I'm still reading A Clash of Kings for the first time, so please don't answer with anything that would spoil things for me, but I was wondering:

In the chapter where Roose Bolton finally assumes control over Harrenhal, he asks Arya for her true name. Even though Bolton is an ally of Winterfell, and the Stark banner is raised in the castle, she decides to remain anonymous, calling herself Nymeria.

Why did she do this? Wouldn't her life improve immediately if she revealed who she was?

Again, this is my first time through the books, so please don't spoil anything for me!

  • This is an excellent question and it doesn't really make sense for Arya to continue to keep her identity secret. After the 'Weasel Soup' incident she could easily have revealed herself to Robett Glover and have him bring her to Roose Bolton. While he's flying the Stark Direwolf alongside his own banner he must take her into his protection and return her to her mother or brother. Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 13:09

6 Answers 6


By this time she has been through a lot! She has seen suffering, cruelty, murder etc... Arya is a smart girl to be distrustful. She knows firsthand that nobles lie. So she was biding her time and hiding her true identity. Other that that there is not much more I can offer as a definitive answer, you have read up to Clash of Kings and as you know there is no answer to be had other that her past lessons.

Syrio- WHO teaches her that she needs to be a wolf and not a lamb.

Jon - WHO loves her and wants her to always be careful.

Sansa - WHO teaches her what happens to stupid girls that can't think.

Joffrey - WHO teaches her that nobles are cruel and lie for their own gain.

etc, etc... This is my own interpretation and there are other people who will have other opinions about this.

  • Yeah, that makes sense to me! Commented Sep 26, 2013 at 13:41
  • +1 just for Sansa teaching what happens to "stupid girls that can't think". A better description of Sansa, I can't imagine. She definitely didn't inherit the critical thinking skills of her father, that's for sure.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Dec 1, 2016 at 23:20

By the time Arya makes it to Harrenhal, she has been repeatedly taught one key lesson: her identity makes her a target.

While traveling with Yoren and the Night's Watch recruits, she has to work very hard to become "Arry", and pretend to be a boy.

When the guards came for Gendry, Arya's first thought is that they've found her, and know who she is.

When The Mountain and his men capture them, she knows that revealing her identity would almost certainly result in her being sent to The Tickler.

When she gets to Harrenhal, she still has to work to hide her identity, lest Ser Amory Lorch get wind of who she is (The Tickler is still around, iirc).

By the time Roose Bolton arrives, she's been hiding for quite some time, and her distrust has become pretty deeply ingrained. I believe she wanted to reveal herself to him, and be rescued, but she couldn't quite bring herself to trust him. This actually may be an indication that she's a fairly astute judge of character. Despite being a bannerman of House Stark, Bolton is far from a nice person.

As to your question about whether her life would have improved significantly if she had told Bolton who she was: without revealing anything significant, it is questionable whether her life would have been improved (as in I'm really not sure, even with hindsight, as to whether his reaction would help her or make her life miserable).

  • 5
    Do not forget even Robb's reaction about Bolton, from the first book: "This man frightens me." Commented Sep 26, 2013 at 22:39

I think there is a very direct and straightforward reason Aray did not reveal herself: Roose Bolton captured Harrenhal because Vargo Hoat's Bloody Mummers / Brave Companions switched sides and helped him. And Arya had seen first hand that those were ruthless mass-murderers, just as bad as Gregor Clegane's men whose captive she had been.

She wasn't going to trust anyone allied with the Bloody Mummers just because he was also an ally of House Stark.


Because Bolton is one creepy dude, with his pink cape and flayed man imagery.


Considering Bolton's ambitions in the North, it may have been better for Arya not to mention her name (especially because the fake Arya married Roose's son).

Also Arya fled KL and was basically on the brink of death (peasants didn't fare too well in the medieval times), and creating her new identity certainly helped her survive up until seeing Roose, so kind of like Theon/Reek, Arya's new identity might have been drilled into her.

  • Was it not fake Sansa and not fake Ary?
    – Cherubel
    Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 6:10

Besides what other people have answered, Arya knew Gendry was wanted and had some strange important secret. She could not have mentioned Gendry even if she knew Roose Bolton could be trusted. Best case she definitely would have been seperated from Gendry, worst case got him killed if she told their story to Roose.

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