In the book A Dance With Dragons,

As Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, Jon Snow took a lot of decisions which caused outrage among his black brothers. Even though many of them openly confessed about how they felt, he still ignored their concerns. I know he was working for a good cause but he wasn't able to get his message through to his fellow brothers on the matter. He turned a blind eye towards them. He could have seen the mutiny coming and avoid being stabbed. Why was Jon Snow so ignorant towards the growing resentment among the black brothers about his decisions which favoured the wildlings?

  • 4
    Why indeed, especially when Melisandre had warned him about assassination attempts.
    – TLP
    Apr 11, 2015 at 16:14
  • 3
    We can only hope we'll learn his reasoning (or why he was so unreasonable in this matter) in TWOW, meaning most likely before the end of this decade, or we'll have to wait for ADOS, or, even worse, might never get an answer at all....
    – BMWurm
    Apr 11, 2015 at 19:12
  • 15
    He's, what, seventeen? Eighteen? He may be brave and smart, but like Robb before him, he's not very wise. Apr 11, 2015 at 20:25
  • 8
    "Kill the boy and let the man be born" - Aemon Targaryen
    – Möoz
    Apr 21, 2015 at 23:15
  • 15
    ...obviously the answer is "Because he knows nothing." :)
    – Doresoom
    Jun 19, 2015 at 15:42

4 Answers 4


Responsibility weighs down on people.

At this point, Jon Snow has been elected as Lord Commander very surprisingly. He definitely was not ready or expecting to have to shoulder such a heavy burden.

In his unreadiness, he took to Maester Aemon's advice:

“Allow me to give my lord one last piece of counsel,” the old man had said, “the same counsel that I once gave my brother when we parted for the last time. He was three-and-thirty when the Great Council chose him to mount the Iron Throne. A man grown with sons of his own, yet in some ways still a boy. Egg had an innocence to him, a sweetness we all loved. Kill the boy within you, I told him the day I took ship for the Wall. It takes a man to rule. An Aegon, not an Egg. Kill the boy and let the man be born.” The old man felt Jon’s face. “You are half the age that Egg was, and your own burden is a crueller one, I fear. You will have little joy of your command, but I think you have the strength in you to do the things that must be done. Kill the boy, Jon Snow. Winter is almost upon us. Kill the boy and let the man be born.

-A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Five - A Dance With Dragons, Chapter Seven (Jon II).

This rings in Jon's mind repeatedly all throughout the last book (A Dance With Dragons). He takes it:

  • Seriously
    • He often thinks that he must make the "hard" decisions
  • Literally
    • He alienates his friends thinking that they are distracting him and that all they seem to want to do is play
    • He sends Sam away to study at The Citadel
  • Figuratively
    • He starts to see and think of himself as a man, not a boy

Jon makes some hard decisions, some which many men take no liking in (some even voice their displeasure); however, Jon was extremely pre-occupied. He had to deal with:

  • Stannis encamping at and demanding the Night's Watch's support in his crusade
  • Being offered to be legitimised and made Lord of Winterfell, but having to reject because of honour and vows and stuff
  • King's Men and Queen's Men voicing their distaste and their disagreements
  • Sending away his best friend Sam as well as Maester Aemon, along with Dalla's babe
  • His recent loss of the love of his life, Ygritte
  • Melisandre's weird obsession with his "blood" and "power"
  • Winter fast approaching and way too scarce resources for everyone
  • Free Folk being given a part of The Gift to settle
  • Free Folk residing in Castle Black
  • Minor fights between the Free Folk and the Westerosi.
  • Lack of money and subsequently putting the Night's Watch into debt with the Iron Bank of Braavos
  • Janos Slynt's insubordination and execution
  • His cousin, Alys Karstark, taking refuge in Castle Black and her subsequent marriage to the Magnar of the Thenns
  • Finding out his sister, Arya1 has been forcibly detained in Winterfell and married off to the newly legitimised Ramsay Bolton.
  • Threat of the Others looming
  • Pink Letter

Yes; he knew full well that he had angered a lot of people and had made some tough decisions, but he fails to see a secret assassination plan since, well, it was a secret and he had way too much going on at the time.

1. Yes, we know she's fake, but he doesn't.

  • 1
    A fantastic answer which is severely underrated. However I have just one bone to pick. Jon did not alienate his friends because he found them distracting. It was because as their lord he might have to judge them at some point later and lesser he found himself emotionally attached to them, easier would it be. Also, Free folk are Westerosi as well. Proper way to distinguish the two would be "Minor fights between Freefolk and Civilized folk (Kneelers)"
    – Aegon
    May 18, 2016 at 7:34

It is pretty simple in my opinion. He identified the White walkers as the biggest threat to Westeros and understood that this threat was the real purpose of the Wall and the Nights Watch. Because of that and the understanding that the Nights Watch was severely understaffed he decided it was best to join forces with the Wildlings, that fled for this exact threat. While he got this understanding the Black Brothers that were at the wall for many years couldn't forget about all the years they fought the Wildlings and never heard anything about the White Walkers. Jon Snow could in my opinion just not understand that anyone would underestimate the White Walkers in that way.

Note: My answer is based on the impression I took from the book, I didn't watch the season 5 yet, so maybe the TV-series is somewhat different for that.

  • 4
    Are you saying that Jon Snow is not ignorant, but rather naive ?
    – Kalissar
    Mar 23, 2016 at 9:23
  • 1
    @Kalissar Considering that he is a kid it's quite plausible.
    – user001
    Mar 23, 2016 at 9:56

I think Jon demonstrated many times he was ignorant of the feelings of those around him, or rather I believe he believed he was correct in his thinking and so tended to devalue the opinions of others he saw as his equal or, especially, beneath him. Here are some examples of situations mirroring just what you/I have said:

  1. His decision to go to the wall
  2. His decision to thrash the other Night's watch recruits, earning death had not Tyrion saved him
  3. His decision to throw a fit when not chosen as a ranger
  4. His decision to turn cloak
  5. His decision to kill Qhorin
  6. His decision to make an enemy of a superior officer
  7. His decision to abandon the wall and join his brother
  8. His decision to anger Crastor is his holdfast
  9. His decision to refuse Stannis' offer
  • The question is asking why he was ignorant, not whether he was.
    – Moogle
    Mar 23, 2016 at 9:46
  • 2
    True. Just pointing out that it wasn't out of character.
    – DanHitt
    Mar 23, 2016 at 20:00

Isn't this one of the standard Stark traits? Being honourable and believing others are too. Ned, Rob and Jon died because of this.

This is not from the book but since that will be out in 2020, here is something from the show. Although once resurrected Jon is somewhat different.

  • This sounds more like a comment rather than an actual answer. Also, you're referencing the show in your last part, where the question is asking about the book.
    – Möoz
    Feb 1, 2017 at 23:28
  • You are right, we wont know for a long time what happens in the book. As for the comment part you could consider it one or a short answer but since I can't post comments it can only be a short answer. Show part edited however.
    – Mr. C
    Feb 2, 2017 at 0:02

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