reek reek it rhymes with meek

Mantras and Obsessions in A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons

“Kill the boy and let the man be born”
-Jon Snow (Aemon originally)

“Wherever whores go.”
-Tyrion (Tywin originally)

“She’s been fucking Lancel and Osmund Kettleblack and probably Moon Boy for all I know.”
-Jaime (Tyrion originally)

“I’m looking for my sister, a highborn maid of three-and-ten with blue eyes and auburn hair.”
-Brienne

“Queen you shall be… until there comes another, younger and more beautiful, to cast you down and take all that you hold dear.”
-Cersei (Maggy the Frog originally)

“Old instinct made him reach for his chest, where once he’d kept his fingerbones in a little sack on a leather thong. There was nothing there. He had lost his luck in the fires of the Blackwater, when he’d lost his ship and sons.”
-Davos

“Reek, Reek, it rhymes with freak/meek/weak/leek/bleak/squeak/leak/sneak/wreak/peek/shriek.”
-Theon/Reek

“Ser Gregor, Dunsen, Raff the Sweetling. Ser Ilyn, Ser Meryn, Queen Cersei.”
-Arya

“If I look back, I am lost.”
-Daenerys

“Hodor.”
-Hodor

“(…) It was not right that she should look to him for rescue. What had she been thinking, that he would whistle up a winged horse and fly her out of here, like some hero in the stories (…)? He could not even help himself. Reek, Reek, it rhymes with meek.”

- George R.R. Martin, A Song of Ice and Fire.

Desecting Theon's a Dance With Dragons Arc: Theon Regains His identity

Throughout a dance with dragons we get to read the slow process of Theon rebuilding himself.

Ramsay is convinced that he’s fully broken Theon but he is wrong! He got close, very very close… but a sliver of Theon remained and that sliver was enjoy for Theon to shed his Reek persona and rebuild himself again.

The chapter titles are important because they represent the role Theon is taking on at that moment (generally he is forced to take on that role because Roose or Ramsay need him to). Theon’s always made himself into the person others wanted him to be (cause that person was useful to them) and he does so too in this case. Which is what ultimately gives him the ability to regain his own personality, and become himself for the first time.

Reek I

In his first Reek chapter, he appears to be fully transformed (and maybe he was) he allows himself only one thought about who he used to be “in another life he had been someone else but here and now his name was Reek. He remembered”

But who theon is doesn’t just depend on his name or what he thinks of himself, it also depends on his actions, behavior and general attitude.

One of his main traits is how he laughs/smiles when he is scared in order to convinced himself he has no reason to be scared, the situation is not so serious and to show to others that theon greyjoy is not afraid of anything.

It is such a distinct characteristic that when Ramsay points out he is (or used to be) Theon Greyjoy, his guest mentions his smiling:

“The crookback lord looked again and gave a sudden snort. “Him? Can it be? Stark’s ward. Smiling, always smiling.”

  “He smiles less often now,” Lord Ramsay confessed. “I may have broken some of his pretty white teeth.” “

The most symbolic of how broken Theon is, is the fact that he doesn’t smile anymore. Theon smiled because he was scared, Ramsay took that away from him. He probably tried that tactic with him for a while as well, but now he is too scared even to smile. He’s lost his one defense mechanism to hide his fear.

However broken Theon is, he still thinks of escaping. When big and little Walder enter his cell to bring him to Ramsay, Theon thinks he could take them on but is quick to remember how he tried to escape before with Kyra and how that had all been a cruel trick from Ramsay. The main reason Theon doesn’t go through with the escape is because he’s scared this is another trick to test his loyalty. Ramsay’s found a way to control Theon but he’s wrong to assume he has entirely broken him. in this first chapter his defiant thought is more of a reaction to the immediate danger of him being brought to Ramsay but it’s a defiant thought non the less, Theon is still in there somewhere.

Reek II

As we delve into the next chapter Reek is forced to “pretend” to be ironborn again. He helps Ramsay to take Moat Cailin back from the ironborn holding it by negotiating with them, and convincing them to surrender.

““I am ironborn,” Reek answered, lying. The boy he’d been before had been ironborn, true enough, but Reek had come into this world in the dungeons of the Dreadfort. “Look at my face. I am Lord Balon’s son. Your prince.” He would have said the name, but somehow the words caught in his throat. Reek, I’m Reek, it rhymes with squeak.”

He is deliberately separating Reek from Theon, he doesn’t think he is ironborn, he is lying when he says that because Reek and Theon are not the same person. And even thinking about who he used to be hurts so much that he can’t physically get himself to say the name and has to remind himself once again that he is Reek.

Throughout the chapter he is constantly reminded of events that occurred “before he knew his name” and every time he insists on referring to his former self in the third person, reminding himself that this person is not him.

““What horse? I never had no horse.”

  I did. The memory came back in a rush. Smiler’s screams had sounded almost human. His mane afire, he had reared up on his hind legs, blind with pain, lashing out with his hooves. No, no. Not mine, he was not mine, Reek never had a horse”

When he arrives back at the Dreadfort to deliver the Iron born to Ramsay, completing his task successfully, he allows himself one quick moment of feeling like his former self again. At that moment he had pleased Ramsay, he didn’t have to be so afraid for once and Reek lost control only for a second until fear took over again.

““I thought there would be more. We came at them three times, and three times they threw us back.”

  We are ironborn, he thought, with a sudden flash of pride, and for half a heartbeat he was a prince again, Lord Balon’s son, the blood of Pyke. Even thinking was dangerous, though. He had to remember his name. Reek, my name is Reek, it rhymes with weak.”

He is still deliberately avoiding to use his former name, until the end of the chapter, when Roose arrives with “Arya Stark” whom Theon immediately recognizes as not Arya but Sansa’s friend Jeyne Poole.

Jeyne is the first real proof and the living reminder of who he used to be and now there is no denying that Theon Greyjoy existed. Reek wants to help her but he can’t help her in his condition (his condition of being Reek). At this point, Reek has a clear reason to rebuild himself and become Theon again. He’s had a taste of his old life and the person he used to be and he wants to go back to that. For the first time, he is able to acknowledge who he really used to be because he’s been given hope that that person is not entirely lost.

“Once, a boy called Theon Greyjoy had enjoyed tweaking Bolton as they sat at council with Robb Stark.”

He is still referring to himself in the third person but he finally uses his name and he doesn’t feel the need to remind himself that he is Reek this time.

Reek III

In his third Reek chapter the first cracks in his Reek shield appear. He allows himself to have a defiant thought against Ramsay (something that sent him into an acute state of panic in his first chapter) He allows himself to think about his brothers and doesn’t deny they were his brothers (unlike what he did when he was thinking about smiler), which means he’s acknowledging that he is, in fact, still Theon Greyjoy. And last but not least, when Roose suggest to let him have a bath and new clothes he panics and in his panic says this “I only want these clothes. Reek’s clothes. I’m reek, it rhymes with peak” in other words, he is referring to Reek in the third person (for the first time), something he did with Theon in the previous chapters.

However, cracks are not enough because when Roose tells lady Dustin that he is Theon, Reek panics again and tells them “I’m not the turncloak, he died at winterfell. My name is reek, it rhymes with freak” Theon is not ready to let go of Reek, because Reek is the shield that protects him from Ramsay. But beginnings are always difficult, and a few cracks can have a tremendous impact.

The prince of winterfell

In the prince of winterfell Theon is forced to marry of Jeyne poole (disguised as being Arya Stark) to Ramsay Bolton. He has been under Roose’ care for a while because they needed him for the wedding, to give the bride away. As Theon himself states “They are using me to cloak their deception, putting mine own face on their lie.”

Being in better circumstances for a while has given Theon the power to claim his own name again. For the first time in a dance with dragons he refers to himself as Theon Greyjoy again, however, just the name isn’t enough. He knows that his condition isn’t stable at all. And he knows that Roose will soon have no more use for him “He will give me back to Ramsay then, he thought, and Ramsay will take a few more fingers and turn me into Reek once more”

Jeyne Poole remembers Theon, and asks him for help, she reminds him of who he used to be “I used to watch you in the yard, playing with your swords. You were so handsome.” she wants to see him like this, the Theon she knew at winterfell, because she needs to believe that that Theon would help her. And maybe Theon believes that Theon would help her too, but he isn’t that Theon anymore, he insists that he is no one’s man “A man would help her”

But Theon does want to help her, the only way he is capable of at the moment, by telling her who she’s supposed to be. When she insists that he is not Arya, that her name is Jeyne, Theon tells her to just be Arya. Because “Talk like that will get you killed, or worse. That lesson he had learned as Reek.” It was easier for him to be Reek after all. “Her name, she had to know her name.” Now that Ramsay’s attention has shifted to Jeyne, Theon shifts his experiences onto her as well. The fact that he embraced his Reek persona was what saved him so he assumes that pretending to be Arya will save Jeyne (which it probably did), he wants to help her the best way he can. And he knows no other way then this way because he is not even a man.

But Theon feels guilty about not being able to help her and he goes back to insisting on it not being his fault multiple times, like he used to do in a clash of kings when he felt guilty about the people he killed. He is trying to convince himself that he is not what she wants him to be and therefore not capable of what she asks of him. “It was not right that she should look to him for rescue. What had she been thinking, that he would whistle up a winged horse and fly her out of here, like some hero in the stories she and Sansa used to love? He could not even help himself. Reek, Reek, it rhymes with meek.”

When he thinks of defying Ramsay his Reek person immediately comes out again. He insists that he is not the hero Jeyne wants (needs) him to be, but he is still Ramsay’s creature. But in his guilt he keeps thinking of ways to help her, twice he thinks about their deaths. Once caused by Jeyne herself and once caused by him killing her. “That would be a kindness, wouldn’t it? And if the old gods hear my prayer, Ramsay in his wroth might strike me dead as well.” But Theon doesn’t dare act on any of his thoughts, he cannot truly help Jeyne until he is fully Theon again.

Theon has a reason to fully rebuild himself but Being Theon is not as easy as being Reek. Not only is it dangerous, it also comes with a whole lot of guilt. Guilt he hasn’t had to feel for a long time (while being Reek) “How many died the day that he took Winterfell? How many more the day he lost it? The day that Theon Greyjoy died, to be reborn as Reek. Reek, Reek, it rhymes with shriek.” Theon immediately tries to repress his guilt by insisting that Theon is dead and he is Reek, they are two different people so he doesn’t have to feel the guilt of the one he is not.

None the less Jeyne believes him to be a hero and Theon really wants to be that hero, but he doesn’t believe that he can be. He gets confused over who he truly is. “He did not know who he was, or what he was, why he was still alive, why he had ever been born.” He doesn’t understand he’s changing yet, he doesn’t know why. Reek’s purpose was serving Ramsay but as he is changing back into Theon that purpose disappears. For a brief moment he is neither Reek nor Theon but something in between them. He doesn’t know what his purpose is.

After the marriage Ramsay forces Reek to prepare his bride for him. At Ramsay’s command he uses his knife to cut off her clothes. With the knife in hand, he thinks of killing Ramsay, at thought that wouldn’t have even crossed his mind a few chapters ago. But he has no self-confidence and ultimately thinks it’s simply one of Ramsay’s tests, remembering Kyra with the keys (as he does every time he thinks Ramsay is testing him) “He wants me to try to kill him. And when I fail, he’ll flay the skin from the hand I used to hold the blade.”

“If she’s not wet by the time I’m done disrobing, I will cut off that tongue of yours and nail it to the wall.”

Somewhere in the godswood, a raven screamed. The dagger was still in his hand.

He sheathed it.

Reek, my name is Reek, it rhymes with weak. Reek bent to his task

One Threat from Ramsay is enough to bring him back to his Reek persona, even if only temporarily. Theon has far from fully regained himself, though he has the potential to, now that he has his name back and Ramsay doesn’t even suspect that he does.

The Turncloak

In the Turncloak, Theon thinks of an actual escape plan for the first time, he has had many defiant thoughts over the past few chapters and has not been so scared that Ramsay would simply know he had those thoughts but none the less he doesn’t dare act on them. Ramsay has tricked him more than once and Theon is fast to assume that every opportunity he gets is nothing more than Ramsay setting up a trap in the hopes he will try and fail.

“Even if he found some secret way out, Theon would not have trusted it. He had not forgotten Kyra and her keys.”

This kind of defiance doesn’t just come out of nowhere. Something very important happened the day before. Jeyne called him Theon. before Jeyne came into the picture no one probably called him Theon in months and now there is this girl from his past who, despite how much he’s changed, calls him by his real name and still regards him as the person he used to be back in Winterfell.

““Theon …” she whispered, weeping. “Reek.” He grabbed her arm and shook her. “In here I’m Reek. You have to remember, Arya.” But the girl was no true Stark, only a steward’s whelp. Jeyne, her name is Jeyne. She should not look to me for rescue. Theon Greyjoy might have tried to help her, once. But Theon had been ironborn, and a braver man than Reek. Reek, Reek, it rhymes with weak.”

The many struggles apparent from this quote are important. Theon is forced to tell her she should call him Reek, to be called Theon is dangerous and right after that he thinks of how he wants to save her and how Theon would have tried to help her. But he reminds himself that he is not Theon. He is still clinging to his Reek persona but the idea of Theon saving Jeyne is there already.

Once this thought has festered, Theon becomes increasingly suspicious. When one of the washerwomen comes up to him he is certain that Ramsay sent her to test him and when he recalls Kyra with the keys this time he becomes emotional. He thinks about hitting and fucking the girl and quickly reminds himself that. “Reek, Reek, my name is Reek. I must not forget my name.”

Later on he prays to the gods ““Please,” he murmured through his broken teeth, “I never meant …” The words caught in his throat. “Save me,” he finally managed. “Give me …” What? Strength? Courage? Mercy? Snow fell around him, pale and silent, keeping its own counsel.”

At this point Theon doesn’t know what he wants yet but he clearly wants to get a chance to change his situation. His reek persona is slowly slipping. To reinforce this wish of change he hears Jeyne’s weeping. “The sound was too painful to endure.” Theon cannot stand to hear her cry so his cause is clear (even if it’s not clear to him yet) he has to become Theon again so he can make the sound of Jeyne’s crying stop.

A ghost in winterfell

A ghost in winterfell is all about death. A mysterious killer is murdering people in winterfell, even t-Theon is briefly considered a suspect. All the death around him gets Theon to think of his own death. He considers throwing himself off the walls but he can’t help but think what Ramsay would do if he survived the fall and quickly reminds himself “I have to remember my name”. What that name is though, he doesn’t have to remind himself anymore. He knows.

And when he does think of the name Ramsay gave him again, he starts off thinking of him in the third person “Reek is no man. Not Reek. Not me.” And he never even acknowledges Reek and himself being the same person, though he puts the two on the same level.

“Theon would have laughed aloud if he’d remembered how.”

Theon may have reclaimed his name, he may not consider himself Reek anymore but he doesn’t remember how to laugh, he is not free from Ramsay’s influence just yet, the struggle is far from over.

After Roose and Lady Dustin have decided that he couldn’t hold a knife with his missing fingers and can therefore not be the killer Theon goes back to imagining his own death.

“Theon wondered if he might be allowed to fight. Then at least he might die a man’s death, sword in hand. That was a gift Ramsay would never give him, but Lord Roose might. If I beg him. I did all he asked of me, I played my part, I gave the girl away. Death was the sweetest deliverance he could hope for.” This is already a very different idea then his previous suicide thought. He doesn’t just think of dying he thinks of dying “a man’s death” he is hoping to regain some of the dignity he’s lost, dignity that he didn’t even consider to ever get back before now.

Theon eventually begs the gods and this time he knows what he wants “Let me die as Theon, not as Reek.” At this point Theon has regained something he hasn’t had in a long time, he has hope.

Theon

In this chapter we finally get to see some of Theon’s old habits return.

“theon would have laughed if he had dared”

At this point Theon “remembers” how to laugh, though he doesn’t dare to do so yet. But slowly he is going back to the old ways of who he used to be and what he used to do. But the moment Ramsay enters the room Theon instantly goes back to being terrified.

“Lord Ramsay soon appeared as well, […]His mood is foul this morning. Theon could tell. […]Please, m’lord, don’t look this way. One glance would be all it would take for Ramsay to know everything. He’ll see it written on my face. He’ll know. He always knows.“

What’s important to note is that while Theon is terrified Ramsay knows about their plans he does not return to his reek persona, for the first time there is no “my name is reek…” he has regained enough of his personality to remain Theon, even when Ramsay is close and terrifying him.

““If the Bastard does come after us, he might live long enough to rue it.” […]Think that, Theon thought. Believe that. Tell yourself it’s true.”

When theon thinks about Abels plan to escape with Jeyne Poole (thinking she is Arya Stark) he is convinced it will fail. Like he used to be convinced a lot of things he tried/was in a clash of kings would fail. Because with being Theon Greyjoy comes a lot of self-doubt, insecurities and a low self-esteem. However the trick he used to use, telling himself he wasn’t going to fail, is not working anymore at this point. So he projects it onto Abel. Somehow hoping that if Abel believes it Theon doesn’t have to, he is not used to having that responsibility anymore and he doesn’t want it.

 “They did not trust him. Why should they? I was Reek before and might be Reek again. Reek, Reek, it rhymes with sneak.”

Theon clearly states that he is not Reek, however he cannot be sure that he won’t ever be Reek again, he even falls back into it for a moment just by thinking about it.

“He smiled through his broken teeth.

Foolish woman. He might well be a broken thing, but Theon still wore a dagger. It would have been a simple thing to slide it out and drive it down between her shoulder blades. That much he was still capable of, missing teeth and broken teeth and all. It might even be a kindness—a quicker, cleaner end than the one she and her sisters would face when Ramsay caught them.

 Reek might have done it. Would have done it, in hopes it might please Lord Ramsay. These whores meant to steal Ramsay’s bride; Reek could not allow that. But the old gods had known him, had called him Theon. Ironborn, I was ironborn, Balon Greyjoy’s son and rightful heir to Pyke. The stumps of his fingers itched and twitched, but he kept his dagger in its sheath.”

Theon very clearly differentiates between Theon and Reek in this quote.

Theon is the one who has to tell himself that he could kill her if he wanted to, and believes it would be a mercy to kill her before Ramsay gets his hands on her (just like he thought in Jeyne’s situation in the prince of winterfell)

While Reek would have killed her only to please Ramsay.

But ultimately, Theon is the one who wins out, he’s the one who does not kill her, but likes to believe he could.         

“My lady.” Theon could not bring himself to call her Arya and dare not call her Jeyne. “No need to hide. These are friends.”

The furs stirred. An eye peered out, shining with tears. Dark, too dark. A brown eye. “Theon?”

Theon has fully acknowledged his own identity at this point and he again, extends it to Jeyne, now that he is Theon again he cannot call her Arya anymore. But he doesn’t dare to call her Jeyne because the fear of Ramsay is still there, he still doesn’t dare to risk his wrath, even when he is not there, even when he is in the process of betraying him, the name still means protection.

 “I … I have no brothers.”

  She has forgotten who she is. She has forgotten her name. “That’s so,” said Theon, “but you had brothers once. Three of them. Robb and Bran and Rickon.”

  “They’re dead. I have no brothers now.”

We are all dead, Theon thought. I told them this was folly, but none of them would listen. Abel had doomed them. All singers were half-mad. In songs, the hero always saved the maiden from the monster’s castle, but life was not a song, no more than Jeyne was Arya Stark. Her eyes are the wrong color. And there are no heroes here, only whores. Even so, he knelt beside her, pulled down the furs, touched her cheek. “You know me. I’m Theon, you remember. I know you too. I know your name.

Theon is not fully able to be himself while still being so close to Ramsay, he is still acting out the importance of not forgetting who Ramsay decides they are, even when that is of no importance considering he is trying to take Ramsay’s wife away, it is still ingrained in the back of his mind.

Theon is in the process of saving Jeyne but he he still doesn’t believe he can save her, he doesn’t believe that in real life the “hero” manages to save the maiden and even compares it to the fact that Jeyne Poole is not Arya stark, acknowledging who she really is (which can be extended to Theon).

“He and the girl were alone. If they take us alive, they will deliver us to Ramsay.

Theon grabbed Jeyne about the waist and jumped.”

By saving Jeyne, Theon reinforces his identity as Theon, it is the ultimate act of defiance against Ramsay, it is Theon’s first decision in his entire life that is not meant to please others and it is the symbol of Theon’s rebirth. Theon has freed himself from the identity forced on him by Ramsay, and has found the identity he’d always been looking for, the real him, who does what he does because HE thinks it’s the right thing to do.