AGOT – SANSA III
The third Sansa chapter sees her still engaging in the storybook discourse of monsters and true knights. Sharing a cold supper with Jeyne, she’s upset that her father did not send Ser Loras after Gregor Clegane for his terror campaign in the Riverlands. Ned chose to send Beric Dondarrion instead, but Sansa laments the loss of seeing a true story come to life:
Her fantasy dashed, she remembers expressing her displeasure to Septa Mordane upon leaving the gallery about her father’s judgement. The Septa scolds her, but Petyr Baelish intercedes and agrees that some of Lord Eddard’s decisions “could do with a bit of questioning.” Commenting on Sansa’s wisdom and beauty, he engages her further by asking her just why she would have sent Loras instead. Sansa explains her ideas about heroes and monsters, and LF utters one of his infamous lines in the series:
His comment makes Sansa feel uneasy, so she decides not to share this part with her friend. Jeyne thinks that Ned should have sent Ilyn Payne, but Sansa believes he’s basically a “second monster” and thinks of how much he creeps her out: “He made her feel as though something dead were slithering over her naked body.” When Jeyne goes on to talk about Ser Beric, Sansa notes to herself that Jeyne’s crush on the man is hopeless. She’s of too low birth and very young, but Sansa decides that voicing these objections would be unkind.
The conversation shifts to talk of Prince Joffrey, with Sansa sharing her hopes that he’s the one to kill the white hart on the hunt with the other nobles. She tells Jeyne that she dreamt it, admitting to herself that it was only a wish, but it was more convincing to claim it was dream which everyone accepts are prophetic. Jeyne mentions that she has seen Arya in the stables that day walking on her hands, but Sansa has no desire to wonder about what Arya has been up to, and continues relating what happened at court that day. She tells Jeyne about the disgusting appearance of the Night’s Watch man, Yoren, and admits to pitying her half-brother Jon if this is really what the Watch is like.
In the morning, Sansa gets up early to watch Beric and the other men heading off to capture Gregor Clegane. She is excited by what is happening and thinks that it was like a song coming to life. Going down to breakfast, she is pleased to encounter Arya, given the general desertion of the Tower of the Hand, and proceeds to fill her in about why the place is so empty. Arya wants to know what Gregor has done, but asserts that Jaime Lannister and the Hound should also be made to pay for their crimes. This sparks a heated dispute:
“Liar,” Arya said. Her hand clenched the blood orange so hard that red juice oozed between her fingers.
“Go ahead, call me all the names you want,” Sansa said airily. “You won’t dare when I’m married to Joffrey. You’ll have to bow before me and call me Your Grace.” She shrieked as Arya flung the orange across the table. It caught her in the middle of her forehead with a wet squish and plopped down into her lap.
“You have juice on your face, Your Grace,” Arya said.
It was running down her nose and stinging her eyes. Sansa wiped it away with a napkin. When she saw what the fruit in her lap had done to her beautiful ivory silk dress, she shrieked again. “You’re horrible,” she screamed at her sister. “They should have killed you instead of Lady!”
At this outburst, Septa Mordane orders them both to their chambers and promises Lord Stark will hear of the argument. Sansa is livid, tearing off her dress and hurling it into the cold hearth before collapsing in tears on the bed and falling asleep. Around mid-day, Septa Mordane comes to her room to announce that Ned wants to see her. Waking from her sleep, Sansa has a fleeting thought that Lady is in the room with her, but remembers that she was only having a dream of them running together, but she can’t recall the rest.
She goes to her father, and Arya arrives as well. Anxious to avoid his censure, Sansa blames the argument on Arya, saying her sister started it first, but Ned is in no mood to entertain the fight. Seeing her father’s displeasure, Arya offers an apology to Sansa, and suggests that she could wash the dress to try to remove the stain. All this is forgotten though, when Ned announces that he’s sending them both back to Winterfell. Devastated, Sansa immediately states she doesn’t want to go, and so does Arya, although she seems to be willing to accept if Syrio is allowed to go North with them.
Sansa, however, is inconsolable. She tells her father that she loves Prince Joffrey “as much as Queen Naerys loved Prince Aemon the Dragonknight, as much as Jonquil loved Ser Florian. I want to be his Queen and have his babies.” Ned replies gently that Joffey is not the one for her, but when she is older he will make a match with someone worthy, “someone brave and gentle and strong.”
When Sansa insists that Joffrey is the only one she wants and that she will give him a son that is as brave as the wolf and proud as the lion, Arya is derisive, telling her this won’t happen if Joff’s the father, and besides that he’s a stag not a lion. Sansa enraged, declares that Joff is nothing like his old drunken father, thereby inadvertently giving Ned the final piece of the puzzle surrounding the Lannisters’ treachery. Advising the girls to tell no one of their plans, he sends them off. Arya attempts to comfort Sansa, telling her that it will not be so bad, and that they’ll get a chance to be with everyone again, Bran, Robb, even Old Nan and Hodor. However, this only serves to increase Sansa’s anger:
Wow. If I had to find a name for this chapter it would be Sansa Surprises, but not really. The last two chapters have seen her at various times upset, frightened, unsettled, excited and happy, but this one has all of that plus the added whopper of a rage and anger directed primarily at her sister. I have to say that I was largely disappointed with Sansa’s behaviour in the chapter, and somewhat surprised by what seemed like an even more entrenched belief in a fantasy world, where true knights go to slay monsters. I can see why Martin would have wanted his early characterization to be consistent, and I completely agree with the value of this given what Sansa has to experience later on, but it’s still a bit perplexing to the extent that we see her naivete here, at least to me. Given the events on the road with Lady’s death, the revelation by the Hound, and then the first hand witnessing of Gregor’s terror at the tourney, I would have thought to see a girl that is slightly more aware of the dangers around her, and that what she thought happened in fairytales doesn’t function the same way in real life.
And yet I can see why she would, or at least I can understand why she comes to think that all of this is playing out like one of her songs. Maybe the reverse becomes true oddly enough. The conversation with Sandor, Lady’s death, and Gregor’s near assault of Loras at the tourney, have convinced her that yes, monsters do exist in the real world, and they need to be defeated in order for the story to have a happy ending. Who better to defeat a monster but a “true knight”? Sansa has indeed modified her initial thoughts in light of what Sandor tells her, but this modification has not made her any more enlightened or “smarter” about what life is really about. If anything, it seems to have convinced her that there’s a need for true knights more than ever, and hence her displeasure with her father’s decision not to send Loras.
This view results in the sage warning of Littlefinger when he learns the real reason why Sansa wanted her father to dispatch Ser Loras instead of Beric. Their exchange is quite revealing, and really highlights two things which become clearer (and more disturbing) in ASOS/AFFC:
- LF’s desire for Sansa – the stroking of her face is in direct contrast to the Hound’s rough grabbing of her cheek to get her to look at him.
- He’s not only interested in manipulating her, but “schooling” her as well – He is genuinely interested in finding out why she wanted Loras sent, and is unimpressed by her answer. I think we see this later on when he asks her questions to gauge if she is thinking analytically, but in this early exchange, he can only issue some advice, which sounds ominously like a warning.
And now onto what really disappointed me concerning Sansa in the chapter: It wasn’t her emotional outburst at the end when she tells Arya she’s ugly and hairy and stupid just like Hodor – although it wasn’t her finest moment in light of her sister’s efforts to comfort her; but rather one minor detail and a fairly big one:
- The throwaway comparison of Alyn to Jory on the morning she wakes to see Beric and the men heading off to on the hunt for Gregor:
Alyn carried the Stark banner. When she saw him rein in before Lord Beric to exchange words, it made Sansa feel ever so proud. Alyn was handsomer than Jory has been; he was going to be a knight one day.
It’s really an insignificant observation, but I think it shows Sansa’s utter lack of awareness on the danger that is facing these men, and the comment about Alyn being handsomer than Jory made me want to scream: “Jory’s dead!! Wake up, Sansa! This is life and death we’re talking about, not maidens and monsters!” It’s one of the only or very few times when I was completely exasperated with Sansa’s naivete, and wanted to reach into the story to shake her physically.
The major disappointing moment in the story comes when she asserts that Mycah was the one to attack Prince Joffrey. I’m in the camp that thinks this isn’t a mismemory, but a wilful attempt to deny the truth in order to discredit Arya’s opinion that the Hound should have been beheaded for murdering Mycah. Indeed, in this very same chapter we’ve seen that Sansa isn’t above lying to make her case more convincing: telling Jeyne that she dreamt Joffrey would be the one to take the white hart, when in truth she was only expressing a wish. If I had been Arya I would have wanted to throw something at her too (although Arya’s immediate reaction in violence is concerning once again).
There is a lot of symbolism attached to the blood orange splattering on Sansa’s white dress. One of the things that struck me was the similarity in responses between now and later when Sansa gets her period for the first time and reacts in terrified panic, trying to burn the evidence. In this scene, she storms to her room, tears off the dress and flings it into the hearth, although there is no fire going. If we take the coming of a girl’s period to signal growing up, coming into maturity, then it suggests that Sansa’s experiences will be painful and bloody.
Her absolute misery over her father’s declaration is even more understandable given the events in this chapter. Sansa has told two lies in support of Prince Joffrey, the one to Arya more grievous than the one she tells to Jeyne, and with this kind of troubling investment in the relationship with Joffrey, it’s not surprising that she reacts with such despair to her father’s decision. What is new however, is the force of her reaction. Tears, yes, but also complete rage at Arya in the end. I suppose as well that her father’s tentative allowance of Syrio to join them probably seemed to her that he was favouring Arya’s needs, and not her own. Arya too surprised me in the chapter. I wouldn’t have thought to see her offering to console Sansa and help cheer her up with thoughts of home, but it was nice to see this aspect of her character, and her understanding of her sister’s unhappiness.
There is irony again in Sansa’s comparison of her love of Prince Joffrey to the love Naerys felt for Aemon the Dragonknight – considering this was an illicit romance – but I also found her insistence on having Joffrey’s babies to be revealing. Although earlier she bragged to her sister about how she would be Queen and Arya would have to bow to her, she mentions none of those aspirations to her father, and I think this is where we see her real innocence being highlighted through this kind of “girlish” dream of having babies and living happily ever after. I think it reinforces the idea that Sansa’s desire to be with Joffrey isn’t so much about herself, or any self important wish to be Queen, but rather rooted in family life, simplistic notions of romance and marriage, and the idea of giving Joffrey children he can be proud of.
Edited by Rapsie, 23 January 2012 - 07:54 PM.