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Rapsie

From Pawn to Player? Rereading Sansa II

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A couple of things to add to the masterly analysis and comments...

I was struck by Sansa's powers of observation and the extent of her empathy, at a time when she is frightened and bearing on her very young shoulders the only hope for her father to be spared death. She can identify various acquaintances who now shun her, when some people, in her place, would just see a sea of blank and hostile faces. And she feels great compassion for Barristan and can pinpoint what must be especially painful to him (i.e. his brothers of the Kingsguard laughing at him). These powers of observation are being sharpened now, even as Sansa descends into a very difficult time in her life.

This passage, from the book -

<<Sansa had eyes only for Joffrey.

He must listen to me, he must,

she thought. The King shifted on his seat. “Let her speak,” he commanded. “I want to hear what she says.”

“Thank you, Your Grace.” Sansa smiled, a shy secret smile, just for him. He was listening. She knew he would

.>>

Sansa is approaching Joffrey with something other than adoration. She still has faith in him, but not totally blind faith, she realizes that she must persuade him to save Ned - the inference being, perhaps, that Sansa knows Joffrey won't spare Ned without Sansa's plea. Sansa is very focussed here; and she is taking an active role instead of just reacting. The 'shy secret smile' is a nice subtle touch; and makes it clear that Sansa is using her considerable charm, either consciously or unconsciously, as a weapon in her campaign - something we have not seen her do before, at least not often.

Excellent points as usual Raksha, and she also plays her trump card in reminding him of the love he supposedly has for her. We're definitely seeing a more calculating Sansa here, although of course she's still doing it very innocently. And the fact that she tuned out Cersei and Pycelle probably made Joff feel very self important and kingly.

Ditto on her powers of observation. It was like she was taking a record of all the sleeze bags who weren't brave enough to even extend a general courtesy, but we know based on her later treatment of Dontos, that she isn't one to hold grudges.

And Happy 1000th post day!! :) :cheers:

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I hadn't noticed that it was my 1000th post, thanks for telling me, Brashcandy! Now, if only I could figure out how to do an avatar...

I am hoping that strength of Sansa's empathy/compassion will ultimately save her from becoming as cold-hearted as Littlefinger and as vicious as Cersei when Sansa grows up and (hopefully) comes into power somewhere. Sansa might lose trust in those who have shunned her or done other things against her, but she is still a warm-hearted girl who does try to help when she can, as we will see later with Ser Dontos and during the Blackwater. Perhaps part of that is Sansa's strong convictions of the obligations of a Lady, but she also does seem to want to be kind to people in trouble, or at least recognize their pain (she cannot always do anything about it, as in the case of Ser Barristan). That's what will hopefully distinguish her from Littlefinger and Cersei and many other users and power-hungry sorts.

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But why though? No one is saying that these men should have surrounded Sansa with hugs and kisses, but not even a polite hello? They acted as though she didn't exist, and her father hadn't even been officially convicted yet. They felt free enough to voice their displeasure when Janos Slynt was made a lord, so why not extend even the slightest courtesy to a young, frightened girl. Sorry, it just stinks, and I have no understanding for them whatsoever.

It's called not wanting to look guilty by association or sympathy.

I think and as LON states they had their own to protect, I beleive there is not one of us here that could honestly say they would not act the way these people did if their family could be in danger of death or destruction.

As a reader it's easy for us to dislike them, and as for Dontos he tried the second time around ( because of money or debt he felt own to Sansa ) and it eventually cost him his life.

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Excellent points as usual Raksha, and she also plays her trump card in reminding him of the love he supposedly has for her. We're definitely seeing a more calculating Sansa here, although of course she's still doing it very innocently. And the fact that she tuned out Cersei and Pycelle probably made Joff feel very self important and kingly.

Ditto on her powers of observation. It was like she was taking a record of all the sleeze bags who weren't brave enough to even extend a general courtesy, but we know based on her later treatment of Dontos, that she isn't one to hold grudges.

And Happy 1000th post day!! :) :cheers:

It's worth noting that Ser Dontos does try and be nice to her.

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Disclaimer: I know we are discussing Sansa here and not Arya, but I think the yin/yang portrayal of the sisters is important to understanding Sansa. So ...

I disagree that Arya's violent tendencies are normal or natural. I have four kids (does not make me a child psychologist, but I do have some experience with the age at which most kids learn to stop reacting to problems with violence, ie, hitting, kicking, biting, etc.). Arya is wayyyyy past the age when she should be able to control those tendencies. I believe that is why Ned found her a "dancing master" ...so that she could channel some of that destructive rage into something more constructive and learn some self control. Consider that Bran is of an age with Arya, yet is not at all violent. Sansa has never been violent, nor any of the other Stark kids. Arya seems alone in this.

Her outbursts may be put down to frustration about a certain amount of gender identity issues - clearly she would rather have been born a boy and be able to do what boys do. But even boys are not permitted to simply attack people, throw things at them, and generally act like brats when thwarted. That is why I find Arya's natural inclinations disturbing, and very worrying as she continues down her life path. She seems to be convinced (now) that she was put into the world to be a killer. And she revels in her talent at it.

I suppose I should have explained myself a bit further. I think violence is a natural reaction to being "attacked" either physically or emotionally, but I do not think it is necessarily acceptable. Arya is no doubt wild, especially when contrasted with Sansa. Her wildness and violent outburst have only increased without a firm hand or guidance to teach her other ways to deal with adversity. Ned tried, but he was Ned after all, gods bless him! If he could have been around more things might have been different for Arya. Also both Arya and Sansa display some of the tendencies of their age and also of spoiled children. I would not say the Stark children are "spoiled" like Joff is, but they have obviously have gotten their way in the past. If not Arya would be in a dress and learning sewing instead of sword play. Sansa is on the verge of teen angst, which explains some of her ourburst to Arya.

Every person is different and the Stark children, while having some common attributes, all have very distinct and varied personalities. Some people learn to control their impulses better and sooner than others. Arya, obviously needs some work. However, I doubt I would like her character half as much if she did not behave the way she did. I would not accept a child behaving in such a manner in our world, but this is fiction after all. :-)

The same goes for Sansa. I like her more given the way her character has changed in reaction to the events surrounding her. She is finally opening her eyes (or she will after certain events which this thread has not yet covered) and seeing the world around her for what it is. I am excited to see how she uses her new knowlege.

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It's called not wanting to look guilty by association or sympathy.

I think and as LON states they had their own to protect, I beleive there is not one of us here that could honestly say they would not act the way these people did if their family could be in danger of death or destruction.

As a reader it's easy for us to dislike them, and as for Dontos he tried the second time around ( because of money or debt he felt own to Sansa ) and it eventually cost him his life.

I understand all this, but again, you're basing it on the belief that something would have happened to them had they even just acknowledged her presence or spoken to her, which I think is frankly ridiculous (not your point, just the idea). At this point in time, yes she's a captive, but even Cersei is mindful of keeping up appearances by calling them "honour guards." Even if the men were wary of the risk of associating with a traitor's daughter, a simply nod, or wink or something would have sufficed. What Sansa is met with is stone cold avoidance. I honestly think it says something about the men gathered there; not that they're unwilling to risk their reputation or families - we can take this for granted, but it's not so noble as that - these men are simply cowards who do not see anything in it for them to help Sansa or to be even nice to her. The Stark ship is sinking and everyone one is jumping off. If they could have seen a benefit to themselves to in tlaking to her, they would have done so. The Lannisters are not complete crazies to think that someone simply nodding to Sansa is in league with Ned. What we ultimately see is an unpleasant fact of life, as I think the Hound would tell it - some people simply don't give a shit about you if they don't have to. This seems to be particularly true of Westerosi nobility.

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I agree with Brashcandy here. None of them would even maintain eye contact here. Just giving a slight tilt of the head, in acknowledgement of Sansa's existence, would have been better than the complete cold shoulder that she got, and I don't think anyone would be noticed or harrassed for doing this. It's just another Southron court, full of opportunists, and there's no opportunity left in offerring decency to a Stark,

As for Dontos, he was almost nice to her, and she noticed this, but he's an easily influenced individual, so peer pressure and fear shut him up. I think this contrasts so beautifully for the later scene where Sansa sticks her neck out in an act of true altruism to save him. She's at much greater risk than he was but she does it anyway.

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It's called not wanting to look guilty by association or sympathy.

I think and as LON states they had their own to protect, I beleive there is not one of us here that could honestly say they would not act the way these people did if their family could be in danger of death or destruction.

As a reader it's easy for us to dislike them, and as for Dontos he tried the second time around ( because of money or debt he felt own to Sansa ) and it eventually cost him his life.

I do think that Dontos enjoyed helping Sansa; he wasn't just doing it for the money. Helping Sansa made him feel like the knight he was supposed to be; remember how he dressed up to escort her down the wall to Littlefinger's ship. Littlefinger's rewarding the poor guy with death, for the one great effort of his life, was heartbreaking. It could be that Dontos would have told the Lannisters everything about the Littlefinger/Tyrell plot, Sansa's escape, for more wine or relief from torture, but his fate was still heartbreaking.

I think that some of the more powerful lords and ladies could have at least met Sansa's glance, or given her a quiet greeting; especially if they had not been close associates of Starks or Stark allies before, without being necessarily suspected of treason. But there was an aura of fear about the court, especially since all the Stark retainers, even the noncombatants like Poole and Septa Mordane, had been slaughtered without trial...

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I think sometimes we can delve way to deep when there may be nothing more than what we really see, they are cowards, they also fear for their family and house and yes the Lannisters are bat shit crazy Tywin did in castemere when he was 16, Cersei did in a female friend and Ned and his family, most people in KL are no where as morally strong as Sansa and her family due to different upbringing and how they were raised, and with Pycele, LF and the rest throwing out traitor seed in front of everyone what! they going to make a stand in front of the new King and his mommy on how judgmental they are, not happening.

So yes they are cowards, Sansa is really brave, but nothing is going to change there unless people have a respect for who sits on the Iron Throne without fear of their thoughts but the Lannisters ain't it.

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I am definitely not arguing that their treatment of Sansa was kind or not cowardly. The other thing one has to keep in mind, though, is that no one knew what Sansa was doing there. The Starks were clearly in disgrace (those few who were not dead) and I would imagine most of the court were shocked to see Sansa walk in bold as brass - and worried a bit about what insanity might be about to ensue. None of them really knew Sansa; she was only very recently arrived at court. There was no way for them to know whether she was going to plead politely for her father's life, or try to assassinate Joffrey in a fit of grief, or something in between.

Also, note that at other points in the novels, Cersei DOES have people watched and noted for their actions. Two instances that come to mind are those who attended the puppet shows (and were later punished), and those who fled the throne room when Marg's disgrace became public. It seems reasonable to assume that these types of observations were somewhat a way of life at court, and therefore reasonable for the court to be concerned about possible repercussions if the right (or wrong) people noted their nods or smiles, and reported them to the queen - who very well might have taken them as covert gestures of support and/or sympathy.

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Another thing we have to keep in mind about this court at this point is the lack of anyone important being there, no Tyrells, no Martells, no true Barratheons, no Arryns or anyone of importance from the Vale, no Tullys, it is a court of lickspittles, most of the 7 are in revolt or contemplatig it

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So, here is a question to debate on this chapter (although it may be a very short debate lol) ...do you think Joff ever intended to spare Ned? Was he truly moved by Sansa's speech and/or intending to obey the council's wishes, and then someone (cough LF cough) got to him and changed his mind?

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I would not say the Stark children are "spoiled" like Joff is, but they have obviously have gotten their way in the past.

My impression of the Stark girls is, as you said, not so much that they were spoiled as Joff was. It seems in Arya's case especially, she was simply accustomed to being the daughter of the biggest fish in a relatively small pond, and had a hard time minding the fact that now not only she, but her big fish of a father, were now very small minnows indeed in the grand scheme of things. Spoiled is not necessarily the word I am looking for; just accustomed to never really having their wills and wants questioned much.

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So, here is a question to debate on this chapter (although it may be a very short debate lol) ...do you think Joff ever intended to spare Ned? Was he truly moved by Sansa's speech and/or intending to obey the council's wishes, and then someone (cough LF cough) got to him and changed his mind?

Interesting question :) I think he was very flattered by the way she focused her request exclusively on him, and made him feel as though he possessed some higher qualities relating to justice and fairness. Rapsie is going to post the final chapter of AGOT tomorrow, and in that we really see the kind of "justice" that Joff likes to dispense. However, I do think he would have spared Ned, not for Sansa, but definitely to appear to be merciful. I think her appeal was successful too, she was very careful to smile at him and choose her words carefully, so I'm almost certain that someone got to him and convinced him otherwise.

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In all of the major plot-driving things that Joff does, he's very motivated by what others think of him. He puts a hit man on Bran to impress Robert, who had made callous, drunken comments about putting Bran out of his misery; cuts Micah's face "in defense" of Arya to impress Sansa; lashes out at Sansa after getting beaten up by Arya because he's embarrassed; grants mercy to Ned to impress the court and Sansa; executes Ned because LF told him it was the manly thing to do and he wanted to seem like the bad-ass he-man King.

I think I just made myself feel bad for Joffrey :ack: The kid obviously has a complex

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I could feel sorry for Joffrey myself if he weren't so cruel. His nominal and actual parents have horrendously botched his upbringing, which should have been a matter of great importance, considering he is supposed to rule over a large kingdom one day. There was almost no paternal influence; Robert seems to have been disappointed and disinterested in his heir from Joffrey's infancy, which Cersei might well have encouraged; no one even acted as a kindly uncle or teacher, Cersei seems to have reared Joffrey mostly herself, and encouraged the Lannister arrogance and Joffrey's own brand of viciousness - or at least turned a blind eye to it, allowing Joffrey to torture animals and hurt his younger brother. I do think Joffrey was reaching out, on some rather pathetic level, to Robert, by ordering Bran's killing because Joffrey heard his supposed father imply it was the best thing to do (though a sober Robert would never have said so). I seem to remember that Joffrey was also inspired to kill/mutilate the cat as a twisted response to something he'd heard Robert say, but I could be wrong on that.

Joffrey seems to have been raised in a fairly feminine world, his mother's. I think he does want the recognition and approval of men in power, especially his father - whether that is because Robert is the ultimate power in Joffrey's world or Joffrey actually wants Daddy to notice him, or both, I'm not sure.

The fact that no one seems to have made any attempt to rein in this kid (other than Robert beating him for torturing/killing the cat) and teach him sensibly instead of indulging most of his whims and letting him get away with everything, including lying and bullying, is an argument for Democracy/Republic over Monarchy in itself, since legally this young, spoiled boy with a penchant for cruelty and arrogance is set to inherit a huge domain where he will have the right to do pretty much what he wants at least in King's Landing and possibly Casterly Rock.

Ned should have sent Arya and Sansa away, either to Riverrun or Winterfell, after the deaths of Mycah and Lady, and told Robert their mother needed them and Sansa was too young to marry anyway.

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Sansa Chapter VI

Summary

Sansa is in the Tower Room following her father’s execution. She has spent the time crying and sleeping and not talking to anyone and not eating. She dreams about her father’s execution and seeing Janos Slynt and Ser Ilyn Payne kill her father and how she wanted to look away but couldn’t. She notes that

her prince had smiled at her, he’d smiled and she’d felt safe, but only for a heartbeat, until he dais those words, and her father’s legs.

She thinks that she may die too and then thinks that it might not be so bad to die. She goes as far as opening the window to throw herself from it and thinks that her death will shame those who have wronged her and that singers in the future will write songs of her grief. But in the end she can’t do it and returns to the bed crying.

At one point Pycelle comes to see if she is ill and

made her undress, and touched her all over while a bedmaid held her down

She dreamt of footsteps slowly ascending the tower towards her and of Ilyn Payne coming to chop her head off with Ice. In the dream she is naked and tries to cover herself as the sword comes through the door.

Eventually Joff comes to her with Sandor Clegane and Ser Meryn Trant and Ser Ayrs Oakheart. Joff demands that Sansa be in court that afternoon. Sansa pleads that she doesn’t want to go and Joff demands that Sandor get her out of bed. Sandor scoops her out from under her covers,

“Do as you’re bid child, “Clegane said. “Dress”. He pushed her toward her wardrobe, almost gently.

However Sansa backs away from them all and say’s that she did all that was asked of her and that she won’t do any treason and just wants to go home, and remembering her courtises says if it please you. Joff tells her that she is staying in KL and that she has to marry him. She wails that she doesn’t want to marry him and that he chopped her father’s head off. Joff says he was merciful and if it hadn’t been her father, he would had him torn or flayed.

Sansa looks at him

seeing him for the first time. …She wondered how she could ever have thought him handsome. His lips were as soft and red as the worms you found after a rain, and his eyes were vain and cruel. “I hate you,” she whispered.

Joff says that a King shouldn’t hit his wife and immediately orders Ser Meryn to do it. Sansa falls to the floor, with her head ringing and a bleeding ear. After feeling her ear and seeing the blood, Sansa then says she will do as she is asked. Joff, Meryn and Arys leave but Sandor Clegane stays behind.

long enough to yank her roughly to her feet. “Save yourself some pain, girl, and give him what he wants.”

“What…what does he want? Please tell me.”

“He wants you to smile and smell sweet and be his lady love,” the Hound rasped. “He wants to hear you recite all your pretty little words the way the septa taught you. He wants you to love him … and fear him.”

After he goes Sansa has her maids prepare a bath and make-up to hide her bruised and swelling face because she knows Joff wants her to be beautiful. The warmth of the Bath makes her think of Winterfell and that gives her strength. She doesn’t talk to the maids except to give orders as she doesn’t trust them and knows that they work for the Lannisters. She dresses in the same dress that she wore to the Tourney in the hopes that Joff will remember what a nice evening they had together and treat her more gently because of that.

Ser Meryn arrives to take her to court. She realizes that

He felt nothing for her at all. She was only a…a thing to him.
She wanted to get angry with him, to hurt him in the same way he had hurt her and threaten him with exile
…but she remembered what the Hound had told her, so all she said was, ‘I shall do whatever His Grace commands’
However, she tells him that he is no true knight and nots that while Sandor Clegane would have laughed and Ser Meryn Trant just didn’t care.

She watches the proceedings at court alone on the balcony trying not to cry and watching Joff dispence justice. He seems bored by most cases and Lord Baelish, Grand Maester Pycelle and the Queen often give the rulings. However on those he takes an interest in, his judgement is cruel and sadistic and none of his council can convinve him to change his mind. Lord Janos Slynt however agrees with Joff’s judgements and Sansa looks at him

wishing she could hurt him, wishing that some hero would throw him down and cut off his head.

Then however she thinks that there are no heroes and remembers

what Lord Petyr had said to her, here in this very hall. “Life is not a song, sweetling,” he’d told her. “You may learn that one day to your sorrow.” In life, the monsters win, she told herself, and now it was the Hound’s voice she heard, a cold rasp, metal on stone. “Save yourself some pain, girl, and give him what he wants.”

After the court is dismissed she hurries off, but finds Joff waiting for her with Ser Meryn and The Hound. Joff tells her that she looks better and she forces herself to smile and say thank you. Joff asks her to walk with him and although it makes her flesh crawl to take his arm, she does it. She calls him my lord instead of my grace and Joff says she is as stupid as his mother says she is. Sansa thinks

After all that had happened, his words should have lost their power to hurt her, yet somehow they had not. The queen had always been so kind to her.

Joff goes on about how he’ll get her with child as soon as he is able and if they are stupid, then he’ll cut off her head. Sansa repeats the necessary courtiesies yet thinks

The Hound was right, she thought, I am only a little bird, repeating the words they taught me.

Joff continues to shame her by asking if she’s flowered and being generally cruel until they reach the steps that go to the battlements and Sansa stops realizing that he is taking her to see her father’s head on it’s spike. She pleads for them not to and moves away from Joff and backs into the Hound

“Do it, girl.” Sandor Clegane told her, pushing her back toward the king. His mouth twitched on the burned side of his face and Sansa could almost hear the rest of it. He’ll have you up there no matter what, so give him what he wants.

She takes Joff’s hand and climbs the steps, but when she gets to the top, she looks past the heads and out over the city and it’s sights and to the north, thinking that somewhere further north is Winterfell. Joff gets annoyed that she isn’t looking at the heads, but Sansa thinks

He can make me look at the heads; she told herself, but he can’t make me see them.

Joff gets cross and has Sandor Clegane show her her father’s head. She looks at it calmly, but doesn’t see it and eventually asks Joff how long she has to look. Joff is disappointed that she is not upset and takes her to see the rest of the heads including Septa Mordane’s. Eventually he says that he will give her a present on his name day, and says that her brother is a traitor and at Winterfell the Hound called him the Lord of the Wooden Sword, and looks to the Hound for a continuation of the jest,

“Did I?” The Hound replied. “I don’t recall.” Joffrey gave a petulant shrug.

Joff then says he will give Sansa her brother’s head for his nameday, and then Sansa tells him that maybe her brother will give her his. Joff has Ser Meryn strike her twice for this and he bursts her lip open.

Joff tells her that she’s more pretty when she smiles and laughs, so she forces herself to smile. As she does so she realizes that they are 80 feet up and with one push she can send Joff to his death, and perhaps hers, she moves to do this but

“Here, girl.” Sandor Clegane knelt before her, between her and Joffery. With a delicacy surprising in such a big man, he dabbed at the blood welling from her broken lip. The moment was gone. Sansa lowerd her eyes. “Thank you,” she said when he was done. She was a good girl, and always remembered her courtesies.

Analysis

Sansa’s grief in the beginning of the chapter very much echoes Jeyne Poole’s in the previous one. Her distress and the nightmare of seeing her father’s execution is heartbreaking and realizing what a sadistic shit Joff is.

However what I have always missed until this re-read was the following by Pycelle:

made her undress, and touched her all over while a bedmaid held her down

During this awful time she is actually held down and sexually assaulted by Pycelle! Ugh.

Her contemplations of suicide are both meledromatic in terms of the song element and her broken body shaming those around her, but also show that if pressured enough she is willing to take the ultimate way out to avoid a horrific situation.

Also we see that Sansa is not as meek and mild as everyone seems to think. She is not the tractable and completely weak, but she is beaten into that position, and instead of saying what she thinks, she uses her courtesy armour and internalises her thoughts. Initially she is very resistant to Joff and says exactly what she thinks and this is met with violence.

She immediately takes on Sandor Clegane’s advice and tries to give Joff what he wants. It is notable in this chapter that Sandor has already got into her thought pattern and to a lesser extent so has Littlefinger. She thinks of the advice both gave her and even seems to sees herself as Sandor said she was, as a pretty little bird repeating everything that she has been taught.

The difference in the effect the two men have on her is that so far is that Sandor both gives her advice, protects her and refuses to be complicit in her bullying (in this particular chapter at least.). Littlefinger on the other hand had given her advice but hasn’t followed through on doing anything personal for her.

The other thing that comes through in this chapter is her incredible levels of personal strength. Her ability to use her courtieses to her advantage and also look but not see are brilliant. She is learning to mask her own thoughts and feelings (a valuable skill for a player in the game). One that I am unsure that Littlefinger is aware of because she was courtese before hand.

She is also more observant than she is given credit for. She knows that the servants are spies and can’t be trusted. She works out Meryn Trant’s character and manages to hold back everything she really wants to say to him. However she does getting beaten up twice in the same day by him and manages to be pleasant. Personally I couldn’t do this. Her internal tenacity is formidable. Although saying this she is still hurt that the Queen had lied to her. She thinks how the Queen has always been so kind. it’s almost as if she has rearranged in her mind the person who was responsible for the death of Lady.

Her talk with Sandor Clegane and her later thought that she can almost hear the rest of his sentence are interesting because it shows that she is already starting to see him as a protective figure. I also think it is interesting that Sandor Clegane kneels to her for the second time. Given the importance of “kneeling” in the novels, I do wonder if this has some significance.

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Sansa Chapter VI

Also we see that Sansa is not as meek and mild as everyone seems to think. She is not the tractable and completely weak, but she is beaten into that position, and instead of saying what she thinks, she uses her courtesy armour and internalises her thoughts. Initially she is very resistant to Joff and says exactly what she thinks and this is met with violence.

This. I'm so glad you pointed this out, Rapsie :) It's one of the things that truly stood out to me in this chapter. The girl had gumption. So many times when you hear people talk about Sansa it's about how passive she is, how she didn't fight back, how she doesn't have the same spiritedness of the other Starks, but this chapter clearly shows that she isn't a natural wimp. She's learnt - through very painful and bloody beatings, that it's best to give Joff what he wants. I'm reminded here of a point Raksha the Demon made in the first thread, when she said Sansa didn't use courtesy as simply a defence but as a weapon. Here we see the beginnings of that militarizing of courtesy. It's now not only something that she shields herself in, but also the thing that she can use to deflect and evade punishment, and later on, to fool others and escape.

She immediately takes on Sandor Clegane’s advice and tries to give Joff what he wants. It is notable in this chapter that Sandor has already got into her thought pattern and to a lesser extent so has Littlefinger. She thinks of the advice both gave her and even seems to sees herself as Sandor said she was, as a pretty little bird repeating everything that she has been taught.

I had forgotten what a prominent role Sandor plays in this chapter. It's the start of Sandor 101 lessons for sure. I was really appreciative of him throughout it. Not only does he tell her of how she can save herself from Joffrey's torment, but he also saves her from herself right at the end when she is contemplating pushing Joff and maybe falling over the edge as well. He doesn't coddle or comfort her, but that won't be what saves her life. His advice is absolutely vital to her strategy in playing the game. This thread is called "From Pawn to Player?" and here we see a little bit of early game playing whilst as pawn. It's nothing that will guarantee her freedom and revenge, but it does ensure to some degree that her pain is lessened. And yet, she can't help but let her true feelings escape sometimes. The episode with Ser Meryn when he comes to collect her is very interesting:

"My lady," he said, bowing, as if he had not beaten her bloody only three hours past. "His Grace has instructed me to escort you to the throne room."

"Did he instruct you to hit me if I refused to come?"

"Are you refusing to come, my lady? The look he gave her was without expression. He did not so much as glance at the bruise he had left her.

He did not hate her, Sansa realised; neither did he love her. He felt nothing for her at all. She was only a .... a thing to him. "No," she said rising. She wanted to rage and to hurt him as he'd hurt her, to warn him that when she was queen she would have him exiled if he ever dared strike her again... but she remembered what the Hound had told her, so all she said was, "I shall do whatever his Grace commands. "

"As I do," he replied.

"Yes, but you are no true knight, Ser Meryn."

Sandor Clegane would have laughed at that, Sansa knew. Other men would have cursed her, warned her to keep silent, even begged for her forgiveness. Ser Meryn Trant did none of these. Ser Meryn simply did not care.

Sansa's awareness of the essential cold-heartedness of Ser Meryn is important. Some people are simply unreachable by any pleas to mercy, angry retorts or cries. Telling Ser Meryn that he is no true knight means nothing to him, he has no reaction to what Sansa considers to be a profound insult on the values of a man, and this is something that Sansa needed to learn: some men will never care about these things, they simply follow orders even if it requires them to cruel and unfair. I was also struck and heartened by the innocence of her statement. It might not matter to Meryn, but it clearly continues to matter to Sansa, and to say it to Meryn at this moment took a lot of courage. I think it underlines Sansa's essential faith in human goodness, and it's arguably something that she never loses.

The difference in the effect the two men have on her is that so far is that Sandor both gives her advice, protects her and refuses to be complicit in her bullying (in this particular chapter at least.). Littlefinger on the other hand had given her advice but hasn’t followed through on doing anything personal for her.

Sandor's effect is huge. His words and manners might be harsh, but he manages to get his point across. She remembers LF's words that life is not a song, and realises the truth of that, but it is Sandor who gives her the tools/advice on how to combat this world, and this is crucial.

The other thing that comes through in this chapter is her incredible levels of personal strength. Her ability to use her courtieses to her advantage and also look but not see are brilliant. She is learning to mask her own thoughts and feelings (a valuable skill for a player in the game). One that I am unsure that Littlefinger is aware of because she was courtese before hand.

Indeed. Her shining moment is when she's viewing the heads, and she realises that Joff can make her look but he can't make her see. It's a mature observation on how to avoid capitulating to an enemy and breaking down. He cannot reach that part of her which she has closed off. He cannot sully her love for her father, the man she knew, not the man whose head is currently on a stick. Her one question is concerning the Septa, because her death was so needless.

Her talk with Sandor Clegane and her later thought that she can almost hear the rest of his sentence are interesting because it shows that she is already starting to see him as a protective figure. I also think it is interesting that Sandor Clegane kneels to her for the second time. Given the importance of “kneeling” in the novels, I do wonder if this has some significance.

Yes, Rapsie! I noticed this as well. He's always kneeling to her. Now granted, he's a tall man, but Sansa is fairly tall for her age as well. It could be a foreshadowing of her eventual position as Queen, or to do with something more personal between the two of them.

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Also, come to think of it, all this time spent in KL probably gave Sansa a good lesson in how not to rule. We get a lot of descriptions in this chapter about Joffrey's sentences (jeez louise when did he jump the shark to full out crazy), and Sansa is likely horrified at what he's doing: she mentions that the tavern singer's song was actually funny.

I like how even her worst moments and times of weakness may actually be preparing her to be honourable and fair when she's strong.

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Sansa makes a haunting journey through a landscape of sorrow, loneliness and fear in this chapter, and faces death, her father's and her own. It is the greatest emotional journey that we have seen her make so far, and she has to do it alone.

Look at the difference in Sansa's two separate considerations of suicide...

The first time, she is still thinking of herself as a heroine of song and story; perhaps as a coping mechanism:

If she flung herself from the window, she would put an end to her suffering, and for the years to come the singers would write songs of her grief. Her body would lie on the stones below, broken and innocent, shaming those who had betrayed her. Sansa went so far as to cross the bedchamber and throw open the shutter ... but then her courage left her, and she ran back to her bed, sobbing.

While she is obviously genuinely upset, this is less a serious consideration of suicide than a very unhappy young girl's melodramatic idea to punish the people whose cruelty made her so sad. Sansa has only begun to walk through the fire, to steal a metaphor...

The second time Sansa considers suicide, she is definitely serious and far beyond thinking of how singers will immortalize her:

The outer parapet came up to her chin, but along the inner edge of the walk was nothing, nothing but a long plunge to the bailey seventy or eighty feet below. All it would take was a shove, she told herself. He was standing right there, right there, smirking at her with those fat wormlips. You could do it, she told herself. You could. Do it right now. It wouldn't even matter if she went over with him. It wouldn't matter at all.

This is Sansa's lowest point and perhaps her most grim moment in the series. She has walked through fire and (to steal a metaphor from another great fantasy series) drank the cup of of bitterness. But rather than despair, Sansa focusses on this opportunity quite coolly and nerves herself to kill the king who has killed her father and abused her, even if it means she will die to do so. Sadly, she does not even care if she lives or dies at this point. She seems quite devoid of fear; having found a strange calm that perhaps occurs after the horrors she has witnessed and endured. For a few moments, we are given a glimpse of a different Sansa, a girl who is much older and grimmer and stronger than the spoiled eleven-year-old child we have seen throughout the book; a girl very recognizable as the sister of Arya and Robb. We have seen the Wolf's Daughter.

(there's a moment in the TV series where I most definitely saw Sansa as the Wolf's Daughter - when she turns to Joffrey and replies, after he taunts her by offering to bring her Robb's head, that maybe Robb will give her Joffrey's head - Sansa's face is implacable and I see the Wolf in her eyes).

Sansa most definitely is starting to use all her assets, charm, pretty words, courtesy, with conscious deliberation and the intent to conceal as well as to ingratiate. The description of her interaction with her maids, her preparation for attending court does not show us the happy young girl enjoying dressing up in pretty clothes; but more of that calm, deliberate, reasoned purpose about her routine; it's not for fun and games and song anymore, she knows she is going out onto a battlefield and she is choosing her weapons.

On a side note, I am not so sure that Pycelle was trying to molest Sansa when he touched her all over. I think he was giving her a thorough physical examination, one that probably included her female parts; on Cersei's orders. Cersei needed Sansa to make public appearances, to be seen in good health, in order to preserve Jamie's life; and she had obviously heard that Sansa wouldn't get out of bed and appeared hysterical. She might have thought that Sansa had flowered, or been concerned that she had hurt herself. To Sansa, any touch by Pycelle would have seemed intrusive at this point.

And I'll just add that Joffrey's dragging Sansa up to see the heads of her father and the Stark retainers is ghastly; and Sansa's response shows the strength I don't think she realized she had - a gripping scene beautifully written by GRRM.

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