I don't deny the BwB are sincere in their belief that the Lord of Light determines the outcome, which is demonstrated when they let Sandor free (sans his gold). I'm referring to the charges against him in the first place--accusing him of every crime they could think of with zero evidence. And I don't think they believed he was guilty of the crimes they attributed to him, including the crimes of his brother. They wanted him hanged and were determined to find a punishable crime against him, no matter how flimsy.
Beric also fought an unfair fight, thereby making the trial by combat unfair. In trial by combat, each of the participants should be allowed to wear their armor. But Sandor was deprived of this, and Beric was willing to fight with the unfair disadvantage of wearing his armor. It was only when Sandor cried foul that Beric removed his breastplate, yet, he still fought with sword ablaze, giving him the clear advantage.
Excellent summary and analysis, Lady Gwyn! I especially enjoyed the examination of the theme of mercy and the dog/wolf motif: a very astute observation of what dogs can do to wolves.
Your analysis here draws me back to Arya IV, wherein Arya, just after uttering her death-list prayer, wishes she had a dog after Harwin mentions who I assume is the Mad Huntsman:
While Arya isn’t technically praying for a dog, she apparently gets what she asks for, even though she feels the gods have betrayed her by allowing Sandor to live. Considering she thinks of Nymeria directly after wishing she had a dog, there’s foreshadowing that Sandor will replace Nymeria, just as he replaced Lady.
Sandor certainly calls out the cowardice and unfair practices of the BwB, highlighting exactly what he thinks of those who don’t engage in a fair fight:
Sandor again points out the unfairness of Beric’s willingness to fight fully armored while denying Sandor his own armor. And even after Beric concedes his own armor, he still uses fire as an unfair advantage.
In addition to R’hllor and the Old Gods, the image of the tree roots and Beric’s one eye is evocative of Bloodraven. Considering the crow flitting after Arya and Sandor after the fight at the Crossroads Inn has been speculated to be Bloodraven (a theory I subscribe to), Bloodraven just might have a stronger interest in Sandor than R’hollr, as Thoros might mistakenly believe. I can’t help but think it’s really Bloodraven pulling the strings here.
The sham trial and how Sandor is perceived, both as a Clegane and a Lannister bannerman, has been discussed at length, yet I do want to bring up a few tidbits. Just after Sandor’s capture, the Huntsman threatens to send his remains to his “bloody brother.” Rather than a threat to have his despised brother finish him off (which is how I initially interpreted it), Sandor and Gregor aren’t differentiated one from another: they’re Cleganes and Lannister men, lumped together. As we know, this will play out just before the trial, as the BwB accuse him of a myriad of crimes for which he was in no way responsible. In Arya IV there’s foreshadowing that the trial will be nothing short of a sham:
The judgment is always a foregone conclusion, and appears to be so with the Hound, considering they had a noose draped around his neck as they took him to Beric for judgment:
Ragnorak, wonderful post about Sandor as godfather to Cersei, Sansa, and Arya! Absolutely brilliant.
The way in which Sansa expresses her distress over the forced union also offers a stark contrasts between Sandor and Tyrion, as well as foreshadows Sandor and Sansa's shared future. Whereas Sansa covers herself with Sandor's cloak after he botches the rescue attempt (offering her true protection), and then keeps it and thinks about it, she's defiant when Tyrion attempts to cloak her during the wedding ceremony.
Tyrion's attempt at cloaking Sansa underscores how truly farcical the marriage is, as you noted, since Tyrion does not have Sansa's interests at heart. Thus far, only Sandor has offered and provided Sansa protection and an attempted escape based on genuine concern and respect for her well being.
Excellent and eloquent summary/analysis, Brashcandy! Just fantastic!
I absolutely agree that Sansa’s wish for the Hound to be with her is a sentimental expression. I also find it noteworthy that just before wishing he were there, she thinks of when he saved her from the mob, and then thinks that only Dontos can save her?
Only for Sansa’s final thoughts on the matter to return to the Hound, wishing for his presence and wondering if she had been wise to refuse his offer to take her from the city. Sansa’s alternating thoughts not only emphasize that Sandor is Sansa’s true Florian, but considering she is doubting her decision while feeling frustrated with Dontos, indicates she does regret not fleeing with Sandor.
Excellent job at placing the Unkiss into context, Brashcandy. Sansa never thinks of the unkiss when in a traumatic situation that would lead one to think that the unkiss is some sort of coping mechanism. Your analysis strongly highlights that Sansa is indulging in a traditional fantasy and is becoming consciously aware of her attraction to Sandor all while understanding his state of mind the night of the Blackwater.
Overall, an illuminating examination of the various men in Sansa's life--Loras, Tyrion, Willas, and Dontos--yet only the Hound demonstrates a genuine interest in Sansa.
Illuminating posts, Ragnorak and Milady. I especially enjoyed the analysis of Sandor's eyes, as I often questioned whether the sullen, brooding, and angry descriptors were due to specific situations rather than as a definition of Sandor's overall personality.
Ragnorak said: "There are some very curious literary nuggets to take a closer look at here. Sandor as the Lady substitute."
Sandor as Lady's replacement comes almost full circle beginning when Sansa first backs into Sandor as they made their way to King's Landing from Winterfell and ending with Sandor actually promising Sansa that he will keep her safe immediately after Sansa calls to Lady in the dark of her room, which is their last personal interaction with one another. But, as you and brash both mentioned, neither are ready to advance their relationship.
The blood/fire theme is also strongly present starting with when Sandor and Sansa confront each other on top of Maegor's holdfast. Sansa's experiencing menstrual cramps and it's Sandor who is there to steady her as she's about to buckle over. Both are there surveying the fire and discuss the upcoming battle which leads to Sandor posturing with his "they're all meat, and I'm the buthcer" proclamation.
Later that night Sansa suffers a terrible nightmare, only to wake to discover she's started her first menstrual cycle. How does she handle it? After attempting to cut the blood stain away, she then tries to burn her blood-stained clothes and bedding.
"Snatching up her knife, Sansa hacked at the sheet, cutting out the stain. If they ask me about the hole, what will I say? Tears ran down her face. She pulled the torn sheet from the bed, and the stained blanket as well. I'll have to burn them. She balled up the evidence, stuffed it in the fireplace, drenched it in oil from her bedside lamp, and lit it afire. Then she realized that the blood had soaked through the sheet into the featherbed, so she bundled that up as well, but it was big and cumbersome, hard to move. Sansa could get only half of it into the fire. She was on her knees, struggling to shove the mattress into the flames as thick grey smoke eddied around her and filled the room, when the door burst open and she heard her maid gasp."
References to blood and fire are also prominent in the Battle of the Blackwater segment (referring to the entire section for this reread). Sansa is still menstruating on this night. When she returns to her room, she finds Sandor and realizes he's been sleeping in her bed. Her first mattress has been ruined by fire and discarded due to her attempts to hide the blood stains. Now Sandor, face covered in blood, has been sleeping on Sansas new mattress, a mattress that can symbolize her transition into womanhood. Her childhood bed has been cast aside, ruined by Sansa herself through the use of fire. It's also here, on this bed, that Sansa feels Sandor's tears running down his face. Feeling tremendous shame for his behavior, he tears off his blood-and-smoke stained cloak, which Sansa drapes over herself, foreshadowing a union between the two (not necessarily in the traditional sense).
Blood and fire are Targaryen house words and considering how strongly the theme of blood and fire is threaded through Sandor and Sansa's narrative, tying them together, this could potentially foreshadow a significant event in which they will together confront Daenarys, along with Barristan Selmy (the cloak connection), and Tyrion. Sandor wishing Tyrion burned alive more than once and Tyrion's connection to Sansa via marriage points to a future meeting. Also, Tyrion still has an axe to grind with the Vale and he always pays a debt. I do predict the Vale will be the first stop on the "Conquer Westeros" itinerary.
Avlonnic, great observation that Tyrion's black and green mismatched eyes are the same colors Sansa notes: "Outside, a swirling lance of jade light spit at the stars, filling the room with green glare. She saw him for a moment, all black and green, the blood on his face dark as tar, his eyes glowing like a dogs in the sudden glare. Then the light faded and he was only a hulking darkness in a stained white cloak."
“I think you are romanticizing their relationship a little bit. Saying he’s trying to make a life with Sansa sounds a bit forced. Remember, he’s VERY drunk that night, and afraid and traumatized and abandoned his job and everything that’s his in the worst possible way. He doesn’t think clearly. He went to her room because he was drunk, and sometimes, when you are drunk, you do things you can’t really explain. I don’t think he went there with a clear objective.”
While Sandor did ask for wine on the battlefield, the fact that Sansa notices that Sandor has a flagon of wine in her room (which he quickly empties) indicates he got drunk while there, so he didn’t go there in a drunken haze with no clear objective. It’s also implied he’s been waiting for her for quite some time:
“He is drunker than I’ve ever seen him. He was sleeping in my bed.”
He’s been there long enough to get extremely drunk and fall asleep (or pass out). His words “Little Bird. I’d knew you’d come,” also suggests he’s been waiting for a while, placing himself in a perilous situation.
While there’s no strong evidence to support the notion that one of the reasons Sandor left the battlefield was because he realized the cause was lost (having no idea Tywin and the Tyrells were on their way) and he wanted to get Sansa out of King’s Landing before it was sacked, I do think it’s a possible motivation for abandoning his post that's worth considering.
Firstly, forgive my impolite formatting (not quoting and bolding participant names), but my computer died (fix it Apple Store!), so I'm using my Kindle Fire to post. Ugh.
Secondly, I only have time for a quick post right now.
Wonderful posts, Rag and Avlonnic. Rag, your observations about what the rules say and what the rules actually are is very enlightening. I do agree that Sandor's time at Winterfell and the influence Sansa has had on him was profound and forced him to confront his own cynicism and loyalty to the Lannisters. Realizing that going North to serve masters who not only adhere to the rules, but enforce them, even futilely trying to do so with Gregor and Cersei, best aligns with Sandor's own personal code.
Regarding Sandor's strained relationship with Tyrion, I do agree with Avlonnic that Cersei's own attitude toward Tyrion and Tyrion's own obnoxious behavior played a significant role. While the true story behind Tysha was not known, what Tywin did was immensely cruel. Would Sandor not understand Tyrion's bitterness? Or would Sandor consider Tyrion complicit in the crime? I do think the juxtaposition between how Sandor copes with his trauma and Tyrion copes with the Tysha experience (I hesitate to call it trauma since Tysha was the real victim) intriguing. Both are jaded and use sarcasm to protect themselves. However, for Sandor, his feelings for a woman, a woman he's tried his best to protect, forces him to reevaluate his entire worldview. Meanwhile, Tyrion has always had, and continues to have, serious issues with women (understandably so). While Sandor has demonstrated the will to change, Tyrion continues to follow a very dark path. I do wonder if Tyrion's attitude and treatment of women had an emotional impact on Sandor when he finds out about Sansa's marriage to him.
Exceptional analysis, Miodrag! And thank you for the contribution. It was certainly worth the wait! Like Milady, I really enjoyed your take on Sandor’s feelings for the Lannisters, as I had not interpreted it that way before. I’ve always assumed Sandor had a personal beef with Tyrion, which culminated during the battle when Tyrion shamed him. But you do argue a strong and reasonable point. Sandor really doesn’t seem to be fond of any of the Lannisters, certainly not Joffrey, to be sure.
Milady, I agree with you that Sandor’s offer to keep Sansa safe is a declaration of love, and the parallel to Jaime's thoughts about protecting Cersei certainly support that interpretation, as well as his body language and the deplorable way he responded to perceived rejection. If he didn’t have feelings for Sansa, why would he react so poorly to the perceived rejection, especially when he still thinks Sansa can’t look at him—a real sticking point for him?
Regarding Sandor’s emotional state, he’s at his absolute lowest point since he’s been introduced early on in the series. The wildfire has triggered his PTSD, he’s incredibly drunk, and Tyrion had just shamed him on the battlefield. When we discussed Sandor I (ACoK), which was presented by brashcandy, the culture of silence surrounding Sandor’s victimization at the hands of his brother, and that a culture of silence surrounding real-world crimes actually exists (high-profile athletes and sexual violence and domestic abuse is just one example), contributes to deep-rooted feelings of shame and anger on the part of the victim. Sandor’s testimony to Sansa was clearly difficult for him and he made it very clear he did not want Sansa to tell anyone about how he received his burns. In addition to Sandor not liking the Lannisters very much, Tyrion’s shaming him on the battlefield had to have had a profound impact, contributing to his reaction to Sansa’s perceived rejection—all of those suppressed emotions bubbling up to the surface, and then add alcohol to the mix. Already at a breaking point, Sansa’s response, or lack thereof, was a tipping point.