Stop Feeling Sorry for Hodor

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Quickmeme.com / Google Images

For anyone who hasn’t seen episode 5 of this season’s Game of Thrones, a few things happen to Hodor that might make you a little sad. Especially if you were fond of the big doofy giant. But because I have the unhealthy urge to squash any real feelings that bubble up from my icy, blackened internet heart, here are a few literary reasons we shouldn’t feel too sad about the fate of He Who Holds The Door.

But first, this post contains…

spoilers_01SPOILERS!!!

First off, from a story-writing perspective Hodor isn’t a real person. And I don’t mean this in a cruel de-humanizing way, or a jab at people with disabilities. I mean the character as a literary device. Let’s start by reviewing the elements of what communicates a character to the audience:

  • Voice: Their dialogue, inner monologue, or narration.
  • Motivation: What pushes the character through the story, and ultimately what sets them up as a protagonist or antagonist.
  • Presence: How do they physically move, act, and fill the scene.
  • Past History: How their past effects them as it pertains to the story.
  • Character Arc: Their starting trajectory vs their ultimate fate.

Now let’s apply these elements to Hodor:

  1. Character Dialogue/Voice – Hodor has none, aside from his name.
  2. Character Motivation – Hodor has none, aside from helping Bran.
  3. Character Presence – Hodor has very little, aside from generally being big and friendly. Sandor Clegane’s horse, Stranger, has more presence than Hodor.
  4. Character History – Aside from the aforementioned flashback we see and a few other speculations about his parentage, Hodor effectively has no past.
  5. Character Future/Arc – Hodor doesn’t have one. He begins the story as lovable Hodor and was realistically going to end it exactly as he began. No great development. No 180-degree swing like we see with Ser Jaime. He was never going to sit the Iron Throne (sorry King Hodor Theorists)

One could argue that Hodor’s voice and presence are very distinct, but I argue that’s entirely due to the talented acting of Kristian Nairn. His ability to inject emotion and meaning into a few lumbering gestures and a single word is amazing to watch. The books would sometimes mention Hodor’s emotional state (fear, happiness, etc) but never anything deeper than the instinctual id. And certainly never as deep as Nairn projected.

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Google Images

Consider instead that Hodor was an extension of Bran all along, even before Bran was going all Patrick Swayze from Ghost and jumping into random warm bodies. In his pre-crippled state Bran was usually near Hodor anyway–at least when he wasn’t climbing around towers, watching blond twins try to mint gold between each others’ hips.

After Bran falls from the tower, however, Hodor literally becomes an extension of Bran’s mobility. Bran loses is legs–his power of climbing and running, of exploring, the power he valued most. And right from the start Bran began looking for other ways to supplement that loss of power. No other Stark has used their Warg abilities so readily, or so effectively.

As Bran slowly mastered this new power he used Hodor more and more as an extension of his will, but relied on him less and less physically and emotionally, letting the Reeds and the Children of the Forrest take up the slack. In episode 5 we finally see the inevitable outcome of Bran’s power fully manifested. He can leap into bodies both man and beast, control people’s minds like he’s Charles Xavier, and now he can do this through goddamn time and space.

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Youtube.com / Google Images

Hopefully with 90% less Cerebro-induced head trauma.

Hodor was an extension of Bran from the start. As a literary device he was a tool to replace Bran’s loss of power. And now that Bran has all of the power, ever (like seriously how can a couple of dragons stop a time-traveling astral-projecting Professor X?) now that Bran is at the height of his power, he no longer needs that other physical extension.

Think of it more like Hodor was holding the door open for Bran to step through. And not so much, you know, this…

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Google Images


Featured image from Google Images and Quickmeme.com.

If you have other opinions about Hodor’s ultimate purpose you can leave comments below, or I can meet you on the field of battle.

Originally posted to Statbonus.com

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