Study Guide

A Clash of Kings Gender

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In the Seven Kingdoms, gender roles are pretty much set in stone: Boys will be boys, girls will be girls, and that's the end of the discussion. Good talk. This is especially true amongst the country's upper class. Female characters in A Clash of Kings are required to marry, have babies, and look pretty—unless they become prostitutes, in which case they need only follow rule number three. For their part, men must learn to fight and run their land.

But gender roles are cultural constructs, and they don't exist within universal hard lines for every culture or even every person for that matter. Yes, even in the Seven Kingdoms. So keep your eyes out for cracks in that stone.

Questions About Gender

  1. Why do you suppose Martin employs so many women for point-of-view characters? How does this help you understand the theme of gender in the novel?
  2. What character do you think challenges gender roles the most? Does this character ever truly break free of the tradition? Why or why not?
  3. How do the gender roles of the Seven Kingdoms differ from those in your society? How are they similar? Do these differences and similarities make you consider gender relationships differently? How so?

Chew on This

The gender roles Cersei wishes she could break free from in the Seven Kingdoms are the same gender roles Dany breaks free from in Essos, making these two characters interesting foils.

Even characters that accept their gender roles struggle to match them. Kings Robb and Joffrey are excellent examples, striving to be viewed as true men in their roles.

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