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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Is Jon Snow Dead?

WARNING: Spoiler for Dance With Dragons by G.R.R. Martin

I've seen a lot of speculation on the net over the past few weeks about the "death" of Jon Snow. At the end of DWD, he is stabbed 4 times by the men of the Night's Watch, and does not feel the 4th dagger: only the cold.

Here are some quotes of various people putting forth the idea that he is either truly dead or not on Yahoo answers, with my comments below them:

"He was stabbed 4 freaking times, yes he's dead. If he's in the next book, it'll be as a wolf. A fricking wolf.
Stupid Martin already killed off everyone good and then only gives 3 chapters of Arya and Bran, kills Jon Snow, and possibly Stannis, but leaves his beloved annoying, stupid, girly little $@*&! called "Dan", dedicating over 80% of the bloody book to the sl*t, retard Turncloak, and other annoying, dumb characters.
Now we wait another 6 years for what? More of the ugly Dragon C**t. Screw you Martin. Screw you."
- Muhandis

Now, obviously this guy is no expert on literature. He would probably be better off with a Robert Jordan or Dragonlance book where all his super cool "badass" heroes will survive and he can still feel good about playing with the action figures.

But I've seen this same opinion in alot of places. People seem to think that being stabbed 4 times is automatic death- not surprising when we're dealing with modern bookworms who have prolly never been in a fight, much less a knife fight.

I have a friend who was stabbed 5 times about 18 years ago. I had dinner with him tonight.

I have another friend who was stabbed 15 times and never even went to the hospital.

Sure, one well placed knife stab can kill. But Jon wasn't stabbed in the heart, and I have read news reports of people being stabbed over 20 times and still surviving.

So the number of stab wounds is no indication whatever.

Also, I would just like to make a small caveat about this poster. The guy's favorites are Bran, Arya, Jon, and Stannis. The three goodie-goodie 2-shoes guys and the little girl. He doesn't like Theon, one of my favorite characters and prolly the main character of the most interesting chapters in the book. He calls Dany a slut, which also tells me this guy is a prude- she's had sex with three whopping people, and two of them in wedlock.

Better yet, this guy should probably be reading G-rated comic books.

Furthermore, when every oe said Theon was dead on the discussion boards, I knew he wasn't and said so. I'd bet good money that I'm right once again.

"Of course Jon Snow is dead. This is all part of George Martin's nihilistic vision: death triumphs over life, chaos over harmony, ugliness over beauty, evil over goodness, betrayal over honor, slavery over freedom, winter over summer. We want our favorite characters to live and thrive and to conquer the dark forces that seek to destroy them. But they cannot prevail in Martin's universe. All our hopes will be dashed. Is this not what has happened in every book of this series? Is this not what Martin is teaching us? Yes, we have our minor victories, but our defeat is assured."

Now this is a much better argument, but not convincing enough for me. I am not sure that this is what Martin is teaching us. Sure he's teaching us that nothing is sacred, but that our expectations are likely to be crushed in a gritty "real world" type of imaginary universe. But I just don't think he can resolve this book with Westeros completely failing and the Others taking over. It just wouldn't be a good ending, post-modernism and dark fantasy or not. Surely Martin isn't going to ruin his chance to be remembered as one of the two greatest fantasy authors of all time by rendering the whole series a pointless waste of time with his ending.
I just don't buy it.

As for evidence that Jon is alive, aside from the prophesies that hint that he may be Azor Ahai and therefore the main character of the story, the foremost puzzle piece comes from Martin himself:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So why did you kill Jon Snow?
GEORGE R.R. MARTIN: Oh, you think he’s dead, do you?

But, to me, the smoking gun is the GIANT. Why is he conveniently there with a human club in his hand right when Jon is being stabbed? What's the purpose of having the "murder" take place right in front of the unexplained giant rampage?

Well, folks....if Jon were being stabbed and the giant came out of nowhere to beat his attackers off, that would be a "ghost in the machine" and subject to serious literary criticism. Martin would not do something so amateurish.

The giant is killing the knife because the mutineers wanted Jon, his wolf, his wildlings, and his giant dead. Their main grievance is that Jon doesn't hate the wildlings, and goes against their ancient prejudices by being civil with them.

The giant is there to beat off all Jon's attackers before the 5th dagger can fall with one single blow of his knight-club.

And Melisandre doesn't have to resurrect Jon ala beric Dondarrion...he was only stabbed 4 times, not in the heart, and he's of Stark blood. Although she most likely will play a part in his speedy recovery.