|World of Westeros - People|
|Saturday, 28 November 2009 11:44|
4th Level (Man-at-arms 2 / Noble 1 / Night’s Watch Steward 1)
”Lord Eddard Stark is my father,” Jon admitted stiffly. Lannister studied his face. “Yes,” he said. “I can see it. You have more of the north in you than your brothers.” “Half brothers,” Jon corrected. He was pleased by the dwarf’s comment, but he tried not to let it show.
Jon Snow may be the first to admit he is a bastard, but he is Eddard Stark’s bastard — and that makes all the difference. 14 years ago, Lord Eddard Stark brought the infant Jon to Winterfell, claiming him as his bastard son. Stark’s wife, Catelyn, learned of Jon in the first year of her marriage. To her, Jon was the fi gure of all her insecurities regarding her marriage to a man she barely knew. She felt threatened by his very existence — a fact that neither of them could forget as he grew older.
Jon Snow’s position could easily have become untenable. Catelyn insists on the distinction between bastard and legitimate child being made clear. While Eddard keeps her from being openly hostile to Jon, he cannot prevent her from showing favour to her own children, even at Jon’s expense. Jon is too sharp not to realise this, and too wise to let any resentment show. He accepts his place and visibly puts the others first, working so hard to keep the family peace that his father can’t help but admire his efforts. His chance discovery of the direwolf pup he names Ghost — an albino pup that had crawled away from his littermates — is symbolic of Jon’s place within his own family, and the precarious nature of his own situation.
Jon has a natural ability to read people, a survival trait learned as a child. Everything he has in his favour — education, breeding, high status — are all due to one man’s preference, so learning about others and how to best respond to them have all been vital to Jon’s continued life in Winterfell. He would have lost his home long since to Catelyn’s ire otherwise, alienating his family and disappointing his father. Instead, he is kind to his siblings, loving and being loved by them. Bran’s accident leaves Jon devastated, and he and Robb share a mutual regard, being close in age. He is fond of Rickon and even of Sansa, though his relationship with her is likely the most distant of any.
Jon’s favourite sibling is probably Arya. The warmth between them is honest and real. He teases her and musses her hair, gives her advice, and presents her with her most prized possession: her sword, “Needle.” Finding a better big brother than Jon would be a hard task. His status within the family makes no difference to her affection, nor to any of the siblings (with the possible exception of Sansa, who always follows her mother’s lead). His efforts to connect with his half-brothers and sisters are a part of his nature, for he is a warm, giving individual.
The problem with Jon Snow is that he is always trapped between two worlds: he doesn’t belong, but neither can he be shut out. He cannot gain infl uence or power in the world in which he was raised due to his illegitimate birth. On the other hand, he was raised as the son of a noble; the life of a shopkeeper or herdsman would be a waste of his education and talents, leaving him with nowhere to turn. With no claim of inheritance ever possible, Jon grows ever more restless as he comes of age. Knowing he must go and prove himself, but at a loss for how to accomplish it, fate provides him with an opportunity when Eddard must go south to serve King Robert.
Jon cannot join Eddard at court and Catelyn refuses to keep the boy at Winterfell. Jon chooses a third path, though: that of the Night’s Watch, a group of men who stand guard at the great northern Wall and vow to protect the realm against everything beyond it. His uncle, Benjen, is an offi cer there, and Jon has long admired him. In the Night’s Watch, neither birth nor fortune are important, only a man’s character and actions. It is a hard life, but one filled with honour. To Jon, it seems a perfect solution. His father is far more concerned about the choice than Jon is, for he realises that those who join the Night’s Watch are sworn to take neither wife nor child, but to surrender their whole lives to the Wall. In the end, however, Eddard gives Jon his blessing, knowing that there is little else he can do for his bastard son.
At first, Jon’s notions of the Night’s Watch are coloured with hopes of glory. Eddard’s younger brother, Benjen, is a ranger of renown among the Watch and always welcome at Winterfell. It seems likely that Jon sees Benjen as a role model and hopes to emulate him in order to win the same respect and approbation from his family. His arrival at the Wall quickly disabuses him of his romantic notions.
Upon beginning his training, Jon is deeply disappointed to learn that his new brothers are nothing like what he imagined. Some are peasant born, some are criminals, and all are distinctly unimpressive — and take offence at both his disdain and his skill. Worse, Benjen does not allow Jon to join him in his expeditions, refusing to show favour to his untrained, inexperienced nephew. Jon might have lost hope altogether were it not for Tyrion Lannister, who accompanied them to the Wall in order to see it for himself.
A strong friendship develops between Jon and Tyrion in those days together, in part because Tyrion understands better than anyone else the pain of being despised and how to fight it, but also because the Imp does not gloss over the truth. There is no glamour and precious little heroism to the Night’s Watch. It is shabby, cold, and monotonous, except for the occasions when it is terrifying ... and Jon is stuck with it for life. Small wonder then, that when the Imp departs south and his uncle Benjen is off in the wilds, Jon is left to brood and grow bitter about the life chosen for him. Benjen Stark’s disappearance leaves him at even more of a loss, as his only link to his former life vanishes on a ranging, apparently never to return.
Jon’s natural disposition stands him in good stead, though, as a word from the blacksmith Donal Noye makes him realise how his bitterness and disappointment has led him to treat the other recruits. He takes it upon himself to overcome his pride and negative emotions, forging links of comradeship with those around him and becoming a natural leader.
Jon is inevitably at his best with an underdog to protect, and the arrival of the disastrously rotund Samwell Tarly brings out every defensive instinct he has. He steps in almost immediately to protect Samwell from both the training master, Ser Alliser Thorne,
When the time comes for promotion of novices to Sworn Brothers of the Night’s Watch, Jon is able to get Sam the position of steward to Maester Aemon. He is unhappily surprised, however, when his friends receive appointments to the rangers and the builders while he is placed as a steward to Lord Commander Mormont — a position of servitude with no honour in it that he can see. He wants to be a ranger like his uncle in the hopes of proving himself that way and emulating Benjen Stark, and is bitterly
Things seem to be going well until the news comes of Eddard Stark’s imprisonment and disgrace. When Ser Alliser taunts Jon about his father, his wild temper lands him in a cell. All Sam’s predictions of high status for Jon seem destined to end in disgrace. That same night, however, Jon’s direwolf alerts him to the presence of something unnatural. It is the wolf who shows him the door to his cell is unguarded and open and leads him to the wight — a former member of his uncle’s patrol. Jon fights desperately to save Lord Mormont’s life, nearly losing his hand in the bargain. In return, Mormont gives Jon his family’s sword, a sign of the bond between them. Jon is honoured and deeply touched by this gesture.
Jon is still a Stark by blood, a connection he cannot forget despite his vows. Upon hearing of his father’s death, he tries to desert the Watch in order to stand by his brother and avenge the man he loved so dearly. His friends, and even Ghost seemingly, refuse to let him forget his vows and dishonour himself, however, and bring him back that same night. Soon thereafter, Mormont speaks with Jon, reminding him of his vows to the Watch and offering him another option: to accompany him beyond the Wall to find Benjen Stark. While his heart pulls him back to the south, he cannot argue with Lord Mormont’s logic, and agrees to accompany his master beyond the Wall in hope of finding his uncle and proving himself at last.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 14 April 2011 19:22|