Digging In : A Closer Look at Ghost (<p.60)

This is our first post, and we are still trying to figure out how to structure our posts. Since we don’t yet have a system, I am just going to dig right in so we at least keep up with the book.

I have read up to p.152, but would like to back track in order to start this off. So I will only be talking about things from the first 60 pages. Most of what you will read below, is me pointing out some things to take notice of and perhaps reflect on. I offer up some interpretations myself, but we Wordland Elves are really interested to know what YOU think… so don’t hesitate to give us your 2 cents! Just please no spoilers! 🙂

GHOST    …liiiike the holy ghost??

Ghost is immediately intriguing. Here is why:

“His fur was white, where the rest of the litter was grey. His eyes were as red as the blood of the ragged man who had died that morning. Bran thought it curious that this pup alone would have opened his eyes while the others were still blind.”

Ghost being an albino pup with white fur and red eyes is interesting, because it is a theme that is repeated a couple more times in the following pages, and in a way that makes the description notable each time. In particular, it should not be ignored that the “heart tree” or “weirwood” in the Godswood is quite similarly described (p.23,25).

Weirwood …more like Weirdwood, amiright?!

The weirwood is said to have “bark as white as bone” and “leaves of dark red, like a thousand bloodstained hands“. Then on p.25 it is described again:

“…the pale bark and red eyes, watching, listening, thinking its long slow thoughts.”

The heart tree is being described in an extremely sinister and disconcerting manner-with talk of it listening and watching, and it being associated with bloodstained hands and bones. All in all, it seems that we are supposed to feel a certain amount of ajidah at the descriptions of the weirwood.

Holy Ghost and Weirdwood, Indeed… 

While I personally do not feel the same sort of discomfort about Ghost, some of the characters in the book mention feeling that way when they’re around him… of course that might just be at the fact that he’s a direwolf… which is its own whole discussion. But, even the wolves are described as having a sort of peculiar interaction with Ghost. When they get near him, it’s as if they immediately become submissive to him – or otherwise just calm down around him – also a quality that is relatable to that of how people (like Ned) react to the weirwood.

So, after observing the way Ghost and the weirwood are described and regarded… I find it hard not to compare the two and say that they are extremely similar in how they are treated in the book. This becomes a very weird situation… a holy tree and Jon Snow’s direwolf… sharing characteristics…  I mean, the fact that the weirwood is being given traits at all is pretty creepy, but on top of it – for them to be shared with a direwolf, well that’s getting a tad out of hand.

Bottom line is, something weird is going on with that tree, and Ghost DEFINITELY seems like he is going to play a very important role.

The repeated use of red and white as emphasized colors continues in the book, though it is never particularly as strong as it was with these two topics. Later on, when King Robert Baratheon comes to Winterfell, and he and Ned go visit Lyanna’s tomb, there is mention again of red. Now, in this case, it does not get described as being blood red or anything of the sort, but it does come up right before this:

“Ned wondered if that meant those ghosts were free to roam the castle now. He hoped not. The first Lords of Winterfell had been men hard as the land they ruled. In the centuries before the Dragonlords came over the sea, they had sworn allegiance to no man, styling themselves the Kings in the North.” p.43

I have to say, that along already sounds like some serious foreshadowing… but if it has any connection to the red imagery that was mentioned right before it, then I am a going to start being a bit more wary of Ghost and weirwood…

To Sum Up: 

I have brought some things to your attention, but I have not postulated much myself. So here is where I will try to do that. First, let’s agree that generally “white” is associated with things such as purity, innocence and overall cleanness – whether that be metaphorical or otherwise. Next, let’s agree that “red eyes” are rarely a good thing… and that puts us in an interesting place.

What’s more interesting, is when Ghost is being described, he is described as being the only pup whose eyes were open. This is incredibly insightful of Ghost, because if you assume Ghost is a parallel of Jon, it seems to suggest he is the only one who sees the world for what it is-an acute reflection of the fact Jon has been forced to see the world in a significantly different way from his siblings due to him being a bastard, and the rest being true-borns. This puts Jon in a different league than his siblings. They are blinded to the world in a way they have had little control over, and Jon has had to see too much reality. In the future, this could mean a lot for how they manage their lives and what kinds of decisions they make.

But anyway, back to the red & white. So it seems that having Ghost be white with red eyes, based on traditional symbolism, is suggesting a bit of a contradictory nature. Perhaps since Jon Snow is so young, he is still innocent and pure and honest-this is the white. But we find out soon enough that he intends to take the black, and become one of the guards of the Night’s Watch, which surely implies he will soon struggle with that innocence. Moreover, we know that Jon Snow has experienced more reality than his brothers and sisters already, just from being a living “humiliation”, so this contradicts and challenges his innocence as well. Yet, he maintains the purity and honesty of a true Stark, and this earns him his white fur.

When it comes to the weirwood, the red eyes seem to point to something else altogether. Perhaps sinister, perhaps sheer wisdom. If wisdom, then this could be an interesting application to Ghost as well.

Well, in an effort to keep this from getting longer, I will end here. We welcome all insights and would love to hear some thoughts. Thanks for reading!

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One response to “Digging In : A Closer Look at Ghost (<p.60)

  1. Hey, I think this was a solid analysis of not only Ghost, but the weirwood trees associated with the Old God religion of the north.

    I also like that you pointed out the thing that I noticed (that Jon also points out so it’s not like I’m a genius) that there is a direwolf pup for each of the “true” children of Ned Stark. And then he finds the extra albino pup who had crawled off.

    It’s pretty clear (which is what you pointed out) that Ghost is a symbol for Jon, since all of the pups are related, but Ghost is significantly different.

    One thing I like: all of the direwolves are Stark colors, gray and white. It’s just that all the other ones are gray.

    So Ghost, like Jon, is part Stark, part something else.

    Liked by 1 person

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