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Throughout the first and second seasons of Game of Thrones, the White Walkers are considered to be dead by everyone but the wildlings (and the "deserter" Ranger in the first episode). For example, there is a scene where Maester Lewin dismisses Osha's words about the White Walkers "only sleeping".

Now, we know that Commander Mormont knew that the White Walkers were alive and kicking, since he knew what Craster did to his sons (he confirms this in What is Dead May Never Die). I can't think of any scene where he dismisses the idea of the White Walkers existing, but he certainly never mentions anything about the existence of the White Walkers. None of the men of the Night's Watch seem to believe in the White Walkers (when they let the wights in, and the numerous times when Sam talks about them).

So, my question is, if Mormont knew about the White Walkers, why didn't he tell anyone?

(I don't mind answers based on the books instead of the TV show)

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4 Answers 4

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In the episode Lord Snow, Mormont says about the wildlings

The ones who flee say they've seen the White Walkers

and says about Will (who gets executed by Ned Stark)

(he) swore he saw them kill his companions

Mormont and Maester Aemon try to convince Tyrion to tell Cersei they need help. So it does look like he's tried to get help and is aware of the White Walkers.

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    He is aware of the Others when he is faced to one of his men who came back from the dead, and it's then when he sends ser Alliser to convince the people of King's Landing. Before that, he knows he need help to face the wilderlings, not the Others.
    – Flamma
    Jul 7, 2014 at 15:56
  • Oh, come on. That's incredibly feeble. Mormont - knowing about this for years - should have arranged for numerous Night's Watchmen to observe what happens to the babies, notice the Walkers from afar, and then - they would have been able to send a party of dozens of Men, including several nobles, to convince the king.
    – einpoklum
    Jun 6, 2015 at 22:53
  • Also, that should have caused Mormont to try to parlay with the Wildlings and reach some sort of truce.
    – einpoklum
    Jun 6, 2015 at 22:54
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Mormont knows only of the sacrifices not of the ultimate fate of the babies or whatever they are sacrificed to, saying only that the wildlings serve crueller gods than Jon Snow or his kith. The sacrifices explain how Craster goes on living in the forest while other wildlings have been driven or scared away, as well as emphasizing Craster's cruelty and corruption. Mormont seems to know Craster better than most and seems willing to maintain silence re the sacrifices in return for shelter for his crows, a major flaw in his character.

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    This is the obvious answer. Regardless of what Mormont knew, there is no causal link between 'guy exposes babies to death' and 'the white walkers are back'.
    – user2754
    Jun 28, 2014 at 0:40
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    Further, there's even a (twistedly) rational explanation. Craster doesn't want competition. Sons would grow up to be men.
    – Ryan_L
    Apr 24, 2019 at 15:35
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If you read the books, you will find that there is a lot of scepticism regarding the supernatural, and most people are of the opinion that "white walkers" only exist in myth. Even in the Night's Watch there is scepticism, up until the night when Mormont is attacked by wights.

Even so, the Night's Watch is far removed from the world, and by then the Starks and the rest of the North are deeply involved in the war against the crown, so the calls for help are largely ignored.

For example, (Spoiler ASOS, Season 3)

Mormont sends Ser Alliser Thorne to King's Landing with the animated hand of one of the wights as proof of his claims, but since Tyrion is hand of the king, and he despises Thorne, he is kept waiting until the hand decomposes, and he is left with no evidence of the "white walkers" and their minions. Subsequently he is ridiculed and his claims dismissed.

Also (Spoiler ASOS, Season 3)

The Night's Watch sends messages to all major houses imploring them for help, which are all largely ignored, except by one, who travels to the wall to help them.

So basically, Mormont is not certain of his claims until it is too late. After that, no one listens, because they are preoccupied with the war.

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  • In the show, they have a scene in the King's Keep that shows this skepticism in the supernatural. Cersei reads the letter requesting men be sent to help the Night's Watch, and the Small Council all mock the request.
    – user1027
    Feb 26, 2013 at 19:11
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    Great answer! I didn't remember Tyrion, for all his cleverness, was a fool about this.
    – Andres F.
    Apr 3, 2013 at 0:04
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    @AndresF. I believe Tyrion felt some ambivalence about it, but did not dare publicly announce his belief in such things.
    – TLP
    Apr 3, 2013 at 0:18
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    "blah blah blah grumpkins and snarks" seems to be standard response to anybody that dares mention the possibility of White Walkers
    – coburne
    May 19, 2014 at 20:07
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Causal Link

Regardless of Mormont's knowledge, secret or otherwise, there is no causal link between 'babies exposed to death in the snow' and 'the white walkers are back'. 'Exposing babies to death in the snow' doesn't magically make them into white walkers, or all over the Seven Realms there would be white walkers all the time - accidents happen, and abandoning babies in the woods was a really popular way to get rid of unwanted children. Clearly there is some other step, if that even is the way the White Walkers are made - it's hinted at, but not confirmed, in the series.

Keep in mind that Jorah Mormont is not the audience - he does not see everything the audience sees including things said when he isn't there or in other places. He only knows what his character is present to see. Assuming that all knowledge the audience has Jorah Mormont has is pretty dumb. He might know something about it from secret Night Watch records or something. But, we can definitely assume he doesn't - because if he did, Craster's head would have been on a pike a long time ago.

Not killing a guy for killing his children in the realms outside the rule of Law, sure. Not killing a guy for breeding White Walkers? Completely impossible. They'd have ridden out and beheaded him immediately.

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  • I think that you mean Jeor Mormont. Jorah is his son, and at the time of events was in Qarth.
    – user24620
    Jun 28, 2014 at 8:16
  • I think the book does mention multiple times that Craster's safety is linked to his giving up of his sons. Also, everyone knows from the beginning that Craster does something to his sons, so when Jon asks Jeor "you knew?", he's talking about the fact that they are given up to the "gods", i.e. the white walkers. The book doesn't explicitly mention anything about the children being bred into white walkers, I actually assumed that they were used for making wights. Jun 28, 2014 at 9:20
  • @Manishearth: I haven't read the books, but I read sufficiently many spoilers, I think that when Gilly has a son the wives/her say/s that 'his brothers will come and get him' or something like that, suggesting that the babies Craster gives are now White Walker (and all grown up!), but it might be possible that they don't know it's the White Walkers, and that is possible that they do know. Someone else will have to weigh in for an answer to that.
    – user24620
    Jun 28, 2014 at 15:39
  • Oh, right, that -- but this isn't necessarily something Jeor knows. I'm asserting that Jeor knows that Craster gives his sons to the Walkers, not that he knows what they do with it. Jun 28, 2014 at 15:44
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    @Manishearth - Sacrificing children to gods is really common. Nowhere in the world does it result in magical ice creatures. There is no logical reason for Jeor Mormont to believe that in this instance magical creatures of myth were going to spring up from the babies left in the snow. On the say so of a bunch of wildlings who believe crazy shit?
    – user2754
    Jun 28, 2014 at 23:35

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