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Milady of York

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  1. Milady of York

    The Will to Change: Rereading Sandor II

    Welcome to the reread, FattestLeech, and nice first post! I hope you have had a chance to follow the discussion here over that very passage and how striking it is that whilst Sansa is praying at the Sept, outside Sandor is boarding the ship Prayer to fight the landing Baratheon troops. Yes, because if you're not a follower of the Seven you cannot be anointed with the ointments of knighthood. It's a religious ceremony; even when you're dubbed a knight for valour on the battlefield, usually there's a ceremony afterwards that involves a vigil at a sept before the ritual anointment. In the North, there are a few families like the Manderlys who aren't Old Gods followers but Seven worshippers, and there are individual members within an Old Gods-worshipping Northern family who are either bi-confessional or follow the Seven. Cases in point: Jorah, who is a ser even though the Mormonts are tree-worshippers, and from the Starks there's little Bran, who dreamt of becoming a Kingsguard knight, and he would have been knighted in time since he worshipped both at the godswood and at the Winterfell sept because of Catelyn. There's also cases of Southron families who are Old Gods followers, like the Blackwoods, and their members wouldn't be knighted due to their religion either. That was more about proving that an alleged rank is true. Since Duncan was arguing that he'd been just knighted by his dying Ser and had no witnesses nor a paper to prove the truth (and we know he was most probably never knighted), then he had no way of convincing the official in charge of registering the participating knights of his purported rank. Duncan was a parvenu, an unknown newcomer, and therefore suspicious. The rule is that if you say you're a knight, you present proof. If you say you're a noble, you present proof. Otherwise it'd be easy for any man with combat skills to masquerade as a noble or a knight to sweep the monetary prizes at tourneys. That's one of the reasons why they display their coats of arms and all that sigil-related paraphernalia at tournaments, to establish their belonging to a House or their knightly rank, therefore their right to participate. Non-knights and non-nobles can participate in melées and archery contests when such secondary competitions are opened at tourneys, but jousting and hand-to-hand combat does require a knightly rank/an equivalent or being an aristocrat. At the Ashford tourney they were practising a jousting modality older than the modality at the Hand's Tourney: a group of knights championing a Lady against challengers, which is a more courtly and chivalric modality than the more competitive let-the-best-man-win individual jouster vs individual jouster we saw in AGOT.
  2. Milady of York

    The Will to Change: Rereading Sandor II

    No, that's not so. That you serve as a squire doesn't automatically mean you will become a knight, and you can serve as a squire to someone who isn't a knight, as well as stay as a squire for all your life without ever being upgraded to knighthood. I refer you to Squire Dalbridge from the Night's Watch as one such example, and to Podrick Payne serving non-knight Tyrion as a squire. I also should remind you that Sandor himself has a squire, mentioned in AGOT, and he is no knight. It must be understood that squire is a position of apprenticeship in feudal society that all men from the nobility and gentry who aspire to jobs in the feudal system must go to. It's a school for feudal lords and knights that's meant to prepare men for leadership positions in ruling and in battle. Once a boy is taken in as a ward or employed in a noble household, he's going to be trained for ruling and for fighting by the head of the household or the family member under whom they're placed regardless of whether the trainer is a knight himself or not. If the boy eventually wants to be knighted when he's older and his superior isn't a knight himself or is in a position like Lord Stark, being a lord but not a knight, then either he or his superior can petition the king or a knight to do it for the boy. Sandor could've been knighted by Tywin if he wanted, or any of his brothers, Kevan, Tygett, Gerion (if he was a knight). He could've been knighted by Robert later. He could even have been able to petition Jaime to knight him if he wanted. So, if he didn't get knighted, it was by choice. And it in no way makes him an outcast in his social group. Remember that in this world knighthood all by itself doesn't determine rank, as there are regions like the North where the nobility aren't knights, and they're in no way socially inferior to their Southron counterparts for lack of a "ser." Jon is never going to be a knight, but he was being trained like one at Winterfell alongside Robb and Bran, because he was a noble's bastard. Eddard himself trained at the Arryn household in the Vale with Robert as a child, and he never became a knight due to religion. In Westeros, what determines whether you'll be knighted or not after you've squired is your religion as well as your competence, because to be knighted you must be a follower of the Seven. House Clegane are followers of the Seven, and Sandor is amongst the best swordsmen in the realm, so, again, it was his own choice. And there's no evidence that being a knight is a requisite sine qua non for participating in tourneys, nor that tournaments are exclusively reserved for knights, neither in Westeros nor in real history. In the Hand's Tourney, there were Northmen participating, and they're not knights. How do you explain that? If knighthood were a pre-requisite, all Northerners would be forbidden from participating in tourneys, and that's not the case. And they weren't allowed in merely because the tournament was in Eddard's honour, either. Even in the North, despite not having knights, they do have tourneys and mélées, because these are martial sports common in many cultures where men are traditionally warriors, not an exclusive feature of knighthood. In fact, for participating in tourneys in Westeros, being of noble birth is what's usually the requisite for participation, and Sandor is one, so he can participate. If you're noble but not a knight, you're in. If you have a rank at a noble household equivalent of a knightly position, like Alyn of Winterfell, you're in. And so on.
  3. Milady of York

    The Will to Change: Rereading Sandor II

    Welcome to the reread, Ashes of Westeros. It's always nice to see new people share their opinion here. That much is true. Also, GRRM has written the Reach to be the cradle of chivalric culture and the amour courtois tradition in Westeros, much like the region of Languedoc/Aquitaine was the place where courtly love and troubadours thrived during the Middle Ages. Knights from the Reach and their nobles in general would be more inclined to adhere to chivalric pageantry and customs than the rest of Southron kingdoms. We know the Hound was aware that Sansa tended to become enamoured of gallant knights, so it’s possible he would know of her infatuation with Loras if he witnessed that rose he gave her at the Hand’s Tourney; and probably also knew she favoured Arys Oakheart a bit over the other Kingsguard because he would courteously give her his arm to escort her round the Red Keep like a knight escorting a lady rather than a captor herding a captive and he’d hit her less brutally. It’s not inconceivable that Sandor might've known Loras was gay, because that doesn’t seem to have been that big a secret at court, going by Tyrion’s teasing and Jaime’s taunt to Loras on his return to King’s Landing about finding holes that Renly wouldn’t. I operate under the assumption that whatever knowledge Jaime possesses on the court and the nobles is also available to Sandor, because both live, work and move in exactly the same Baratheon-Lannister circles. Ergo, all Jaime knows, Sandor knows as well, bar some stuff he wouldn’t be present at to hear. But teasing Sansa about her crush? It’s interesting that Sandor never singles out anyone in particular whenever he mocks her love for pretty knights; he only mentions unspecified knights and her infatuation with them in a general manner whenever they have their disputes over knighthood, like that one atop Maegor’s Holdfast. The only man Sandor singles out to mock her about is Joffrey. Clearly because he knows Joff since he was born, knows his true nature, his cruel propensities, and also because she’s betrothed to him and expected to spend her entire life with him as his queen, so it’s to her benefit to open her eyes and see the truth there and then. Harmless crushes that don’t go anywhere wouldn’t give him any reason to tease her about them specifically, but potential risks would. We’re not likely to get a Sandor POV this late in the story, sadly. But a POV isn't eseential to see what changes are taking place since he’s arrived to the QI. That’s the entire purpose of the Brienne chapter in AFFC, not just for letting us know Sandor is alive; when one pays attention, it's not hard to see what has changed and what has remained the same regarding his character. There’s the Elder Brother’s and Narbert’s testimonies, there’s Stranger’s ongoing one-horse war with the brothers, there’s showing us Sandor as a gravedigger, with all the symbolism it carries, etc., etc. One little detail that gets overlooked in favour of the more obvious clues I just mentioned, and that is my favourite little snippet in the QI sequence, is this: By the time the readings were completed, the last of the food had been cleared away by the novices whose task it was to serve. Most were boys near Podrick’s age, or younger, but there were grown men as well, amongst them the big gravedigger they had encountered on the hill, who walked with the awkward lurching gait of one half-crippled. The Hound has been raised by the Lannisters since boyhood, and Lannister + humble = oxymoron, plus the family have indulged Sandor’s ways, so although arrogance isn’t amongst his traits he is definitely cocky and irreverent in behaviour, accustomed to speaking on equal footing to people higher and lower in social status. That passage shows Sandor is being taught a lesson in humility at the Quiet Isle that he probably never got before: he’s serving and clearing the table for mere monks, people who are below him in status. Now, bear in mind two things: Sandor is a noble, and as such never has done any menial labour; at his family’s castle, there’d be servants for everything, same at Casterly Rock. Secondly, he doesn’t shirk manual work at all, just recall what he was doing at that village in the Vale, but all manual labour he’s done is part of what noble children learn to do when training for a career in the feudal military or as part of training to become knights: as squires, boys have to do stuff like horse grooming and shovelling manure at the stables, polish boots, mend tunics, surcoats and cloaks, learn to shave and cut Ser’s hair, clean and polish armour and weaponry, sometimes even do the laundry, especially during campaigns when servants aren’t always at hand. As pages, they also have to serve wine and food at their lord’s table, help him dress, go on errands, and so on. They do a lot of tasks that are usually a servant’s responsibility, like apprentices learn a trade. And when they begin swordfighting and tactics instruction, more heavy manual labour piles up. Since Sandor left his masters, he’s been engaging in manual labour out of necessity, but also as an imposition by circumstances and people he finds. And it’s quite interesting that such manual labour is framed positively for his character evolution, as necessary lessons even. Let’s start with the first time: At the Vale village, he was building a wooden wall encircling it for protection from the Clans, that’s something he’d have learnt during his knightly education, but we don’t know if he ever built one with his own hands before. The imagery here is that he’s for probably the first time using knowledge acquired from the “killing school” of knighthood for the benefit of the civilian population, and he does it in person. There’s Jaime for contrast, who also knows how such a protective wall should be built to protect a camp, but never engages in manual labour himself, just gives the order to his soldiers thinking unironically that he’s sticking to the Arthur Dayne philosophy. Then there’s the gravedigging. This we can be sure Sandor has never done before. Burying the dead from battles is a job for the rank and file, for common soldiers or camp-followers and scavengers searching for bits of armour and clothes, not for knights and definitely not for nobles. Besides the symbolical value of Sandor being made to bury the dead when he used to argue that he was the butcher and teaching him the consequences of that past attitude, there’s the underlying idea that Sandor has accepted to be humbled and accepted to perform the humblest of tasks at the monastery. That he's serving at the table stands out as the best example to me. Food serving as well as the position one's sitting in at a table are matters of honour in the three Abrahamic religions as well as in chivalric culture. There's the infamous dispute amongst Jesus' disciples over precedence at the Last Supper that he settled by calling those who serve at the table the greatest rather than those who occupy the traditional "place of honour", and King Arthur's wise decision to make the Round Table round to forestall possible disputes over precedence amongst his knights as literary examples of how seriously people took this issue. When the host, or someone of higher rank, chose to serve at the table, it was a means of honouring the person being served, because usually it's a chore left to those below. There’s a “new beginning from a low standing point" imagery in that he’s serving the table to the brothers that I’ve never seen anyone remark on. In the passage itself, it’s said that serving and clearing the table is only for the novices, which in the monastic ladder are the lowest of the low in status, because of the “humility comes before honour” Biblical idea that to rise high you must start low. Similarly, only when they’re pages and squires do noble boys work at the table, serving, clearing and cleaning, because they’re lowest in rank at a household or court and therefore must serve regardless of whether one’s a duke on his own right or another is the king’s son. Sandor was a squire at Casterly Rock, so that’d probably be the only time he’s done this kind of serving if ever. Once he rose in status to Cersei’s shield and the king’s bodyguard, it’d be other people serving him, not he them, it’d be beneath him to serve at the table. Yet, here in this scene, he’s doing precisely that, a task for a beginner, and it's a nice imagery that further cements what we’ve concluded that his abandonment of King’s Landing meant wiping the slate clean for him.
  4. Milady of York

    The Will to Change: Rereading Sandor II

    Thank you, Houndbird, nice to hear from you. And welcome to the reread, Duranaparthur. An interesting angle to ponder on. I'd say that, despite GRRM depriving us of Sandor’s POV that’d allow us to know what exactly his thoughts are, we’re not lacking in clues from the text that are sufficient to surmise what he’d think of the Tyrells. One of these clues is more or less direct, and two are by juxtaposition. Sandor knows first-hand that at least one Tyrell is dishonest for a certainty: Loras. And the precise circumstance in which he’d have found out is tied to knighthood, Sandor’s sore spot. I’m referring to the Hand’s Tourney, when Loras cheated with a mare in heat to win over Gregor. If Renly and Littlefinger were able to guess what Tyrell’s dirty trick had been from afar in the stands, then it’s a no-brainer that Sandor would’ve known as well from his closer position. Why not? He’s extremely observant; he noticed a small detail such as that Ser Hugh of the Vale’s gorget was ill-adjusted; he noticed that Jaime had tried the saddle-swerve trick to unseat him during their tilt; he noticed quicker than everyone else that Gregor intended to murder Loras and reacted. Besides, he’s no newcomer to tourneys, so it’s a given that he knows all the tricks under the sun related to horsemanship and weaponry. From this perspective, that he was laughing his head off at Gregor’s fall can also be seen as that he’s finding it quite amusing that his big brother should be defeated by unclean methods by a “true knight,” considering he believes Gregor was unjustly rewarded with knighthood and its honours. So, from this he definitely knows Loras Tyrell isn’t spotless—he who cheats at highly-competitive and highly-prized sports will cheat at other things in life—yet he jumped in to save his life, so that would hint despite knowing about the cheating he wouldn’t consider it deserved his brutal killing. The first of the indirect clues comes from what he told Sansa in the Serpentine steps scene: “They're all liars here . . . and every one better than you.” And that “here” encompasses the entire population of the Red Keep, all the courtiers, whom Sandor is convinced are frauds and with reason since court politics is the realm of lies and Arbor gold. Juxtaposing those words to a hypothetical meeting of the Hound with the Tyrells, it does look evident that he’d smell the roses and not find their scent very . . . rose-y, let’s say. If Loras cheats at something as grand as the Hand’s Tourney, building up a reputation as a great knight by means of cheating to win the big events (think of what doping and forbidden tricks can do to the reputations of Olympic champions), then why not extend it to the rest of the clan? Honest behaviour is learnt at home, with your family, and Sandor knows full well how screwed-up family dynamics and dynastic ambitions can do for the members of a family. He has his own, and his adoptive pride of lions, as good examples of the price and consequences of unbound familial ambition. I can’t imagine why he wouldn't be able to peg every Tyrell rose’s hidden thorn down to a T. And, finally, we have Dontos’ words to Sansa. In this reread, we’ve alluded a number of times to the False Florian vs Real Florian imagery, how Sandor is symbolically the fool-knight of songs he rails so much against whereas Dontos is the actual fool-knight that stands in as his contrasting doppelgänger. When Sansa tells Ser Dontos that she no longer needs his “rescuing” because she’ll go to Highgarden to marry Willas, the drunk ex-knight is alarmed and tells her to have a care because “these Tyrells are only Lannisters with flowers.” So! And who knows the Lannister bunch better, much better than Dontos ever could? Sandor Clegane. Oh, probably the Lannisters are his measuring yardstick for screwed-upness in families of the nobility, for all we know. We can imagine his judgment of the Tyrells wouldn’t be any kinder than Dontos’ was, just phrased more . . . um, colourfully, and with the difference that Sandor would actually mean whatever he said, and not have hidden motivations such as being bribed by someone else to dupe Sansa. In sum, he wouldn’t have had any difficulty in seeing through the thick bushes to the Tyrells’ true selves. How that’d play out had he stayed in court is one too wildly speculative road for me to venture walking in. All I can say is that I’m not even sure Joffrey could’ve been poisoned as easily as he was, when I remember that Sandor was able to guess Sansa’s intentions to push him from the castle’s battlements before she could even reach the king, so who’s to say what he’d have noticed at the banquet? And it’s for one good reason that even Tyrion wanted Joff’s dog to be somewhere else before he could use him or Tommen in his plans that isn't just because he'd tell Cersei. Ragnorak elaborated earlier here on his idea that the Hound’s departure is the trumpet call heralding the fall of House Lannister, and considering that his charge Joff’s death functions as a sort of “beginning of the end” for the House in the sense of pushing downhill the snowball that’ll soon bury their patriarch Tywin, one could argue that Sandor’s huge potential as a spanner to be thrown into the rose-adorned wheelworks made his absence narratively necessary for the Tyrells’ rise to power to evolve the way it happened.
  5. Milady of York

    The Will to Change: Rereading Sandor II

    That all the “beast” figures in the Beauty & Beast stories are Lannisters is an intriguing coincidence I’d not delved deeper into. If you think about it, Sandor also counts as a Lannister beast by virtue of serving them and growing up with Tywin’s children, and also because the origins of the Hound is linked to his lieges. Of the Lannisters by blood that fit as Beast figures, Tyrion is the one that comes closest to the essence of the archetype, not only because he had the potential for positive transformation before the confluence of circumstances, a messed-up family and his own foibles sent him rolling downhill the opposite side but also because his “origin story,” so to speak, lies alongside the tale’s Beast thematically. One of my biggest objections to the Disney retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” is that they, in typical Hollywood fashion, ruined Beast’s origin story and its metaphor whilst at the same time pretending the rest of the tale still worked fine and unaffected the same as in the original fairy tale. I mentioned above that in Villeneuve’s original, Beast becomes so due to an injustice, he’s the victim of a sexual predator and lives caged in a castle and punished with monstrosity for rejecting his groomer, but in the Disney animated film the prince is transformed into Beast because he treated an old woman poorly, and this old woman who happened to be a fairy, transformed him into a horrific beast as punishment. In other words, the poor boy prince that had to endure a lecherous fairy is turned by Disney Studios into a haughty royal jerk who slams the doorin a poor old woman's face and thus is deservedly punished for his superficiality. It’s a “let’s teach this idiot a lesson not to judge people by their appearances” scenario, that doesn’t exist in and is alien to the original tale, and so they made the victim of sexual grooming into someone who brought his own disgrace on himself due to his shallowness. Nowadays this kind of victim-blaming and victim-negation raises eyebrows, but not many call Disney out on this, perhaps because the original tale is largely forgotten compared to the predominance of the film; and to see arguments that there are Sandor/Sansa endgame clues in the show through coincidences with Disney’s film is quite curious to say the least, and more so considering that the show shares with Disney the mishandling of sexual victimisation but with the Beauty storyline. I figure Martin knows the original tale perfectly, and it shows in his choice for best depiction: his favourite Beauty and the Beast isn’t Disney’s but Jean Cocteau’s version. The French film also has its own original content as any retelling would but has been more faithful to the essential themes and metaphors. Regarding the Beast’s origin story, Cocteau changed the fairy’s reasons but not the action: the punishment is maintained as still undeserved, unfair and draconian, which is the important element so the rest still works the same thematically. That’s what Disney could’ve done, change the origins if they must but keep the essence. Or, since the film was meant for all ages, they could’ve done like Madame de Beaumont, on whose summed-up version they based the film (largely): Beaumont discreetly mentioned what had happened when Beast tells Beauty why he is like that, and left out the dirty-laundry details. So that’d be the literary reason for why Tyrion could’ve been a Beast figure in the traditional mould: the external and internal components are there. As much as he deludes himself with his everyone hates me because I’m a dwarf mantra, there’s a basis in reality for this. He was born a deformed dwarf, thus having the external component already set up, but Lannister gold and privilege could’ve brought him a fairly contented life and he’d have grown up well-adjusted as this gold and privilege would’ve sheltered him from social rejection and mockery for the most part, so he’d have learnt to live without defining himself as a dwarf. If not for Tywin. Tyrion is very intelligent, and any loving father would’ve done his best to encourage that, for his mind could be a great asset to the House, teach him, train him, show him he can be better than most men, that dwarfism is a disgrace, but that’s on the gods, etc. Instead, Tywin grooms the child to never think of himself as anything but a dwarf, a monster, going as far as crushing others’ efforts to have Tyrion see he is more than just a dwarf. Aunt Genna doesn’t give a fig that Tyrion’s a dwarf? Cease to speak to her for half a year. Uncle Gerion doesn’t care that Tyrion’s a dwarf and applauds his antics? Humiliate the kid publicly to counter his uncle’s praise of his innocent fun. Brother Jaime loves him despite his deformity? Poison their brotherly love by making Jaime be complicit in Tysha’s misfortune. With such a father, it’s understandable that Tyrion is unable to take the dwarfism lens off his eyes to look at everything differently and can never think of himself outside the frame of his deformity. He was created a Beast, not just born one, and the “evil fairy” stand-in responsible for his inner beastliness was Tywin.
  6. Milady of York

    The Will to Change: Rereading Sandor II

    You've got some ideas on Beauty & the Beast that I'd not considered before, Ragnorak. Those I'll revisit another day. Yes, this caught my eye as well, and we did an extensive mini-project dedicated to the Littlefinger/Sandor indirect rivalry for the PtP. The conclusions on to the reasons for this can be read here. What'd have interested me the most is to know what exactly Sandor thinks of Littlefinger, which is sadly missing in the books. Brashcandy has this idea that we could indirectly surmise what his thoughts on the Mockingbird are from what he told Sansa in ACOK at the end of the Serpentine sequence, when he tells her that “they’re all liars here… and every one better than you.” If I recall correctly, the reasoning goes like this: They’re all liars here. “Here” is the court at King’s Landing. As a member of the Council, Littlefinger lives at court. Ergo, Sandor is indirectly calling Littlefinger a liar. This syllogism exercise is fun when put like that, but it does make sense. And fits with Sandor’s perception skills, because he spots fakes like hounds spot scents, so he’d be aware of Baelish’s double-faced nature. Following this, we also have another indirect condemnation of Baelish in his words to Arya saying he “hates liars” and “gutless frauds.” Might sound curious given that it was Sandor the one who told Sansa to lie and give Joffrey what he wanted, in other words, he was her original tutor for the “lies and Arbor gold” method that’s credited to Littlefinger, but… we already covered this in the reread, it’s worth repeating there’s a distinction that makes all the difference: the lying Sandor told Sansa to resort to was of the Ned sort, the sort he referred to as “the lies we tell for love” and told Arya were “not without honour,” because it’s for protection and survival whereas Baelish’s school of lying is self-serving and for personal profit at the expense of others. As for Baelish’s thoughts on Sandor, we do have more to infer them as per his comments at the Hand’s Tourney about the Hound not biting the hand that fed him, and that comment with other passing remarks to Ned on Sandor and Cersei give a clear idea of what Littlefinger thinks of Sandor. He’s essentially written the Hound off as just a Lannister lackey with no initiative of his own and who’ll do anything his lieges say unquestioningly, and he seems to still stick to that notion despite his own eyes proving that’s not the case when Sandor unashamedly knocks Jaime into the dust during the jousting, not just defeating him but also humiliating him and making him the laughingstock of the event. And did Sandor suffer the consequences of doing this to his superiors' brother and son? No. And he wouldn’t have in any case, plus Jaime is too proud of his own prowess and would’ve been offended if anyone let him win only because he’s a Lannister, which is exactly what Littlefinger was saying Sandor would do. Next time Littlefinger comments on the Hound, it’s when he tells Ned that Sandor wouldn’t thank him for attainting Gregor and flippantly says he wished he were a fly in the wall to hear how Cersei would tell her loyal dog about that. Again, that also demonstrates a misreading of the Hound’s character by Littlefinger. He starts by parroting what everyone in court knows: Sandor hates Gregor; no secret there, even Ned knows already. Then he goes on to say Sandor wants to be the one to off Gregor and would resent anyone else doing it… This comes off as short-sighted when you consider Littlefinger saw with his own eyes how Sandor let pass a golden opportunity to kill Gregor with the law and public and royal support on his side, because who in the Seven Kingdoms would blame Sandor for killing the Mountain in legitimate defence of Loras, preventing a murder and thus avoiding the diplomatic crisis for Robert and for Ned and for Tywin that would result from a Lannister bannerman killing the son of a Great House? Littlefinger’s reaction is cynical, and if one were to want to speculate a bit we could even wonder if he said this out of spite because Sandor’s action prevented chaos that’d have benefitted Littlefinger, who was trying to stir the pot and cause a confrontation between the Great Houses. This passage also highlights one more thing: that Littlefinger doesn’t seem to have bothered to investigate why the Cleganes hate each other so much, curious oversight considering his modus operandi is to exploit family conflict, and doesn’t seem to have considered the justice angle as explanation for Sandor’s otherwise exceptional restraint. Eddard, on the contrary, has actually wondered about this, although he doesn’t pursue the topic further; he instinctively puts two and two together in his inner thoughts and hits the mark unknowingly when he mentions Sandor’s burning, his father’s and sister’s deaths and the boy fleeing home in the same sentence where he muses over Gregor’s terrible reputation. If Ned had thought this through a bit more, he might have realised Sandor doesn’t kill Gregor because this is beyond purely vengeance or Gregor would be dead already. It’s the lack of justice what fuelled Sandor’s hate, that his brother wasn’t punished but was rewarded instead. And lack of justice, seeing the culprits prosper, leads to vengeful feelings that take over. You once mentioned how Bruce Wayne never gets closure for the murders of Thomas and Martha, his parents, killed by an unknown common street thief for a pearl necklace, and it’s this grief and anger at the injustice of it all, the lack of punishment for the murderer, whose face remains forever unknown, what impels him to make a promise to the memory of Mr and Mrs Wayne to fight to rid the city of crime, thus becoming Batman. And you also mentioned how the first film adaptation messed up badly with this by making the mysterious thief be Jack Napier, a.k.a. the Joker, Bruce's arch-nemesis, and by finding and punishing the Joker, Bruce gets a closure of sorts. He punishes his parents’s killer, Thomas and Martha can now rest in peace, and Bruce experiences a measure of satisfaction from taking justice in his own hands, all of which misses the narrative purpose of the murder of the Waynes and the psychological consequences for their son. For Sandor, the principle works the same way: he never gets closure so long as justice is denied and Gregor lives and prospers. Unlike Bruce, he knows full well the face of the murderer and it’s his own brother, and so closure was within hand’s reach had Gregor been punished for his first crime, it’d have allowed Sandor to heal from the burning trauma. Instead, privileges and rewards rained upon Gregor’s head: knighting by Rhaegar, a rare honour even for nobles higher-ranking than the Cleganes, becoming a close bannerman to their overlord, which means more gold and privilege heaped on him for doing Tywin’s dirty work. That alone is bad enough already, but then Gregor became head of House Clegane through kinslaying, the one crime up there with guest right violation in the list of ultimately unforgivable sins in Westeros, and yet what do the people do? Do they punish the kinslayer Gregor? No, he keeps on living, enjoying the family wealth, and even can marry several times. Gregor has the lands, the home and the wife that Sandor only wishes he could have. Sure, his brother is a brute and destroys everything he touches, including his wives, but that’s not the point. The point is that the kinslayer brother has everything and he victimised brother has to scratch his way to the top alone and unavenged. And what’s more, when Gregor murders the Targaryen heir, who’d be the de jure king upon Rhaegar and Aerys’ deaths, he’s pardoned by Robert through the blanket pardon to House Lannister, which is again another reward for a crime quite close to kingslaying. Wasn’t Jaime forever branded as a kingslayer and is still haunted by the ghost of Rhaegar for that sort of act? And didn’t the Elder Brother say that kinslaying is so horrendous it doesn’t bear thinking of? Yet, here you have Gregor, a kinslayer and a royal baby slayer, prospering fine and well, with no godly punishment in sight. No wonder Sandor thinks that there are no gods. It’s seeing all this what keeps the wound in the Hound’s soul fresh and bleeding for decades the same way the anonymity and non-punishment of the pearl-robber keeps Bruce from achieving closure. For someone who’s come to know more of Sandor’s inner workings well, the Elder Brother doesn’t seem to fully grasp this aspect, because he’s scandalised by the fact that Sandor would want to kill his brother, but you don’t hear a word on the understandability or validity of the cause and you don’t hear either any word of commendation for Sandor being able to never stoop to his brother’s level, for living all those years looking into the abyss and yet managing not to fall into it and join his brother in the gutter. Like Bruce, the Hound cannot do anything because the monster is protected as the other man cannot because the monster is faceless, and so vengeance might look like the alternative resolution, and resisting giving in to this desire becomes part of their internal conflict. So they have to find some form of an outlet for this lack of closure and its effects: one ends up embracing his grandfather as a role model, going back to the origins before things went foul with his father and his brother deviating from those ideals, and the other decides to fight crime and thus prevent others from experiencing the same pain. Moreover, the Elder Brother talked of Oberyn taking even the right to retribution from Sandor, but Gregor’s death wasn’t earthly justice nor some divine retribution as much as a consequence of Lannister inside struggles and Oberyn’s cheating with poison, therefore it mightn’t have brought any closure to Sandor either. It was to his benefit that he’d abandoned the vengeance path whilst Gregor still lived and can now pursue closure on his own terms regardless of what befalls his brother.
  7. Milady of York

    The Will to Change: Rereading Sandor II

    Back to your analysis whilst we wait for the next, Ragnorak: There’s lots more talk of Beauty and the Beast in the fandom now compared to how it was a few years back, but as your bolded line highlights, the emphasis on this particular point invites a fuller elaboration that I’d like to add. "Beauty and the Beast" isn't a romance nor a love story, it's a bildungsroman. A coming of age story, and from a female perspective, something infrequent in literature of the time. It's always been a coming of age story since its very origins in the myth of Cupid and Psyche, a Heroine Journey from Classical Antiquity, and when Madame de Villeneuve made it into the tale we know in the 1700s, it was still a bildungsroman. The “bridge” story between the folktale and Villeneuve’s literary fairy tale, the tale of Laidronette and the Green Serpent by Madame d’Aulnoy, is also a bildungsroman. So, to define it a romance is rather reductionist and doesn't make the tale justice. Definitions of it as merely a romance or a relationship story are focusing on one aspect at the expense of the whole, too close to the proverbial missing the wood for the trees. It happens that the perception of B&B as "a romance" is posterior to the original and comes from Madame de Beaumont and that is the version popularised by Disney as well as the version told in Cocteau's film that GRRM loves. Beaumont summed up the original tale by Villeneuve into a few pages, and as a result of that huge summation, she got rid of many parts and turned it into a romance, a very simple and very archetypal one, because by eliminating a lot of the original plot and elements, she focused on the romance between Beast and Beauty above all else that was there in the story also, and unfortunately hers is the version that has given the tale its reputation as a mere romance that wasn't supposed to be the initial message. Beaumont had an agenda with her version of the tale to educate well-to-do girls about arranged marriages, which shows in her version. So, when you speak of this tale in relation to "sexual awakening" and "female choice," you could hardly support that interpretation with her version, you'd have to look at the original by Villeneuve, or even the one by d’Aulnoy to back it. Much of the criticism the B&B tale has received from feminist thinkers has to do with precisely this ideological agenda by Beaumont as well. As the original goes, the romance is just part of the plot because sexuality and sexual maturation are part of normal growing up, but it is not the plot itself. Beauty’s and Beast’s love story isn’t even the only one in the tale, as there are two more: the one between Beauty’s real parents, an Aragorn/Arwen-like liaison in which her mother gets a Choice of Lúthien resolution imposed on her and renounces fairyhood for love, and the other between Beast’s parents, a Littlefinger-Catelyn-Brandon type of triangular mess in which the evil fairy falls in love with a king and when she’s given a little prince to protect and raise in hiding, she ends up replaying her twisted attraction to the king on the boy, fondling him—uncomfortable to read, and toned down with euphemisms—and when he grows up into a good-looking young man, she demands her due, asking him to become her husband, is rejected and revenges herself by turning him into a hideous beast. The focus on Beauty and Beast's relationship here comes in the form of it being the one that happens in real time, the one that we see start and develop slowly, and it serves as the “scaffold” or framework to support and build the plot and the themes on, like the skeleton for the body if you will, and the unifying thread for the themes in development in the storytelling, which are somewhere in the vicinity of a half a dozen to seventeen major themes depending on which scholar you ask, and that’s why it comes together at the end, when all the growing up and recovery is done and completed. It works the same way for Sandor and Sansa: their relationship is important to their arc, but this relationship is not their core story. Their stories are not all about their relationship but instead go beyond their relationship. One of the things that make GRRM’s writing of this so strong is precisely this very thing, that neither her nor him work as co-dependent or accessories to each other but each has their own arcs separated from the one they share. And they also absorb the other love/obsession storylines from the Beauty and the Beast tale into their own, for Sansa is getting Beast’s parental plotline with Littlefinger, and if you squint a wee bit perhaps you can argue for Sandor getting Beauty’s parental plotline with his giving up everything he ever had/knew in the world to pursue a new life in the North, although a similar kind is also a possible choice for Sansa later ahead. It's also the presence of separate full arcs of their own that single them out within the larger ASOIAF story, for in traditional romances neither the hero nor the heroine have usually any stories of their own save for the story of their love, which is all by itself the whole “story.” And that’s exactly what Beaumont & Disney achieved: neither Beauty nor Beast have any story of their own in this version, it’s all just their romance, and it's poorer thematically and storytelling-wise. Therein lies the storytelling superiority of Villeneuve’s tale; which although a bit long and in need of some major editing and despite sporting storytelling choices that are frankly objectionable, especially by the end, is literarily a richer story and with more depth than the Beaumont/Disney one. As ASOIAF pairings go, Sandor/Sansa is closer to a B&B tale retelling and Jaime/Brienne is instead a B&B archetype. There are countless B&B variations, mash-ups and subversions, and all can be loosely divided into two kinds: B&B tale/retelling and B&B archetype. The difference between both is that the B&B stories that are B&B tales/retellings follow the plot of the tale or use all the major elements, and archetypes refer to the ugly-beautiful romantic pairing motif, that is: it's the members of the couple themselves. And in ASOIAF only Sandor/Sansa are the pairing that follows the tale itself, it has all its key elements, including the major one for Beast, being the victim of a horrendous injustice that’s the cause of his “beastliness” (his burning for Sandor, sexual abuse for Beast) and, more importantly, it is encased within a feminine bildungsroman because it’s centred on Sansa's growth, whom we see maturing physically, mentally and sexually on page in present time from the first book onwards. Like the original heroine, she's the one telling almost all their shared story as well. Jaime/Brienne don't have all that, some key elements of the tale are missing in their arc, and there's no coming of age narrative going on either, because Brienne’s age is past the mark and because of the late introduction of their relationship midway through the overall story that leaves less room to develop it more; both tell their sides, both are already grown up and so their relationship follows a traditional romance more than a B&B one and besides they have subplot elements that are foreign to the tale. Theirs qualifies as a B&B romance because they fall within the archetype. A B&B archetype is any pairing of beautiful/ugly or normal/disfigured-beastly, and may or mayn't follow the plot of the tale, may or mayn't take elements from the tale, etc. In fact, B&B archetypes can be anything in terms of plot or genre: parody, comedy, tragedy, drama, tragicomedy, adventure, mystery; and can have any sort of ending: happily ever after, happy for now, tragic, bittersweet, married, separated, dead . . . Practically anything, because they’re not constrained by following the plot beats of the story and so writers have complete freedom to do anything and write whatever they fancy. That's how there are B&B romances that end with Beauty married to someone else or Beast dead, for example, and they’re no less B&B for that. The Beauty and the Beast TV show GRRM wrote for is one such case, it had the Beauty figure die tragically, and the plot was playing all along with the archetype for the Vincent/Catherine relationship, not the tale’s plot itself. With B&B tale retellings, there's a bit less freedom for tweaking and twisting the plot because a writer is using content and themes from the original and so has to work closer to the bildungsroman structure. Twists and subversions are possible and perfectly doable in this case as well, but the writer has to mind the overall themes much more and that’s a restriction of sorts that works the same way literary genre rules work. And for Sandor and Sansa, in addition to adhering to the major milestones of the B&B tale, GRRM also has to mind the self-imposed restrictions of five books of already told plotlines that demand coherence and consistency in future developments. I’ve sometimes wondered if, aside his obvious lifelong love for the tale, the freedom to play with the B&B theme with Jaime/Brienne without the story constraints and plot handicaps that Sandor/Sansa have might have been another enticement for GRRM to insert a second B&B story in ASOIAF, exploring the theme from other angles and with other settings and different outcomes, in a way similar to how he introduced other knighthood and redemption themes after starting with Sandor first.
  8. Milady of York

    The Will to Change: Rereading Sandor II

    Excellent analysis, Ragnorak! It's nice to see just how much you could dig up from this small amount of material. Comparisons between these two "true non-knights" always seem incomplete when only including their similarities both regarding the knighthood theme as their relationships, but parallels and similarities are only 50% of literary analysis, and when you add contrast/counterpoint, you have the other half necessary for a literary analysis as complete as possible. Yours does highlight that these two are really more different than their surface similarities would indicate as well as that these differences run quite deep. There's so much to comment on, let's see where to begin... This is one instance where, I believe, the author can trust readers to fill in the blank with a mix of imagination and educated guessing, although the possibility is still up in the air for GRRM to address how Sandor arrived to the Isle once he reappears in next book. Which isn't really necessary, because we already know enough of Westerosi geography and should be used to reading between the lines in Arya's last chapter combined with Brienne's here to make a reasonable guess. It's not that difficult to figure out what might have happened. For a start, the Elder Brother must've found Sandor within hours of Arya abandoning him, because he had a high fever and was too weak from blood loss to survive that day without care in a credible manner. A major clue as to the Elder Brother finding Sandor within a couple hours or so, is that he also mentions that Sandor was screaming for help, which indicates that he was conscious when he was found, so he had either not yet passed out again from fever and blood loss or was coming out of fainting. There is when the Elder Brother had to take care of the wounded Hound. I'm quite sure he omitted part of the tale, because it's doubtful that giving Sandor a poultice for his wound was all he did like he told Brienne. He must've taken Sandor's armour off to bathe his body and cool it off, to combat the fever, then given him a concoction to drink, for the pain and/or the fever, and then re-bandaged his wound with a fresh poultice, probably after cauterising it and repairing the damage added with the stupid boiled wine "cure." After that, he'd have waited for Sandor's fever to break, because in that state it was too dangerous to move him. So he probably arranged for him to comfortably sleep under the tree, as the fever wouldn't have gone in a matter of hours. Next, how to move Sandor? That's also fairly easy to figure out. The Elder Brother, as superior of the QI monastery, is their link with the outside, the one that goes in and out as needed, and so he must've been out on business, either to bring care/provisions to people needing it near the area or gone to bring necessary stuff for the monastery that they don't produce and need yet can't get because their usual source (Saltpans) is burnt. Going out on errands means he had transportation, possibly a cart. So, once Sandor's fever breaks, he could place him on the cart, tie Stranger to the side, and start moving towards the QI at a slow pace, minding the wounded man. There's the possibility also that he might have taken Sandor to a refuge nearby in order for him to recover a little more before going to the Isle. Why not? Nobody is going to bother a humble monk with an infirm person to take care of, and Sandor no longer has his armour, helm or anything identifiable. Facial scars can be covered with bandages or a hood. If the Elder Brother didn't have a cart, the other possibility is a makeshift stretcher, like those used by military surgeons and nurses to carry the wounded out of the battlefield, made of entwined branches with a blanket thrown over. It's not complicated to make, even I can do one. And tie the stretcher to Stranger for him to pull like a sled pulled by dogs. That Stranger is a pain and wouldn't allow the Elder Brother to do anything without aiming at his ears first? True, but Master Sandor is there, and the horse would only need to smell and hear Master in order to cooperate; the warhorse is not going to behave insufferably if it's Sandor giving the orders as the Elder Brother guides him, which is another clue that he cooperated in moving to the QI willingly enough. A third possibility is that Sandor might have gone on horseback after a couple days of rest, still weak and pained, so it'd have to be a slow ride and with frequent stops to rest, take whatever medicines he was being given to drink, and change his bandages. In any of these scenarios, it'd have to have been a slow journey anyway; the QI isn't that near the spot he "died" but days away, and it'd make sense if it were during those days of travelling together that both men talked the most and that's how the Elder Brother got most of his knowledge on the Hound's life and character. I'm not sure it was the right choice to have Brienne share Sandor's signature line; lines that are signature lines or identity lines work within their proper context better. There are other characters who also don't know a thing and would use being told so, but "You know nothing, Jon Snow" works perfectly only for Jon Snow and in Jon Snow's context, for example. For Sandor, the context is double. The in-story one is self-explanatory: he hates knights and knightly hypocrisy, so his angry "I am no ser" retorts are as much a statement of rebellion and protest against the system as a statement of the personal philosophy that guides him in life. And in addition to that, the line fits in the string of ironies that surround Sandor's story that conspire to make him the knight for the songs but not out of the songs as you put it, because he is, in the end, a knight in every sense of the word but lacks the "ointments" on his forehead to be officially one. People do instinctively see him as a knight because of his appearance (by rank and by training, he'd have to walk round carrying himselff like a nobleman and a warrior) and his armour, and call him ser out of habit or out of respect because he's a figure of authority like knights are supposed to be. Even out of fear. If one looks closer to the scenes where Sandor utters his famous "I'm no ser" line, one will notice that he does so in determined contexts only, to make a point, and doesn't spew it right, left and centre, everywhere or at all times. It'd be exhausting to be perpetually correcting people, especially when it's the commonfolk, who address nobles with a ser or m'lord automatically all the time, and Sandor knows that. Besides that, there's the out-of-story context that inspired GRRM to give this line to Sandor in the first place, which is to pay homage to the signature line by Beast in the Beauty and the Beast tale, on which I wrote long ago. The perfect literary homages are those which keep the original scene's theme or metaphor intact, and so Martin did, because there's a reason for why Beast reacts so violently when he's called "my lord" and retorts that he's no lord and that flattery won't work on him that he's kept for ASOIAF. It happens that, in the original tale by Madame de Villeneuve, the reason for Beast's "I'm no lord" reply is that the evil fairy who transformed him from prince into beast as punishment for not accepting her Littlefinger-like groping and sexual abuse (the fairy was previously in love with Beast's father, to boot), she told him to be careful about flattery and interested gallantry because the day he listened to flattery he'd be lost. And as Beast has a gorgeous castle and bottomless sources of gold and riches, anyone could overlook his beastliness, his ugliness and unpleasantness and sell their daughters or themselves to him as reasonably-prized love; but Beast needed the genuine kind and genuine acceptance or he'd be stuck in his form forever, hence the fairy's warning not to mistake faked love and faked acceptance delivered through flattery and hypocrisy. Beast had never known the genuine kind, so he's afraid he'll not know fake from true, and reacts the same way always, even when it's just respect that impels someone to call him "my lord." The thematic and metaphorical value is exactly the same for Sandor. Is there anyone more immune to false honeyed words than him in ASOIAF? One would have worse chances with him than with Stannis and his horse, because at least Stannis' horse is possible to seduce as per sweet Cersei, but not even the famous Varys-Littlefinger-Tyrion scheming trinity have ever tried to bribe or flatter Sandor and Stranger has such a bad case of like master, like pet that to flatter it is suicide. So, like Beast, Sandor has become incorruptible as a direct result of the trauma that originated the Hound. But it's not just to adulation and bribery that he's resistant, because he's also untouched by the other side of the coin, disrespect. Tyrion talks of armouring oneself in what one is so people won't use it to hurt you, and that's what he's done to the point Sansa wonders that he's so nonchalant about being called dog, and we've seen he's not fussy about being addressed with condescending familiarity either. From his comment to Sansa on people's speculations about how he got his burns, we can guess he's heard unkind comments on his face, perhaps been taunted with "was it a dragon that burnt you?" type of silly questions, and mocked for his face like the Imp did once, yet he seems casual about them, he even is able to make fun and joke about his scars. See when he jokes with Beric that he's now uglier than himself, and when he asks Arya what she thinks of his face and Arya replies insultingly, but he only gives her more cheese as if he's rewarding her for that and hasn't heard anything bad. It doesn't appear people can hurt him by getting at his ruined face or by name-calling just like they can't get at him by adulation. Yet that's not the case for Brienne. The in-story context for "I am no ser" doesn't work so well in her context because, for one, in her case it's true: she's not a ser and wouldn't be even if knighthood accepted women formally. There's no "knight who denies the rank" paradox here. It's a Captain Obvious moment when she tells that stableboy what's plain to see, and since the boy obviously called her that just out of habit and probably made a honest mistake seeing her dressed as a man and with knightly weaponry, no disrespect is meant. What purpose does that line serve in Brienne's scene therefore, aside showing her as unnecessarily rude? The nature of her struggle with knighthood isn't the same as Sandor's struggle, so the superficial "knight in all but name" doesn't quite fit as an explanation either. Sandor is against knighthood as an institution and rejects them, yet he is one without the title and tries to follow the code despite not belonging to the caste. Brienne is a vehement believer in knighthood as an institution and desperately wants to belong in the caste, but her gender is the obstacle, and she tries to follow the code to a fault as it exists in songs but not as it is in reality. Besides, she hasn't armoured herself in what she is as a protection and isn't immune to flattery or hurt. Unlike Sandor, she has had to deal with misogyny and patriarchal notions of a female's proper place besides. On top of all that, she's an ugly woman, so her appearance is another sensitive point. For all this, she has more cause than Sandor to learn to deal with and live with social mockery and taunting and mean jokes like the bet on her virginity, and so it'd be expected that she'd have found a way to not allow mockery of her looks get her down even though the issue isn't with her but with people and society. But that's not the case. Jaime could hurt her rather easily and saw her hurt on her face also very easily, and that despite he refrained from telling her his most unkind thoughts and kept them to himself, like the "cow in silks" one. When we get her POV, we realise that Jaime hurt her more deeply with his taunting than he suspected, and that again stresses on how unprepared Brienne is for the path she wants to follow. Why does the Kingslayer's mockery matter this much? He's the Kingslayer to you, after all, so from that angle, his insults would be of the "take them as from whom they come" sort, i.e. judge them according to the source, for they don't have to matter because his opinions on you shouldn't matter when you're sure you're better than what he thinks. But Brienne is affected by external assessments of herself because she's never dealt with her own sense of inadequacy and she's left vulnerable to both flattery and disrespect, to both of which she's very responsive; what others think of her matters a lot to her even when they're not right about her. It's the internal vs external, raven vs dove duality all over again. So, I can see the line as another attempt to link Sandor with Brienne textually alongside the Hound imagery that passed from him on to her during this journey, and also as an attempt to surround Brienne with more of the same "Beast" imagery Sandor has had since AGOT. But thematically, I still think it wasn't the most optimal choice.
  9. Milady of York

    The Will to Change: Rereading Sandor II

    I'll come back to your points later; now I just wanted to revisit a line I'd not thought about much before that's in Tyrion's first ASOS chapter, when he's informed of Sandor's absence: It seems a fairly innocuous line with no other purpose than to deliver a good, suspicion-free bit of information, yes? So, why I'm bringing this up? That line acquires another layer of meaning when taken whole-picture style with AFFC. For a start, readers already know Sandor is gone from the city, Sansa had told us that already in ACOK, so it's not for the benefit of informing the reader about the Hound's whereabouts that the line is there. For Tyrion's benefit, then? Sure, sounds like it . . . until you note the phrasing. "Not dead, only gone." That's some Jedi mind-tricking level of careful wording if I've ever seen one, on par with the Elder Brother's "he is at rest" obtuse reply to whether Sandor was really dead, tot, mort, muerto. By itself, it doesn't have any other value than as a simple answer, but together with the Elder Brother's words, these would show a reluctance to straight-up state that Sandor Clegane is dead on the part of GRRM, probably because at that stage he already knew he'd have to put him out of commission for a while but not literally kill him. He has a way of making the confirmation of someone's "demise" be vague enough, in the sense that he leaves plenty of room to speculate about a probable survival, when he's planning to bring that character back, and that accounts for the verbal gymnastics he's made Bronn and the Elder Brother engage in by telling technical truths that'd make Varys proud. And by their technical truth quality, both lines lend themselves to be "completed" with the on-page information that comes alongside; one can practically hear the continuation: "Not dead, only gone" (. . . to the Starks), "He is at rest" (. . . here).
  10. Milady of York

    The Will to Change: Rereading Sandor II

    Definitely not meaningless. Aside the two main uses of Sandor's name mentioned, there's a third use of his name not discussed yet and which we can elaborate on later by the end of AFFC, that further demonstrates Martin is employing naming/forms of addressing literary techniques that classic writers used to know and make use of more frequently and better. You brought up the Mountain clans refer to their former lord as "The Ned," which is a very curious way of address. GRRM is going by the example of the Scottish clans for this, whose heads of clan formally bear the definite article "the" before their surnames and/or territorial titles, and not just casually because it's a duly recognised heraldry practice. Thus, if an English noble would have a sir or a lord before a name when formally addressed, they have The McDonald, The Campbell, The Douglas, The Buchanan . . . There's even a king, Robert the Bruce, who kept it even after he became royalty. Little sassenach that I am, at first my Norman-centric thinking led me to mispronounce it as "Robert de Bruce" where it stands for "of Bruce," until they told me it's supposed to be as in "Le Bruce." And the custom is supposed to allude to the fact that you represent a clan, a people, you're "the" Bruce that represents and leads other Bruces. Within this frame of reference, we'd expect that Eddard would be called "The Stark" instead, and whilst in the books "The Stark in Winterfell" is used in relation to the ruling lord of the North, that the mountain folks opted for a very personal and specific "The Ned," using what'd be an affectionate nickname admissible only for family and friends instead of Eddard or Stark is, I believe, another way to convey that these people are being loyal to the man for the man himself as much as to the House. Sandor is very particular about his name, like probably no other character is. On one hand, he doesn't allow anyone to call him ser and, on the other hand, doesn't get offended if he's called dog. Sansa had a point when asking him why he allowed it, because addressing a nobleman like that is fair grounds to get your nose bloodied for you. Nobles in medieval times were fastidious about their dignity and the style of address was way more formal and dignified than it is in Westeros, with a long list of how to call and not to call anyone according to rank and position, all of which GRRM has simplified. And here's where Sandor strays from the norm: he never cares when he's called by his name with zero formality; the people who call him "Sandor" in-story aren't his friends nor related to him, so they'd not theoretically be entitled to first-name basis treatment. In Britain, it used to be very poor manners to address someone by their first name if you're not close to them in some manner; that's why in some of the classic novels of the 1700s and 1800s the characters don't take it well when called by their names so informally; to call someone by their surname was what passed for good etiquette. It's Sandor's fault for barking at everyone that calls him ser, but that'd not have to mean they have his permission to start calling him plain Sandor instead. And yet, that's what happens, and he accepts the informality with no protest. He's rather quite liberal about how each chooses to address him, too liberal for a nobleman. So long as it's not ser, they can call him Sandor, dog, Hound, Clegane, and one would think it's all the same to him judging from his reaction, because he never demands to be addressed in any specific manner, doesn't dictate to people what to call him, only what not to call him. The explanation for this liberality and nonchalant acceptance so uncharacteristic for his social class, besides what you noted about internal perception of oneself vs the outside, would be his declared loathing for the ribbons of knighthood, the frippery and artifice of the nobility. That's given him a funny veneer of irreverence also, because of how he proceeds with everyone at court: just to name some examples, he addresses Joffrey in the proper protocolary manner as "Your Grace," and next he calls him Joffrey or Joff like he's just one of the family; he calls his boss "the queen" formally, and next she's plain old sweet Cersei; Ned he calls "Hand" without a "the" or "my lord," and next he's "Lord Eddard Stark of Winterfell," and Sansa he's called everything: girl, little bird, Lady Sansa. It's interesting that the Lannisters give him ample leeway to do this, to the point that it could be said they indulge him, although Joff is mostly because he's too dim to notice he's being mocked.
  11. Milady of York

    The Will to Change: Rereading Sandor II

    In the name of the Mother In SANDOR IV, when he reappears to demand the devolution of the gold the Brotherhood took from him and is refused, he takes the girl off their hands in place of the yellow metal. The frame of reference this happens within is very significant due to the overarching theme of redemption through the context of knighthood that moves Sandor’s arc forward, because this will mean he once more gets to play a role like in a traditional knightly story without being one. The oath-taker here is real knight Dondarrion, who in an effort to calm Arya’s worries promises her on his honour as a knight that he’ll hand her over safely to Lady Catelyn in Riverrun. Connecting this to a similar oath to her elder sister by another dubious knight, Brashcandy says that: These two men are strange ones to be swearing on their knighthood, as Dontos had recently been demoted to a court jester and Beric is literally a dead man walking, having been resurrected six times by Thoros. As we discussed concerning Sansa and Dontos during the Clash portion of the reread, the Florian wannabe is disingenuous about his motives and cannot guarantee Sansa true protection; rather, it is Sandor Clegane who offered her sincere security, even though he later bungles the rescue attempt during the Blackwater battle. It’s an important contrast that further defines the Hound as a protective figure, even in volatile relationships like the one he shares with Arya, and diffuses the threatening implication of the question: “Do you know what dogs do to wolves?” Sandor confronts Beric after he’s vowed this, and their discussion over the knighting of Gendry again underlines how diverse their views on honour are as well as the inherent hypocrisy of the knighting precedes that his oath won’t be fulfilled, as Gendry doesn’t meet the criteria for acquiring a knighthood from whichever angle one looks at it. So when Beric tells Arya they won’t go to Riverrun because the Starks are on the move to the Twins and there’s impending danger, in her eyes it’s a breach of promise. Her knight has failed her, and she runs away to be caught by Sandor. This way, he practically takes over Beric’s vow and makes it his own without intending to, and Arya will come to hold him to the lightning lord’s promise to deliver her to her mother. So both Sandor and Jaime are sent towards the Twins and the Red Keep respectively with the figure of Catelyn Stark as the starting point. Sandor had previously abandoned his job with the Mother’s Mercy song by Sansa on his behalf, and ended up encountering the mercy of wolves that Arya brings upon his head. Both Mother’s Mercy and Wolf’s Mercy represent two sides of the same purpose in his case, to go find a better way first with the aid of the Mother’s gentle push and then the Wolf’s hard shove. Above, we’ve seen how on abducting Arya he burdened himself with Beric’s vow, but when we compare him to Jaime we could argue that he’s also carrying out the Kingslayer’s vow—or at least part of the vow, as he only has one daughter—to Catelyn to do everything so her girls are delivered back to her. It’s Catelyn’s maternal love that made her risk high treason to free Jaime, so that further solidifies the argument that both men are in the Riverlands largely as a result of the Mother’s Mercy, a meta-textual reading that evidences a thematic thread in common rather than being a hard-facts parallel. Interestingly, the theme of knightly oaths is also a theme in common in both men’s circumstances, because the wording of a portion of the oath Lady Stark got out of Jaime is similar to the one Beric gave Arya: “Swear on your honor as a knight, on your honor as a Lannister, on your honor as a Sworn Brother of the Kingsguard.” The way both men relate to the Mother’s Mercy motif is of interest within this meta-analysis, for Jaime’s mercy isn’t based on any perceived worthiness of his own but instead is earned vicariously through Catelyn’s trust in his brother Tyrion. The Mother here thinks he has “shit for honour,” and so Jaime exteriorises the Mother’s Mercy as a matter of public perception of his behaviour and decides to honour his vow to Catelyn because he’s fed up with buckets of shit being kicked at him. As for Sandor, the Mother’s mercy was earned by the things he did right for Sansa and in spite of his shortcomings, like when he botched everything so badly during Blackwater, and he’s internalised it as a matter of how he perceives his own actions separate from external condemnation or even if nobody holds him accountable, which is why he confessed to stealing the Mother’s Mercy song, which Arya never believed he got willingly anyway, so he could’ve kept it to himself had not the lie bothered his conscience. Catelyn had motherly faith that a Lannister would send her daughters safely back, but neither the Beric who’d sworn as a knight nor Tyrion that had promised in public and Jaime who’d taken an oath could honour the promise for this or that reason, so although the story isn’t over yet and surprises might occur in a future book, from Catelyn’s standpoint with what information she had up to the moment she died at the Red Wedding, everyone who pleaded on knightly honour did, in the end, break their vow whilst she was alive. Literary ironies of Martin; she died ignoring that a renegade Lannister with no vows and nothing owed to her did effectively bring one of the daughters inches close to her and would’ve handed her over but for the Freys. The Tales of Ser Sandor & Squire Arya The road trip towards The Twins that the Hound and Arya embark on in SANDOR V is shrouded in knight-errantry imagery and symbolism, which once more place him in the role of a knight against his conscious will that rejects such a role. The whole Riverlands experience is essentially him playing the knight questing for the ultimate goal in the career of a chevalier in traditional chivalric literature, as Milady reiterates: … the now masterless Hound’s sublimated motivation lying under his more outward reasons, the fractious and ever-shifting relationship with his captive, his deeds and practical life lessons that go both ways, are staples of chivalric errantry that would suffice to qualify the adventures of the non-knight of the burnt countenance as belonging in this narrative type. But, most striking amongst all these elements is that the Hound did, in the end, factually succeeded in taking Arya to her family—that the Freys chose the moment of his victory for slaughter is another matter—and so for the first time symbolically fulfils the oath of a knight he’d not even made. Although the basic hallmarks, like a lady-love, bandits, a fractious companion, duels, seeking a king, adventures with the peasantry, and ultimately success at the end of the quest are present, it’s not a straight retelling but a subversion of the knight errant archetype, and ironies are found aplenty. The spotless honourability of the knight errant of legends would be one example, for whilst the Hound does generally avoid employing damaging methods if he can, he leans towards the pragmatic rather than the strictly honourable, and fights “down-dirty” to reach his destination with so little at hand and opposition behind and in front. Like when he tricks the cheat-minded ferryman by offering “knight’s honour” as assurance to be ferried across to the other bank of a dangerous river. And one new role we’d not have expected from the Hound is also adopted in order to reach his destination alive and in one piece, when he “plays the fool” by disguising himself as a peasant farmer to infiltrate the castle and meet the Starks with his grumbling charge in tow. In this “little game” lasting for three chapters until it abruptly ends in the Red Wedding, a theme quite prominently interwoven into the pages is, as Ragnorak points out, the conflicting purposes that pull the Hound towards the South (revenge against Gregor) and towards the North (a desire for home). That he’s taking her to the North indicates he’s opted for the latter, for although he’s doing it officially for a ransom, the more he talks the more apparent it becomes that Arya’s monetary worth is enhanced by the prospect of her working as a figurative recommendation letter to obtain a position in the Northern forces and a new liege lord to serve, a purpose that long-term has higher value than an immediate necessity to replenish his purse with gold or seek his brother, and that would be more easily achieved through her than with only information and his skills as assets to offer. To add to the contradictions gnawing at their respective armours of wary attitude towards each other until cracks appear, Sandor rather quickly evolves from purely a captor’s role to a protector’s role, just as Arya also evolves from captive to squire, when she starts . . . . . . doing work that is traditionally a squire’s. There are several assignments for them, but the three most important tasks a squire has to perform for a knight are to take care of his horse, take care of his armour, and assist him before, during and after combat. With that in mind, it now seems fitting that Arya was the one to reveal the name of the Hound’s courser and not another POV, for now she has to get acquainted with it as part of her tasks. Despite the hostility floating in between them, they do fit instinctively into this faux knight-squire relationship dynamics, as each seems to understand what to do almost without a need to repeat stuff. The time when Arya does outright disobey Sandor’s orders is at the gates of the Twins, when he pleads for her to come with him and leave the place before more Freys come for them, and in her innocent despair she refuses to listen and he has to hit her with the back of an axe to get them both out quickly without a fuss. Her emotional state in such a bleak situation explains it all, for the next time they need to collaborate for their mutual safety, she intervenes on her own as his squire, in a fashion evocative of how Podrick would for Tyrion first and Brienne later. This traumatic experience meant a subtle yet significant shift in their relationship, specifically evidenced in Arya’s attitude. Previous to this, she had solidly resented him and reacted hotly at stuff like being cast as Sandor’s child very explicitly, the second time he’s mistaken for the father of a Stark girl in the series, once more connecting him to the ruling family of the North as well as providing a contrasting point of view to Sansa’s evolution in attitude towards him. Following the shock of the slaughter, an new stage follows where Arya begins to separate the man from the monstrous persona worn by her travelling companion, and the manner in which this change is made obvious is very telling: she starts to use his first name, Sandor. Their post-Red Wedding stage mirrors the post-mutilation stage for Jaime and Brienne, where the captives have sustained a life-shattering blow from which they’ll never emerge as the same people again, and it’s up to the former captors-turned-companions-of-misfortune to drag them back into life. Arya is profoundly depressed, so apathetic and dejected, thinking only of curling up to sleep forever; and Jaime is also depressed to the point of suicidal and seeking to be killed. Sandor and Brienne, also deeply shaken by the tragic events and in low spirits themselves, do nevertheless find a way to be supportive in a blunt yet effective manner: they don’t allow their charges to give up, one by physically forcing the girl to get up and move even if he has to pour cold water over her, and the other by telling the man it’s craven to lie down and let oneself die. Both Sandor and Brienne are alluding after a fashion and without spelling it out that Arya and Jaime still have family to live for; the Stark needs to let go of the dead mother and brother to focus on the living family to keep going, to admit it’s not craven to refuse taking unnecessary risks for a fool hope of finding them alive, and the Lannister has to remember he has family waiting for him to regain the will to live. Mercy also resurfaces in these circumstances, as it’s during this time when Arya learns the gift of mercy when the Hound puts a dying soldier out of his suffering with an efficient stab to the heart, a valuable lesson as much symbolically as for its practical uses, that she doesn’t fully grasp, adding yet more to the imagery of knight tutoring a squire. To this, there’s a way to look at Jaime’s provoking the Bloody Mummers into putting a sword through him as vaguely evoking an act of asking the gift of mercy to end his pain and being denied it, getting more abuse instead, with the caveat that his case wasn’t so hopeless as to merit mercy and his stated intention is to be killed fighting instead of staying so helpless. That could be another comparison between Sandor and Jaime, in that both sought mercy through taunting their respective interlocutors, and both being denied it by them; but the similarity is pretty superficial: there’s a confession and an absolution the Northern way for one and not even the consolation of a drink of water for the other, and both are eventually cured by men who couldn’t be more opposite embodiments of mercy: the Elder Brother with his rehabilitative kind philosophy of rebirth that buried the Hound, and Qyburn with his immoral science philosophy of creating undead beings that resurrected Gregor. The ghost of his past, always impossible to disconnect from Gregor, also resurfaces as an obstacle to the Hound’s desire to settle down and find a place to call home in the small village he helps build the wall to defend, in SANDOR VI, a chapter that, as Brashcandy expounds, is riddled with the: … theme of the conflicts and consequences of the past vs. the possibilities and potential that the future could hold for Sandor. As you noted in your analysis, we see that he can't escape his notorious role as the Lannister dog, and this is the deciding factor that makes the villagers turn him out from their community. We're treated to Arya's feelings about the village and she wastes no time in hating the quiet peacefulness there, yet a simple life of honest work and protecting others is clearly something that appealed to Sandor, and informs his suggestion to Arya that they stay there for a while to rest up and help out in case of raiding from the clansmen. Despite the "bloody" reputation that follows him, Sandor is interested in once again acting as a shield, and it's significant that in the village he's involved in building one for the villagers. So, once more his past sends him back to the road. His new destination still points to the Starks, still to the choice of home over revenge, as initially he considers going to their kinsman by marriage Brynden Tully and later at the Crossroads inn he asks about ships at Saltpans, that’d indicate a route to follow leading to either the Vale/Lysa or the Wall/Jon. Ironically, he’ll stumble again into the omnipresent obstacle of his brother, when he stumbles into his men at an inn; the persistence of such a hindrance emphasises on the necessity to put a very final and brutal end to it, as it’s become too clear that it’s working like the proverbial millstone hung round Sandor’s neck, truncating every effort to start anew. As mentioned already, by now Arya has started to refer to him by his name in addition to calling him “the Hound” or using his full name. The use of the first name here is a literary technique to convey that a change of heart or of opinion has taken place without spelling it out loud. If we recall the phrasing of Arya’s death prayer, she never included “Sandor Clegane” in it, not even once, not even by accident, and she cannot possibly ignore what his full name is because she does use it often, nor can we pretend she just chose to use his nickname given that she’s included Gregor with both his name and his nickname in her prayer, and Raff as well. It’s a curiously careful choice by the author to make Arya never use “Sandor.” Only the Tickler is included in such a fashion in her prayer, with just his nickname, and he’s a placeholder character that has no other name in the text, so it’s hardly a valid similarity. That this is an exteriorisation of her seeing him as a person whose good side she can now acknowledge however reluctantly is further reinforced by the timeline of this happening: it occurs after the Hound has saved her life in the Red Wedding. She starts to think of him as Sandor at the village in the Vale, where, funnily, she also takes to defending him by mentally berating the villagers for their cravenness in refusing to look him in the eye. And she’ll continue referring to him as Sandor in their last chapter together, up to the moment she leaves him alone to die. Considering that “Sandor” will survive, although we don’t know it for sure going just by ASOS, it’s also an authorial method of introducing an actual and palpable difference between the man he was in the past versus the man he will become, between his past and his future, in a way more obvious and identifiable than simply showing us Sandor Clegane has a good side and a bad side. The bad side needs to disappear, or at the very least be divorced from the original character, and what better way than to have the Hound die, and all his equipment and imagery be separated from the man who’ll re-emerge? The example of Jaime and Brienne also supports this interpretation of Arya’s use of Sandor’s name as an indicator of a positive change in attitude towards him. From the start of their trip, Brienne refuses him the courtesy of calling him by his name, or at least by a formal “Ser Jaime” as is proper for his rank. She is outright offensive calling him Kingslayer instead, a nickname he loathes because he’s never “come by it fairly” and because it represents a past he’s never dealt with; and to rub salt on it, she adds the insult of “monster.” Jaime takes his revenge as well as covers up for his wounded pride by behaving as rudely in return and calling her “wench” despite seeing she’s a noblewoman and that’s not how you address the highborn ladies. Both hate being addressed as Wench and Kingslayer, sobriquets representative of their struggles with knighthood, and so their endless “my name is Brienne”/“my name is Jaime” exchanges are born, both vying for the same goal: get respect. A respect that only comes after they face a life-or-death situation like Sandor and Arya. Although he’d called her by her name in his second POV already, Brienne only starts to call him by his name after he’s been maimed in trying to distract the Bloody Mummers from raping her, using “Jaime” for the first time when she tries to help him to keep on living. That’s the moment when the wench starts to see him differently, when feelings of gratitude for what he’s done in her favour cause her to readjust her initial assessment of him. No such feelings of gratitude exist in Arya, not explicitly, but she definitely has also readjusted her opinion of Sandor after that long time together and two situations where they had to save each other, and so she’s no longer able to kill “Sandor,” whom she takes out of her list temporarily before putting him back again as “the Hound.” Yet that brief apparent lapse plus the distinction she’s made between Sandor and the Hound already has spoken volumes. I will hear you say his name! As we’ve now ascertained, Sandor’s entire ASOS arc is about facing his past deeds both literally in his actual trial by combat and personally through bonding with Arya Stark; and it’s on his arrival to the aptly-named Crossroads inn when his crossroads-like state of uncertainty is solved, leaving him with one single path to follow thenceforward. He’d already had to do battle against allies of his former overlords at the Red Wedding to protect a Stark and himself, but killing his brother’s soldiers, all direct vassals to the Lannisters, definitely severs with a sword blow any tenuous lifeline still attaching him to his old loyalties. Here, he not only symbolically but in effect does become the “lion-killing dog” of the founding story of House Clegane and of Arya’s wishful longings, in a sequence of scenes that are reminiscent of classic Western showdowns in film and literature, as Ragnorak argues in the corresponding analysis for SANDOR VII. After breaking the non-aggression tacit pact that seemed to exist between Gregor & Co. and Sandor by the will of their mutual liege lord, he can hardly expect to still have the remotest chance of making amends with them even if he wished, even less so when Gregor has chosen to go fight for Cersei, a service likely to be rewarded by the family, whereas he’s siding with a different lord’s daughter, a punishable decision for the Lannisters. He’d for a while already made up his mind to not go back anyhow, as it’s evident by his lack of interest in taking advantage of the much sought-after Arya Stark, an important political pawn, to cater to any of the factions at war that pays him best or makes the most attractive offer, like the Tyrells or the Boltons, and, above all, by his unchanging decision to keep seeking the Starks and their Tully relatives to deliver the girl to, long after her monetary value for him has faded. This is also the time when, like on his reintroduction when he was caught drunk, he uncharacteristically allows wine to obfuscate his mind somewhat after he is told of the marriage of Sansa to Tyrion, which although not enough to knock him out, affects him just enough for Polliver and the Tickler to manage to wound him three times. Wounds that are treated rather inadequately, leading to a high fever that forces him to take refuge under a tree, so severely in pain that it’s apparent he may die from his wounds. And as he is convinced of his impending death, a full confession comes from deep inside; the confession that Arya Stark had been looking for all along and that she needed to execute him for murdering Mycah. In ASOIAF, there’s a certain pattern in the manner those appointed as champions of the weak, the innocent and the helpless try to get the victimisers to admit to their wrongdoings. The two benchmark examples would be that of Davos Seaworth championing Edric Storm before Stannis: “You are making me angry, Davos. I will hear no more of this bastard boy.” “His name is Edric Storm, sire.” “I know his name. Was there ever a name so apt? It proclaims his bastardy, his high birth, and the turmoil he brings with him. Edric Storm. There, I have said it. Are you satisfied, my lord Hand?” . . . and the most well-known example of all, that of Oberyn Martell championing Elia of Dorne before Gregor: “I am Oberyn Martell, a prince of Dorne,” he said, as the Mountain turned to keep him in sight. “Princess Elia was my sister.” “Who?” asked Gregor Clegane. Oberyn’s long spear jabbed, but Ser Gregor took the point on his shield, shoved it aside, and bulled back at the prince, his great sword flashing. The Dornishman spun away untouched. The spear darted forward. Clegane slashed at it, Martell snapped it back, then thrust again. Metal screamed on metal as the spearhead slid off the Mountain’s chest, slicing through the surcoat and leaving a long bright scratch on the steel beneath. “Elia Martell, Princess of Dorne,” the Red Viper hissed. “You raped her. You murdered her. You killed her children.” Ser Gregor grunted. He made a ponderous charge to hack at the Dornishman’s head. Prince Oberyn avoided him easily. “You raped her. You murdered her. You killed her children.” “Did you come to talk or to fight?” “I came to hear you confess.” . . . “You raped her. You murdered her. You killed her children.” Gregor tried to bull rush, but Oberyn skipped aside and circled round his back. “You raped her. You murdered her. You killed her children.” “Be quiet.” Ser Gregor seemed to be moving a little slower, and his greatsword no longer rose quite so high as it had when the contest began. “Shut your bloody mouth.” “You raped her,” the prince said, moving to the right. “Enough!” Ser Gregor took two long strides and brought his sword down at Oberyn’s head, but the Dornishman backstepped once more. “You murdered her,” he said. “SHUT UP!” Gregor charged headlong, right at the point of the spear, which slammed into his right breast then slid aside with a hideous steel shriek. . . . But the Red Viper of Dorne was back on his feet, his long spear in hand. “Elia,” he called at Ser Gregor. “You raped her. You murdered her. You killed her children. Now say her name.” The Mountain whirled. Helm, shield, sword, surcoat; he was spattered with gore from head to heels. “You talk too much,” he grumbled. “You make my head hurt.” “I will hear you say it. She was Elia of Dorne.” . . . The point punched through mail and boiled leather. Gregor gave a choked grunt as the Dornishman twisted his spear and yanked it free. “Elia. Say it! Elia. Of Dorne!” He was circling, spear poised for another thrust. “Say it!” Now, what do these scenes have in common? The names. The use of first names is important for the champions of justice to exact a confession of guilt from the wrongdoers, who’re intent on refusing to use the victims’ first names. Stannis by referring to Edric as “this bastard boy,” to which Davos counters reminding him the boy is no nameless face but has a name, Edric Storm, and he’s a friend to his daughter. Oberyn by stating his name and rank to remind Gregor he’s not just “some dead man” without a name or a cause, and then shouting the name of Princess Elia in conjunction with Gregor’s crimes against her to get him to realise his victims were a woman and a child with a name and a family. Why do this, though? Because it’s a countermeasure to the “a million deaths is a statistic” phenomenon we discussed here before by showing the face of that single death that will make it feel like a tragedy. It’s an established fact in human psychology studies that the degree of closeness or distance between the killer and the killed affects the ease or difficulty to kill and what emotional consequences will be like for the killer. The more distant the person is, the easier it’s to kill and no remorse is likely to arise, for you don’t see the faces, don’t hear the voices, don’t know the names. But if the person is close, if you can see them, listen to them, know their face, or hear their name, then it’ll be more difficult and guilt and trauma will be unavoidable. That’s the reason why traditionally men in the infantry/cavalry units in armies as well as men in positions where it’s a job requirement to shoot or kill at close quarters are more prone to PTSD and guilt than other units that kill at a distance, like machine-gunners, tankmen and pilot bombers. Even when it’s not done as part of the job, it’s still quite difficult to kill someone who’s close and vivid in front of you. There are techniques soldiers are taught to cope with this that won’t be touched here as they fall outside the thematic scope; suffice to note instead that, as a flexible rule, there are four defence mechanisms that have been historically used to make it easier to kill, or at least not to experience/soften the resulting guilt. All those are essentially just a series of justifications that’ll let the killer achieve the emotional distance necessary for the deed, that range from cultural (they’re not like us), to the social (our side’s better than them and theirs is lesser), the moral (they’re bad or wrong), and the technical (this toy can blow them up from this far before they know what hit them). For the purposes of this analysis, the one that matters and that’s at play here is a mixed derivative of the cultural and social justifications, which is basically dehumanising the opponent by denying them their identity. The most extreme case of this is the concentration camps, where interns were denied their names and turned into numbers tattooed on their arms; just statistics. On a more individual level, a killer that denies his victim’s personhood, refuses to acknowledge their name, is also “dehumanising” the victim by turning him into just a statistic with no name to remember and be haunted by. Hence Davos’ and Oberyn’s attempts to “humanise” the victims who are being denied their personhood by invoking their names to their victimisers’ faces. And that’s also why it’s so important for Sandor’s character growth and eventual redemption that he’s faced so relentlessly by Arya reciting the name of his victim until he confesses; and why it matters that Sandor, who in the past had referred to the child as Arya’s “little pet,” comes to acknowledge Mycah’s personhood, thus acknowledging him as the victim of an unjust death that, albeit legal, is morally indefensible: “You are a murderer!” she screamed. “You killed Mycah, don’t say you never did. You murdered him!” The Hound stared at her with no flicker of recognition. “And who was this Mycah, boy?” “I’m not a boy! But Mycah was. He was a butcher’s boy and you killed him. Jory said you cut him near in half, and he never even had a sword.” . . . “The girl has named you a murderer. Do you deny killing this butcher’s boy, Mycah?” The big man shrugged. “I was Joffrey’s sworn shield. The butcher’s boy attacked a prince of the blood.” “That’s a lie!” Arya squirmed in Harwin’s grip. “It was me. I hit Joffrey and threw Lion’s Paw in the river. Mycah just ran away, like I told him.” . . . “You killed Mycah,” she said once more, daring him to deny it. “Tell them. You did. You did.” “I did.” His whole face twisted. “I rode him down and cut him in half, and laughed. I watched them beat your sister bloody too, watched them cut your father’s head off.” . . . “Why don’t you just kill me like you did Mycah?” Arya had screamed at him. She was still defiant then, more angry than scared. He answered by grabbing the front of her tunic and yanking her within an inch of his burned face. “The next time you say that name I’ll beat you so bad you’ll wish I killed you.” . . . “No,” Arya spat back at him. “I’d like to kill you.” “Because I hacked your little friend in two? I’ve killed a lot more than him, I promise you. You think that makes me some monster. Well, maybe it does, but I saved your sister’s life too. (…)” And finally in the last confession of all sins, big and small, when he’s dying: When Arya did not move, he said, “I killed your butcher’s boy. I cut him near in half, and laughed about it after.” (. . . ) “. . . avenge your little Michael . . . ” “Mycah.” Arya stepped away from him. “You don’t deserve the gift of mercy.” As you see, Sandor starts to admit he has murdered Arya’s friend when she uses his name, a name he seemingly either didn’t know or forgot if he did know because he doesn’t immediately link the name Mycah to the boy he killed for Cersei and has to ask who this person was. And once he connects name and face with the murder, his emotional distance is shattered and ceases to exist. Now his victim is someone he “knows” and as if it weren’t enough, he has to carry everywhere with him the living and breathing embodiment of the consequences of that murder, so if his conscience were to go dormant Arya will kick it awake by shouting the name at him. All his confessions of guilt in ASOS are prompted by “Mycah,” and when he tries to defend himself, he has to refer to him as “the butcher’s boy.” But it doesn’t work, because he’s already used the name Mycah at the trial, and by that act he confesses his guilt fully and without buts, and again he uses the name mispronounced (Arya hadn’t been rubbing it in his face for a while) when he believes he’s dying and there’s no sense in denying anything bad he’s ever done. Davos in the end was key in convincing Stannis out of any idea of burning Edric, and Oberyn got Gregor’s unrepentant admission at the cost of his life that damned the Lannisters with its ripple effects, thus proving how effective this humanising of victimhood truly is, regardless of repentance or unrepentance, because some will confess and atone or make amends, and others will simply carry on guilt-free. Arya was invaluable in this regard, because without her, Sandor would never attain his purpose of changing his life for the better, because without a confession and without regret there’s no atonement, and without atonement there’s no redemption to speak of. In contrast to the Hound’s confession of guilt, there’s Jaime’s attitude to being confronted by his crippling of Bran, which is interesting as it unfolds in the same “say the name” manner as with Davos, Oberyn and Arya, but the outcome is different. That during ASOS he’s faced with this past crime three times is indicative that this parallel was written consciously, because it’s hard to imagine GRRM would casually have two travels so heavily inlaid with the theme of redemption in the same book and not draw some intentional parallels and counter-parallels. Before getting his own POV, this is how it went with Jaime’s admission to Catelyn in ACOK: “How did my son Bran come to fall?” “I flung him from a window.” The easy way he said it took her voice away for an instant. If I had a knife, I would kill him now, she thought, until she remembered the girls. Her throat constricted as she said, “You were a knight, sworn to defend the weak and innocent.” “He was weak enough, but perhaps not so innocent. He was spying on us.” “Bran would not spy.” “Then blame those precious gods of yours, who brought the boy to our window and gave him a glimpse of something he was never meant to see.” “Blame the gods?” she said, incredulous. “Yours was the hand that threw him. You meant for him to die.” His chains chinked softly. “I seldom fling children from towers to improve their health. Yes, I meant for him to die.” “And when he did not, you knew your danger was worse than ever, so you gave your cat’s-paw a bag of silver to make certain Bran would never wake.” “Did I now?” Jaime lifted his cup and took a long swallow. “I won’t deny we talked of it, but you were with the boy day and night, your maester and Lord Eddard attended him frequently, and there were guards, even those damned direwolves… it would have required cutting my way through half of Winterfell. And why bother, when the boy seemed like to die of his own accord?” Catelyn is invoking a truthful confession by using the name of her son, Bran. And Jaime refuses to use the name and calls him “the boy” instead, same as he refuses to feel regret. In all the chapter, he continues refusing to name Bran by referring to him as “your precious urchin” and “your boy.” And in addition to this dehumanising coping mechanism, he resorts to questioning Bran’s innocence by saying he was spying on them intentionally in his own home. For this lack of repentance is that Catelyn cannot absolve him, and kicks a bucket of shit at him instead. In ASOS, it is Brienne’s turn to make him face this deed, albeit she doesn’t use Bran’s name, and the same unrepentance and refusal to acknowledge the name is present, internally: “A man who would violate his own sister, murder his king, and fling an innocent child to his death deserves no other name.” Innocent? The wretched boy was spying on us. Unfortunately, Brienne doesn’t possess the same unfailing sense of justice that Arya does, and never raises the subject again, thus failing in the role of talking conscience to Jaime for this crime specifically. And without anyone taking him to task for this, Jaime continues to circumvent using the name of his victim for the rest of the book, always alluding to him as “the boy” or “the Stark boy,” and avoid facing his guilt. Curiously, the only times he’s completely sincere is when he’s speaking to Cersei, his partner and co-perpetrator in this crime, as he remembers twice in ASOS: If truth be told, Jaime had come to rue heaving Brandon Stark out that window. Cersei had given him no end of grief afterward, when the boy refused to die. . . . “I’m not ashamed of loving you, only of the things I’ve done to hide it. That boy at Winterfell . . . ” “Did I tell you to throw him out the window? If you’d gone hunting as I begged you, nothing would have happened. But no, you had to have me, you could not wait until we returned to the city.” The only time the name Brandon Stark appears in his POVs isn’t even in conversation or in his inner monologue but when recollecting what Cersei’s reaction was like. It’s a ping-pong blame game the twins are engaged in over Bran’s crippling, as both try to dodge responsibility in different manners: Cersei blames 100% of it on Jaime alone, accusing him of being such an unreflective hothead and never listening to her who only wanted the boy scared into silence, all the while overlooking the plain truth that nobody dragged her kicking and screaming to that tower to have adulterous sex with her brother at risk of discovery, so she’s guilty as well. And Jaime tries to make it a fifty-fifty responsibility in common with his part of the blame somewhat attenuated by his love for her, claiming the crimes committed to hide an original crime aren’t as shameful as the original crime itself, which makes as much sense as saying the illegal activity you are involved in doesn’t shame you as does the illegal activities you have to do in order for the police not to catch and make you pay for said illegal activity. Furthermore, right after it was confirmed Bran would live and in the same conversation the twins had in which they have their spat over Bran, Jaime again “convinces” Cersei to have sex with him, whilst still in Winterfell and still at risk of discovery as it’s Stark territory; which severely undermines his claim that he did it to protect Cersei, as he’s repeating the act that put them both in danger in the first place. In total, Jaime’s been talking about his guilty deed with three people (four if we count Ilyn Payne in AFFC), and none of them has to date truly made him face them in a bare-souled confession as an Arya would have. So, when ASOS draws to an end, we have two Lannister men with a desire to change but that despite their similarities are actually in opposite camps when the book finishes. For Sandor, another stage in a very long road of progressive change concludes, every stage of which always propelled him up towards the next stage. When AGOT concluded, he’d started to break away from the Lannisters towards Sansa’s side, but was still their man and had accepted to be their non-knightly Kingsguard. When ACOK concluded, he’d left his masters and the city to look for a new and better life. And here, all that gradual breaking with his past fuelled by love and a desire for a home ends with his death. Putting aside what we know from the fourth book, it would appear that by placing such a definite-looking “The End” to the Hound’s arc, Martin is trying to justify an incoming more profound change in character or in arc through a literary metaphor akin to the biblical metaphor that describes a major transformation occurring in a person as a result of a positive influence as the “death of the old self.”
  12. Milady of York

    The Will to Change: Rereading Sandor II

    ASOS Recap “Redemption is something you have to fight for in a very personal, down-dirty way. Some of our characters lose that, some stray from that, and some regain it.” — JOSS WHEDON. The Riverlands Chronicles: The Lion, the Wench and the War Dogs The third book treats us to the largest number of chapters featuring appearances by Sandor Clegane or involving him through mentions and comparisons in several POVs, a precious opportunity to delve deeper into his character to uncover new details in a new environment, observing his struggles the further up he climbs in the character evolution curve. Yet it’s not just in quantity where the difference lies in but also in the quality, because we have a new POV that’s opposite to the one we’d mostly known him through. In the introduction to the reread, we’d noted the importance of being aware of the uses and limitations of third person POV and the influence that Martin’s restricted slice-of-the-whole writing structure for each character has on the readership’s opinions and perceptions of them, especially on controversial acts, and the need this raises for positioning oneself outside this personalised eyeview in order to produce a character analysis as balanced and complete as possible. Upon arriving to a huge POV switch in Sandor’s arc, it’s worth bringing this up into our analysis again, as this affects the way his story is told as well as brings forth a contrary yet complementary angle to the main themes in it, such as redemption and mercy, for compare/contrast is one of the methods that work as counterpoint to the restrictions imposed by POV structure. Of the two major differences between the Stark girls’ chapter structure that directly influence Sandor’s portrayal in ASOS, one is the storytelling focus in their arcs: in Sansa’s POV, when he comes onto the page, he’s comparatively less the focus of the chapter, mostly because Sansa is tied to a larger political plotline and has more topics to deal with that mayn’t involve him whilst with Arya, due to the story narrated therein as well as their 24-hour companionship, Sandor is usually the entire focus of her chapters. The second is the pro/contra duality in the girls’ POVs: with Sansa, we had a sympathetic lens through which to parse his admitted failures and frailties as a man and as a knight in all but name, which was necessary at that time because the compassionate and supportive reaction would work as a catalyst for change; and with Arya we have a unsympathetic and uncompromising lens through which to condemn his accomplishments and triumphs as a man and as a non-knight because, again, it is absolutely necessary at this precise time to haul him into facing and making amends for the ugliest side of his past, without which his redemptive journey would be incomplete. Redemption is arguably the main theme and the whole literary point of the Hound’s travel across the Riverlands with the little wolf pup, and it wouldn’t be possible to frame it devoid of this theme in any shape that wouldn’t make the entire arc utterly irrelevant otherwise. It’s a long journey towards completing his character change that the Hound embarks on with Arya, so it’s quite fitting that the first mention of him should be in the context of another trip that’ll also mean a significant turnaround in terms of character growth and that also basks in the theme of redemption: that of Jaime and Brienne, who’s intentionally likened to Sandor in the first ASOS chapter, on which Brashcandy further comments in SANDOR I that: It's very interesting for the purposes of our analysis into the Hound's role as a protector and a shield, that the first mention of him after he has deserted the battle of Blackwater would come via a comparison with a character who defines herself by this very purpose, and is in the process of carrying out a solemn duty to Catelyn Stark to secure the eventual release of her daughters. That Sandor actually tried to effect his own rescue of Sansa (and later will with Arya) prior to departing the city further deepens the parallel, and the "fierceness" that leads Jaime to make the comparison of the Hound to Brienne was echoed in the emotionally laden vow that Sandor made to Sansa on the night of Blackwater: "They're all afraid of me. No one would hurt you again, or I'd kill them." The chapter also contains a description of Brienne being "as dogged as a hound." Such an explicit character comparison by the author so early in the book is practically an invitation to drawing a thematic comparison between the respective Riverlands experience of the two duos travelling in parallel but towards opposite directions, both literal in destination as figurative in mindset at the beginning and at the outcome; which is what this wrap-up will strive for. They start off quite differently, Jaime going back to King’s Landing, to his old life as a Lannister and a Kingsguard, to Cersei, with no intentions to change anything in his lifestyle and no regrets; and on the opposite corner, although still offstage, Sandor’s change of heart has already taken him away from King’s Landing, to abandon his old life as a Lannister and a Kingsguard, to leave Cersei, and is reintroduced seeking a way to change his lifestyle driven by his regrets. In due course, both men will experience a crisis of the self, a crisis of conscience forced on them by their respective righteous judges incarnated in Arya and Brienne, who confront them for their past transgressions. A Lannister always remembers his pets Next, the narrative focus moves towards the House the Hound had served all his life, showing the disparate responses his abandonment elicits from its members—with Joffrey’s missing; and the only thing Tyrion, Tywin and Cersei’s reactions have in common is the failure to grasp the true implications of what they’ve really lost with their loyal man’s departure, and worse, that it heralds in their downfall. Tyrion, who happens to be the only Lannister aware of Sandor’s real motive for leaving, is too caught up in his own worries over the rivalry with his sister and more concerned about his loss of personal power and armed supporters to cool-headedly assess the consequences this desertion might have for him as regards to his fraught relationship with the Queen, the King and the Hand. His first reaction mostly serves to showcase the origins of the rumour about the Hound’s cowardice that’ll be the “official” version of his desertion, which he doesn’t bother to dispel either: it was the mutinous Gold Cloaks who, Bronn dixit, started it all; the same people engaged in murdering officers and then deserting due to cowardice like they accuse Sandor of. It’s interesting to note that, although Tyrion and Arya and Thoros might guess that Sandor is terrified of fire as it’s rather obvious when you look at his burnt face, only Sansa knows and truly understands his reasons because he tells her before going; same as Brienne is the one aware of the order to utilise the wildfire caches from Jaime’s confession, something not even Cersei knows. There’s also another probable point of comparison between Sandor keeping his mouth shut about his true reasons for deserting the wildfire-lit battlefield and allowing himself be branded a coward without any explanation to safeguard his reputation, and Jaime’s silence on the wildfire caches after murdering Aerys that gave way to his sobriquet of Kingslayer without an effort on his part to contradict public judgment that’s worth noting. Yet, aside the matter of personal conscience vs public perception/duty to distinguish one from the other, what stands out is the marked opposition in outcome for both Kingsguard men: for Sandor, his silence is the beginning of the end for the Hound as he leaves his morally-challenging service, and it’s a choice he’s internalised into a matter of how he perceives himself instead of how others see him, compared to Jaime, whose silence is the beginning of the Kingslayer and a transfer from one morally-challenging service to another that doesn’t usher in much improvement. And this is when one ironic ripple effect of Jaime’s silence touches Sandor directly: by never revealing the existence of the caches of wildfire, those stayed hidden only for some of it to be discovered in present time to the advantage of Jaime’s family, when Tyrion and Cersei made use of the wildfire from Aerys’ days at the Battle of Blackwater; a wildfire that helped to keep Joffrey—whom the text compares to Aerys—on the throne; a wildfire that earned a pyromancer (Hallyne) a lordly title under the Lannisters as it had earned another pyromancer a Handship under Aerys; the same wildfire that caused the Hound to leave. In the meeting between Tyrion and Tywin after their victory, it’s made very obvious by the head of House Lannister that they’ve chosen Gregor over Sandor as the useful “beast,” to the point of protecting him against reclamations from Dorne, for a second time now, disowning the promise of justice that Tyrion had made to the Dornish when in office, and dismissing Sandor as an expendable dog that can be substituted by any other dog that can hunt as good as the Hound, a fateful choice for his House short and long-term, because, as Milady of York explains: Sandor was their shield (for the House, for Cersei) and Gregor their sword, but in this specific case Tywin chooses Gregor as a shield against the Dornish intentions to seek justice for past crimes committed; and because of Gregor being a “beast” Oberyn will be able to get the confession that’ll bring about the ruin of the Lannisters eventually. Sandor had been one to help rein in to the best of his abilities some of the excesses of the House, especially where Joffrey was involved, and from that angle, he functioned as the guardian dog that protects the master even from going completely over the cliff, and it’s revealing that in the very moment Tywin reacts so dismissively to his absence, he is writing letters that readers believe have to do with the Red Wedding, arguably the lions’ point of no return in terms of enormities. As we shall see for the rest of the book and the fourth, it’s Cersei who will be the biggest loser from the Hound’s desertion and Tywin’s legacy of embracing all that the elder Clegane stood for and his misplaced trust in Littlefinger, who planted the Kettleblacks she replaced Sandor with, as Ragnorak explains through the metaphor of a fairy godparent’s role: The fairy godfather offers protection in the absence of the actual father and "gifts" that the young heroine is supposed to internalize to be able to manifest her own protection one day. In the first chapter we saw how Cersei has failed to internalize those gifts. She values Sandor's fierceness only on a level that parallels his older brother. She fails to understand as Tywin does that these are two different beasts that serve different purposes. Cersei grasps neither the gifts from her actual father nor the gifts from her fairy godfather. Sandor offered the Lannisters a gift of loyalty akin to what we'll see much later in the Mountain Clans and "The Ned's girl" and they spurned it both while they had it and after it is gone. But prior to Cersei, the brutal impact of the wave of consequences from this choice is going to be felt by her twin. The tune for Jaime’s fall in the hands of the wolves isn’t too different to the tune for Sandor’s desertion where reactions of the family are concerned: more aware of what they’ve lost with him, Tyrion and Cersei react with dismay, but Joffrey blames him for his fate, and Tywin vows to not allow the enemy to get at him through his son, whom he “replaces” with the Imp, and further endangers his life by going full on to fight the Starks with Gregor as his spearhead and planning the Red Wedding whilst Jaime is still a prisoner. When maimed, Jaime will say to Brienne that losing his hand is for kingslaying, for child-murdering and for the incest, but in reality it’s a direct result from his father’s awful decision to side with the Gregor choice, because it’s the same principle that made him pick the elder Clegane what made him bring the Bloody Mummers to Westeros, to be his savage “dogs” as they’re actually described just as Gregor is called “Lord Tywin’s mad dog.” Sandor and Jaime are thus united in being the recipients of the consequences of the ill choices in protégés made by the patriarch of the Lannisters. Choose the wrong beast as your pet, and your family pays the price; that seems to be the moral of the tale the author is insinuating. One kiss, good knight If his masters failed to comprehend his value when they still had him, it won’t be so for Sansa, who is aware of all she’s lost and misses his counsel and protection now that Sandor is no longer available, and unlike Cersei’s conformity with the Kettleblacks and Gregor as replacements, she doesn’t think herself better off with Dontos and Littlefinger, the aspiring substitutes in his place. In SANDOR II, Brashcandy notes the new turn that the Stark girl’s feelings towards the Hound take, as she realises how mistaken her impression about Loras’ feelings for her was, and from comparing the Hound to him, with results unfavourable to the latter based on looks, she comes to appreciate that the meaningful relationship in her life is the absent figure whose bloody cloak she’d kept. Then, as she goes over her recollections of their last encounter, the UnKiss makes its appearance after a careful build-up: This is a radical introduction of a new detail to that night, and readers are aware that no such kiss took place between them. So, from whence did “the unkiss” emerge? Sansa certainly presents and appreciates it as a true memory, but how should we as readers categorise it? In considering what we learn in Sansa I pertaining to her missing the Hound, her realisation of the futility of her attraction to Loras, and her own direct comparison of the two men, the unkiss holds the attributes of a traditional fantasy. It is, in other words, Sansa’s unconscious desire becoming conscious, appropriately revealed to readers in a setting where other girls of her age are also sharing and indulging in their own fantasies. Her comparison of Loras to Sandor is the first time Sansa ever thinks of any man in a sexual manner, and it inaugurates a tradition of making compare & replace mental assessments between the Hound and other men that cross her path that will continue well into the end of her arc to date. When she’s married to Tyrion, her unwanted husband is quickly pitted against Clegane during the wedding by her reluctance to the marriage cloak she initially refuses to kneel for and then the kiss that should seal their marriage, making it clear by her reaction that any feelings for him are totally absent. Just as her desire is also, as evidenced by her revulsion and pity, which again are asking to be contrasted with her reaction several chapters later when she re-enacts this scene in a dream, and replaces Tyrion with Sandor. This recurrent emphasis on the Hound could only reveal, as Brashcandy continues, “the development of significant romantic feelings on Sansa’s part for Sandor, which do not resemble the kind of giddy infatuation she displayed for Loras or the hopeful daydreams for Willas. Although her feelings are coming to the fore in his absence, they are based on deep, meaningful, and honest interactions between them.” In this context, the Hound’s desertion has one positive if not ideal outcome for the Starks like it doesn’t for his ex-masters. No such equivalent to the UnKiss exists for Jaime/Brienne at this stage in their travel to draw a direct parallel, but there are some aspects that are comparable. Such as the songs of Florian and Jonquil, the title of one of which and its first verse is revealed by Jaime at Maidenpool, where the legend originated, and this same “Six Maids in a Pool” song is one of those Tom o’ Sevens was singing at the Peach inn when Sandor reappears, thus tying him back to his last scene in ACOK when he wanted this song, the one he will soon enough start to tell Arya her sister gave him before parting; an untruth he’ll confess to by the end of their adventure. Another comparison is to be found in the context in which the change in feelings happens: when Sansa thinks of the absent Hound prior to the imagined kiss, the first thing she remembers is that he saved her life at the bread riots, where the odds were all against him and he came out wounded (although we aren’t told the severity of his arm wound). Whilst saving her life isn’t the point when Sansa’s feelings towards the Hound start to change from the initial fear of him but dates from far back, for Brienne that Jaime protected her is indeed the point where her feelings veer towards respect for this man she’d been so hostile to. The bear pit might be a more spectacular rescue, more showy heroics, but Jaime’s intervention to save her from rape by the Bloody Mummers reads as worthier on the text as it’s selfless and the risk is more real. At Harrenhal, he has Steelshanks’ archers ready to feather the bear, which takes care of the risk factor, and he’d initially abandoned Brienne knowing her fate would be unpleasant before coming back with his conscience pricked by his past’s ghosts. Here, however, he’s unarmed, chained, and his interlocutors are all enemies, which makes it all the braver to intervene. And he does end up paying with his hand for that. Martin makes sure that when the girls’ romantic emotions are finally made explicit in their POVs, with Sansa fantasising with kisses and marriage beds in this book and Brienne having dreams of Jaime in the next, these feelings have been solidly grounded on these disgraced knights’ good deeds of which the women were main beneficiaries, and over shared tragedies. The mercy of wolves As SANDOR III rolls in, another Stark girl is about to have her feelings towards the Hound refined by a trial by fire. When Arya re-enters the pages, there is our man also, present in her accustomed nightly prayer peopled almost exclusively by Lannisters—members of the family and vassals alike. The context of this reappearance is very significant, because it touches on the theme of mercy that’s a major narrative thread in both man and girl’s Riverlands arc, as Arya discovers the men dead and dying in the crow cages, punished for war crimes a Northerner shouldn’t have to commit, which provokes inner conflict for demonstrating that her “wolves good, lions bad” worldview isn’t as clear-cut as believed. In what’s the first association of a drink of water to the gift of mercy in her story, she advocates for ending those men’s suffering after they’ve drunk, unaware that she’ll later be required to repeat this gesture with an enemy. An enemy that’s caught soon afterwards and brought to justice by the same captors as hers in what she’s convinced is a divine answer to her prayers. The ways of the Lord of Light are inscrutable, as are those of the Old Gods, and prayers can be answered in a manner the devout disagree with. When Sandor is brought to the cave to stand trial for crimes against the Riverlands population and nobility in the name of House Lannister, both deities of fire and ice are present: the former both symbolically in the fire imagery surrounding the Hound, and literally in the fire magic of Thoros that keeps Beric alive of sorts; and the latter also symbolically in the weirwood stump and roots that harken back to Bloodraven’s throne as well as Beric’s appearance that’s reminiscent of the same, and perhaps also literally if we recall the weirwood’s memory can be tapped into and activated by the greenseers and that this cave had formerly been an Old Gods place. For the first time, Sandor is judged by the ghost of his past incarnated in the Brotherhood, a while before he has to confront that ghost again in the shape of Arya. The Brotherhood without Banners mimics Sandor’s own tale in that they are like he was, weak and abused and persecuted by the beasts of Tywin Lannister, and now have grown strong and are defending the abused and innocent, the same way Sandor grew up to become one of the best warriors to protect himself and can now protect someone weak and innocent. And they also mimic knighthood without the formality of possessing the rank, save for their leader, in that they protect the weak and the innocent as well as feed and shelter them, as per the mandates of the knightly oath, but they are prone to the corruption of power and human moral weaknesses and they’ve become a tool to abuse power much like Sandor was the Lannister’s tool to abuse power. Ragnorak argued that they differ from the Hound the most in that he hasn’t allowed his desire for revenge against Gregor to lead him to commit an unlawful deed, as they have succumbed to such a desire, because Gregor's actions are used by them to try and justify killing Sandor. In a trial that opposes the guilty by association and collective guilt mentality of the accusers to the defiance and irreverent counterarguments to their procedure and claims by the accused, Sandor and his brother aren’t differentiated one from another but lumped together when the endless list of crimes is recited, and even before the judgment has started, there’s a visual clue that the trial will be a dubious one, as DogLover observes, because a previous remark by Anguy reveals that: 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. But not a charge of all listed is admissible for Lord Beric to condemn Sandor to death by hanging, until Arya steps forward to call him a murderer and demand his head for the death of her friend Mycah. On this point, OldGrimletEye specifies that: Sandor admits what he did to Mycah and then gives a rationalization for doing that act. Upon hearing Sandor's admission, Beric doesn't decide to proceed with an immediate execution. In fact, Beric seems unsure what to do. He confers with Thoros and they decide to give Sandor a "trial". In short, it seems that Sandor had pled a prima facie valid defense in Beric's view. If Sandor had not done so, then it seems that an immediate execution of him would have been warranted. Obedience to orders is part and parcel of a soldier's existence. This of course is not to advocate "just following orders" as a complete defense to all acts committed by soldiers, and I do not think that such a defense is unconditional in Westeros, as Ned Stark, for instance, passes judgment upon Gregor Clegane for his crimes upon the people of the Riverlands. However, a soldier cannot be expected to break an order if it is not sufficiently apparent that the order violates a fairly clear societal normative standard. That Beric isn't sure what to do exactly with Sandor Clegane suggest that it isn't clear whether Sandor had violated any Westerosi normative standard. Regarding Arya’s accusation, because the hard facts stay unchallenged as the Hound admits to have killed Mycah and that although he didn't see the butcher’s boy hit the crown prince, he heard it from Joffrey and that Sansa testified at a hearing judicially presided over by Robert confirming that account, Ragnorak points out that the reason for the trial to be carried out shift from a matter of legality to one of morality: There isn't an actual legal issue to have a trial by combat over. The uncontested facts at Beric's disposal are that a peasant was accused of striking a royal and that royal's accusation was backed up by a highborn lady witness who is Sandor's accuser's sister. The accusing Arya freely admits that her highborn sister bore witness to the attack. She only contests the veracity of her sister's testimony, which at best might be cause for Beric to put Sansa on trial but has no bearing on Sandor's culpability. Trials by combat are supposed to allow gods to determine the truth of a legal matter when men cannot. No such obfuscated legal truth exists here. Essentially Beric is declaring, "You, Sandor Clegane, stand accused of immorally abiding by the law." The trial is an emotional and moral one held by the Lord of Light over the morality of a perfectly legal killing. It is even presented by Beric as a trial for the gods to decide morality and not one of men, through the lawful power of a King aided by the gods, to decide truths for the rule of law. Sandor wins the hard-fought duel with Dondarrion, despite his anger first at being expected to fight a fully-armed opponent whilst unarmoured himself and then at the unfair use of flame and his ever-present fear of fire. This, as Lady Gwyn commented, in the framework of divine judgment under which Beric placed this combat can only mean one thing: (. . . ) in addition to meta-analytical discussions of his personal or legal culpability, from a literary point of view it seems clear by the end of this chapter that the gods have deemed him innocent. Arya thinks these gods are stupid, but it must be noted that one by one, all of the guilty parties on her list are meeting retribution, with or without her aid. Sandor is the only one who has faced the (literal) fire of judgment and come out on the other side. And so Arya decides to run past this ruling and kill Sandor, but after managing to steal a dagger to carry out her unilateral sentence, she’s stopped by the sight of a burnt Sandor crying for help “like a baby,” and this momentary pang of pity serves to demonstrate to her that her black and white perception of him is up for recalibration. This is the first of several such instances where, given the opportunity to end his life, she will show hesitation in delivering the killing blow to the Hound, and that eventually will be the equivalent of absolution in the Northern conception of justice, according to which if after confession and looking the condemned in the eye there’s still doubts to execute him, that indicates the accused probably doesn’t deserve death. Still intent on hearing him confess to murdering Mycah, despite his open admission before, Arya hears surprise additional details in Sandor’s repetition of the confession, deeds for which he’d not been held responsible by anyone: the beatings of Sansa and the beheading of Eddard. Lady Gwyn explains he did that because: Although he did not personally perpetrate the latter two acts, he confesses to the three things that violate his sense of honor that in his capacity as a pseudo-knight for House Lannister he has been called upon to participate in: killing a child, and witnessing the beating of a child-woman and the killing an unarmed man who has been offered clemency. His failures to prevent these acts seem to weigh upon him, and cement his bitter disillusionment with knighthood and the lions he once served. His desire, like in another future time he’ll face her condemnation again, is to goad her into putting an end to his suffering and exact on him the revenge she so craves. But a disarmed Arya cannot do it, and ends up wishing him to burn in hell. Similarly to Arya, Brienne takes upon herself this same duty when she’s trying to bring Jaime to task for his shortcomings as a knight and as a Kingsguard, although at that point she doesn’t succeed as there’s no immediate admission of guilt on his part, and so no absolution either. It’s a more limited role for her, however, because forgiveness in any way, shape or form for the murder attempt on Bran isn’t really Brienne’s responsibility on the same level as championing Mycah does belong to Arya. But Catelyn can take it upon herself as the mother. In this context, Jaime’s flippant response stands out in stark contrast to the Hound’s confession, and whilst it can be argued that he was just posturing when he reacted with a lack of guilt and victim-blaming to Catelyn’s question in the dungeon, when ASOS gives us his point of view, the attitude is still there in his inner thoughts when Brienne as Catelyn’s surrogate challenges him over Bran again, as will be elaborated on ahead. The trial of Sandor had evidenced the outside distinction of legality and moral unjustifiability that separates his own deed from Jaime’s, and that the latter reacts the same way to every person who challenges him about Bran now uncovers an internal difference, as the opposed attitudes between these men driven to commit a crime against a child by the same woman, Cersei, and Jaime holding back from owning up responsibility during confession time underline that there’s a deeper distinction of a moral nature running throughout their respective travels that’s related to self-integrity. It’s also an issue of taking the raw honesty approach what is at the root of Sandor and the Brotherhood following two opposite paths once he’s released by them; he’d said at his trial that he and them were the same with the difference that he didn’t lie about what he was, and as posited above by Ragnorak, when they allow themselves be fuelled by the fire of vengeance, they start to stray and eventually fall from knightly grace all the while they’re still telling themselves it’s not happening, which leads to precisely their state when they’re revisited again from the epilogue of ASOS onwards to the rest of the fourth book and beyond. Sandor, on the other hand, will take up their knightly oath for himself and choose to protect Arya over vengeance on Gregor with no outward pretensions to doing it virtuously, and so continues his progress towards purpose to find a better life for himself.
  13. Milady of York

    The Will to Change: Rereading Sandor II

    Good points, all. The quoted paragraph led to a bit of an analysis, hopefull of some use, added to the ASOS wrap-up I'm posting in a few minutes.
  14. Milady of York

    The Will to Change: Rereading Sandor II

    Been thinking some more about what you highlighted above, Ragnorak, and this stood out: Or, realistically, offer Rhaella moral support. It doesn't cost anything and can have meaningful impact on the morale of the abused, who often are beaten into believing they don't matter to anyone. It's not always the grand gestures and heroic stands that qualify as "doing something" but also the small gestures. Sandor started out like that, not by heroically standing up to Joffrey to protect Sansa but by giving her advice, talking to her consistently until he could do something more later. Jaime didn't do even that much. Whilst his memories condemn the Kingsguard for their inactivity, they're also self-accusatory because there's no memory of him trying to do anything for Rhaella beyond protesting to the likes of Jonothor Darry; he doesn't have a memory of comforting Rhaella behind everyone's back or having a kind word with her apart from that one last time he saw the queen before she left. For an event that he frames as the start of his disillusionment, he gave in to bitter acceptance of his elders' adminishing words without at least passive resistance. And, worse still, he was given a second opportunity that his fellow Kingsguard never had besides Selmy, to protect a second queen from a second abusive king, that'd have helped to come to terms with the guilt of failing Rhaella if with nothing else, and he didn't do it right this time round either. About his colleagues of the Kingsguard doing nothing, his memories gave way to this doubt nagging at me: did really none of them do anything? Nothing at all? To hear him, Jaime talks like he's founding member and president and publicist of the Arthur Dayne Memorial Foundation and you won't hear a single negative word about Ser Arthur from him. Nor from Ned, nor Ser Barry, nor from allergic-to-knights Sandor, nor from anyone who's not Darkstar and of the night. So, what did or didn't the great Sword of the Morning do about this? Because obviously the abuse was no secret within the Red Keep, there are no secrets for the Kingsguard, there cannot be because doing their job properly can depend on them knowing all these secrets. He would've known, and if he stayed quiet and frozen-faced it would be a shock; this is the man whose conception of honour wouldn't allow him to finish off an unarmed criminal and murderer, the man who got Aerys to back his peasant-friendly campaign against the Brotherhood over whatever else Tywin the Hand might have suggested, someone who died protecting a baby and whose killer has an almost reverential kind of respect towards him. How could he have not done anything, then, if he was such a paragon? Would his Lannister admirer still want to be like his idol if Arthur Dayne had been passive about the same thing that haunts him? Martin promised to tell us more in future books when a fan asked him how could honourable men be serving a king as mad and cruel as Aerys, so we'll eventually find out the answer. Provisionally and until then, I lean towards considering that all we know of his character points the arrow on the "doing something" option, even if it was ineffectual long-term as Aerys became madder and crueller, the way Sandor couldn't stop the beatings despite all he did. It's possible that there was a backstory of oaths & obedience vs honour struggles going on that we don't know details of yet, and the fact that The Ned served a king like Robert, by no means comparable to Aerys yet nevertheless apt to test a decent man's morals and conscience, could also work as sort of anticipatory clue into what kind of answer GRRM will eventually give. The dilemmas of "good men serving a bad cause" and "worthy servant to unworthy master" are his type of story to tell, quite within his Faulknerian literary credo. Story-wise, there's also inner thematic coherence to back up this conjecture. Every queen subjected to the abusive whims of her husband has had a champion in the Kingsguard: the Dragonknight for Naerys, Jaime for Cersei, Sandor for Sansa, and Margaery was going to have Loras had Joff lived. Is there a plot reason why Rhaella should be the exception? I try and cannot see any. That Darry, Selmy and Jaime were inactive doesn't necessarily have to mean that the rest were just the same, especially when Selmy and Jaime don't imply such a thing: they instead focus on themselves and their perceived failures first and foremost. And, if not Arthur or another of the remaining Kingsguard members, there's always Rhaegar, who's also not easy to picture turning a blind eye to his mother's misery.
  15. Milady of York

    The Will to Change: Rereading Sandor II

    Thank you, Lyanna! Always a pleasure when you join the discussion, and this one about Ivanhoe has been so interesting, I suspect we're not done yet. Have you not thought of combining all our observations into a nice little write-up to put here perhaps? There's no detailed analysis of the parallels that I know of. This part made me smile, because they both are unwittingly undermining their opportunity to obtain what they want from their ladies. Sandor is fishing for a compliment at the same time he's ruining Sansa's attempts at complimenting him, and Bois-Guilbert is more direct and desperate in his pleas to be acknowledged whilst not realising that those feats are offset in Rebecca's eyes by the fact that it was him who put her in those situations. She was at peril in Torquilstone because Sir Brian aided de Bracy to kidnap her, and she was going to be burnt at the stake because Sir Brian took her to the lion's den, placing her at the mercy of his Templar brothers. But what they do have in common is the motivation for these admonitions: their feelings for the ladies; there's no vanity in that wish for recognition, it's not about their prowess but about what they can do with such prowess to the benefit of the ladies. Another thing in common relating to this desire for a kind word of acknowledgement is that they really did get it, though not in the way they'd have hoped for. Both are basically advertising their bravery, their capacity to protect the ladies. Sandor did in fact get his compliment, when Sansa called him brave, and previously she'd complimented him on his jousting performance, because that's what "you rode gallantly" meant. The problem with Sandor is that he's distrustful and suspicious of anything complimentary which he deems as mere examples of courtly flattery that he loathes, he reacts poorly to compliments not because he thinks he doesn't deserve them but because he mistrusts the motives, likely because he's usually not complimented with sincerity if not by admiring fellow swordsmen who know talent when they see it. But as a man? Even Sansa's compliments are worded as if it's about him as a warrior rather than as a person, and on the rooftop of Maegor's what he's asking for is exactly that. Bois-Guilbert's case is more complicated: Rebecca is proud yet, as the quote you provided of their last discussion before the trial, she is willing to acknowledge something good about the Templar despite that from her standpoint it's all his fault that this is happening to her in the first place; she compliments him acknowledging there's something noble in him. But, probably the biggest difference between Sandor and Sir Brian, he doesn't respect her decision. He keeps insisting and insisting about the sincerity of his feelings until the very end at the stake, arguing back and forth with her, defending himself from her accusations, selling himself as a good mate, offering her the moon and the stars; all the while not being able to get it into his lovely hot skull that this woman simply doesn't reciprocate his feelings. Yes, this is what men passionately in love do, and in a way his persistence is commendable in view of the huge social and religious differences they'd have to battle against and the things both would have to sacrifice to be together, but it's also troublesome for a woman to be pursued so obsessively, especially one as firm as Rebecca, who's not playing hard to get but being honest in her refusal. But, if we accept the interpretation of the trial by combat's alternative outcome in the films, that he would've been willing to allow himself be either defeated or killed so she'd be declared innocent, then perhaps he finally did learn to be willing to let her be and live happily without him in the middle, although too late. I told the friend who introduced me to ASOIAF more or less the same, and that although Scott did his best to make Wilfred the likable hero to cheer for, everyone these days prefers Bois-Guilbert over Ivanhoe anytime, in the book and in the films, and that the only person I'd seen that "ships" Rebecca/Wilfred instead of Rebecca/Brian was William Makepeace Thackeray, author of Vanity Fair. Her answer: "That's just because he's dead and has not watched Ciarán Hinds." Seriously, it's partly that Ivanhoe is a product of the Victorian romanticisation of the Middle Ages and partly that he's been a victim of the Milton Syndrome. Reading the Victorians' opinions on the medieval period and mores, you'd be forgiven for suspecting they swallowed all that courtly love literature the way Sansa gobled up her songs of chivalry and thought them true, because their conception of the medieval world is . . . rosy, to put it kindly. The perfect knight, he is, too much so, because he has practically no flaws, nothing to reproach him for, a role model who makes no mistakes. Even the very medieval people managed to give us a flawed knight in Lancelot, for example, and yet Scott gave us someone in dire need of growing a pimple. Ivanhoe isn't someone relatable, perfection isn't relatable, although he could've been if not for the characterisation. Which brings me to the second reason, the Milton Syndrome. One would believe that liking anti-heroes and flawed characters is a thing of our time, what will grimdark, likable villains, redemption arcs by the dozen, POV manipulation and et cetera, and that our great-great-grandparents would piously only cheer for someone like Wilfred, the good and moral character. And yet, it's not so. Some authors in the past have been so good with characterisation that they actually made the Baddies sympathetic and the Goodies insufferable, albeit unintentionally. Shakespeare has a few under his belt, but the name-giver example for this phenomenon is John Milton with his Paradise Lost, in which Lucifer is the sympathetic one without the author intending him to be because, you see, he is the Devil. Closer to Scott's time, we have Samuel Richardson, of Clarissa, who had every intention to make his hero be the one good example of a gentleman and was surprised that people actually loved the villain, Lovelace, and preferred him instead. Something similar happens with Wilfred and Bois-Guilbert. The former is more an archetype and the latter feels more like a real human being, not to mention that he appears on page for longer than Wilfred and is given more layers, both good and bad. GRRM also goes for this, if you look at any Favourite Character ranking, it's dominated by the more flawed characters in the series.
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