WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT
In Aviendha’s POV we get a completely different cultural perspective on recent events and on mainlander society. The Aiel are not worried about the overcast sky because it is shade to them; whereas mainlanders feel oppressed by it. What upsets the Aiel is if there is no fighting, or the hunt was unsuccessful.
Aviendha and Maidens are careful not to step on each others’ dignities, careful to play their assigned roles properly. Like the Seanchan, the Aiel have defined roles and obligations in their respective societies with sanctioned and formalised movement from one station to another.
The Aiel are affronted that Rand did not take Aiel guards with him when he met with Ituralde. As Rand should have explained to them, had he done so, at the least the Domani would have been unreceptive to him, considering Ituralde’s comments on Aiel. At worst, the Domani would have attacked Rand’s group. Rand uses people as tools rather than accepts their aid or works with them.
Useless labour is extremely shaming to Aiel. Aes Sedai use Labour, too, for discipline, but it is low-ranked rather than useless labour. Note though, that when Sulin worked as a servant for a few weeks she found it extremely shaming.
Aviendha accepts the mainlanders’ fondness for complaining because Elayne does it - and Elayne does it a lot! She thinks it is a way of bonding or showing humility. Elayne laughed at this misunderstanding and Aviendha misread that too. Now Aviendha thinks complaining is a mainlander way of showing honour. It is unthinkable to an Aiel that some people don’t care about honour at all, or that some actions don’t affect honour.
Aviendha wants to think over problems more as Elayne does and not be so much the woman of action. A double irony here: many of Elayne’s actions are impulsive, and Aviendha thinks over her problem of why she is being punished for many days and only solves it when she is goaded into snapping and acting.
The Wise Ones’ “tests” show Aviendha that they are consulting her as a Wise One and effectively meeting her half-way. All she has to do is have the confidence to say she is one of them. In a way she is as overly concerned with rank as with honour. In this she reminds me of Elza:
Elza was always very conscious of where she stood with respect to other sisters, perhaps too much so.The Saldaean soldier Adrin turns to bitumen and spontaneously combusts. This evil fire – hellfire? – resisted Aviendha’s attempts to put it out with a direct weave. She had to use indirect weaves to pull water from the river to quench it ‘naturally’.
Winter’s Heart, Bonds
The bubble of evil makes Rand fly into an intense rage and yell challenges at the Dark One. Aviendha remarks on his erratic moods. Mental instability would be more accurate but she cuts Rand slack because she loves him and because he has earned so much honour.
Melaine faces down Merise when she gives Aviendha a back-handed complement on her channelling; falsely claiming that Aes Sedai teaching could improve her weaves further. Interestingly, Melaine thinks that Cadsuane might have been able to do what Aviendha did. It’s true that Cadsuane is next in strength in saidar in the camp, but presumably she’s next in dexterity as well.
Melaine wonders aloud to herself what the Aiel will do after the Last Battle, broken as they are prophesied to be. Aviendha takes this in; she has not considered this much before now. This will be crucial once the penny drops on why she is being punished and she is sent to Rhuidean.
Aviendha reacts negatively to mainland comforts because they would lull an Aiel into a false sense of security and thus would be too risky. This attitude too will crop up in her visit to Rhuidean.
The violence and feuding in Aiel society is evident here and explains much of what Aviendha will see in the glass columns in Rhuidean. The Aiel need to change or else the Peace after Armageddon will not include them and they will bring everyone else to the brink with them.