Why Jon Snow survived, but Robb Stark didn’t

Gathika Ratnayaka
Nov 3, 2017 · 6 min read

While surfing through Quora and many other discussion forums, I’ve seen lot of stuff going on comparing Jon Snow and Robb Stark, mostly based on their battlefield skills and leadership. Most of the times, people have focused more on external factors, specially when it comes to “why Jon Snow survived while Robb Stark has fallen apart”.

As a fan of Game Of Thrones, I believe Jon Snow’s and Robb Stark’s individual characteristics and personalities have played a more vital role than any other external factor for one’s glory and other’s decline. It is true that both of them are sharp warriors, and when it comes to battlefield strategies, Robb Stark was always ahead of Jon Snow. But there were lot of other sensitive factors which helped Jon Snow to become the King in the North and to be the “best hope of the living”.

I always believe literary materials such as novels, movies, poems are one of the best ways to learn about people and to shape ourselves for better, and when it comes to “Game of Thrones”, this is quiet true. So I decided to bring my thoughts on what I saw in the characters of Jon Snow and Robb Stark, which made Jon Snow a better leader of men than Robb Stark. So, Let’s begin,

  1. Focus and Purpose,

From the day Jon Snow joined the Night’s Watch it was clearly seen that he was in a mission against the “dead” and he was very focused on it. At one point he left the girl he truly loves in order to protect the Night’s watch. One point he said “no” to the Lordship offered by Stannis Baratheon even though Jon himself admitted that it was what he ever wanted. Even after becoming the King in the North, his focus was not to ensure his power, but to prepare for the battle against the army of the dead. These are few examples which show his focus, patience and sense of responsibility which made him a great leader of men.

On other hand when it comes to Robb Stark, there were more than few occasions where Robb has lost his focus. This was why he lost the war even though he hasn’t had lost a single battle. In a midst of a war he marched to his grandfather’s funeral with more than half of his army , leaving Harrenhal to Boltons. This provided the perfect opportunity to Boltons to get into a pact with Lannisters and also this created the background for the execution of Lord Karstark. As a result Robb had lost half of his army. Penultimate result was his side became vulnerable and he had to turn again into Freys asking for their help. By putting his personal life before his true purpose, he had already made Freys an enemy of him and ultimate result was paying the price with his life as well as the lives of his colleagues. This looks cruel, but slight loss of focus and concentration is enough to bring a disaster when it comes to a matter of life and death.

2. The Big Picture,

Jon Snow is definitely ahead when it comes to getting his priorities right and seeing the bigger picture. After becoming the King in the North, he went to meet Daenarys Targaryen knowing his life is at a risk, because he saw the bigger picture and what needs to be done. He knew that he should give the priority to make alliances against the army of the dead if people are gonna survive, and all other power related issues come after that.

Not stopping there, he risked his own life to convince his true motives to others and get support of people like Daenarys, Jaimie, Lady Mormont and Lords of North. He united different groups of people such as Wildlings, Night’s watch, Notherners and Daenarys’ army together ,despiting all their dissimilarities and traditional power struggles because he was able to convince them what should be the priority.

When it comes to Robb Stark, at the beginning he was good at rallying all his armies and moving them forward together, but as the time goes on he could not keep the unity. At times he prioritized his personal matters ahead of his true mission. Giving priority to his relationship with Talisa ahead of his alliance with Freys is one example. Also, he was not able unite his people under a one true mission. Conflicts between himself and lord Karstark was a perfect example. The quick decision he took to execute Karstark without analyzing the consequences ended up being very costly.

3. The Follower,

Jon Snow had the opportunity to experience and nourish under different leaders such as Ned Stark, Lord Commander Mormont ,Mance Ryder and Stannis Baratheon. Jon was not only a good follower of them but also a good admirer of them. The maturity Jon has acquired by working with personalities of that calibre should have definitely helped him in the process of being what he is. Unfortunately, after the death of Ned Stark, Robb Stark does not have a leader to nourish and guide him, and that definitely had not worked out in his favor.

4.The man of the people,

One of the best thing about the character of Jon Snow is, his popularity grows day by day. This is mainly because he is a good listener. He respects others and their opinions, his relationship with people like Ser Davos, Tormund, Qhorin halfhand, Tyrion Lannister, Stannis Baratheon, Lord Commander Mormont, Maester Aemon, Samwel Tarley are good examples on this. This quality of him has helped him to survive this far and to get the support of different groups of people.

Also, Jon Snow is very good at understanding people. The decisions he took to allow wildlings in after understanding their needs, not to punish the families of lords who fought against him, to pay allegiance to Daenarys after she came for his help has really worked out in his favor. His popularity,strength had grown day by day. This is something which clearly differentiate Jon Snow from Robb Stark.

5. The Dots,

If Rhaegar Targaryen had lived, there would be no Jon Snow, but only Aegon Targaryen. If Jon Snow had not been adopted as a bastard, he would not have taken part in the Night’s watch. If Robb Stark hadn’t had to die, Jon Snow would have not been the King in the North.Game of Thrones itself said that “terrible things may happen for a reason”.

Destiny and luck also have a part in every story, even in the story of life. Steve Jobs once said you can only connect the dots by looking backwards. When look back at what has happened all the way, it seems that all the dots are connected together to make Jon Snow a person who is destined to be great — in the name of “Aegon Targaryen”.

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