A Game of Thrones

by: George R.R. Martin

Chapters 40-44

Summary Chapters 40-44

Tyrion reveals more about his character when he explains to Bronn that Lannisters always pay their debts not because they are honorable, but because they are smart and self-interested. Tyrion explains that, though the Starks are an honorable family, he expects honor will not win as much loyalty as money will. Tyrion's explanation essentially dispels the notion of honor as motivation, and it also suggests Tyrion is a cynic regarding human nature as he believes self-interest is stronger than honor. Whether Tyrion is correct about all people or not, he does prove again to be very gifted in his ability to read others and turn a situation to his benefit. With his words about his family in mind, Tyrion bribes the mountain clans to spare his life and join him on his march. Bronn’s actions show that he is also convinced of Tyrion’s argument and his promise to pay his debts. At first, Bronn takes offense when Tyrion calls him smart and skilled despite Bronn’s status as lowborn scum. But as the conversation continues, Bronn’s actions show that he is convinced that Tyrion is telling the truth. As Tyrion continues talking, Bronn starts the fire for Tyrion, kills a goat for them both, and takes first watch so Tyrion can sleep. Tyrion tells Bronn he is sure that Bronn would betray him if someone offered more for Tyrion’s life, but Tyrion knows that with the Lannisters’ gold, no one can match his price. Therefore he knows he is safe.

After the confrontation with Jaime, Ned’s reinstatement as Hand is not so much the result of Robert’s decision as it is Robert’s way of making someone else deal with his problems. Robert does not have any plan to seek justice against Jaime or Ned, and he does not have a direct answer when Ned asks if Robert still plans to kill Daenerys. It is clear through this behavior that Robert will go to great lengths to avoid the truth. Moreover, when Cersei implies that the Lannisters are amassing greater power than Robert, Robert strikes her so that he will not have to hear the truth. Robert should know that there will be serious problems as a result of the fight between Ned and Jaime, but he goes hunting in order to avoid confronting them. His decision to reappoint Ned as hand is not merely lazy: The decision is wildly irresponsible, since Ned has an incentive to act against the Lannisters as a result of Robert’s inability to bring Jaime to justice. He essentially leaves to avoid dealing with the confrontation between Ned and Cersei that is practically guaranteed to take place.

Ned’s decision to sentence Gregor to death appears to be motivated not so much by true justice as it is by a personal grudge against the Lannisters. Though it seems quite likely that Gregor and other Lannister men have committed crimes against the people of the Riverlands, Ned sentences Gregor to death without a trial and with no more than circumstantial evidence. Witnesses identify Gregor based on his size, not his face, and he receives no a chance to answer for his crimes before Ned sentences him. This action is a further indication that Ned’s sense of right and wrong may be changing, and significantly, for the first time he is unable to personally carry out a death sentence. When Ned denies Loras the chance to pursue Gregor—saying Loras seeks not justice but vengeance for Gregor’s assault after Loras defeated him in jousting—Ned inadvertently draws attention to his own desier for vengeance rather than justice.

Sansa grows increasingly estranged from her family in this section, specifically as she transitions from denying the truth to outright lying. At dinner with Arya, Sansa claims that the butcher’s boy attacked Joff, which is obviously false. Sansa ignores Arya’s protests since Sansa is confident that once she is queen she will be able to believe whatever she wants. Sansa’s surprise at being reprimanded for provoking her sister also shows that Sansa has a skewed sense of justice. Arya serves again as a foil for Sansa when her insistence on the Hound’s wrongdoing shows that Arya can still tell right from wrong. Sansa can even be described as lying to herself. When the girls are brought before Ned, Sansa works hard to convince Ned that she loves Joff, but based on Joff’s frequently rude behavior, it seems that she has been working just as hard to convince herself that she loves the boy. Through her behavior she makes clear that she is desperately trying to preserve an idealized vision of the royal court. These actions make her seem extremely naïve and selfish, and consequently she does seem to have more in common with Joff, her presumed fiance, than her own sister. Notably, as she argues that Joff is nothing like his father, Ned recognizes that she is right, suggesting that Robert may not actually be Joff's father.