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ALL IN THE FAMILY

Long live, Ned Stark

(Conclusion)

Warning: spoilers ahead.

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With the groundbreaking fantasy series Game of Thrones (GOT) having wrapped up its final season, we realize that the show has revolved around the second-generation Starks all this time, the brutal deaths of the eldest Robb and the youngest Rickon notwithstanding.

Last week we discussed how Jon Snow, the allegedly bastard son, and Arya, the younger daughter of patriarch Eddard “Ned” Stark, were heavily influenced by the teachings, demeanor and character of their morally upright, kind and just father.

What about the other children?

Sansa Stark started out as a naïve lass with thoughts of marrying a handsome king. Ned, off fighting wars, did not take an active hand in her upbringing as his wife Catelyn did.

But still, Ned was fond of his eldest daughter Sansa, with her ladylike ways and genteel manner. When Arya complained to him about Sansa, he told her to make peace with her sister, wisely advising them to stay together in order to best face what would come.

Even if he disliked doing so, Ned attended the Hand’s Tournament for Sansa’s sake. In the end, he was still a father foremost: Ned went against the honor he held so dear to publicly swear fealty to the evil Joffrey, to protect his daughters.

Yet, Joffrey still ordered Ned’s head cut off, in front of a horrified Sansa, a pawn who unwittingly caused her father’s death, when in the throes of infatuation with Joffrey, she told his mother Cersei Lannister of Ned’s plans to leave King’s Landing.

Sansa underwent tortuous trials, but by the end of GOT, she had grown into a confident, savvy and just ruler of the North. Ned would be proud of her.

Robb Stark was raised to be Warden of the North, a warrior instead of a politician. He never wanted to be King, just like his father. But after Ned’s murder, Robb led armies to avenge him, and often thought about how his father would have fared in his stead.

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Ned’s naivete in politics was also inherited by his eldest son, who though brave and inspiring, was no match politically against the seasoned and devious Tywin Lannister. Robb also fell in love with the wrong woman, breaking a clan pact that resulted in a tragic end.

But at his best, Robb was a stark reminder he was Ned Stark’s son. His father’s friends and bannermen fought by his side, against impossible odds, and most died with him.

At the start, Bran Stark was a boy who loved climbing. His mother was furious (presciently so), but Ned knew that life could not always be faced with fear.

One time, Bran asked his father, “Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?” Ned’s reply: “That is the only time a man can be brave.”

Bran’s courage lay not in leading battles or riding dragons. A cripple on the run, he relied on outcasts for help, inhabited the bodies of animals, peered into the past. When he was finished running, he offered himself up as bait for the Night King, with only a few warriors as protection.

“What unites people? Armies? Gold? Flags?” said Tyrion Lannister, whom Bran would later appoint as Hand (second to the King or Queen in terms of power). “Stories. There’s nothing in the world more powerful than a good story. Nothing can stop it. No enemy can defeat it.

“And who has a better story than Bran the Broken? The boy who fell from a high tower and lived. He knew he’d never walk again, so he learned to fly … He is our memory, the keeper of all our stories … Our triumphs, our defeats, our past. Who better to lead us into the future?”

A hero is not someone who is perfect. A patriarch (in GOT and in family businesses) raises his children well—without indulging them—and nurtures their potential, while treating everyone fairly and loving all unconditionally. A patriarch sets an unwavering example of righteousness and honor, through word and deed.

The real hero of GOT? Ned Stark, patriarch extraordinaire.

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TAGS: Eddard “Ned” Stark, Game of Thrones (GOT), Jon Snow
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