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  • 1. Example 1   Student Example Dr. Kim Palmore EWRT2 28 October 2012 A Trueborn Bastard In A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin, a series of obscure events in the kingdom’s capitol pulls Eddard Stark of Winterfell from his comfortable, although icy cold, zone and pits him against charlatans and a rising coup d’état that threatens the safety of his family. As this political time bomb ticks, the last surviving descendants from the previous royal family, the Targaryen, are scheming up a coup of their own. Amidst all this political controversy, a particular bastard boy under the name of Jon Snow is faced with obstacles of his own. Although Jon is the illegitimate son of Eddard Stark, the lord of Winterfell, he still faces the ruthless fate that his society’s status quo has chosen for people like him. The whole novel is rife with conflict; however, Jon Snow clearly becomes the epitome of conflict and self-reflection. He is faced with a myriad of conflicts, both external and internal, which come from different sources: his heritage, his loyalty, and his aspirations –which tackle different aspects of his life. Jon Snow is the one character that is constantly challenged to pick sides, and, as a result, grows from these trials. These conflicts bring out Jon’s priorities and values and test his loyalty and results in the growing of Jon from a distressed kid into a likable and honorable man who appears to have found a place in this world. To better understand Jon’s position in the world, it is important to discuss his conception or lineage, which, by all standards, is quite unique. Jon Snow is the bastard son of Eddard Stark, the Lord of Winterfell and a man of honor. We know very little about Jon’s mother, but it is not
  • 2. Example 2   his mother’s identity that makes Jon’s conception special at this point. Jon was fathered during one of Ned’s voyages to the south during the war against the Targaryens. There isn’t anything particularly unique about this situation: Eddard had recently married Catelyn and fathered Robb, but they spent the following year apart. Catelyn was understanding of this: “Many men had fathered bastards. Catelyn had grown up with that knowledge. It came as no surprise to her, in the first year of her marriage, to learn that Ned had fathered a child on some girl chance met on campaign. He had a man’s need, after all, and they had spent that year apart” (45). However, she did not expect Ned to bring this bastard son home “for all the north to see.” This defines the setting in which Jon grows: the house of a noble family, where he is loved and protected by his siblings and father but hated by his step mother. This factoid about Jon’s conception leads to his conflict with Catelyn, who is unable to look past Ned’s fathering of Jon. The result from this dissonance in his upbringing is evident at the moment he steps into the Wall. Noye reveals to Jon what his new brothers thought of him: “No. They hate you because you act like you’re better than they are. They look at you and see a castle-bred bastard who thinks he’s a lordling” (126). It is no wonder, then, why Jon would be such a conflicted character: not only is he considered a lesser human being, but he is also brought up in an environment where his fault is highlighted daily. Put a calf with monkeys and let him grow; it will still moo. This particularity in Jon’s conception creates a tension in the relationship between Jon and Catelyn, which eventually snaps after Eddard is summoned to King’s Landing. They live under the same roof, but they are never able to see eye-to-eye. Catelyn’s disapproval of Jon’s presence in her life is hinted when King Robert pays them a visit at Winterfell: “But tonight Lady Stark thought it might give insult to the royal family to seat a bastard among them” (37). This contempt Catelyn feels towards Jon finally bursts after Bran’s falling into coma. Despite
  • 3. Example 3   Jon’s sincere attempt to console Catelyn, she responds by saying “I need none of your absolution, bastard” (67). Catelyn goes on to verbally wish that Jon were the one lying on the bed. Jon appears unfazed at Catelyn’s harsh words. This shows the respect and loyalty Jon has to his family. This poisonous relationship between stepmother and bastard-son is one of the contributing factors that lead to Jon’s decision to join the Night’s Watch. However, the defining factors that pushed Jon to join the Night’s Watch are his own sense of alienation with his family and his aspirations; he had no prior knowledge of Eddard’s departure for King’s Landing. Jon’s conflicts with Catelyn and his society push him to strive for greatness in an environment where even a half-blood could hope to succeed. One of the many external conflicts Jon faces is his status in society and the implications that it has, specifically, on his career options. Jon’s concerns about his future are voiced in his inner monologue: “Robb would inherit Winterfell, would command great armies as the Warden of the North. Bran and Rickon would be Robb’s bannermen and rule holdfasts in his name. His sisters Arya and Sansa would marry the heirs of other great houses and go south as mistress of castles of their own. But what place could a bastard hope to earn?” (38). Jon’s aspirations for greatness are first voiced in this excerpt, when he decides to join the Night’s Watch, thinking that he could, in his own bastardly and lesser way, achieve something great. However, when Jon arrives at the Wall, he quickly realizes that his expectations of grandeur and honor were erroneous: “No doubt the boy had made the mistake of thinking that the Night’s Watch was made up of men like his uncle. If so, Yoren and his companions were a rude awakening” (84). What was supposed to be a group of honorable man who defend the kingdom against the Others from beyond the Wall turned out to be a pit where outcasts bastards were thrown into. This, however, does not stop Jon from becoming a prominent character in the Wall. Jon’s persistence
  • 4. Example 4   and wit allow him to grow in the hostility that is the Wall, making a new family with his brothers at the Wall and creating enemies like Ser Alliser. Jon’s success at the Wall further proves his adeptness at growing in hostile environments, like he did in Winterfell, much like how weed can grow in the roughest soil. Jon’s newfound sense of belongingness at the Wall alongside his new brothers does not stop him from remaining loyal to his family. When he receives the news about Robb’s engagment in war and his father’s death, he has to decide where his loyalty resides: with the family that nurtured him into the boy he was or the family that gave him a sense of purpose and belongingness and made him a man. Even though Jon’s upbringing is not ideal in any way, Eddard’s teachings about the importance of family are clearly instilled in Jon’s personality as he decides to return to Robb’s side to aid him. This event speaks of Jon’s loyalty to his family; however, can he be considered disloyal for “betraying” his new family at the Wall? Jon struggles with this dilemma, but as a man of honor and family, the vengeance of his father and the aiding of his family took precedence over his duties at the Wall. Jon is later convinced by his new brothers, Samwell, Pypar, and Grenn, to stay at the Wall. Nevertheless, the conflict of where Jon’s loyalty lies brings out his honorable and dependable personality, and at the same time gives us an insight into his resolve and priorities. Jon, through these trials, grows from a disgruntled kid who felt alien to everyone around him, into a man of honor and respect who, despite their differences, remains loyal to his family. Jon’s growth is a result of a series of dilemmas that brings out the best and worst of his personality by testing his priorities and forcing him to take sides. Despite his “impure” blood, his resolve and determination are qualities that belong to a Stark trueborn. Perhaps wronged in more
  • 5. Example 5   than one way by his society’s status quo, Jon takes on his challenges and obstacles and learns from them, and as a result, rises above his title and becomes more than just a bastard.
  • 6. Example 6   Works Cited Martin, George R.R. A Game of Thrones. New York: Bantam Books, 1996. Print.