Catelyn Stark: A Mother in Conflict
Catelyn Stark by Amok
“My son may be a king, but I am no queen … only a mother who would keep her children safe, however she could.” - Catelyn V, A Clash of Kings
One of the first things we learn about Catelyn Stark is that she was born in the South, and is uncomfortable in the Winterfell godswood. The first line of her first PoV chapter tells us “Catelyn had never liked this godswood” and then goes on to relate that she was raised with the Seven. We get the strong sense early on that she is not entirely comfortable with the North and its gods. In fact, the Stark words give her a chill, and she reflects, not for the first time, on “what a strange people these northerners were.”
On the other hand, we are given a picture of a close and caring marriage between two people who know and respect each other. Ned and Cat evidently share a deep love of family and each other, as illustrated by the empathy she shows Ned when delivering the news of Jon Arryn’s death. Then, in spite of Ned’s apparent joy at the news of Robert’s visit, Cat’s distinct lack of it proves early on her sensitivity to foreshadowing, a quality we’ll see time and again in her, as she thinks of the story she has lately heard: “a direwolf dead in the snow, a broken antler in its throat.”
The passage goes on, “Dread coiled within her like a snake, but she forced herself to smile at this man she loved, this man who put no faith in signs.” So we see both the bond Ned and Cat share, in spite of their arranged marriage, and the contrast between Ned’s rational and measured perspective and Cat’s more intuitive and visceral one.
As Cat’s story progresses we learn more about her upbringing in the Riverlands.