My fingers are just bloody stubs from writing so much about Game of Thrones, and yet I must go on. A fan had a poignant realization about Know-Nothinger Jon Snow's name that s/he shared on Reddit. The post is titled "Small detail about Jon and Ned that dawned on me today."
I know this has probably already occurred to everybody, but I was thinking about how Ned named his three sons after people who were close to him. Robb is named after Robert Baratheon, Bran is named after Ned's brother Brandon, and Rickon is named after Ned's father. But then I remembered that Jon is named after Jon Arryn, the man who wasn't Ned's father, but raised him like a son. That's a really beautiful detail.
Edit: Glad so many people enjoyed this! Just want to clarify: I've always known Jon was named after Jon Arryn; it's the parallel in the relationships that dawned on me today.
The point that the Redditor is making is not that Eddard Stark named his children after people who were important to him. The point is specifically that Ned naming Jon after Jon Arryn (who raised Ned like a son, although he wasn't his real father) was a sign that he meant to (and did) raise Jon as his own son, although he wasn't.
One commenter summed it up nicely:
Wow. I love this detail. I knew he was named after Jon Arryn, but hadn't thought about the depth behind it.
Edit: I don't know why so many people are missing the actual point of OP's post. Yes, the kids' names all had meaning. But OP specifically said: "But then I remembered that Jon is named after Jon Arryn, the man who wasn't Ned's father, but raised him like a son."
This is the significant piece. Jon Arryn wasn't Ned's father, but Jon Arryn raised Ned as though he was his own son. In turn, Ned decided that although he was not this child's father, he was going to raise him like his own son. Thus, he named him Jon. The parallel between those two relationships is the depth in the name.
And another commenter had a further explanation about the significance of Jon's name: it wasn't just about sentimentality, it was about safety for Jon Snow.
Ned thought of Arryn as an adoptive father, and thinks of Jon Arryn when he decides to adopt him as his bastard. If was thinking of protecting him from Robert Baratheon, he couldn't have chosen a name that elicited more familiarity to BobbyB.
That name was special to King Robert Baratheon, because Jon Arryn had served as Hand under him, and they were close. As this commenter wrote,
Yup, it was def for Jon (Snows) advantage to name him after a man Bobby B loved every bit as much as Ned loved him. Jon Arryn was a father to both of them. Ned was a savvy bastard in that name choice.
If you remember (and if you're reading this, I'm sure you do), on her deathbed, Jon's mother, Lyanna, gave her baby to her brother Ned Stark to protect. And he needed protection, because Baratheon might have killed the baby. For starters, it wasn't his baby, it was the child of a man whom he hated (Rhaegar Targaryen), a man who either raped Baratheon's beloved fiancee Lyanna or stole her heart causing her to run away with him rather than marry Baratheon. Either case wasn't looking too good for the wee Jon, and it didn't help his case that Lyanna died giving birth to him. So out of kindness, Ned brought the baby home to Winterfell and pretended it was his own bastard son (as if he would really cheat on Cat!), named Jon Snow.
So much detail in these Game of Thrones story. If only I could remember my own family tree as well.