When Craster gives away the baby boys to the White Walkers, what happens? Do the baby boys become snacks at a White Walker party? Made into something else with magic?
In the television series, we have yet to see what exactly the white walkers do with Craster's sons. Craster, for his part, tells Mormont that he "sacrifices" his children to the "real gods", implying that Craster (at least) assumes they are dead. However, we never see what became of the one son that Jon Snow saw being carried off.
In the novels, we don't actually "see" this event, but we do hear about it from Craster's wives. They claim to Jon and Sam that the sacrificed babies become Others (the book's term for the show's "white walkers"), and that this is how that species "procreates". However, we have not actually seen any Other that was positively identified as one of Craster's sons, so that is likely supposition on the part of the wives.
My suspicion is that the novel's claim is correct, and that we will eventually see this come up again in future seasons.
Edit: on television, in Series 4, in the episode "Oathkeeper" we actually see Craster's last son becoming a White Walker.
First, I would like to clarify somethings: the white walkers, aka "the others" are different from wights. The others are really the main villains of the story, who have their own agenda. The wights are zomby-like re-animated corpses of people.
It appears that the others create wights from dead bodies, which is why the wildlings burn their dead. However, it is not at all clear what happens to Craster's boys.
Book series A Song of Ice and Fire:
"Others" (South of the Wall) or "White Walkers" (name Wildlings use) are the Frozen beings with intelligence that are capable of raising dead bodies to fight for them as "Wights".
They are depicted as intelligent and very elegant looking. George R.R. Martin has been very clear about what they are NOT without describing what they are. Rather than being "evil" or "undead" he is more clear in saying that they are simply very alien... a different form of life and intelligence whose motives and actions can never be properly interpreted by humans.
Craster's "incest harem" has theorized that the babies become "Others" but that is just a theory based on hearsay from a group that has been kept deliberately isolated all their lives. GRRM has a good grasp of just how much groundless rumours could become "common knowledge" in medieval times. The number of patently false things that became "well-known fact" about the bubonic plague from medieval history is evidence of that.
Worthy of note is that the Night King (possibly a Bolton, but nothing certain) chased after a woman to be his Queen who is not identified as an Other but has a mythological description that matches them perfectly. According to the story he eventually took her for his own. This represents evidence because it is a description that has existed in legend alone without anyone seeing an Other for a thousand years or more. This is especially important because it offers some tantalizing evidence that all Boltons are partially descended from White Walkers (would explain a few things about their appearance in the books). This begs the question though: If there are female Others who can be impregnated why would they need babies from human beings?
The Series Game of Thrones:
Name Others is dispensed with and White Walkers are actually shown taking away Craster's babies.
We don't know what happens to the children. The author has not chosen to reveal that, if he even knows himself. Sad bit of reality, but authors don't always know what happens in their stories. Sometimes an author has an idea, but as the story gets written, the whole thrust of the story seems to go in a different direction than the author's earlier idea. Because of that, the author has to change what he planned or it doesn't fit with the story. Sometimes he/she just comes up with a better idea. So, Martin may not even know what happens to the babies.
At this point, it seems strange to think that humans can become white walkers (I prefer white walkers to "others" because others just sounds too nonspecific and vague to me). So, I think there are several possibilities that only Martin can answer. But, if they need human children to procreate, why kill humans? Shouldn't they enslave humans and use them as breeders? There is no mention of the walkers using humans that way. The general consensus is that they kill people and make them undead. Hardly effecient for procreation. So here are some possible answers, again that only the author can ultimately decide are right or wrong.
1) the walkers eat the children. 2) the walkers use the children for some sort of blood magic. 3) the walkers use the children to feed their spiders. 4) the walkers use the children as slaves or agents to infiltrate and spy on humans (once grown up). 5) the walkers needed a creepy aspect that made them really loathsome, so Martin came up with with child stealing and never intends to answer the question.
Craster claims to be safe from the wights, and Gilly (his wife and daughter) begs Jon to save her son, saying that Craster's other sons will be there soon. As Craster has left all his sons in the woods it seem plausible that Craster is sacrificing them to the Others (and that the sons somehow turn into Others). It is never explicitly stated though.
Based on the metaphysics of the story one could deduce that:
- The lives and actions of White Walkers mimic the tides; they are cyclical as they are seasonal.
- The red comet passes the planet during the same time dragons and White Walkers exist.
- All life must procreate.
- White Walkers are living.
- White Walkers take children.
- There are no White Walkers that are child-sized, thus they must be adults.
- The children should be White Walkers during the next cycle.
The origin and nature of the White Walkers is perhaps the greatest mysteries in the series. Those things give me the shivers.
Anyway, Gilly and her sisterwives believe their sacrificed baby boys become White Walkers.
Gilly was crying. “Me and the babe. Please. I’ll be your wife, like I was Craster’s. Please, ser crow. He’s a boy, just like Nella said he’d be. If you don’t take him, they will.”
“They?” said Sam, and the raven cocked its black head and echoed, “They They They”
“The boy’s brothers,” said the old woman on the left. “Craster’s sons. The white cold’s rising out there, crow. I can feel it in my bones. These poor old bones don’t lie. They’ll be here soon, the sons.”
However, all the White Walkers seen so far have been tall. So the boys must be taken somewhere far or hidden.
Regardless, this doesn't explain the ancient origin of the White Walkers, how they animate the dead into wights or their recent resurgence.
“Yes,” said Sam, “but is it the cold that brings the wights, or the wights that bring the cold?”
I take it quite a few people forgot about the little girl on the show? So I'm sure there are female white walkers. It doesn't seem that the females go to war though, or at least I've yet to see any. So maybe they babies like Craster's sons to the women and they raise the living as their own or something.
Today's episode vividly showed some Wight/other being that looked different from those previosly shown. He hadsmall hornlike protrusions, white slimy looking skin not so withered and voldemort esqu, and those same piercing frozen blue eyes. He also seemed to be Theonly one with the power to turn crasters babies into walkers (because one of his brother's came to fetch him, brought him to some primal ice altar, and waited for this other leader, necromancer ice demon thing.)
Some of you might say well its just the show.. but its said that GRRM has a fair degree of input on the shows plot and progression. Though some things are hyped and changed, like Renly and Loras being gay or throne torture being explicitly depicted facts rather than coy implications, and hbo does take the sex violence and coersionup a few notches as is their custom, but I wouldn't expect the creators of Game of Thrones would take such a drastic step without consulting the author first. Perhaps this is used as another outlet for GRRM perhaps this acts as a way to get out some extra details in the show. It would be very difficult for him to describe this changing ceremony in his texts when he has focused so closely on telling the story solely through the eyes of his main characters. And they always seem so busy, when would jon snow have the tme to wander upon an ancient ritual of the others?i
I have to agree with the theory that they become White Walkers. There is no evidence for it, bu there is counter evidence for its counter evidence.
The Night King. A thousand years ago - the description could slowly have changed of his bride. His bride might even have been a Child of the Forest - give enough time, and people will change the details. See it like natural selection. Each re-telling changes a detail. If the change captivates the audience, it gets passed on.
And there are no female White Walkers shown so far. I suspect that, yes, they sometimes take living prisoners (Craster's sacrifices) to become them.
First, I don't believe they're evil (white Walkers). The lannisters are evil, Ramsay snow is evil, king Joffrey is evil. White Walkers are population control. They are the balance, for in all things, there must be balance. The truth will be revealed, when Georgie boy is ready to let us see his vision in full. If you want to scrutinize clues of origins, though, I'll crack an egg on you. My wife highlighted all the passages in the first book pertaining to Lyanna Stark, and John Snows lineage. Ready for this one? Lyanna and Raegar were lovers, he is not a rapist, and she gave birth to John. He is their child, not Neds, we know he is too honorable to cheat on his wife! If you guys want, I'll post all the quotes, and what pages they're all on.
My theory on the last scene and what happens with the babies.. I haven't read the books, so I'm just purely using my imagination.
The babies allow the white walkers (or whatever they are) turn into a human, in effect bringing someone back to life. Now my imagination really gets working - one person that will comeback to life again is Eddard Stark.
Yes I'm nuts and really have no basis for these thoughts, but I have still had fun thinking about it.
"spoiler alert for non book readers"
My theory is that the white walkers are the guardians of the old Gods. Think about it. Until now all we know is that they dont allow the living to venture north of the wall. In the first episode, the white walker kills the 2 crows and leaves the 3rd one to escape after presenting him the head of his comrade. "keep away" was the message i received.
When the wall marched with full force and camped on the fist of the first men, the white walkers responded immediatelly...with much more force. "you didnt keep away, so you have to die"
Also, the visored black clothed white walker (i believe is Benjen Stark) helps Brann reach his goal. The goal was to become one with the trees, watching everything that every tree watches in the present and in the past. I assume thats pretty close to becoming an old God isnt it?
They way i see it, the old Gods dont actually have to be celestial beings...and as such they are vunlerable. They need guardians. Given the fact that one white walker can possible raise many weights, one baby every month (?) is enough recruiting. It was pretty clear at the ending of episode s4e4 that they transformed the baby to one of them. The baby, growing up not knowing anything else except being a white walker, possibly will become the silent unholy type like the most of them who we have seen. Benjen Stark however, was a full grown man with knowledge and use of language, thus possibly he was chosen as the guide type... the one to welcome the gifted young man who is to become an old God.
I would really appreciate and opinions about my theory. :)