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In the face of political tension, intrigue, and injustice, Ned struggles to remain virtuous, and by the end of the book he must reconsider what virtue means to him. He starts to see the importance of moral and practical compromises, though perhaps too late. His name, Stark, is an indication of his incompatibility with such compromises. Something stark is simple, severe, and rigid, like Ned’s initial boundaries between right and wrong. When the book starts he considers duty and justice to be one and the same. But as the story progresses, Ned finds himself in situations where loyalty and duty are at odds with his own sense of virtue, as when Robert’s demand that Ned consent to having Daenerys Targaryen and her unborn child assassinated. Ned is disgusted with these moral compromises, but by the end of the story he recognizes that politics demands sometimes dishonest acts to achieve a just end, as when he asks Littlefinger to bribe the Gold Cloaks to obtain their backing against the Lannisters.