Here’s why Jaqen H’Ghar tells Arya, “Finally a girl is no one,” despite her breaking the no ones’ rules:
He says it because the many-face god has clearly shown Arya favor, regardless of how many rules she has followed or broken.
He is giving her the title because, according to her assessment, she has earned it.
Whether or not she accepts the role is left somewhat ambiguous in the scene.
So if you want to learn all about why Jaqen still makes Arya a no one, then you’re in the right place.
Let’s jump right into it!
Who Is Arya?
Arya is one of the many principal characters in Game of Thrones.
For the record, I’m talking about the TV show today and not the books that served as source material and inspiration for the show.
Actually, this is a good spot to stop and have a quick spoiler warning.
The TV show concluded a few years ago, but in case you aren’t caught up, I have to cover some major spoilers in order to explain this little exchange.
So, that’s your warning.
As for Arya, she’s the younger daughter of the House of Winterfell.
As such, she is a noble, but her character arc takes her far away from the standard squabbling of nobility, and for most of the show, she is not in contact with her family.
Instead, she trains to become a secret assassin, and that’s what this particular scene is all about.
Who Is Jaqen H’Ghar?
This is a more interesting question than it might appear on the surface.
Jaqen H’Ghar is one of the faceless men.
He’s in the group who helps Arya escape King’s Landing, early in the show.
But, because he is a faceless man, Jaqen H’Ghar isn’t really his name.
It’s just a persona that he took on for the sake of his work.
Despite that, I’m going to refer to him as Jaqen throughout this article, just to avoid confusion.
So, after he helps Arya escape, Jaqen then agrees to train her to become a faceless man herself.
In this role he is pivotal, and he basically provides her with the skills she needs at the end of the show—especially when it comes to killing the Night King.
What Is a No One?
Of course, this all makes more sense if you know what a faceless man is.
The faceless men are a group of assassins that serves the many-face god.
They are extremely skilled fighters, and they are most known for their ability to change appearance whenever they want.
Because of this, they are called faceless—as they have no true face, only the face they are wearing at the moment.
Internally, the faceless men refer to themselves as no one.
This fits the same mold.
They give up any semblance of a permanent identity, hence fitting the idea of being no one.
While this covers the gist, the idea of a no one and the faceless men will make a little more sense if we cover the foundational beliefs and rules.
What Are the Rules of the No Ones or the Faceless Men?(4 Rules)
I’m going to list and explain four rules, and they do matter, but they’re really just ways to help faceless men follow the only rule that actually matters.
All goes according to the many-face god.
Everything is up to that god, and it is for the faceless men to follow its will wholeheartedly.
The rules are really just there to help no ones train themselves to follow the way of god.
Ultimately, a no one is not supposed to be emotionally invested and should instead devote themselves entirely to the will of the many-face god without question or hesitation.
The rules help the faceless men get to that point.
With that in mind, let’s discuss these four rules.
#1 Rule 1
Death is a gift.
This is a large, involved rule, and it really lays down the foundational belief of the faceless men.
According to their belief, death is a gift.
It unburdens those who are killed, and because of that, death is not met with emotion.
More importantly, death is a gift to the many-face god.
While it might also seem a gift to those who are killed, the real gift is to the god.
Because of that, the death itself is interchangeable.
When the god is promised a gift of death, that gift must be fulfilled.
But, it ultimately doesn’t matter who dies, when, or how.
All that matters is that the gift is given.
In other words, death must be exchanged.
If someone is chosen for assassination, that assassination can only be stayed by the death of another in their place.
This is important because Arya is marked for death, and the Waif is supposed to kill her.
When the two fight, Arya is ultimately spared because she manages to kill the Waif.
The gift is given, and the Waif takes Arya’s place as the gift.
#2 Rule 2
The gift belongs to the many-face god.
Because the gift is for the god, it is not in the hands of the assassin.
The faceless men are not responsible for choosing who is killed.
Instead, someone promises a gift to the many-face god, and the faceless men carry out the responsibilities of delivering that gift.
In other words, someone can hire the faceless men for an assassination, and they carry it out. That’s it.
They aren’t picking the targets.
And, if a different life is given, then that is fine as the god receives what it wants.
This comes up with Arya again.
She is tasked with killing Lady Crane.
She doesn’t want to kill Lady Crane and chooses not to (I’ll get into violating the rules a little later).
As a result, someone has to die in her place, and ultimately, that someone is the Waif.
#3 Rule 3
The gift must be given freely.
Death only counts as a gift in the eyes of the many-face god if it is given freely and without corruption.
In other words, the faceless men are not allowed to kill for their own sake.
They cannot kill for personal gain, out of anger, or out of hatred.
When that happens, then the killing is no longer a suitable gift for the many-face god.
One thing to note is that the faceless men can kill in pursuit of their goals.
For instance, if a guard gets in their way during an assassination, they can kill the guard to finish the job.
#4 Rule 4
No one belongs to the many-face god.
To be a faceless man, you must give up your identity.
This is why they refer to themselves and each other as no one.
They have temporary identities for the sake of their work, but they do not attach to permanent identities.
This is why Arya’s response to Jaqen is a bit ambiguous.
When he says, “Finally a girl is No One,” she responds with, “A girl is Arya Stark, and I’m going home.”
She splits the difference by referring to herself as no one (by saying “a girl”) and referring to herself as someone (I’m going home).
I’ll get into that more in a bit, but it’s part of what makes the scene so interesting.
Which Rules of the No Ones or the Faceless Men Does Arya Break?
Through the course of the series, Arya breaks most of the rules.
I’m going to go through a few specific examples.
You might be able to think of more, but it doesn’t entirely matter.
The point is that she definitely breaks rules but is still given the title of No One in the end.
First, she breaks a rule when she refuses to kill Lady Crane.
She is tasked with an assassination, but she lets her emotions get in the way.
She chooses to spare Lady Crane, and that’s clearly a violation.
Ultimately, this is resolved because the Waif dies in Lady Crane’s place.
It’s a convoluted resolution, but the first rule ends up saving Arya from breaking the second rule.
Arya also breaks the third rule.
She’s constantly emotionally invested in the outcome of death.
Whether it is trying to spare someone she cares about or trying to kill in anger and hate, she never actually commits to killing dispassionately.
In fact, it’s one of the major points of contention in this scene.
Arya seems to imply that she’s going to continue to kill according to her own agenda, yet she is given the title of No One.
Lastly, Arya seems to stick to her identity.
I already mentioned how she plays both sides by saying, “A girl is Arya Stark, and I’m going home.”
Is she saying that she accepts being no one but that she has to assume the role of Arya Stark in that pursuit?
Or, is she saying that she accepts the favor of the many-face god, but she’s keeping her identity?
People argue about it a lot, and I’m personally in the second camp.
What I can tell you for certain is that this scene is ambiguous on purpose.
Why Does Jaqen H’Ghar Say the Line “Finally, A Girl is No One” to Arya?
Considering all of this, why does Jaqen accept her as a faceless man?
She clearly broke many rules, and it sure seems like she’s going to continue to break the rules.
What’s the deal?
Well, there are two ways to look at it.
First, Arya earned this recognition after killing the Waif.
Jaqen sets the two up as rivals on purpose, and when Arya wins the fight, she proves that she has the physical skills necessary to be a faceless assassin.
Jaqen is acknowledging the accomplishment and her level of skill.
Second, Jaqen is highlighting that the rules are only there to serve a purpose.
What really matters is the will of the many-face god.
When Arya comes out on top in her conflict, it is proof that she has the favor of the god.
If she has the god’s favor, then she is a No One.
The rules don’t matter.
The will of the god is the final word.
A Secondary Theory
There’s a theory running around the internet that offers another take on this scene, and it’s pretty fun.
According to this theory, Jaqen isn’t a faceless man.
Jaqen H’Ghar is The Faceless Man.
In other words, he is the incarnation or avatar of the god of death.
When he says that Arya is No One and smiles, it’s because all of this went according to his divine plan.
He trained Arya specifically to be a harbinger of death.
She can bring death to the Night King and the undead (the existence of which are an affront to the god of death).
She will also provide many “gifts” to the god in her pursuit of revenge.
In general, it might taint the gift to kill for your own sake, but the god is making an exception for Arya for reasons unknown to mortal minds.
Basically, he picked Arya as a favorite, and he’s going to enjoy watching what she does with the skills he gave her.