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In Game of Thrones S01E02, When Bran is comatose from his fall, Jon Snow comes to visit him before Snow leaves for the wall. Snow talks to Bran and says "We can go for a walk beyond the wall, if you are not afraid." and Catelyn gets angry and says "I want you to leave." Why does she get angry about this?

Just to clarify, I know that she doesn't like him to begin with, but when he enters the room, she is sad, not angry. She only becomes angry after he begins talking to the unconscious Bran and specifically after he invites Bran to The Wall, so it seems like she got triggered by something there.

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    I think there are dots you’re expected to connect. If your favorite person in the world were lying close to death and then your worst enemy came into the room and started talking to your favorite person like they were old friends, in the middle of your grief and anxiety, how would you feel? Sep 13, 2022 at 14:00
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    I suspect that, based on the physical condition of his legs, it was already known that Bran would never walk again, even if he did regain consciousness. Catelyn (in her grief and established hatred of Jon) probably took his invitation to walk beyond the wall more literally than Jon intended. (I don't recall any details from the book or the TV show that might support or contradict this opinion.)
    – chepner
    Sep 13, 2022 at 14:18

3 Answers 3

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The other answers have most of it covered - she always bitterly resented what she sees as Ned's decision to bring walking evidence of adultery into their home and treat a bastard the same as her children with him - but there's one thing to add about why this line in particular could have been the final straw that made her flip from restrained resentment to outright hostility:

We can go for a walk beyond the wall, if you are not afraid.

There's a big cultural difference here:

  • The Starks are from the North, where joining the Night's Watch on the wall is seen as a grim and unpleasant but ultimately honourable duty.
  • Catelyn is a Tully, from further south, where the Night's Watch is seen more as a dishonourable punishment for criminals, outlaws, and the unwanted.

It's mentioned a few times how Catelyn has sometimes struggled to adapt to Northern cultural values. She understands the different attitude, but that doesn't mean she accepts it or in any way sees it that way herself.

So here she is, biting her tongue, trying to bitterly tolerate the presence of the living proof of her husband's infidelity (and her protective instincts already in overdrive).

Then Jon starts talking about taking her injured, vulnerable son to the place where - as she sees it - the realm's worst rejects, robbers and rapists are sent to die. Talking like he wants to convince Bran it's as an exciting treat to look forward to. Worse, the "if you are not afraid" part carries a possible implication that Bran, as a brave, honourable Stark, should want to go. She knows only too well how sensitive the Starks can be to these kind of appeals to honour and courage.

She's happy for Jon to see the Wall in a positive light - it's a neat way she can finally be rid of him. Everyone else sees it as an honourable post for a son of Ned Stark, she sees it as an appropriate place to dump an unwanted bastard. But now Jon appears to want to, as she might see it, corrupt her noble son into seeing that wretched place in a positive light too, and wants to continue playing the role of a brother on equal terms with Bran even after he's (what she sees as) the lowest of the low - and after she thought she'd finally see the last of him.

That's when it becomes too much. She'll bite her tongue and tolerate the bastard for a few minutes before he finally goes off to that pit of rejects. But the idea of her vulnerable son one day being convinced to venture north of the wall? Not on her life!

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  • Yes; also remember why Bran is lying in this bed, with Catelyn unknowing whether he will live or die: he fell while climbing the exterior walls of a tower (she does not know or suspect at this point that he was pushed by Jaimie Lannister). Bran has been scolded, and even punished before for climbing, but he always does it anyway. In her reasoning mind, she may know that this is what Bran is like. But for all her emotional mind knows, this bastard goading Bran into not being afraid is what led to his fall, what may have killed him - and now he wants to take him to the Wall and finish the job?
    – Kirt
    Sep 21, 2022 at 6:16
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Because he is a bastard of her husband, which was mentioned already in episode 1:

BENJEN: You got bigger. I rode all day. Didn’t want to leave you alone with the Lannisters. Why aren’t you at the feast?

JON: Lady Stark thought it might insult the royal family to seat a bastard in their midst.

BENJEN: Well, you’re always welcome on the wall. No bastard was ever refused a seat there. - source

It was already clear that Catelyn was discriminating against him for being a bastard child of her husband from this dialogue from episode 1.

Not using future episode references as you might have not seen them.

Even from episode 2, her reason was mentioned by herself, just after the scene you mentioned:

CATELYN: 17 years ago you rode off with Robert Baratheon. You came back a year later with another woman's son. And now you're leaving again. - source

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  • Yes, I knew this, but she got angry after he came in and started speaking, not at the beginning. It seemed she got angry about somethime he said. Sep 13, 2022 at 9:03
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    @TylerDurden she was angry with him from the day Ned Stark bought him home.
    – Ankit Sharma
    Sep 13, 2022 at 9:07
  • @AnkitSharma I have clarified my question. Sep 13, 2022 at 13:18
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    @TylerDurden It seems more like reading between lines when not required as she being Rude to John occurred many times and for the same reason.
    – Ankit Sharma
    Sep 13, 2022 at 13:44
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    Chronically angry people do not think in a particularly rational fashion about the choices of moments for expressing their anger. She expressed her anger after John spoke to Bran because that's the moment when her chronic anger burst out of her.
    – Lee Mosher
    Sep 13, 2022 at 13:45
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Catelyn knows Jon Snow as the bastard son of her husband Ned Stark and some unknown woman. Unlike most bastards of a lord, Jon was living with his father, his father's wife, and his trueborn half-siblings. Ned brought Jon to live with him in Winterfell. This made Jon Snow a living reminder of Ned Stark's infidelity to Catelyn. This was the "one thing [Catelyn] could never forgive Ned."

It was revealed to the audience much later that he isn't what he seemed. R + L = J

Relevant text from the books:

[…] Ned brought his bastard home with him, and called him “son” for all the north to see. When the wars were over at last, and Catelyn rode to Winterfell, Jon and his wet nurse had already taken up residence.

That cut deep. Ned would not speak of the mother, not so much as a word. […]

Whoever Jon’s mother had been, Ned must have loved her fiercely, for nothing Catelyn said would persuade him to send the boy away. It was the one thing she could never forgive him. She had come to love her husband with all her heart, but she had never found it in her to love Jon. She might have overlooked a dozen bastards for Ned’s sake, so long as they were out of sight. Jon was never out of sight, and as he grew, he looked more like Ned than any of the trueborn sons she bore him. Somehow that made it worse. “Jon must go,” she said now.

- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 6, Catelyn II (emphasis mine)

Catelyn never trusted the boy, as I recall, no more than she ever trusted Theon Greyjoy.

- Brynden "Blackfish" Tully (Catelyn's uncle) in A Feast for Crows, Chapter 38, Jaime VI (emphasis mine)


About your clarification:

Just to clarify, I know that she doesn't like him to begin with, but when he enters the room, she is sad, not angry. She only becomes angry after he begins talking to the unconscious Bran and specifically after he invites Bran to The Wall, so it seems like she got triggered by something there.

Catelyn has always disliked Jon and what he represents (to Catelyn). At this point, she is anguished after what happened to Bran. She's not exactly in the mood to hide her contempt for Jon, even in Ned's presence (who was there to witness what happened). Even Ned was not surprised to see her behavior towards Jon. Robb was also aware and asked Jon about it:

Robb: My mother?
Jon (tongue-in-cheek): She was very kind.

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  • I clarified my question. I understand all this. In the scene she seems to be specifically getting angry only AFTER Snow talks to Bran. Sep 13, 2022 at 13:17
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    @TylerDurden She has always disliked Jon. Perhaps the TV show did not make this clear enough, probably due to pacing issues. Sep 13, 2022 at 13:21
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    @AnkitSharma That's season 3, right? AFAIK, and unless there is a contradiction I'm missing, this scene (in Season 1) doesn't contradict the books. The first season of the TV show is probably the season that is closest to the books. Sep 13, 2022 at 14:22
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    Maybe unrelated by why didn't Ned confide this secret to Catelyn? Surely his love and trust for her would have him believe she could keep the secret, and that would resolve the familial conflict
    – Jacques
    Sep 13, 2022 at 15:13
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    @Jacques there's a separate question about it. And yes... it is unrelated to this question, I don't know why this answer even mentioned it. Let's please keep discussions about unrelated events in much later seasons off a question about the second episode of the entire show ;-) Sep 13, 2022 at 17:31

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