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Sansa, the Mountain Clans, the “Ivy Special Ops Team,” and an Avalanche


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3 hours ago, Springwatch said:

I don't really want to see Sansa as leader - that seems more Arya's line

Oh, I don't mean as a military leader. I mean a leader like Catelyn was. A lady of a powerful house; someone who can use her wits, her charms, and her courtesies to marshal resources for practical purposes, and to influence the military leaders.

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12 hours ago, Phylum of Alexandria said:

Oh, I don't mean as a military leader.

Me neither - I don't see Sansa as Leader of the Pack anywhere; she's not alpha like Arya. She's more like a solo performer trying to win over her audience.

Cat is interesting as an example, because we never see her as the one in power either - she can only suggest, only persuade. But no-one listens to Cat (except Walder); events are always going against her. She gets a lot of blame from the fans too, so I hope we don't see that again.

I'm not sure what's in store for Sansa, but the old gods sent 5 (+1) direwolves for Ned's 5 (+1) children, so I'd guess her purpose is serving them.

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4 hours ago, Springwatch said:

Cat is interesting as an example, because we never see her as the one in power either - she can only suggest, only persuade. But no-one listens to Cat (except Walder); events are always going against her. She gets a lot of blame from the fans too, so I hope we don't see that again.

That's a valid concern. But a lot of Cat's troubles were due to the author playing cruel god with House Stark, and her other frustrations added to a valuable larger critique on the harshly patriarchal culture of Westeros. I think with Sansa's rise to action in Act 3 we would probably see less of that particular authorial emphasis, though Sansa and the rest will indeed still have significant frustrations, sacrifices, and losses by story's end.

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5 hours ago, Springwatch said:

Me neither - I don't see Sansa as Leader of the Pack anywhere; she's not alpha like Arya. She's more like a solo performer trying to win over her audience.

I think you got it backwards. Arya's a lone wolf. she performs alone. she does think of her pack , but she won't lead them. Sansa has changed a lot. She would be a perfect leader for the wolves , having seen woes of the world; while Jon could be co-leader , guiding them through winter. besides , I doubt Sansa grows up into the second Cat. Cat had learned her leadership skills during years of being lady of Winterfell where she held the household together. Sansa has learned much more.

 

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6 hours ago, Springwatch said:

Me neither - I don't see Sansa as Leader of the Pack anywhere; she's not alpha like Arya. She's more like a solo performer trying to win over her audience.

Cat is interesting as an example, because we never see her as the one in power either - she can only suggest, only persuade. But no-one listens to Cat (except Walder); events are always going against her. She gets a lot of blame from the fans too, so I hope we don't see that again.

I'm not sure what's in store for Sansa, but the old gods sent 5 (+1) direwolves for Ned's 5 (+1) children, so I'd guess her purpose is serving them.

I disagree that no one listens to Cat. I think Robb took her advice into consideration as much as he could, he just couldn’t always give her what she wanted because he had a hundred other lords to please.

The show might have actually gotten Sansa’s role right in this regard. If Bran or Jon or Rickon is the lord of Winterfell, she could act as their advisor/partner, guiding Bran or Rickon as their elder, or ruling in Jon’s place when he’s away at war. This could set her up to inherit if her brothers either die/become king/go back to the Watch.

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9 hours ago, Springwatch said:

I don't see Sansa as Leader of the Pack anywhere; she's not alpha like Arya. She's more like a solo performer trying to win over her audience.

I agree Sansa is no leader of a pack, but not that she’s a lone wolf (like Arya so far). She definitely has some leadership potential in my opinion.

I don’t think Sansa is really a wolf any more at all, she was the most half fish to begin with (and the least northern), chooses the Lannisters over her family on the Trident (which is why she lost her wolf), then betrayed her father at King’s Landing, and ended up being married to Tyrion. Your family is about your choices and not just your blood.

My guess is that she ends up as the Lady of Casterly Rock. I do hope character wise she redeems herself, but seems to me to be at a tipping point that I could see being written either way.

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Hmm, you got me thinking. Sansa could be good at building consensus. She might be that safe pair of hands to give the power to, just because she's not that into power - but I hope that's for the end.

I still hunger and thirst for no-limits high fantasy plotlines, and given GRRM's background in sci-fi, I'm feeling some confidence we'll get it. Anyway, I'd rather see Sansa sacrificed in front of a heart tree than organising food deliveries.

(Given GRRM's enthusiasm for food, with more than a hint of food codes, plus linking women most consistently with choosing food - this could actually happen, but it had best not be as boring as it sounds. Also note that the message from the text is that household logistics is only for people with strong maths ability and Sansa is excused. Or provided with a steward. In which case she can do something else.)

My hunch is that everyone does exactly what they've been learning in the books so far, only hopefully with more success. Jon and Dany lead, Arya assassinates, Bran thinks, and Sansa is a courtier in the game of thrones. Each has a role that only they can fill.

The other day I saw a quote that stuck with me: it's the Kindly Man, saying, "All gods have their instruments, men and women who serve them and help to work their will on earth". This is a very cool idea in relation to the Stark kids - the very first book lays out that the old gods sent them direwolves, so there is that god connection, suggesting a role or purpose also. 

If the wolf mirrors the purpose (and why wouldn't it?) - then Bran's purpose is summer, and Jon's is among the dead. The others - not so clear, though I'm happier seeing Arya as a saviour of the people instead of the instrument of death, which the FM think she is. Sansa - well she seems to be on the right path, at least.

Edited by Springwatch
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4 hours ago, Springwatch said:

My hunch is that everyone does exactly what they've been learning in the books so far, only hopefully with more success. . . . Sansa is a courtier in the game of thrones. Each has a role that only they can fill.

The other day I saw a quote that stuck with me: it's the Kindly Man, saying, "All gods have their instruments, men and women who serve them and help to work their will on earth". This is a very cool idea in relation to the Stark kids - the very first book lays out that the old gods sent them direwolves, so there is that god connection, suggesting a role or purpose also. 

We see Sansa praying often in the godswood at King's Landing so there is a natural assumption that she would be an instrument of the old gods. But GRRM loves irony. I think there is another god directing Sansa's development and we get a clue at a major turning point in her story:

Quote

"I'll have that song. Florian and Jonquil, you said." His dagger was out, poised at her throat. "Sing, little bird. Sing for your little life."

Her throat was dry and tight with fear, and every song she had ever known had fled from her mind. Please don't kill me, she wanted to scream, please don't. She could feel him twisting the point, pushing it into her throat, and she almost closed her eyes again, but then she remembered. It was not the song of Florian and Jonquil, but it was a song. Her voice sounded small and thin and tremulous in her ears.

Gentle Mother, font of mercy . . . 

(Clash, Sansa VII)

A song about a mother, taught to her by Catelyn.

We see Sansa following in Catelyn's footsteps to the Eyrie and becoming a mother figure for Sweetrobin. Aside from Catelyn, her major influences were Septa Mordane (I can't forget about the rustling skirt clue that tells me Mordane is the mother of a king) and Cersei, a foil for Catelyn but definitely a mother figure. When Catelyn died, she was worried that her attackers might cut her hair; we know that Sansa has Catelyn's auburn hair. After the death of Lysa, another mother figure, she starts wearing Lysa's clothes. 

Given the range of mother figures in ASOIAF, Sansa could go in many directions and still embody the Mother. (As she has already embodied the Maiden, maybe she will go for the hat trick and embody the Crone, as well, before the series is over.) 

The phrase in her song about the "font of mercy" is intriguing. We know that Arya will have a close association with mercy, and that it has a different meaning among the Faceless Men than it does in the religions of our world. The "font" reference could allude to a fountain, such as the trout fountain at Stoney Sept (seems like a Tully symbol) or, poetically, to the Mother's role in breastfeeding a baby. It could be wordplay again, as "font" is the word for a style of typeface used for creating messages.

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17 hours ago, Seams said:

We see Sansa praying often in the godswood at King's Landing so there is a natural assumption that she would be an instrument of the old gods. But GRRM loves irony. I think there is another god directing Sansa's development and we get a clue at a major turning point in her story:

A song about a mother, taught to her by Catelyn.

We see Sansa following in Catelyn's footsteps to the Eyrie and becoming a mother figure for Sweetrobin. Aside from Catelyn, her major influences were Septa Mordane (I can't forget about the rustling skirt clue that tells me Mordane is the mother of a king) and Cersei, a foil for Catelyn but definitely a mother figure. When Catelyn died, she was worried that her attackers might cut her hair; we know that Sansa has Catelyn's auburn hair. After the death of Lysa, another mother figure, she starts wearing Lysa's clothes. 

Given the range of mother figures in ASOIAF, Sansa could go in many directions and still embody the Mother. (As she has already embodied the Maiden, maybe she will go for the hat trick and embody the Crone, as well, before the series is over.)

The Eyries resembles the Crone - if Sansa can makes the castle her own then....

We still have a lot of flexibility to think about gods, given we don't know a lot about them, and it's very probable they aren't as imagined by religion, but some kind of weirnet construct. I think we can have some faith in the idea of the seven in one, and in Cat's revelation in the little sept, that the gods can appear in people.

Sansa prays in the sept by day, and the godswood by night. It's possible that the god-thing known as the Mother is also an old god with no name, but some identity as 'Lady' which leaves only cultural echoes in the daylit world, such as the maiden of the tree, the lady of the leaves, and even 'Lady' being a great name for a direwolf.

At the least, we know Cat is very often titled your/my/our 'lady mother'.

Edited by Springwatch
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People always emphasize Sansa’s Tully-ness, but everyone overlooks Arya’s similarities with her mother. For all the talk of “wolf blood,” her fieryness is much like Cat’s. They both share this peculiar dichotomy where they are are fundamentally practical and proactive people who are nevertheless driven by and consumed by their passions. They respond to tragedy with action, whereas Sansa and Ned turn inward and grow melancholy. Warning Cersei about the incest getting out is something Sansa would do (we see her do something similar when she warns Margaery not to marry Joffrey). Kicking over Jaime’s chamber pot, putting a sword to his throat, and then secretly setting him loose? That’s all Arya.

I feel like people overlook this either because they’re thrown off by Cat’s femininity, or because they don’t like her and therefore think that a beloved character like Arya couldn’t possibly take after her. I don’t particularly like Cat myself, but I think these parallels between her and Arya add a lot to their characters.

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3 hours ago, The Bard of Banefort said:

People always emphasize Sansa’s Tully-ness, but everyone overlooks Arya’s similarities with her mother.

must be the hair!

I for one think Sansa takes more after Ned. she is even set where Ned was educated when he was her age, where he learned of all "as high as honor" stuff rather than being wild and wolfish (like Brandon and Lyanna) 

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On 12/14/2021 at 2:12 PM, Groo said:

Sansa had an unusual interest in Sandor from the beginning. Just think of the tourney for Ned, for example. Gregor goes nuts, kills his horse, and tries to kill Loras. What's Sansa's reaction? "Sandor won." At that moment no one else was thinking that. I wouldn't say all the moments like this add up to a relationship, but it isn't fair to simply say that Sansa didn't care about Sandor.

She really didn't care about Sandor. Sandor was just the 'good guy' in a match between gregor and sandor. It wasn't anything personal towards sandor.

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17 hours ago, Apoplexy said:

She really didn't care about Sandor. Sandor was just the 'good guy' in a match between gregor and sandor. It wasn't anything personal towards sandor.

I could agree with that if it was someone other than Sansa. In the beginning she's all caught up in the stories and songs. Joffrey is the handsome prince, Loras is the gallant and dashing knight, etc. At this stage, for Sansa there's no such thing as "just the 'good guy' ". To be clear, I'm not implying Sansa had deep feelings for Sandor but her general interest in Sandor started well before him coming to her room the night of the Battle of Blackwater. It started before the Hand's tourney too.

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42 minutes ago, Groo said:

I could agree with that if it was someone other than Sansa. In the beginning she's all caught up in the stories and songs. Joffrey is the handsome prince, Loras is the gallant and dashing knight, etc. At this stage, for Sansa there's no such thing as "just the 'good guy' ". To be clear, I'm not implying Sansa had deep feelings for Sandor but her general interest in Sandor started well before him coming to her room the night of the Battle of Blackwater. It started before the Hand's tourney too.

The reason the SanSan ships bothers me is that it comes from the line of thought that if a woman knows that a particular man exists and has thought about that man in some positive light, she has to be into that guy. And that justifies that guy being a creepy stalker. Im not saying that what you are doing or thats what your views are. But thats the SanSan dynamic. Sansa has noticed Sandor on a few occasions, but it would be a stretch to say she would consider him as a potential partner. 

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20 hours ago, Groo said:

To be clear, I'm not implying Sansa had deep feelings for Sandor but her general interest in Sandor started well before him coming to her room the night of the Battle of Blackwater. It started before the Hand's tourney too.

First impressions can be really important:

Quote

Strong hands grasped her by the shoulders, and for a moment Sansa thought it was her father, but when she turned, it was the burned face of Sandor Clegane looking down at her, his mouth twisted in a terrible mockery of a smile. "You are shaking, girl," he said, his voice rasping. "Do I frighten you so much?"

He did, and had since she had first laid eyes on the ruin that fire had made of his face, though it seemed to her now that he was not half so terrifying as the other. Still, Sansa wrenched away from him, and the Hound laughed, and Lady moved between them, rumbling a warning. Sansa dropped to her knees to wrap her arms around the wolf. They were all gathered around gaping, she could feel their eyes on her, and here and there she heard muttered comments and titters of laughter.

"A wolf," a man said, and someone else said, "Seven hells, that's a direwolf," and the first man said, "What's it doing in camp?" and the Hound's rasping voice replied, "The Starks use them for wet nurses," and Sansa realized that the two stranger knights were looking down on her and Lady, swords in their hands, and then she was frightened again, and ashamed. Tears filled her eyes.

(AGoT, Sansa I)

When he touches her, Sansa initially thinks Sandor is Ned. 

But he frightens her, but not so much as "the other," Ser Ilyn Payne. Keep in mind that Ser Ilyn is the "King's Justice," and Ned carries out the King's Justice when he executes the deserter, Gared, in the first chapter. Of course, Ned will behead the direwolf Lady and Ser Ilyn will behead Ned. 

I don't think it's a coincidence that Sansa feels "eyes on her," then realizes that the two stranger knights (Renly and Ser Barristan) are looking down on her and Lady with swords in their hands. If you believe that there is symbolism in the Ice / eyes pun, this scene could represent a symbolic execution of Sansa. 

I'm interested to note the use of the term "stranger knight" in this excerpt. I have noticed that GRRM makes recurring references to the Fool Knight, and we know that Sansa is obsessed with the idea of the True Knight, but I can't remember other references to Stranger Knights. Sandor, of course, refuses to be a knight. I believe he may embody "Night," however. This is more apparent when he walks with Sansa across the empty field after the first day of the Hand's Tourney. If Sansa is attracted to the Night, does that make her a parallel to the Night King's Corpse Queen? 

The remarks about the direwolves as wet nurses (and possibly wordplay on the words "muttered" - "Mutter" is the German word for mother - and "titter") may allude to the milk and dairy motif that runs through the books. We know that Sansa will sing a song about The Mother instead of singing a song about two lovers (one of whom is a Fool Knight). Maybe the wet nurse reference is foreshadowing Sansa's future role as the heir of the mother Catelyn. 

Edited by Seams
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3 hours ago, Apoplexy said:

The reason the SanSan ships bothers me is that it comes from the line of thought that if a woman knows that a particular man exists and has thought about that man in some positive light, she has to be into that guy. And that justifies that guy being a creepy stalker.

The actual trope is even worse than that. Martin's version of beauty and the beast is The Bear and Maiden Fair. He has several versions of this playing out in the story, including a gender reversed version with Brienne as the bear and Jaime as the maiden fair. Look at what the song is actually about, though. A girl is just minding her own business excitedly going to the fair and dreaming of a knight. A bear abducts her and forces himself upon her, but the experience is soooo good she realizes all she really wants is the bear. If you want to be brutal about it, that's nothing but a toxic male rape fantasy.

I'm not a shipper. I don't find myself daydreaming, hoping charact X gets together with character Y. That being said, Martin has clearly put a lot of time and thought into the relationship between Sansa and Sandor. Whether it's healthy or not, it's playing an increasing role in Sansa's character arc. It would feel truncated if Sandor dropped out of the story for good and that was the end of it. Plotwise, I'm not sure how they would meet again but I'm assuming Martin isn't done with Sandor and Sansa.

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13 minutes ago, Groo said:

The actual trope is even worse than that. Martin's version of beauty and the beast is The Bear and Maiden Fair. He has several versions of this playing out in the story, including a gender reversed version with Brienne as the bear and Jaime as the maiden fair. Look at what the song is actually about, though. A girl is just minding her own business excitedly going to the fair and dreaming of a knight. A bear abducts her and forces himself upon her, but the experience is soooo good she realizes all she really wants is the bear. If you want to be brutal about it, that's nothing but a toxic male rape fantasy.

I'm not a shipper. I don't find myself daydreaming, hoping charact X gets together with character Y. That being said, Martin has clearly put a lot of time and thought into the relationship between Sansa and Sandor. Whether it's healthy or not, it's playing an increasing role in Sansa's character arc. It would feel truncated if Sandor dropped out of the story for good and that was the end of it. Plotwise, I'm not sure how they would meet again but I'm assuming Martin isn't done with Sandor and Sansa.

With Jaime and Brienne, at least they are equals in their relationship. My exception comes from equating Brienne to the beast only because she is not considered conventionally feminine, if that is how GRRM thought about that dynamic. Sandor holding a knife to Sansa's throat is definitely in the rape fantasy category.

As for Sansa, I'm really not sure where GRRM is going with her interactions with Sandor. Maybe he was meant to show her that handsome knights can do terrible things and unattractive soldiers can sometimes do better renowned knights. The execution was pretty terrible, but maybe that was the purpose of that interaction. But I'm not sure if they are meant to meet in the future. They could somehow, and they could be involved romantically. but it would take a lot of gymnastics to make it seem like a healthy relationship.

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I think we also have to bear in mind George’s age and when he started writing these books. Putting aside the age difference (because I think we can agree that the ages don’t make sense for most of the young characters across the board), we do see that Sandor scares Sansa, but also that this functions as something of an aphrodisiac for her—which wasn’t an uncommon fictional trope in the 1990s, especially in adult fantasy (think Anne Rice). Even today, people still love the myth of Hades and Persephone (the sweet spring goddess who falls in love with the brooding god of the Underworld, who spend half the year pining for each other while they’re apart). It’s not “mainstream” now, but that goes back to the age-old argument about whether fiction should be held to the same standards of morality as real life. Even still, George is modern enough that he sent Sandor to rehab to work on those anger issues ;-) 

I love Jaime and Brienne, but let’s not forget that the reason they were caught by the Brave Companions in the first place was because they were too distracted beating the shit out of each other to notice they were in the middle of a trap. They’re not unproblematic by our standards either.

I can understand why people don’t like SanSan, but I don’t think GRRM would have included the Unkiss and the bloody cloak (both of which were mentioned in Sansa’s last published chapter) if he didn’t have more planned for them.

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12 hours ago, The Bard of Banefort said:

I think we also have to bear in mind George’s age and when he started writing these books. Putting aside the age difference (because I think we can agree that the ages don’t make sense for most of the young characters across the board), we do see that Sandor scares Sansa, but also that this functions as something of an aphrodisiac for her—which wasn’t an uncommon fictional trope in the 1990s, especially in adult fantasy (think Anne Rice). Even today, people still love the myth of Hades and Persephone (the sweet spring goddess who falls in love with the brooding god of the Underworld, who spend half the year pining for each other while they’re apart). It’s not “mainstream” now, but that goes back to the age-old argument about whether fiction should be held to the same standards of morality as real life. Even still, George is modern enough that he sent Sandor to rehab to work on those anger issues ;-) 

 

All of those tropes are extremely misogynistic. And I can understand a song like the Bear and the Maiden fair being popular in the universe the books are set, but the fact that it is mentioned as many times as it is in the books isn't an accident. It seems GRRM thought his audience would appreciate these misogynistic and sexist tropes. Morality in fiction is a function of the morality/outlook of the target audience. I personally feel fiction and popular culture should aspire to the best of ideal. It should reflect where we want society to go forward. I feel we should see less and less of misogyny and violence against women in fiction. And when we do see it, it should get the gravitas it deserves, and not just be depicted as par for the course.

12 hours ago, The Bard of Banefort said:

I love Jaime and Brienne, but let’s not forget that the reason they were caught by the Brave Companions in the first place was because they were too distracted beating the shit out of each other to notice they were in the middle of a trap. They’re not unproblematic by our standards either.

Yes, but Jaime and Brienne were enemies at the stage when the brave companions captured them. They weren't an established couple who were beating each other up over an argument. And they were equals, Brienne could hold her own against Jaime. Granted he was malnourished and chained, but its not like he was beating a defenseless woman. Enemies on opposite sides of a war are expected to kill each other.

12 hours ago, The Bard of Banefort said:

I can understand why people don’t like SanSan, but I don’t think GRRM would have included the Unkiss and the bloody cloak (both of which were mentioned in Sansa’s last published chapter) if he didn’t have more planned for them.

He probably does have more planned for them. It would be easy to get them to meet in books and make it seem organic and not contrived. But if he has plans for them to be involved romantically, it would take a lot of skill to make the relationship seem healthy.

Edited by Apoplexy
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