Arya Stark Appreciation Week - Day Two (Favorite Familial Relationship)
“I think [Arya] must be dead too.“ When she said that, it felt as though a giant hand were squeezing her chest. (ACOK)
And her lady mother, what would she say? Would she still want her back, after all the things she’d done? Arya chewed her lip and wondered. (ASOS)
arya and catelyn’s dynamic has been my favorite among the starks since the very beginning. i remember when i read a storm of swords i almost threw my book across the room as i got to the part where arya pulls cat’s body out of the river. and the first asoiaf graphic i ever made was a really ugly arya/cat picspam. its not exactly a warm fuzzy relationship. its complicated. arya worries her mother would not want her back because she didnt feel she could be a lady and cat does despair of arya at times (while still loving her as much as the rest of her children) they dont even interact on page. but its my fave all the same. i think one of the reasons i love it so much is because they’re actually so similar and neither of them realizes it. on the surface they’re very different: cat has always comfortably embraced her role as a lady while arya has struggled to conform to it. but deep down? they’re both practical, intelligent, outspoken, no nonsense women with pragmatic minds. they are assertive and capable leaders. they act instinctively and boldly.they’re fiercely protective of those they love and vindictive against those who wrong them. it might be silly but i love how they both stan for the direwolves too. arya’s bond with her wolf (and her wolves) runs deep and catelyn has a great respect for their power. she “loves” summer for ripping out a man’s throat to save bran’s life. which feels a lot like something arya would think as well.
“She is a fierce little thing, my lord. I have never seen such anger in a girl.” (AGOT)
“Give me Cersei Lannister, Lord Karstark, and you would see how gentle a woman can be,” Catelyn replied. (AGOT)
the most important (and underrated) similarity between them is the devotion they show to their family. they are two of the most family orientated characters in this series. cat’s words are family, duty, honor and arya’s personal motto is the pack survives. this is what motivates them: the desire to get their family back. and they will do just about anything to accomplish that goal. they value this above all else, including vengeance. but when their families are completely gone they will come for those responsible.
I am a creature of grief and dust and bitter longings. There is an empty place within me where my heart was once. (ACOK)
It was a hollow place, an emptiness where her heart had been, where her brothers had lived, and her parents. (ASOS)
on a narrative level they are so deeply intertwined that i cannot believe its a coincidence. they share a strong water motif. arya spends a majority of her time in the riverlands which is not only catelyn homeland but its her current location too. arya fights so hard to reach riverrun, and her mother and robb. without knowing the other is fighting just as hard to find them. but the red wedding is where it all comes crashing down. inside the castle, cat has to watch as her last son is betrayed and murdered before she is killed by the freys. outside, arya finds herself in the middle of the slaughter too. she runs for the castle, to save her mother, but sandor clegane knocks her unconscience. this tragedy ends with arya and catelyn stark blacking out and when they awaken they are changed.
I’m not his daughter, Arya might have shouted, if she hadn’t felt so tired. She was no one’s daughter now. She was no one.
“She don’t speak,” said the big man in the yellow cloak. “You bloody bastards cut her throat too deep for that. But she remembers.” (ASOS)
arya is stricken with grief. her last hope to return home and be reunited with her family was destroyed. arya feels as if she is no one. her identity was built upon her pack and without them she is more lost then ever. catelyn stark never truly wakes up. arya and her wolf pulled the three day old corpse out of the river and beric dondarrion gave it the kiss of life, in a possible attempt to fulfill his oath to arya. lady stoneheart’s existence is a direct result of arya’s will.
The white thing lay facedown in the mud, her dead flesh wrinkled and pale, cold blood trickling from her throat. Rise, she thought. Rise and eat and run with us. (ASOS)
“The Freys slashed her throat from ear to ear. When we found her by the river she was three days dead. Harwin begged me to give her the kiss of life, but it had been too long. I would not do it, so Lord Beric put his lips to hers instead, and the flame of life passed from him to her. And … she rose. May the Lord of Light protect us. She rose.” (AFFC)
but she is not the woman she once was. she is a creature driven by nothing but revenge. she has no objectivity or remorse or sympathy. all she wants is to see hanged men. arya is also driven by revenge. its all she has left. this and the fact she has nowhere else to go brings her across the narrow sea to the house of black and white. there she begins to train in assassination and espionage. one of her responsibilities is caring for the dead. its a hard, bloody thing she’s doing. but she has nowhere else to turn. she’s lost and afraid and grieving. she takes on catelyn’s name as one of her aliases and mercy is also a nod to stoneheart who is known as mother merciless. arya is capable of violence and ruthlessness just like her mother’s revenant but she still has a heart. it is not gone or made of stone or even as hard as she likes to think. its still hurting and loving.
Needle was Robb and Bran and Rickon, her mother and her father, even Sansa. Needle was Winterfell’s grey walls, and the laughter of its people. Needle was the summer snows, Old Nan’s stories, the heart tree with its red leaves and scary face, the warm earthy smell of the glass gardens, the sound of the north wind rattling the shutters of her room. Needle was Jon Snow’s smile. He used to mess my hair and call me “little sister,” she remembered, and suddenly there were tears in her eyes. (AFFC)
lady catelyn stark is dead but arya is still alive. arya does not need to go down this road that lies before her with the faceless men. or even one outside of them where she pursues those on her list. she still has a life and a future and those who will love her. all she needs is to find that path again. and i think lady stoneheart will help her realize that. i very much believe they will cross paths. when they do it will be both a climax and a closure. arya will finally understand how much her mother loved her. many of her self doubts and fears about where she belongs will be conquered. she will finally be able to save her mother too. thats what she wanted more than her own life. the arya who walks away from this will be stronger and more confident. and lady stoneheart will finally be given her own mercy. she is a soul in torment but her daughter will be the one to give her peace. i can think of no better ending to this storyline. its a culmination of the themes in their both arcs coming together in one heartbreaking and cathartic event.