Is Catelyn Stark dead?
Before reading this hub about whether Catelyn Stark dies or not, do heed this traditional spoiler warning: don’t read on to the rest of the hub if you have not yet finished all of the published novels within George R R Martin’s terrific Song of Ice and Fire series. Knowing about Catelyn Stark's death or otherwise isn't the only potential spoiler contained herein, and it would be a shame to spoil your enjoyment of such a terrific series of novels.
GRRM Keeps us on Our Toes
George R R Martin is a demon for keeping us guessing; he's renowned for it. All the way through his astonishing Song of Ice and Fire series of novels numerous members of the substantial cast of characters are shown to switch their allegiances, realign their moral position and win and lose our affection. Sometimes we are shown what we think is a character’s death, only for them to reappear unscathed several chapters later. Sometimes a character to whom we are particularly attached and whom we would assume is going to be there until the final page of the last book is killed off unexpectedly. As well as using these twists and snares to surprise and delight the reader every couple of pages, GRRM even goes one step further and uses his notoriety for such twists and turns to keep us on our toes and leave us hanging- using his very repuation for being unpredictable to make us question what we read. Is a death scene all it seems to be, or is there a twist coming? For example, is Jon Snow dead or not? When we see Tyrion Lannister do something nefarious, is he actually a good guy or not? And lastly, sometimes characters do actually die but then refuse to let that stop them walking around, talking and interfering with events- of course they do, this is GRRM!
Is Catelyn Stark Dead?
Such a character is Catelyn Stark, the wife of Ned Stark of Winterfell. Also known as Catlyn Tully, Catelyn Stark is the matriarch of the Winterfell family and one of those characters that we might comfortably think might be there until the death of the series, supporting her children and mourning her lord husband. So when the huge shock of the red wedding comes and Catelyn Stark is killed along with her son Robb Stark and a good proportion of his kinsmen, lords and retainers, the reader is stunned. But GRRM being GRRM, this isn’t quite the end of the story. Is Catelyn Stark dead? Does Catelyn Stark die? Or is Catelyn Stark still alive?
In A Storm of Swords, there’s no two ways about it, we are shown Catelyn Stark’s death. Does Catelyn Stark die? Yes, she most certainly does: the Catelyn Stark death scene is fairly unequivocal on that account: her throat is cut at the red wedding by arch villain, Reymond Frey. She then bleeds to death and is chucked fairly unceremoniously into a river, which tends to have a fairly fatal effect and as such definitely constitutes Catelyn Stark's death scene: yes, Catelyn Stark dies. So much for the noble house of Stark! But is Catelyn Stark really dead? Yes, we saw a scene where Catelyn Stark dies, of course. But then, later in the same book we begin to hear rumours of Lady Stoneheart, the ruthless and frankly vicious leader of a group of rebels who are seeking whatever vengeance they can against the Freys and any other allies of the house of Lannister.
It is revealed eventually that after Catelyn Stark dies she is revived by Beric Dondarrion, who had previously been kept alive after death by the Red Knight. Lord Dondarrion chooses to forego his own life in order that Catelyn Stark might be revived after her death. So does Catelyn Stark die? Yes, she does, but only for about three days!
Following Catelyn Stark’s death and subsequent resurrection, she’s substantially different. It seems that being killed can have a fairly detrimental impact on a person’s sense of humour, so after Catelyn Stark’s death, she is revived as a vitriolic and evil woman, half alive and hell-bent on revenge against all those who have sinned against her, her Stark family and anyone connected with Winterfell. This eventually leads to Catelyn seeking vengeance on Brienne Stark- believing her to be a sympathiser with the Lannisters, Catelyn threatens to hang Brienne and her friends if she doesn’t agree to hand over Jaime Lannister. This ends up being just one more example of GRRM’s tricky twists in the tail- we think Brienne’s fate is sealed, and yet...
What do you think? Is Lady Stoneheart’s role in the series over? Or will she be coming back once more? Is Lady Stoneheart so different from Catelyn Stark that we might still ask is Catelyn Stark dead? Or will Stoneheart become more like the real Catelyn Stark?