Study Guide

A Clash of Kings Duty

By George R.R. Martin

Duty

In A Clash of Kings, duty is all up in everyone's business. For example, it is a lord's wife's duty to birth boys for her family's lineage (no pressure there), and it's a knight's duty to fight for his lord. And along these lines, there are those who do their best to meet their duty—here we can think of, say, Robb Stark—and those whose truest sense of duty is simply to themselves (ahem, Joffrey). But while the deeds may be different, one thing's constant: How characters relate to duty tells us a lot about them, and the duties that exist tell us a lot about this world.

Questions About Duty

  1. Who would you say is the most dutiful character in the story? What about the least dutiful? What duties are expected of them? Comparing these two answers, what can you say about this theme in the novel?
  2. By rebelling against Joffrey, are the other four kings being dutiful to their vows? Why or why not? Note: You don't have to have the same answer for each king.
  3. Do you think Jaime has the right of it? Are there too many vows to follow? If yes, then why, and what do you think is the alternative? If not, then why not?

Chew on This

Duty is often the death knell of a character. For example, Renly is going to be dutiful and meet Stannis on the battlefield—but then Stannis does the backhanded thing and sends a magical assassin. Remember how that turned out? Also, see Ned Stark.

Although Jaime Lannister may have forsaken his vows, he has not forsaken his duty. He just sees his duty as different than the vows society placed on him.