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Robb and his entourage finally arrive at the Twins. Catelyn cautions Robb to be careful around Lord Walder, because he is easily insulted. When they arrive, Robb’s direwolf, Grey Wind, growls at the Frey lords, making a bad impression. Robb learns that the Twins cannot accommodate his retinue of bannermen, so they will be housed in three feast tents outside the castle. Lord Walder introduces the Starks to his many daughters, most of whom are unpleasant and many he cannot name. Then Walder introduces his daughter Roslin, and her beauty surprises and pleases Edmure. He privately expresses to Catelyn his excitement about the marriage. They meet with Lord Bolton, who shows them a sliver of skin from Theon Greyjoy, who allegedly killed Bran and Rickon. They debate whether or not to keep Greyjoy alive, resolving at last to keep him as a hostage. Robb makes war plans with Catelyn and Lord Bolton. They intend to march as soon as Edmure weds Roslin.
As Clegane approaches the Twins, he tells a knight that he brings salt pork for the wedding, which helps him enter the perimeter with Arya. Clegane knows he cannot enter the castle, for fear of being arrested by the Starks and Freys, so he decides to wait outside as the wedding commences. The music seems unusually loud inside the castle. Arya looks for someone she recognizes in the festival crowd, in vain.
The wedding feast begins, and the music is noticeably loud. Catelyn observes that Edmure and Roslin seem very comfortable with each other, but she does not approve of the quality of food. Robb is angered that Grey Wolf is not allowed to attend the wedding ceremony, but Walder reminds Robb that the direwolf growled at him when they first arrived. Walder seems increasingly distracted as the wedding ceremony starts. Eventually, Edmure and Roslin are escorted away with a large crowd cheering them on to consummate their marriage. Catelyn senses that something is terribly wrong. Suddenly the musicians draw crossbows and start shooting the celebrants. Robb is wounded, and Catelyn finds a dagger and grabs Jinglebell the jester, who is one of the Frey children. She threatens to kill him if they’re not released, but an assassin stabs Robb through the heart. Catelyn slashes Jinglebell’s throat and then is killed herself.
Outside the wedding, Arya can tell that something is wrong. Suddenly the feast tents erupt with fighting, and the Freys begin to massacre the Stark bannermen. Arya tries to run for the castle to save her brother and mother, but Clegane knocks her out with the flat of his axe.
The massacre of Robb, Catelyn, and the Stark bannermen at Edmure’s wedding, an event that comes to be known later as the Red Wedding, is one of the novel’s two climaxes, and all four chapters in this section center on it. (The novel has two climaxes because of the concurrent but independent storylines we see.) The structure of these chapters is significantly different from the rest of the book, because they overlap not only in time but they also take place in the same location. The result is that the reader sees the same event from two separate perspectives, and through this technique the novel manages to build suspense. Slowly it becomes clear to both Catelyn and Arya that something is off. The music is one hint that both characters notice, and in having both characters recognize this detail it also signals to the reader that it is somehow notable. As these small details begin to add up for the characters, they do for the reader as well, and the reader experiences the same sense of mounting anxiety that Catelyn and Arya experience. The technique is extremely effective at conveying the feeling of dread and surprise that Catelyn and Arya experience, until finally Catelyn fully understands what’s happening as the massacre begins.
The novel additionally creates a sense of confusion in these chapters that similarly builds anxiety. Because Catelyn is obviously not aware of the Frey’s plan, she doesn’t understand several of the things she observes. The music is too loud, Roose Bolton seems cold and inquisitive, and nobody is jolly, for instance. These details accumulate to create a general feeling of unease, but why anything should be wrong isn’t clear. Catelyn’s suspicions are further heightened when she notices Edwyn Frey very angrily reject a dance with Dacey Mormont, and suddenly she begins to wonder if something truly is amiss. Only when she touches Edwyn Frey’s arm and feels the chain mail armor beneath his clothes does she recognize the danger. By then it’s too late, and a brief moment later, as The Rains of Castamere begins to play, Robb is struck by the first arrow.
The wedding massacre reiterates how greatly honor is valued in Westeros, and what lengths some will go to in order to get revenge. The act that precipitated the massacre is Robb’s deciding to marry Jeyne Westerling and not one of the Frey girls, as he had promised. Robb and Catelyn knew immediately that Walder Frey, the patriarch of the Frey family, would not take the news well. Walder is notoriously sensitive to slights, and he would perceive the move as a serious affront to his family’s honor. Robb thought the outcome might be that he would lose the Frey’s support in his cause, but in this episode it becomes clear that Walder Frey took the insult much more seriously than anyone had anticipated. Walder evidently struck up an alliance with the Lannisters and planned to murder Robb, Catelyn, and the others at his own daughter’s wedding. (The Lannisters’ involvement is suggested by the playing of The Rains of Castamere, a song about Tywin Lannisters’s destroying a family that crossed him, and Robb’s killer saying “Jaime Lannister sends his regards.) According to the customs of Westeros, it’s forbidden to harm a guest in your house. Doing so is a major breach of honor, so Walder basically sacrifices his and his family’s honor for the sake of revenge, all because of a slight to his honor.