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Milady of York

The Will to Change: Rereading Sandor II

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On 8/27/2016 at 8:26 PM, Milady of York said:

 

Thank you @Milady of York for your excellent analysis.

 

On 8/27/2016 at 8:26 PM, Milady of York said:

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.

I would also add that though Sandor was a squire in CR back in the days he never got the next step being a knight. He used to perform all knight's activities but still he was an outcast in this social group. Probably, it was a privilage of Cersei's position which allowed him to do it.  From "The Hedge Knight" we know that a person should be knighted to take part in a tourney. So Sandor was stuck in a strange position not being a squire anymore, but still not a knight. One could argue that he was more knightly than many "official" knights, but for Westerosi society  the question of social set-up was crucial.

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1 hour ago, Ashes Of Westeros said:

Thank you @Milady of York for your excellent analysis.

 

I would also add that though Sandor was a squire in CR back in the days he never got the next step being a knight. He used to perform all knight's activities but still he was an outcast in this social group. Probably, it was a privilage of Cersei's position which allowed him to do it.  From "The Hedge Knight" we know that a person should be knighted to take part in a tourney. So Sandor was stuck in a strange position not being a squire anymore, but still not a knight. One could argue that he was more knightly than many "official" knights, but for Westerosi society  the question of social set-up was crucial.

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.

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On 8/27/2016 at 2:26 PM, Milady of York said:

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.

I completely agree with your take on the food service as his lesson in humility and a willingness on Sandor's part to be humbled.  Bravo! :cheers:

I'm seeing the grave digging as no so much a punishment for the actual act of killing, but as an act of religious contemplation in direct challenge to his nihilistic philosophy.  I do believe Sandor was never the butcher he made himself out to be.  Though he is definitely dangerous, he seems pretty in control most of the time and not an indiscriminate killer like his brother.  By teaching Arya the gift of mercy, he does seem opposed to needless suffering, even of one's enemies.  His fatal blows tend to be sure, swift, and so brutal death is instantaneous.  It's immediately after teaching Arya the gift, that he turns from tender to cold pragmatism and robs the dead soldier.  He even flippantly dismisses burying the man saying "he won't care."  While that is technically true and he did the man a kindness, he stops short of contemplating mortality and thus has a poor appreciation even his own life.  His last brushes with death he got annihilated drunk and didn't seem to care if he lived or died. The grave digging is hard, repetitive labor, with plenty of time to do nothing but think.  While he was almost buried for good himself, I think the point of the exercise is to contemplate on being alive.  This is a burial in the earth, not a cremation, which brings it back to the fire and mud symbolism.  He needs to spend some significant time in the life-giving dirt and graves are often symbolic of wombs to allow the dead to be reborn.  He told Arya he hated the taste of mud, which is essentially saying he hates life:  if living means being in a world that is total shit and nothing matters, then yeah, life is not a precious thing to him.  As I'm sure the brothers would hope this turns into complete religious devotion, with the refusal of Stranger to be gelded means Sandor just can't be completely tamed into monastic life (yay!).  I'm so excited to his next evolution!   

 

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4 hours ago, Milady of York said:

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.

Thanks for clarifying this, I never noticed that Ned has never been called ser. From the other hand, we have Ser Rodrik Cassel, who is a Northener too. Does it mean he followed the Seven?

4 hours ago, Milady of York said:

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.

I'm reffering to the tourney at Ashford Meadow, where Duncan the Tall had to find a knight who would vouch for him to take part in the tourney. But probably it was a rule for that particular tourney. And I don't remember any Northeners present there.
Sorry for being a little off the topic.

Edited by Ashes Of Westeros

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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.

 

1 hour ago, Ashes Of Westeros said:

From the other hand, we have Ser Rodrik Cassel, who is a Northener too. Does it mean he followed the Seven?

 

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.

 

Quote

I'm reffering to the tourney at Ashford Meadow, where Duncan the Tall had to find a knight who would vouch for him to take part in the tourney. But probably it was a rule for that particular tourney

 

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.

Edited by Milady of York

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I wanted to comment on one aspect of Sandor being one of the food servers at the QI. That is the nurturing aspect of preparing and serving food.  It's important I think to remember that and that he was serving his fellow community members. 

There is a  certain satisfaction about feeding those one lives and works with, which would be a different sort of interaction with his peers and the higher ups he hadn't experienced before. 

Learning nurturing skills would be a new skill set for Sandor I would think.

 

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On 3/15/2017 at 8:47 PM, Nasty LongRider said:

...the nurturing aspect of preparing and serving food.

Exactly! I'd think this would be more to the point than some kind of symbolic "humiliation." Seven hells! The man has been branded a coward because he left King's Landing due to PTSD during the battle; he's lost every possession he had, starting with his gold (Beric's merry men), shield (Beric burned it up), then his sword (broke off in a Frey, probably weakened by Beric's fire); captured Arya Stark with hopes of swearing his sword to King Robb of the North but got to the Twins just as Robb and the last of her family were killed; worked as a menial woodcutter and palisade builder for mere coppers to get money for ship passage for himself and Arya; finally left to die and suffer by Aray because he "didn't deserve mercy."

I think the man has had enough of humiliation; the Quiet Isle has taken him in not to shame him or punish him, but to protect and nurture him and let him find those qualities within himself. His entire life has been notably short on nurturence.

Edited by zandru

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@zandru I find your listing of what the Hound lost; gold, shield, sword and finally armor and helmet to be such an important theme.  The accoutrements that definened the Hound in many ways. 

With these stripped away, and the EB and the QI as you say protecting and nurturing him, Sandor can become the man, leaving  the Hound behind.  

Stranger tells us though, that a completely domesticated life is not for him.   :). And as Septon Meribald noted "Even Dog was bored. "

The Sandor that will eventually leave the QI is one I am looking forward too. 

 

 

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Hey guys, 

I've put up a new piece relating to Sansa and the tourney in TWOW on the PTP site that you might be interested in checking out. Feel free to join us there and leave your comments :)

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