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During Game of Thrones S08E05, while Arya is trying to leave King's Landing, she gets help from a woman with her daughter, loses them in the chaos, only to find them again at a later point.

Shortly before the woman

and her daughter are burned by the dragon,

she wants Arya to have what looks like a pale wooden horse. Though, everything turned out other than expected, Arya is in the end greeted by

a white horse covered in blood.

All this leads me to the question why the woman wanted to give the wooden horse to Arya. Or did she want to give it to her daughter, who she wanted to leave with Arya so she survives?


I am not sure if this info was included in the "Inside the episode" part as I haven't watched it.

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    The horse might symbolize a knight (Arya) going to kill the dragon (Dany). – Ankit Sharma May 14 at 7:23
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    @AnkitSharma Arya is not a knight. – JAD May 14 at 7:24
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    I think the women wanted Arya to take her daughter who was clutching the horse toy, as she could not run – KharoBangdo May 14 at 7:28
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    @JAD yes she is not "knight" but she will play that role most probably to slay the dragon – Ankit Sharma May 14 at 7:37
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    It looks like a scenaristic trick to recognize these characters once they're burned. I don't know how this trope is called, but I've seen it several times in catastrophic movies (like the teddy bear in Breaking bad). – Silver Bebs May 14 at 8:12
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She was telling Arya to take her daughter not the toy. In fact Arya does start to lead the daughter away but when she turns back to go to her mum she can't stop her as Drogon is closing in so leaves her.

Arya: We have to keep moving.

Mother: Take her. Take her! Take her.

Game of Thrones, Season 8 Episode 5, "The Bells"

  • If that is the case, I am completely mistaken :D could you provide an exceprt of the script, if that helps understanding it? – XtremeBaumer May 14 at 11:16
  • @XtremeBaumer To be honest I didn't think there was anything relevant so didn't double check but she does say "Take her". – TheLethalCarrot May 14 at 11:19
  • Alright, thanks! Now that whole scene makes sense. I somehow understood "Take it." and thought it would have any special meaning because of the horse Arya encounters shortly after – XtremeBaumer May 14 at 11:25
  • @XtremeBaumer - I think when the daughter tears away to go back to her mother, Arya is left holding the girl's toy which she was carrying, so the horse has the meaning of the pointless slaughter of innocent children to Arya. – PoloHoleSet May 14 at 14:39
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    @PoloHoleSet I'm pretty sure the toy is seen burnt in the little girl's hand afterwards when Arya is looking at them. – TheLethalCarrot May 14 at 14:42
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Although Leathal Carrot's answer is correct, the women was not asking Arya to take the horse toy, but her daughter, doesn't mean that there wasn't any symbolism and/or possible callbacks with the toy horse, the girl and mother, and/or a thematic connection to the real horse that turns up later.

Knighthood/A Savior

Marg

As Ankit Sharma points out in the comments, it could be a symbol of "knighthood", as this scene may call back to Margery Tyrell's scenes where she was passing out wooden horse and knight toys to the poor young children of King's Landing, saying that even if their fathers weren't "anointed" Knights, they fought bravely do defend and protect the city making them out to be just like Knights. She also promises to take care of all of them.

Boy: He wasn’t a knight. He was just a soldier.

Margaery: And what do knights do? Protect the weak and uphold the good. Your father did that. Be proud of him.

So it's not that Arya is knight in the anointed sense, but she behaved like knight by putting revenge and even herself aside, to try and help others, such as mother and child escape. (This idea is also juxtaposed by Jon killing a Northern soldier, whose about to rape a women).

Foreshadowing Revelations Allegory - Jesus Ressurection/Forgiveness & Death Rider

The toy horse then also foreshadowed the upcoming scene, in which a pale white horse (actually it's a Gray Arabian covered in ashes. I grew up with them!) appears to help Arya escape the scene, as she seems to be the only survivor in the part of the city, proving herself a master of escaping death once more...

"[I]f Christ hath not been raised, our faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17).

Jon/Arya resurrection

In Revelation 6:2-8, John sees a vision of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The final horseman John the speaker sees is Death, who is literally “followed” by Hell (or “Hades,” depending on which version of the Bible you’re reading from), signifying untold destruction that comes when Death rides in.

From the King James Bible:

“And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.”

What gets a little funny/complicated is that the horse Arya finds in King’s Landing is a white horse coated in pale gray ash. This has a double meaning due to the fact that two out of the Four Horsemen rode white and pale horses that differed in both color and symbolism.

While Death, the black rider, rode a pale horse (often understood to be ashen gray or sickly green), fellow horseman Pestilence/Conquest rode a pure white horse, thus earning the name “the white rider.”

As Inverse continued to point out, it's hard to make this all align perfectly, since there are a couple of different translations and because the horse is covered in ash may give a mixed metaphor, but it doesn't mean this iconic imagery is meaningless and it would seem that "Death Rider" would be more likely what the writers are going for, considering Arya's history and what it may metaphysically entail being a Faceless Man...

Other Mythology:

Divine Horse

From earliest times, white horses have been mythologised as possessing exceptional properties, transcending the normal world by having wings (e.g. Pegasus from Greek mythology), or having horns (the unicorn). As part of its legendary dimension, the white horse in myth may be depicted with seven heads (Uchaishravas) or eight feet (Sleipnir), sometimes in groups or singly. There are also white horses which are divinatory, who prophesy or warn of danger.

As a rare or distinguished symbol, a white horse typically bears the hero- or god-figure in ceremonial roles or in triumph over negative forces. Herodotus reported that white horses were held as sacred animals in the Achaemenid court of Xerxes the Great (ruled 486–465 BC),6 while in other traditions the reverse happens when it was sacrificed to the gods.

In more than one tradition, the white horse carries patron saints or the world savior in the end times (as in Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam), is associated with the sun or sun chariot (Ossetia) or bursts into existence in a fantastic way, emerging from the sea or a lightning bolt.

What Else Do These Scenes Do?

Callback to Shireen Baratheon & R'hllor/Azor Ahai

Shireen

Shireen's death was one of the hardest in the series, because she was so innocent and lately there has been friendly reminder of innocence lost in the past couple of episodes. But Arguably given the recurring phrase, "Only Death Pays for Life", her death may have been the cost for Melissandre resurrecting Jon Snow and get back into the series debate over if the characters are dying for something greater than themselves or not?

Shireen's sacrifice, Stannis, Melisandre, and Jon's resurrection also then reminds viewers of the Azor prophecy with possible reincarnation of Azor Ahai, with a threw lint to Arya since Arya killed the Night King with Melisandre's, Beric's, and the Hound's help, but yet she and/or the events of The Long Night didn't meet the full criteria...

Now with Dany breaking down, there is more of a set-up for the prophesy to be fulfilled pointing to Jon being in a position where he may have to kill his beloved Queen, but where does that leave Arya?

Arysandre

It's unclear, but there may be some kind of foreshadowing here that Arya contributes to the stabbing or murder of Queen Daenaryes Targaryen. After all in the TV version, Dany doesn't have violet eyes like her book counterpart, but "green" like actress Emelia Clarks. And Melisnadre's "eye prophecy" does include Arya being involved in the death of someone with "green eyes"...

Callback to Cersei Lannister: Motherhood & The Faith of the Seven/True Identity

Mothers

Uniquely the women with her child that Arya tries to help is women who has short cropped hair. In Season 6 Cersei gets into it with High Sparrow, leader of the Faith Militant (Faith of the Seven), which results not only in Cersei's cutting of hair and walk of atonement, but Cersei's retaliation with the using Wildfire to blow up the Sept, killing Margery (and Loras) along with many innocence, which lead to her last born child's death (fulfilling Maggie the Frog's TV version prophecy).

High Sparrow

There is just a lot of imagery and musical score that calls back to season 6's King Landing's scenes through out this episode, including exploding wildfire, but what it all means may go back to arguments given by the Catholic metaphysical poet John Donne ('For Whom the Bell Tolls') and for Cersie more particularly, it may go back to what the High Sparrow said about the truth about whom we really are despite however we look, as both a pregnant Cersei dies in the arms of her Knight Ser Jaime and the poor woman and her child die following their Knight, Arya.

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    upvote for your intense contemplation of the storyline :) Quite curious about your thoughts of the flashes relating the Hounds fight and Arya's struggles to get out of the city. It was almost blow by blow... certainly there was a reason for it. – elbrant May 14 at 16:56
  • It definitely seems like there is some metaphorical, if not metaphysical transition there, but I'm not sure if she swung to back to humanity (via the Hound words telling her to leave/not seek revenge), and she's staying there, letting go of her anger (ie: the hounds death = lifting of burdens) or if she felt completely defeated by her experience and is going straight back to revenge again? Kind of like the difference between working with Jon (coming to an agreement) or working against Jon (going behind his back). I'm hopeful there is a team effort, but we'll see. – Darth Locke May 14 at 17:23
  • Also thanks for the upvote. I know that's not exactly what was being asked, but I felt that despite the dialogue mishap, the scene/exchange was still really important to other parts of the series and maybe the last episode... – Darth Locke May 14 at 17:33
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    (the girl in me is secretly hoping that) Arya feels like her list is complete and will return to Gendry (for her happily ever after) ... sorry, it's hormones. And I agree. Many things will be realized during the last episode. – elbrant May 14 at 22:01

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