The Iterations of Arya Stark
Within A Song of Ice and Fire, there are a number of Arya proxies you can find, both by look and by personality. I think it’s interesting to study them side by side to see what the characters have to say about her as a person, as well as the authorial intent, parallels, and possible foreshadowing. There was Lyanna, a wild beauty by most standards; Ygritte, the fiery first love; Meera, the ever-protective sister and huntress; Margaery, the cunning pretender; Jeyne, Lady of Winterfell; Leaf, a small vessel of old magic; Willow, a fierce little girl who acts as a queen; and finally Alys, the grey northern girl with a frosty winter crown.
“Lyanna might have carried a sword, if my lord father had allowed it. You remind me of her sometimes. You even look like her.” (Arya, A Game of Thrones)
Something about her made him think of Arya, though they looked nothing at all alike. “Will you yield?” he asked, giving the dirk a half turn. And if she doesn’t? (Jon, A Clash of Kings)
Jojen was so solemn that Old Nan called him “little grandfather,” but Meera reminded Bran of his sister Arya. She wasn’t scared to get dirty, and she could run and fight and throw as good as a boy. (Bran, A Clash of Kings)
A few days past, he had taken Ned aside to show him an exquisite rose gold locklet. Inside was a miniature painted in the vivid Myrish style, of a lovely young girl with doe’s eyes and a cascade of soft brown hair. [..] The maid was Loras Tyrell’s sister Margaery, he’d confessed, but there were those who said she looked like Lyanna. (Eddard, A Game of Thrones)
The girl was slim, and taller than he remembered, but that was only to be expected. Girls grow fast at that age. Her dress was grey wool bordered with white satin; over it she wore an ermine cloak clasped with a silver wolf’s head. Dark brown hair fell halfway down her back. And her eyes…
That is not Lord Eddard’s daughter. (Reek, A Dance with Dragons)
A cloud of ravens was pouring from the cave, and he saw a little girl with a torch in hand, darting this way and that. For a moment Bran thought it was his sister Arya…madly, for he knew his sister was a thousand leagues away, or dead. And yet there she was, whirling, a scrawny thing, ragged, wild, her hair atangle. Tears filled Hodor’s eyes and froze there. (Bran, A Dance with Dragons)
Gendry was the closest thing to a man grown, but it was Willow shouting all the orders, as if she were a queen in her castle and the other children were no more than servants.
If she were highborn, command would come naturally to her, and deference to them. Brienne wondered whether Willow might be more than she appeared. […] Brown hair, brown eyes, skinny….could it be? Arya Stark’s hair was brown, she recalled, but Brienne was not sure of the color of her eyes. (Brienne, A Feast for Crows)
The girl smiled in a way that reminded Jon so much of his little sister that it almost broke his heart. […] The snowflakes were melting on her cheeks, but her hair was wrapped in a swirl of lace that Satin had found somewhere, and the snow had begun to collect there, giving her a frosty crown. (Jon, A Dance with Dragons)