baratheon AND Lannister. That is why the Lannister sigil stands besides the Baratheons. Because they, specifically Cersei, should be seen as equal to the king.
And while Jon makes this seem like it’s wrong or not needed, Arya disagrees with him. She tells him that the women should not be forgotten, as they should be seen as equal to the men. That the women are just as important as the men, and that it would be of good conduct to not forget that. And with that being said, she never acknowledges that Joffrey’s mother is too lady-like or too feminine to be seen as an equal to the king. Nope. Although she does question later as to why if women cannot fight, why should they have a coat of arms. Though that is hardly the point of her argument.
Another point that makes people believe that Arya is not feminine or does not support femininity, is when she flat out says to Ned that she hates the idea of being a lady.
“Your mother and I have charged her with the impossible task of making you a lady.”
“I don’t want to be a lady,” Arya flared.
Alot of people misinterpret this as Arya not wanting to be a noblewoman, because she only likes to play with swords, and get dirty. Because acting like a lady is stupid and not her. This is simply not true. Arya has no problem with women, or being a lady. She is a lady. A highborn one. What she does have a problem with is that being a lady often means being trapped in the conformities of what society percieves to be the acceptable standard for women in this time period.
All of the acceptable standards is what Sansa is. And she is not like Sansa. She does not believe herself to be a lady like her sister or her mother. When she first reveals her true identity to Gendry in ACOK, he immediately apologizes to her for his behavior and calls her m’lady. :3 Arya unfortunately sees this as a form of mockery and an attack because while Gendry acknowledges that she is a lady, Arya doesn’t act like a typical lady or even look like one. That insecurity of not being a lady like her mother and sister makes her believe that Gendry is using her sex against her. Like a form of irony. But I mean, we all know that’s far from the truth, lol!
And Jon recognizes this too! It’s the reason why they are so close and tightly knit together. Because Jon understands Arya, and sees her insecurity like how she sees his. They are one and the same. Jon sees and understands Arya’s frustrations of sexism viewed in Westeros. He acknowledges that Arya is to become a lady. But he also sees that Arya is not the conventional type of lady wanting to stick to the norms. She is a different type of lady, and to him, that is okay. He may tease her for it once in a while, pointing out all the unfair limitations that women have to go through. But he accepts her for being this unconventional noblewoman, and often encourages her to pursue being different.
“Girls get the arms but not the swords. Bastards get the swords but not the arms. I did not make the rules, little sister.”
Later when Jon and Arya say their goodbyes, Jon gifts Arya with the swords. Needle. This is his way of saying, fuck all them haters, be who you wanna be. Solidifying the idea that he supports her and accepts her for who she is. Kinda like how Tyrion told him to use his identity as armour, Arya should do the same to herself. It’s okay to be different than the rest. Fuck the rules.
It’s not that Arya hates the idea of being a lady. It’s a far cry from that. It’s the sexism that goes along with being the typical lady that infruiates her. Arya loves running around, riding horses, playing with swords, being loud and adventurous. She has a firery temper to her. And just because she likes doing all of that, and is all of that, it doesn’t mean, shouldn’t mean that she isn’t a lady. That she can’t be a lady. All of those things shouldn’t limit her to being viewed as a girl, a highborn lady. She is a woman, and she identifies as one.
“Listen to him, boy.”
“It was the third time he had called her “boy.” “I’m a girl,” Arya objected.
That is why, even though she sees herself as a woman, she often tells herself and other people that she is not a lady. Despite others telling her that she is one. Her insecurity and her frustrations do not allow her to see herself as a lady because she isn’t a “conventional woman.”
But the thing is, even though Arya doesn’t enjoy most of the typical lady-like things, she still has a ton of femininity to her. And people often ignore her more feminine traits in favor of her more “badassery” side, which unfortunately are most often occupied by men. People forget and downright ignore that Arya is really intelligent. She particularly excels in math. It’s one of the few things that she’s better at than Sansa. She loves flowers—like her aunt Lyanna. The very person who she’s said to look and act like the most. And a really important one is that she has motherly instincts. It’s what helps her protect other kids throughout her journey. Her ability to empathize enables her to be more social with outcasts and befriend others without judgement. She is well-mannered and kind to strangers. (An example of this would be when she apologizes to a common woman who lent her a dress to wear, and she accidentally destroys it because she and Gendry were playing by the acorn tree.) She can also cook and clean just like any other woman—or any other person. All of those are feminine traits, and are traits that make her more human. And the show opted to get rid of all that and gave us some cold-hearted, angry, ninja.
The audience perceives that because Arya is this ninja warrior who rejects the common standards of being a lady, it means that she can’t have these other more female traits. Nope. She’s not allowed to have or want more rights and power because that’s not her. She’s a warrior and nothing more. She can’t find love because she has to be this bad-ass independent woman who don’t need no man. That’s not her, that’s her sister. We can’t have Arya be any more female than she already is because she rejects the idea of being female. Leave all that crap to her sister! Sansa’s the princess—and we can’t have Arya being a princess or queen. Arya’s only allowed to carry a sword.
And it’s the audience’s perception of her that goes against everything that Arya is, and everything that she believes in. Because remember, Arya hates the idea that being a lady means being trapped in the societal norms. And it can be said vice versa too. Arya still respects those who want to be more of the conventional type. Arya may not have the more typical feminine traits that make her a lady, but to hell with it! It doesn’t mean that she’s not allowed to have the other things that the more conventional woman would/should have. That goes against all of her views and beliefs. The audience puts Arya at an unfair standard because she doesn’t act like a conventional woman.
It’s the same thing as the audience saying that Jon Snow doesn’t want a title or power, because he’s devoted his life to the Nights Watch and is unselfish. False. Very false. Just like Arya. Arya’s young. She still has time to grow, and no doubt she doesn’t think of all those things now because of other priorities. But she’s slowly getting there. And there is so much foreshadowing of her finding love, becoming a woman gaining power, etc, etc. She’s not there yet, but that’s a part of her growth. Just because she defies the typical female standards, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t want or wont want all those things later.
Like com’on. Everyone knows that Arya is the only legitimate candidate right now to inherit the North. Everyone knows. The Northmen know, the Nights Watch knows, the people in Kings Landing knows. Hell, even the damn wildings know this. And it’s because of this knowledge that formed the majority of the northern plotline in ADWD. People are going to war for her. She is the true key to the North, and that’s why the Boltons lied and said that they have her. It’s why Jon went to war and died for her. I don’t think Arya will truly believe it if/when she finds out that people are fighting for her because she holds the power to the North. Unless Jon’s gonna be the one to tell her himself. The fact that she is being set up to inherit all this power, and yet people deny it and believe that she doesn’t want it because it’s “not her” in regards that she’s not feminine enough, is seriously infuriating.
I mean look at the type of women Arya respects and idolizes. Where do you think she got the name Nymeria from? Nymeria’s name originates from the Princess of Dorne herself, Princess Nymeria of Ny Sar. Princess Nymeria was said be very beautiful, strong-willed, cunning, and full of wisdom. She was a “warrior-queen.” From that alone, her femininity clearly did not matter. She was a woman whose goals were not held back because of her femininity and sex.
Arya does not hate femininity or things that makes women more feminine. She doesn’t truly hate wearing dresses or being a lady. It’s being conformed to the general standards that she hates. It’s her sex being used against her that makes her angry. It’s not being able to be herself that she despises. And thanks to Sansa and her mother’s judgement of her, Arya’s insecurity only heightened. Despite looking exactly like Lyanna, Arya herself believes that she’s not beautiful enough to even be considered a lady. Only Jon and Ned allowed Arya to be Arya. Only they called her beautiful, and only they encouraged her to be who she wanted to be. Arya loves her fellow women. And yeah, she also loves Sansa despite her being such a pain in the ass bitch, lol.
Arya’s character encourages women to just be women. She encourages us the audience to just be ourselves despite all the conformities forced upon us. Her character explores the limitations of sex, gender, and especially the loss of identity. Arya not wanting to be a lady doesn’t actually mean she doesn’t want to be a lady. She doesn’t want to be held back by the standards of being a lady. Her question, her argument is that why should women be limited only to being this or that. Women are far more than meets the typical standard, and if society can’t accept it, then fuck that! Women can be knights and still be a lady. They can be fierce and passionate and emotional and still be a lady. Women can be warriors and still be a lady. Just because there are some women out there who don’t fit the ideal standards of what it means to be lady, it shouldn’t make them feel like less than one.
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