If school was out for summer in Westeros, it might just be out for
years and years. This is part of the fantastic "Setting" of Westeros:
the seasons last for years – though for how many years is anybody's
guess, as that constantly changes. When the book begins, the current
summer has already lasted nine years (2 Bran 1.1). In fact, the maesters
at the Great Citadel are responsible for keeping track of when summer
is ending, though they're about as accurate as most weathermen. And
there's even a legend that one of these summers will be an endless one
(26 Eddard 5.4), with no homework and lots of surfing.
and winter also happen to be symbols in this book. We can tell by how
often these seasons get connected to one of our favorite themes, "Coming
of Age". For instance, Bran is called "a sweet summer child,"
indicating that he's lived a relatively pain-free and fear-free life
(until, of course, the accident) (25 Bran 4.16). Jon Snow is also
something of a summer child, since he has lived most of his life in this
summer (53 Jon 7.58). The older members of the Night's Watch mention
that the new recruits still "smell of summer"; that is, they are
untested and weak, not used to the sorts of dangers of the north and of
winter (see 20 Jon 3, 42 Jon 5, and 49 Jon 6).
childhood to summer as well: "Summer will end soon enough, and childhood
as well" (7 Catelyn 2.104). Now wait a minute. Remember the Stark
motto? "Winter is Coming." If summer is childhood, then what is Winter?
Adulthood? Yeah: making compromises, facing (and possibly being beaten
by) monsters, having to deal with the Lannisters, the list goes on (and
includes, of course, death). So we guess they're lucky that it's been
such a long summer.