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I thought it would be interesting to discuss our thoughts, feelings and interpretations. For those of you who have not read it yet, the link is here. Be forewarned there is a fair amount of sexual assault trigger material in it

*spoilers ahead*

As part of her training as a Faceless Woman, she’s been given the identity of a young actress Mercy to help her learn to take on different personas with ease. She is cast in a mummer's play in which she is given her first lines. Her wolf dreams continue and are becoming far more vivid and we see that Bran (as a tree) is watching over her in them.

The descriptions of Braavos (“Braavos was a crooked city. The streets were crooked, the alleys were crookeder, and the canals were crookedest of all”), the cloudy, damp weather, the ominous fog, the democratic values, the multiculturalism represented there, the fact that the Titan acts like a Big Ben-style clock for the city, I love it all. There is a Third Sword of Braavos mentioned which suggests the  military is divided to prevent their government from being overthrown. - The Hall of Truth seems to be the legislative House of Braavos where the politicians vote.

Theater is a big part of Braavos, portrayed as a Hellenistic place where the poor and the rich are entertained side by side and the less fortunate use art to scathingly critique the wealthy right to their faces. Arya’s playing Sansa in The Bloody Hand, a  farce depicting the events of KL/ASOIAF, complete with Robert Baratheon being killed by a demon possessed boar and a vengeful Tyrion  who, after making a deal with the Stranger to gain power, then rapes Sansa (Lady Stork). The identities are all changed in a very Shakespearean fashion, which fools neither the inhabitants of Braavos or us as the reader. Interestingly the play is written by a man named Phario Forel. might this person be a relative of Syrio?

Arya definitely falls into character as part of her training but apparently the Faceless Man education has not eradicated her identity entirely. It seems as though she can easily slip in and out of it. She at once remembers Raff the Sweetling and Dunsen (who accompanied Ser Harys Swyft to Braavos to try to repair the Iron Throne’s relationship with the Iron Bank) and what happened to Lommy. Arya is starting to mature sexually in a very unhealthy way, and demonstrates that she has already learned to use it to her advantage as an assassin.

For me this is the darkest chapter for Arya yet, and that's saying something considering all she has been through. Once again GRRM does not shy away from the abuse/sexual assault of underage girls and once again, it is portrayed as the norm. The evolution to Arya's character for me was disturbing to say the least and makes me worry for what GRRM has in store for Sansa.



Mar. 28th, 2014 01:38 pm (UTC)
Because I was away on a work trip I first saw the comments about this, before I actually got to read the chapter - which is kind of unfortunate!

I kind of understand the distaste and uncomfortable feelings many people had about this - but then again not. This is GRRM - what else to expect? And as much as it makes us squirm, sexual assault was a norm in warfare and oppression - it still is! I certainly don't condone it or think good of Arya's current situation, but denying the existence of such dark matters doesn't help either...

As I mentioned in another comment I made in starbird1's entry, I dearly hope that Arya doing this on her own accord and recognising her past, means that she will leave the Faceless Men - I hope it so much! Whatever else is out there for her must be better than them...