House: Bastard son of Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell
Title: Steward of the Night’s Watch
Allegiance: Night’s Watch, House Stark
Love interest: Fire-haired Wildling, Ygritte
Actor Portrayal: Kit Harrington
Main Character in Books 1-5 and Seasons 1-4
Jon Snow is a hero, he just doesn’t know it yet. I know readers aren’t supposed to have a favorite character whilst trudging through George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, but Jon Snow tugs on my heart strings as, I’m a sucker for an outsider and rebel with a heart of gold. Jon is the bastard son of Eddard Stark and his mother is unknown. Nobility do not give house names to bastards, instead, northerners give them all the same last name: Snow. In the text, we see Ned Stark bring Jon to Winterfell after Robert Baratheon takes the throne, to be raised with and loved by the Stark children as a half-brother. Unfortunately, Catelyn Stark is not as welcoming, and when he is nearing adulthood, Jon joins the Night’s Watch at the urging of his uncle Benjen, a Night’s Watch raider.
Things aren’t ever easy at the Wall and Jon Snow is again treated as an outsider, even by the criminals and soldiers who make up the Brotherhood. To them, Jon is a nobleman, but to the noblemen Jon is only a bastard. When Jon meets Samwell Tarley and begins to squire for Lord Commander Joer Mormont, it seems he is finally finding his place at the Wall. Unfortunately, that all ends when he and Ghost go beyond the Wall to search for Uncle Benjen and finds the Wildings instead.
Caught and outnumbered by the Wildlings and Mance Rayder, Jon is asked by raid leader and fellow Crow, Qhorin Halfhand, to defect, leave the Crows and go with the Wildlings. This way, Jon can glean information about any upcoming attacks and save his own life in the meantime. The only way Mance will believe Jon is sincere in his defection is for him to kill Qhorin, so that is exactly what Jon does. Living as a Wildling, Jon is again an outsider. The Free People do not trust Jon, and for good reason. As soon as he gets the chance, Jon runs back to the Wall and again is looked upon with suspicion.
Although Jon wants to save the integrity of the Wall, he doesn’t always agree with the bureaucracy. After Lord Commander Mormont dies and Jon returns to Castle Black, the acting Lord Commander, Alliser Thorne, renews his dislike of Jon, antagonizing the young man in hopes he will act out and give Thorne an excuse to execute him. So far in season 4, Jon’s actions have not impacted the larger story. Trust me, they will. Jon Snow has the archetypal heroic qualities:
Traumatic event leads to a Quest
Special/Supernatural assistance on said Quest
Journey of self-realization
Atonement with same-sex parent
Return and spiritual fulfillment
He is most definitely a hero with a part to play in the Game of Thrones.
Unfortunately, I haven’t finished book 5 (even though I just saw spoilers as I researched this!!) and I don’t want to comment on events past this point in the show, so I can’t say whether Jon will complete the heroic journey or if he, like so many others on GoT, will eventually be killed off by the sadistic GRRM. Keep watching, keep reading, and we will find out together.
xoxo The Collectiva Diva