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Well. My work is calming down. My son is back in school. I have time to do things like write now. I have a lot of ideas, not to mention this little project. So what do I lack?
Nevertheless, here is this week’s chapter. I don’t care much for it, but it has its moments.
Catelyn 2 (6):
The chapter begins in Catelyn’s bedroom, in the aftermath of a session of ‘lovemaking’ with Ned. The man is obviously upset by the king’s offer, and he tells Catelyn that he will refuse the honor. She, in turn, points out how refusing the king would be disastrous. Ned claims to her that Robert would never hurt his family, and that he knows the man. Catelyn insists that the king has changed from the man Ned knew, and that he would never forgive an injury to his pride.
The argument moves on, to the possibility of an arranged marriage between Sansa Stark and Crown Prince Joffrey. Ned believes that they are too young, but Catelyn points out that she was only one year older than Sansa when she was engaged to Ned’s brother, Brandon. This sends Ned into a momentary funk, remembering his brother whom he believed would have known what to do in these situations.
In a momentary lull of conversation, there is a knock at the door. It is a small grey man called Maester Luwin, who has discovered a secret message, left anonymously in a hidden compartment of a box containing a lens. The message is addressed to Catelyn, who recognises the seal of House Arryn, and knows that it is a message from her sister Lysa.
The message is written in a private code between the two sisters, and as Catelyn expects it contains bad news. According to Lysa, Jon Arryn was murdered by the Lannisters, and the queen. Ned doesn’t want to believe it, but Catelyn insists that her sister could only be telling the truth.
Therefore, concludes Catelyn, Ned must become the King’s Hand, in order to learn the truth. Ned is still resistant, but Catelyn’s arguments eventually sway him. Catelyn, he insists, must stay in the north, to support Robb in learning to rule Winterfell. She agrees, but asks after the other children. Ned decides that Rickon should stay with her and Robb, but Sansa, Arya, and Bran should go with him south. This breaks Catelyn’s heart, but she agrees with his reasons.
Maester Luwin raises the issue of Jon Snow, which immediately angers Catelyn. She always hated that Ned’s bastard son had been brought into her home and treated like a son, and she refuses to allow him to stay there once his father was gone. Ned tried to beg her to let him stay, but as he began to get seriously angry, Maester Luwin intervenes. He points out that Benjen had told him that Jon had approached his uncle about joining the Night’s Watch, and that this would solve the problem handily. Ned is reluctant, but eventually decides to support this course. He insists that Jon be allowed to enjoy the last days of summer, and that Ned would tell him later. Exeunt.
I don’t hate this chapter, though I can’t say I like it much. There are a lot of moving parts to look at, though, so let me get right down to it.
So, about the sexual politics of Westeros…you know what? I’m not drunk enough to talk about this right now. I’m going to have to address this eventually, I know, but let me sum up and say I hate the sheer, built-in inequality represented by medieval feudal gender mores, and leave it at that for now.
With that out of the way-
Um. Did anyone just hear something?
Ahem. Moving on. I’ve got to say, I feel pretty sorry for good old Ned Stark in this chapter. He is so far out of his depth that he is already drowning – and the worst part is, he knows it. You have one job: prevent the various nasties up north (not including the Others, of course, they’re just a myth) from spilling south into the rest of the Kingdom. Then along comes your old buddy, the king, who says “Hey, now that our foster father’s dead, why don’t you abandon your important job and join me in a position you’re not suited for, surrounded by people that hate you and are better at politics than you.” And then his wife says, “Yep, sounds like a great idea, it’ll be a big help for the family, ’cause it’ll keep the king from getting suspicious of us, which is important ’cause those people that hate you actually murdered your foster father, and by the way I’m kicking your son to the curb.” Gee, why aren’t you enthused, Ned?
And speaking of Catelyn, it is obvious that she is more clever than Ned, which isn’t hard, but she has made me very suspicious in this chapter. Gee, right at the moment she her arguments could use some bolstering, a known associate of hers “discovers” a box left in his room “while he napped” which “must have been brought by someone in the king’s party,” containing a lens which somehow led him to look for a secret message, directed to Catelyn and written in a code only she can read, which claims a group of people she knows her husband will think the worst of had killed his foster father, and all but forces him to do what she wants him to? What a HUGE FUCKING COINCIDENCE! Or just possibly, she is cleverly manipulating her husband.
“Nonsense. You have no evidence.”
I admit the evidence is a bit shaky –
Ok, for the most part the narrative implies that Catelyn is ignorant of the contents of the message, although only one passage comes close to convincing me: “Her eyes move over the words. At first they made no sense to her.” So if she had written the message to herself, even in code, she would have been able to read the message instantly. However. The timing is just too perfect, and it puts her in the position of insisting Ned do something she already wants him to do. And then, when Ned finally agrees but insists she stay in Winterfell, she has this reaction: “Was this to be her punishment?” So tell me Catelyn, what are you so guilty about?
“Or maybe you read the text, and see that she’s worried about never seeing the husband she loves ever again?”
Ok, seriously, is there someone in here? I keep hearing this weird voice…
Well, my imminent insanity aside, I admit that it’s an outside possibility that Catelyn arranged the whole thing, probably inspired in my mind by my love of Agatha Christie novels. (Well, those about Hercule Poirot, anyway. Love that guy.) But if she didn’t, someone else did, because this seriously is a ridiculous coincidence. Hell, maybe it’s Robert arranging the whole deal, that would make sense too; especially if I’m right, and he’s already paranoid about Eddard Stark’s power base. Hey, maybe we’ll find out someday.
Other than that nonsense, the only thing I really note in this chapter is that Jon’s mother (possibly) gets a name: Ashara Dayne. Catelyn believes that Ned’s behavior and treatment of Jon are because of his great love for this woman (and incidentally, Catelyn is unlikely to win the step-mother of the year award); I would just like to point out that it could also be a sign of great guilt. Why would I say that? Lets just say that I’m getting a certain…impression…about the book I’m reading.
“So, once again, no evidence.”
…Sorry folks, I’m going to leave this here today. I need to go get my ears checked.
Next time: Another new female POV! Let me tell you, I just can’t wait…