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brashcandy

From Pawn to Player? Rereading Sansa V

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If she was insanely blind politically (and able to bring herself to do it) she might have pretended to be happy to be Tyrion's wife, hoping that bearing him a child might win her some status or better treatment. She recognized that to the Lannisters, she was only the gateway to Winterfell, and that with a child of hers (especially male), they would have no further need for her. So she did her best to keep the walls up between herself and Tyrion, resisting any fleeting feelings of empathy or compassion. There was always the chance that he might take her anyway, and I believe that in the end he would have (given time enough), but she knew she only had to keep him at arm's length for so long ...and did a masterful job of maintaining miles of distance between them, while never giving any cause for him to take offense.

I think the looks that Sansa gave him were the equivalent of this Russel Peters story to Tyrion:

(yes I know it's UnPC comedy and therefore exaggerated but lol) ie Tyrion felt that she was so disgusted with him, that inhibited him, where as prostitutes who have to fake it. Didn't give him that feeling.

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After reading all the opinions on whether Sansa is displaying political savvy/playing the game yet, I would have to say that besides your view depending on your personal definition of political savvy, it also depends on what behaviors you categorize as qualifying as political savvy. I guess mine are somewhat broader than some posters', because I definitely see political savvy in Sansa's behavior towards the end of her time in KL.

Perhaps the best way for me to explain it is in contrasting Sansa's choices and behaviors with some other firmly accepted "players." Tyrion has always been seen as a major player. Yet his utter lack of self control and self knowledge are his undoing repeatedly. As has been mentioned already, if he had kept his mouth shut about his true feelings for Joff and learned to parrot the proper phrases (as Sansa did), he would have been far less likely to be accused of Joff's murder. He could still have accomplished all the scheming and manipulating, but in a more personally beneficial manner. He makes no secret of his personal dislikes and prejudices, and it ultimately costs him everything.

Similarly, if Cersei had ever learned to put on a mask of public courtesy and ladylike behavior, as Sansa does, she could have saved herself from worlds of trouble. She has never bothered to hide her anger, her determination and ruthlessness, her extreme hatred of Robert, her dislike of the Tyrells; all of her uncontrolled emotions are constantly on display. Therefore it was not much of a stretch for people to believe it when she was accused of conspiring at Robert's death, incest/adultery, and plotting against Marg. Imagine for a moment that instead, she had followed Sansa's pattern of firmly keeping her true feelings hidden, being courteous and polite, behaving with either indifference or some facsimile of respect toward Robert, hidden her feelings of rivalry with Marg. If the face she presented to the world was that of the calm and contented queen, people would have been far more likely to dismiss the accusations against her (or they never would have been made in the first place). She cost herself everything politically by being incapable of doing what Sansa did daily.

I could go on with these type of examples, but you get the point. In its own way, by being her only path to freedom, Sansa's very inaction became her political action. Her firmly maintained armor of courtesy and quietness were her ways of manipulating those around her, and she was extremely good at it.

Here is a counterfactual to consider, as well: Say Sansa had not been savvy enough to recognize that the Tyrells were at best fickle and no true friends, or at worst potential enemies, once she was married to Tyrion. What if she had gone running to them, her "friends," begging for help? She would have been at minimum coldly rebuffed, possibly reported on to the Lannisters, and probably earned herself a locked room to live in. But she WAS smart and savvy enough to recognize that there was no longer any relationship there, if there ever had been.

If she was insanely blind politically (and able to bring herself to do it) she might have pretended to be happy to be Tyrion's wife, hoping that bearing him a child might win her some status or better treatment. She recognized that to the Lannisters, she was only the gateway to Winterfell, and that with a child of hers (especially male), they would have no further need for her. So she did her best to keep the walls up between herself and Tyrion, resisting any fleeting feelings of empathy or compassion. There was always the chance that he might take her anyway, and I believe that in the end he would have (given time enough), but she knew she only had to keep him at arm's length for so long ...and did a masterful job of maintaining miles of distance between them, while never giving any cause for him to take offense.

Movements and plays do not have to be open or active to count as political. LF himself prefers to always be seen as a pawn of someone's, rather than ever letting it become known what he is doing behind the scenes or how much influence he really has. As a result, most people see him as a garden variety social climber with a talent for managing finances. It would never occur to anyone that he was the mastermind behind Joff's death. Just as no one suspected Sansa of being capable of escape, because she was content to let them go on thinking her naive and easily gulled.

Very well said. It's really interesting how two of the biggest players - LF and Varys - present themselves as merely trying to serve the Lannisters (and the realm) to their best abilities, with little to no hint of personal ambition. And the one thing that Sansa has in common with these men? The ability to conceal what one is really thinking/feeling.

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Exactly. It reminds me of Al Pacino in Devil's Advocate: never let them see you coming. Better to be underestimated and dismissed, than for people to be on their guard with you, when trying to make any kind of secret move.

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Just a short out of subject question for you all. In this game of thrones trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Il7FT4p2jqE

The Hound at 0.17sec is lifting someone. Who is it?? I need to know! I don’t think it’s Sansa but we don’t really get the time to see. I don’t remember reading anything like that in the book, but it sure looks hot… :drool: (and scary, cause I don't want to be lift like that)

Sorry again for the out of place discussion, but I had to share this.

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Just a short out of subject question for you all. In this game of thrones trailer:

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=Il7FT4p2jqE

The Hound at 0.17sec is lifting someone. Who is it?? I need to know! I don’t think it’s Sansa but we don’t really get the time to see. I don’t remember reading anything like that in the book, but it sure looks hot… :drool: (and scary, cause I don't want to be lift like that)

Sorry again for the out of place discussion, but I had to share this.

i know, he looks hot!! :cool4: & did you notice that thre's also a shot of sansa at 0:14? she appears to be waking up from a nightmare and has her hand on her throat. expect this to be the morning of her moonblood maybe or just waking up from a riot related nightmare..? still, we get a shot at the room where the unkiss memory may happen :dunno:

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i know, he looks hot!! :cool4: & did you notice that thre's also a shot of sansa at 0:14? she appears to be waking up from a nightmare and has her hand on her throat. expect this to be the morning of her moonblood maybe or just waking up from a riot related nightmare..? still, we get a shot at the room where the unkiss memory may happen :dunno:

That’s what I would think! Wow, I'm so excited now, I have watched that preview more then five times already (FREAK!!! :drunk: )!

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My husband and oldest son (who have both watched the show but not read the books) watched an HBO promo for Season 2 this evening. My husband was telling me about some of the very brief clips shown. One he described had Cersei running as if for her life, with two armored guards behind her as her protectors, and then a split second shot of her standing with Joff, sword in hand and backs against a wall, as if they were both being threatened.

Put together with this Sandor-lifting-someone clip, the only reasonable explanation I can come up with is that the bread riot (rather than being a matter of the royal party mostly making it back to the castle ahorse) has maybe been turned into something of a footrace instead, for more dramatic impact.

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Well argued Brashcandy, Rashka and LadyoftheNorth! I don't think I'll ever totally agree with you regarding Sansa's political savvy but you've certainly forced me to reconsider my position on a number of points, and that I'll do!

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My husband and oldest son (who have both watched the show but not read the books) watched an HBO promo for Season 2 this evening. My husband was telling me about some of the very brief clips shown. One he described had Cersei running as if for her life, with two armored guards behind her as her protectors, and then a split second shot of her standing with Joff, sword in hand and backs against a wall, as if they were both being threatened.

Put together with this Sandor-lifting-someone clip, the only reasonable explanation I can come up with is that the bread riot (rather than being a matter of the royal party mostly making it back to the castle ahorse) has maybe been turned into something of a footrace instead, for more dramatic impact.

Isn't the actress playing Sansa allergic to horses?

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Well argued Brashcandy, Rashka and LadyoftheNorth! I don't think I'll ever totally agree with you regarding Sansa's political savvy but you've certainly forced me to reconsider my position on a number of points, and that I'll do!

:cheers:

----

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About Sansa learning political behaviour.

First she has to learn how to repress her emotions to not show them to others, and that she was learning in KL.

LF demostrates master in repress his emotions in the Hand Tourney when Renly said that it was a pity that that Tyrion wasn´t there so he would have won the double (he never bets against his brother). Eddard was there, he heared that. Sure LF was telling him to stay cold, to act normal, as Sansa with the Queen. Eddard didn´t realize that LF wasn´t trusty just for the way he acted. And that it is what Sansa had been learning at KL (to perform so she doesn´t get discovert).

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Isn't the actress playing Sansa allergic to horses?

Yes, we are not going to see Stranger in that scene. A pity, I want to see that horse (must be beautiful).

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The next Tyrion chapter will be up later tonight!

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I am going to have to continue to respectfully disagree with you I'm afraid. Regarding the words in bold, I fully agree that there is a key difference between the two. I know that Sansa is not a fully fledged political player, that she's not even close, but nor do I think she has demonstrated political savvy so far. The terms are not interchangeable, I agree, but as I understand it political savvy is demonstrated by how you interact with politics and Sansa does her best not to. It may come down to nitpicking over terminology but I cannot recall any politically astute actions or observations on her part. She may be naturally astute and shrewd but in my opinion, she hasn't applied this to politics.

And again, I understand what you are saying and realize that it is a popular opinion (and one, its worth mentioning, that I subscribed to initially.) You feel that Sansa is not political, that politics have caused her much pain, and that she is basically just a young girl struggling to survive.

I am just going to have to reiterate that I agree, but in order to survive in the environment she’s been thrown into, she must by necessity call upon and polish skills I’d describe as “political.” Hiding one’s emotions, discerning what people want from her and then putting on a convincing act of doing it, hiding her hatred for her (well deserved) enemies behind a mask of bland courtesy—all these things are, in my mind, political skills. As are her interpersonal skills—the ability and willingness to interact with numerous different people and provide them with comfort and happiness and make them feel special; something Cersei clearly lacks. While these things now appear to be merely neccesities for survival and the useless charms of a highborn lady, I think they may well prove to be very useful in the future.

Does Sansa “fight back” or form her own brilliant schemes? No, I’d argue that, like any canny politician, she finds the best people to do such things for her. (Of course, she gets her fair share of help from luck and hidden “benefactors” like LF plotting behind the scenes. My point has never been that these books should be renamed: Sansa Stark: Child Prodigy Political Genius, or what have you. But the abilities she shows, many of which strike me as natural, are impressive.) Furthermore, her passivity, which many hold against her, seems like yet another canny survival strategy—personally, at age 12-13 I would not have been so “passive”—or so clever. I probably would have freaked out and started beating the crap out of Joffrey, possibly attempting to kill him as well. And you could bet that if I had been in Sansa’s situation at age 12, I would have been either dead or very badly beaten or abused.

Thus, some of the things you note as what make you believe Sansa is not politically savvy are actually things that make me believe the opposite. Her passivity, for instance, could be viewed in many ways—as innate nature, as proof of “dullness”, as the only option a helpless girl has in such a victimized situation. However, on my last reread of her chapters, I’ve come to see it—at least partially—as a clever survival strategy. You seem to agree with me to this to an extent, however, my view of politics—and of Sansa—seems to differ from yours slightly. I see subterfuge, hiding emotions, cultivating an image, learning to read and act a certain way to those around them—as crucial skills that any politician must learn, and that Sansa seems naturally adept at.

Is Sansa currently the political equivalent of LF? Hell no—that’s not what I’m trying to say. Does she want to be the political equivalent of Littlefinger? I’d have to say this is even less likely—as you note, politics have hurt her. However, IMO, she may well end up not having much choice in this situation. As Cersei has noted, what we want and what we get are often two very different things. Currently, Sansa is in an environment that is in some ways as dangerous as the one she left, and I think that, on some level, she realizes that. To continue on she may well have to draw further on the skills that can easily be dubbed as political. (But you seem to see more as necessity/ survival.)

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Very well said. It's really interesting how two of the biggest players - LF and Varys - present themselves as merely trying to serve the Lannisters (and the realm) to their best abilities, with little to no hint of personal ambition. And the one thing that Sansa has in common with these men? The ability to conceal what one is really thinking/feeling.

Exactly, this is what I was trying to articulate, but you and Lady of the north have said it much better. In the intensely political snakepit that was Joffrey's court, merely surviving involved drawing on political skills. As for the theory that Sansa showed no increasing understanding of politics, her constant thoughts about those around her, about how she should go about acting and handling people, and her increasingly shrewd summations of the characters and motivations of those around her all seem to go against this.

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ASOS – Tyrion VIII

Summary

Tyrion is in the Great Sept of Baelor with everyone else attending Joff’s wedding to Margery. He notes that the couple do look regal and describes how lovely Margery’s dress is, noting that she is coming before them as a Tyrell, not a Baratheon (as his widow, she had the right to wear Renly’s colours). He wonders if she really is a maid and if Joff could tell the difference. He then notes how regal Joff looks, but is bitter because he

I saved that bloody crown for him.

He also wants to strangle him because he has discovered that it wasn’t Jaime or Cersei who sent the assassin to kill Bran, but Joff.

He ought to have seen it long ago. Jaime would never send another man to do his killing, and Cersei was too cunning to use a knife that could be traced back to her, but Joff, arrogant vicious stupid little wretch that he was…

He then recalls the morning in Winterfell where he found Joff jesting to Sandor Clegane jesting about killing wolves. He thinks that Joff would not have sent Sandor Clegane to do it as the Hound would have told Cersei and that instead Joff must have found his catspaw in the lowlife camp followers who had come with them to Winterfell. He thinks at least Joff didn’t use his own dagger and must have picked one from the King’s baggage train, but obviously didn’t know what he was doing, as he picked LF’s dagger.

Tyrion wonders why Joff would have done it and thinks it maybe simple cruelty. He feels sick and reflects that

He ought to have held his tongue at breakfast. The boy knows I know now My big mouth will be the death of me, I swear it.

The wedding continues seamlessly and it is time to exchange the cloaks.

He made certain not to look at Sansa, lest his bitterness show in his eyes. You might have knelt, damn you. Would it have been so bloody hard to bend those stiff Stark knees of yours and let me keep a little dignity?

Joff and Margaery exchange cloaks and Joff swears to protect her, while Tyrion reflects who will protect her from Joff. The wedding service finishes and the guests begin to exit.

Tyrion offers Sansa his arm.

She took it dutifully, but he could feel her stiffness as they walked up the aisle together. She never once looked down at him.

He reflects that the crowds love Margaery so much, that they are willing to love Joff again too. He jests about needing to escape.

Sansa had no choice but to look at him then. "I ... yes, my lord. As you say." She looked sad. "it was such a beautiful ceremony, though."

As ours was not.

They queue up to congratulate the bride and groom and then get in their litter to return to the castle. He looks at Sansa once they are inside.

Sansa sat staring at her hands. She is just as comely as the Tyrell girl. Her hair was a rich autumn auburn, her eyes a deep Tully blue. Grief had given her a haunted, vulnerable look; if anything, it had only made her more beautiful. He wanted to reach her, to break through the armor of her courtesy. Was that what made him speak? Or just the need to distract himself from the fullness in his bladder?

He begins to suggest that once the roads are safe, they journey to Casterly Rock, while thinking it will be far away from his sister and Joff. He tells her it would please him to show her where he and Jaime played as boys.

She raised her head slowly. He knew what she was seeing; the swollen brutish brow, the raw stump of his nose, his crooked pink scar and mismatched eyes. Her own eyes were big and blue and empty. "I shall go wherever my lord husband wishes." "I had hoped it might please you, my lady." "It will please me to please my lord." His mouth tightened. What a pathetic little man you are. Did you think babbling about the Lion's Mouth would make her smile? When have you ever made a woman smile but with gold? "No, it was a foolish notion. Only a Lannister can love the Rock." "Yes, my lord. As you wish."

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