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Throughout the Wheel of Time series, it is almost comical how often Robert Jordan uses the phrase "crossed her arms beneath her breasts" to indicate a woman's displeasure. So much so that it seems merely an excuse to mention such anatomy, with a thin veneer of emotional expression.

So I wonder. Does any man cross his arms in the entire series? Or as a substitute, does any woman ever cross her arms without mention of her breasts?

71

Female characters cross their arms beneath their breasts a disproportionately large number of times, sometimes tens of times per book

By comparison, there are only a few mentions of a woman crossing her arms without mention of her breasts and only one or two examples of a man who crosses his arms during the entire series, excluding a man who crosses his arms "on a railing" (in The Gathering Storm) and an innkeeper in who crosses them "over a table" (in Book 1: The Eye of the World)

Egwene was sure that, for her part, it could. She had never seen Verin angry before. Nynaeve crossed her arms beneath her breasts and muttered under her breath, but she said nothing. The three Accepted behind Sheriam kept their silence, of course, but Egwene thought she could see their ears grow from listening.

Book 3: The Dragon Reborn

and

Nynaeve returned the pitcher of water to the washstand vigorously, sloshing some out. She had been on the point of throwing it in Egwene’s sleeping face. Her features were composed, but the pitcher rattled the washbowl, and she let the spilled water drip to the carpet. “Was it something you found? Or was it . . . ? Egwene, if the World of Dreams can hold on to you in some way, maybe it is too dangerous until you learn more. Maybe the more often you go, the harder it is to come back. Maybe. . . . I don’t know. But I do know we cannot risk letting you become lost.” She crossed her arms under her breasts, ready for an argument.

Book 4: The Shadow Rising

and

Still, he was even more surprised when Berelain stepped into his room.
Holding the edge of the door, she blinked, making him realize how dim the light must be for her. “You are going somewhere?” she said hesitantly. With the light of the hallway’s lamps behind her, it was difficult not to stare.
“Yes, my Lady.” He bowed; not smoothly, but as well as he could. Faile could give all the sharp sniffs she wanted, but he saw no reason not to be polite. “In the morning.”
“So am I.” She closed the door and crossed her arms beneath her breasts. He looked away, watching her from the corner of his eye, so she would not think he was goggling.

Book 4: The Shadow Rising

and

In spite of herself, she took a step back, crossing her arms beneath her breasts sternly. And immediately wished she had not; that stance more than emphasized what she was exposing. Stubbornness kept her arms where they were—she was not about to let him think she was flustered, especially since she was—but surprisingly, his eyes remained on hers.

Book 5: The Fires of Heaven

and

Irritably she placed another domino, and the tower collapsed with a clatter, spilling ivory tiles onto the floor. With a click of her tongue, she turned from the table, folding her arms beneath her breasts.

Book 6: Lord of Chaos

and

Larine sniffed and folded her arms beneath her breasts. “As soon as I saw that coat I knew you had gotten a big head, running off with an Aes Sedai the way you did. I knew it before you talked so disrespectfully to Alanna Sedai and Verin Sedai. But I didn’t know you had become a stone blind jack-fool.”

Book 6: Lord of Chaos

and

“Ji’e’toh is the core of the Aiel. We are ji’e’toh. This morning you shamed me to the bone.” Folding her arms beneath her breasts and fixing him eye to eye, she lectured him on his ignorance and the importance of hiding it until she could rectify the matter, then went on to the fact that toh had to be met at all costs. She spent some time on that.

Book 6: Lord of Chaos

and

Not until they entered what had been a private dining room, a long chamber where now a narrow table stood with chairs behind it near one wall, did Nynaeve realize they had gained a train of followers. More than a dozen Aes Sedai entered on their heels, Nisao folding her arms tightly beneath her breasts, and Dagdara with her chin thrust forward as though meaning to walk through a wall, Shanelle and Therva and. . . . All Yellow Ajah, save Sheriam and Myrelle. That table suggested a magistrate’s chamber; that line of grim faces spoke of a trial. Nynaeve swallowed hard.

Book 6: Lord of Chaos

and

Facing Siuan, she folded her arms beneath her breasts. “This won’t do, Siuan. I know everything. Daughter.”

Book 6: Lord of Chaos

and

Realizing there was nowhere for her to sit, Barasine crossed her arms beneath her breasts and frowned at Egwene.

Book 11: Knife of Dreams

and

She jumped when he popped out right in front of her, and her breath caught loudly, but what she said was, “So there you are. Mat and Perrin told me what you did. And Loial. I know what you’re trying to do, Rand, and it is plain foolish.” She crossed her arms under her breasts, and her big, dark eyes fixed him sternly. He always wondered how she managed to seem to be looking down at him—she did it at will—although she was only as tall as his chest, and two years younger besides.

Book 2: The Great Hunt


There are several examples of women crossing their arms without mention of their breasts, but those are relatively few and far between

She received no further explanation, so she crossed her arms—stepping out of the black circle, in case another gateway opened—and waited.

Book 14: A Memory of Light

and

“I have heard the name,” she said warily. And angrily, he would have said. “Few linked to al’Thor remain unknown for long.” As he stepped closer, she crossed her arms protectively in front of herself, and held her place with an obvious effort. “What is a seedy farmboy doing in Ebou Dar? How did he—?”

Book 7: A Crown of Swords

and

Bair folded her arms, expressionless. Sorilea muttered something about foolish girls, but it hardly sounded heated.

Book 6: Lord of Chaos

and

Before she had gone fifty paces, she felt Birgitte coming closer and turned to see her running down the street. Areina was with her, but she stopped a little way off and folded her arms with a scowl. The woman was an impossible little wretch, and she certainly had not changed her opinions because Elayne really was Aes Sedai now.

Book 6: Lord of Chaos

and

Aviendha looked at him, folding her arms with a firm expression.

Book 6: Lord of Chaos

There are vanishingly few examples of a man crossing his arms.

“A book told me,” Rand said calmly. He sat down back on the edge of a crate that creaked alarmingly under his weight and crossed his arms. All very cool; Mat wished he could emulate it. “A pair of books, in fact. Treasures of the Stone and Dealings with the Territory of Mayene. Surprising what you can dig out of books if you read long enough, isn’t it?”

Book 4: The Shadow Rising

and

Domon made no effort at all to hide his frank appraisal of Egeanin, crossing his arms and pursing his lips in disgusting fashion while looking her up and down.

Book 4: The Shadow Rising

  • 41
    I've stopped adding examples. There's simply too many variations on "folding" or "crossing" arms and almost all of them involve breasts. – Valorum Jan 9 at 15:22
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    Wasn't book 14 Brandon Sanderson? It wouldn't surprise me if this was a writing quirk of Robert Jordan that wasn't present in Sanderson's writing. It would be interesting to see a count of the Jordan books with the 3 variants but beyond noticing it as a writing quirk for that author I don't think we gain anything worth the time required to put the figures together :) – Tim B Jan 10 at 10:24
  • 3
    You forgot the bold in 3 of your 5 non-breast quotes. Did you break your * key, or did you just lose interest? – FreeMan Jan 10 at 14:31
  • 2
    I think its fair to say Jordan considered the er...non-breast crossings a different type of expression, more of a protective measure rather than one designed to get attention. A rather icky look into the guy's mind and outlook on women there... – T.E.D. Jan 10 at 14:53
  • 1
    "She received no further explanation, so she crossed her arms" - No mention of body parts beyond arms, yet bolded... ;) – FreeMan Jan 10 at 15:04

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