Jonrya Reread: Jon II & III, Arya II
When I initially made the schedule for the reread, I didn’t quite think about maintaining the chronology of the books, so I’m correcting a little for that here. Last week, I posted a meta about the exchange of Needle in Jon II here, so for further musings on that, you can go there. This week, I’m drawing on a few things from Jon II, but the focus will probably be more on Jon III and Arya II, which are sequential.
All the Tears
Man, Jon and Arya at least spend the first five chapters of AGOT in tears at one point or another. Every time I turned the page, tears. In Jon I, Jon cries when he flees the hall after speaking with Benjen. In Arya I, Arya cries when she flees her sewing lessons after being teased and shamed. So let’s follow up with some examples from Jon II, Jon III, and Arya II:
“Bran,” he said, “I’m sorry I didn’t come before. I was afraid.” He could feel the tears rolling down his cheeks. Jon no longer cared. - Jon II, AGOT
After receiving word that Bran’s woken up:
He realized he was crying. And then, through the tears, he found the sense in the words, and raised his head. -Jon III, AGOT
And then Arya, after the incident at supper in the small hall:
When the bar was down, Arya finally felt safe enough to cry. - Arya II, AGOT.
Of course, I’m sure they’re not the only ones to cry in the early chapters of the book, but it just struck me that every time I turn around, Jon and Arya are crying about something. It parallels nicely for them, and I think it does give insight into how they’re moved by emotion. Jon especially gets called out for being brooding (and maybe the tv series only emphasizes this), but he seems quite in touch with his emotions, in both sadness and joy.
What I loathe about rereading the early Jon and Arya chapters is witnessing just how cruel people are to Jon and Arya, who are children. Adults, who should no better, (and kids, too, of course) just say shitty or downright horrible things to these two.
In Jon II, it’s Catelyn. No real surprise there. And I get it. She was shamed by having Ned bring home his bastard and she’s grieving in Jon II over Bran. But she’s also a damn adult. The things that really get me:
He was at the door when she called out to him. “Jon,” she said. He should have kept going, but she had never called him by his name before. He turned to find her looking at his face, as if she were seeing it for the first time.
“Yes?” he said.
“It should have been you,” she told him. -Jon II, AGOT
Nope. Nope, nope, nope. The thing that gets me most isn’t even that she wished Jon would fall out of a tower and be inches from death. That’s inhumane, sure, but not the thing that makes me grieve so much for Jon here. In 14, almost 15 years, Catelyn never even called him by his name to his face. That’s next level cruelty, never acknowledging his full humanity. Even Tyrion Lannister, who has literally just met Jon in Jon I, calls Jon by his name in Jon III. My frustration over this is never ending because so many of the adults in this series don’t act like damn adults.
And Arya. She gets it from both adults and her own sister and sister’s friend in Arya II.
Sansa lifted her head. “It will be a splendid event. You shan’t be wanted.”
It was her [Arya’s] fault, everything bad that had happened. Sansa said so, and Jeyne too.
“Your mother and I have charged her with the impossible task of making you a lady.”
At this point, I expect the cruelty from Sansa and Jeyne. Ned surprised me though. It’s not that it’s biting cruel, but that it’s defeat. We know that Arya wants to be some kind of lady, but she’s been given impossible standards to meet. That Ned just outright says that she’s never going to make it? That stings a little. What’s even more upsetting is that Arya is trying in two instances in this chapter to perform ladyship.
“I’m not hungry.” Arya found it an effort to remember her courtesies. “May I be excused, please?” she recited stiffly.
The next morning, as they broke their fast, she apologized to Septa Mordane and asked for her pardon. The septa peered at her suspiciously, but Father nodded.
Arya can’t catch a break. She tries, and she’s always either denied or thought to have an ulterior motive. If this is how it was for a whole nine years on top of the Sansa-is-perfect nonsense, it’s no wonder Arya could never be a lady. No one gave her a damn chance.
Surrounded by so many people, and Jon and Arya are still terribly lonely and outcast. For Jon:
Jon followed the rest back to the armory, walking alone. He often walked alone here. -Jon III, AGOT
Afterward he sought out Ghost in the loneliness of his cell, and buried his face in his thick white fur. -Jon III, AGOT
“It’s better that I’m by myself,” Jon said stubbornly. “The rest of them are scared of Ghost.” -Jon III, AGOT
I don’t doubt that others are afraid of Ghost, but I don’t believe Jon is just all cool with being alone. He makes that pretty clear.
No one talked to Arya. She didn’t care. She liked it that way. -Arya II, AGOT
Then maybe she wouldn’t feel so alone. -Arya II, AGOT
I don’t believe Arya didn’t care for a minute. Arya has proved herself, and particularly in her reflections of Winterfell and her family, an incredibly social little girl. GRRM spends several paragraphs talking about how Arya interacted with people at Winterfell. I do think she feels isolated, and without friends. And I think that Arya also tries to put on a brave face and pretend it doesn’t bother her. Here, I think she’s pulling a Jon: Everyone is afraid of Ghost; it’s okay I’m alone vs. I hate everyone and happy to be alone. Later in the chapter she even admits to feeling alone.
Thoughts of One Another
Jon III and Arya II begin a long saga of
Jonrya Arya and Jon thinking about one another. And not just a little bit. There are extended insights into their thoughts on their family, and always Jon and Arya think of one another last.
So one thing to say before delving into their thoughts of each other when they’re apart. In Jon II, we get Jon and Arya finishing each other’s sentences.
Arya knew what was coming next. They said it together.
Arya seemed puzzles at first. Then it came to her. She was that quick. They said it together:
The repetition is telling, especially for such a short interaction. These two are in tune with one another. I might also add that having someone finish your sentence is often thought of romantically. It comes with a lot of time and intimacy (not even sexual, as in the case of Jon and Arya at this point).
But now that they’re apart, we get this.
And Arya…he missed her even more than Robb, skinny little thing that she was, all scraped knees and tangled hair and torn clothes, so fierce and willful. Arya never seemed to fit, no more than he had…yet she could always make Jon smile. He would give anything to be with her now, to muss up her hair once more and watch her make a face, to hear her finish a sentence with him. - Jon III, AGOT.
In that section, Jon spends no more than 19 words thinking about any individual sibling, except Arya. For Arya, Jon spends more than 19 words just describing her. He’d give anything to be with Arya. Not his brothers or Sansa, not his father. Arya.
And for Arya:
She wanted Jon to muss up her hair and call her “little sister” and finish her sentences with her… - Arya II, AGOT
Steal some food from the kitchens, take Needle and her good boots and a warm cloak. She could find Nymeria in the wild woods below the Trident, and together they’d return to Winterfell, or run to Jon on the Wall. She found herself wishing that Jon was here with her now. - Arya II, AGOT
For Arya, both Jon and Winterfell are equal alternatives. Being with Jon is just as good as being at home. And the fact that books later, Jon tells Mance to bring Arya home to him? Both Jon and Arya think of Jon as being home to Arya.
What sticks out to me most in these chapters is how much GRRM gives away in terms of foreshadowing for the later books. In part, that’s why I believe that all the little Jonrya moments in the early books are still meant to culminate into canon Jonrya eventually.
But for now, the little giveaways to Arya’s and Jon’s individual plots, respectively:
“I had Mikken make this special. The bravos use swords like this in Pentos and Myr and the other Free Cities…” - Jon II, AGOT
“Nine years Syrio Forel was first sword to the Sealord of Braavos..” - Arya II, AGOT
He wanted to ride with Benjen Stark on his rangings, deep into the mysteries of the haunted forest, wanted to fight Mance Rayder’s wildings and ward the realm against the Others…. - Jon II, AGOT
I have so many other things to say about these chapters, but I’m going to stop there. I know a lot of other people will pick up for them, and I’m also hoarding quotes for more individual, thematic analyses when I have a decent amount amassed.
I do, however, expect to have a meta about Jon and Arya and their Winterfell arc soon. Winterfell sets the stage, and there’s three chapters that really tell us so much about what Jon and Arya are fighting for.