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brashcandy

From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa VII

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I think so. What's interesting is that Mya, whilst legitimately strong and independent, is still obviously bitter over what happened with her Redfort beau, and has additional trust issues stemming from Robert's desertion. Sansa not only benefits from having had a loving relationship with her father, but she's also not hurting over Loras Tyrell. All this means that she can really be of help to Mya Stone, and use her own appreciation for loyal, but homely men to influence Mya's feelings for Lothor; perhaps discovering the depth of her own for Sandor.

Oh this would be perfect. PERFECT. If it doesn't occur in the books, I can imagine it anyway. :drool:

They could heal one another and in process grow to appreciate their friendship (and their partners) more greatly. And lead closer toward the family that I know Sansa wants.

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On Septa Mordane, and her influence on Sansa Stark:

- The Starks, minus Catelyn, worship the Old Gods. Catelyn has a small sept, but the rest of the family worships the old way (and, disclaimer, I'm pro-Old Gods myself!). So why have a septa for Sansa and Arya? Not to train them in religion, but to inculcate in them the social graces necessary for a lady and to provide them with an education. Noble Westerosi women, at least at Sansa's level, are literate. Mordane also seems to be the one responsible for teaching Sansa how to sew, how to sing and dance, in short all the graces needed for a lady.

In Jon's first POV chapter, he muses that both his sisters are to wed great southern lords. I could see that being planned for Sansa, but for Arya? It would certainly bring the lulz if Arya were to wed Ser Loras and go live at Highgarden. I think that Ned was blinded by love of his daughter (I love her therefore everyone else will) and the fact that the Stark name and house were prizes on the marriage market.

Sansa, though, I could see as showing innate talent from birth. A pretty, graceful child, so quick to walk and talk, already knowing her letters at five or six...I'm sure it was at Catelyn's behest that Septa Mordane was summoned from the Southlands to make Lord Eddard Stark's lovely older daughter into a perfect lady, a prize for some southern lord. Arya - well, do the best you can with her!

So Sansa becomes a teacher's pet and excells at everything (except math) that Septa teaches her. In turn, I think Septa Mordane genuinely loves the girl. She's a virgin nun, and who knows why she took vows? Did she seek out the quiet life or was the decision made for her - a younger daughter of a poor noble house like the Westerlings, far down in the family birth order and with no good matches remaining for a younger and plain daughter?

The Septa is a bit of a social climber and has fixated on Sansa as her prize. I think Sansa is the closest to a daughter that she has. But - danger, Will Robinson! - Septa Mordane is a maid and not suited for the Mother role.

I blame Septa Mordane for filling Sansa's head with fluffy romance stories and songs. Sansa is intelligent! Weren't there any GOOD books for her to read? Was there no Jeyne Austen to be found anywhere in the library tower? (And just what kind of illuminated manuscripts may have been hidden in the back stacks of that tower - Brandon Stark the elder sounds like a player...maybe Septa was trying to keep Sansa from finding them...) I think Septa Mordane tried to keep Sansa reading "wholesome" stuff that would "keep her in the right mind for marriage" but allowing your daughter to get her sex ed from a celibate nun is like asking a vegan what prime rib tastes like.

Septa Mordane's unhelpful Birds and Bees advice was that all men were beautiful in the dark. Said by a celibate nun. What does she know? Sansa is too polite to laugh but I can imagine Arya laughing till she wet her pants at the irony of that. Don't take Mother advice from a Maiden! Except...

...Sansa has shown that she can find Sandor Clegane beautiful and appealing in the dark despite his scars. So, yay Septa Mordane on that one! I'm sure Mordane meant it to work with someone like Tyrion (and that didn't work) but when it came to Sandor, her advice, er, flowered. And long may it bloom, say I. :thumbsup:

More helpfully, Septa Mordane has done an excellent job teaching Sansa the things that have continued to serve her well: her graciousness, her manners, and her charm. Mordane has told Sansa that good manners are as tough as good armor, and Sansa wields them well. Sansa treats people well, and even after she becomes Alayne, she remembers her courtesy and charm. The Knights of the Vale remark upon it when they see her.

In the end, Mordane's maiden lessons don't all serve Sansa bad. And to be fair to her, she had no idea what the Lannisters were about or what kind of political shitstorm they were all to be caught in. A Maiden is an innocent and chaste archetype, naive to the ways of the world. Sansa always had more of the Mother in her, and although she might play "maid" on the surface, she is all Mother deep down.

The final death of Sansa's maidenly innocence was seeing Septa Mordane's head, along with her father's, on a spike after Joffrey had her executed. One could say that Sansa lost her spiritual and emotional virginity that day. She is no longer the Maiden and her song is the Mother.

Two brief points: The Starks, like most northerners, worship the old gods. Sansa always pronounces herself fascinated by the Sept at Baelor, but all for the incense and beautiful carvings and flashy crystals - not really for any strong feelings toward the Faith of the Seven (except, again, the Mother). She is always seen much more drawn to th godswood, and when she is in the Vale, she regrets that the stony soil of the Vale can't grow a good Godswood. Crackpottily, I wonder if she will bring back a kind of mother-goddess worship allied with the Old Religion. And don't forget how many goddesses were accompanied by dogs!

Finally - Septa Mordane's name, comes from mor, meaning death. Her death is the death of any illusions Sansa might have as living the life of a highborn maid (like Margaery) as well as the death of one of her premier mother figures.

What that clears away and leaves her free to do, is to explore sides of herself that would have Mordane in a conniption fit - hanging out with bastards! With women who have sex! Maybe even HAVING sex herself! Taking care of herself, a child, and a household. Acting as Peter's chatelaine and holding her own with the knights of the Vale. Growing up.

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This thread is moving to fast!

I don't remember this at all, you could be right but I'm doubting it. Even so there was no reason to believe that Sansa would be married off to a great looking guy, look at the current eligible men in Westeros around the time of GoT, most of them look pretty decent! I'm not sure if this happened, you could prove me wrong though!

Sansa remembers this on her wedding night when looking at Tyrion. It has never made sense to me that Septa Mordane, a woman who has never been and will never be a wife or mother, is the one telling Sansa this. Sansa remembers this advice and finds Mordane's advice here completely failing her. Telling someone that you'll be able to find something beautiful in any man no matter what does little to help them prepare for the reality of the wedding night. It completely denies the idea of female desire and perpetuates women as objects to be sold off in marriage. This whole piece of advice makes my teeth itch, even if it is kindly meant.

Indeed :(

I also really liked your point on maids not having been very good (learning experience etc) to Sansa, and your general thoughts on how she represents the Mother figure are extremely interesting. This is why I can't see her becoming the Virgin Queen, to be honest. So much of her experience revolves around women embracing their sexuality and stuggling for autonomy, that it would truly be a tragic ending if these things were not realised for Sansa.

I think so too. I admit, I've never quite understood the wish for Sansa to assume this role. It's contrary to her wishes since the beginning of the series. I also think her story is much more tied to female sexuality than most casual readers would realize.

I would also like to point out that even though Sansa is called a "total snob" and "arrogant" her best friend in Winterfell was a steward's daughter. Not one of the highborn ladies. She understood the class divide, but she was genuinely friends with Jeyne.

I get frustrated when I see this. I think it comes from lack of understanding of the 3rd person limited POV structure of the books and applying modern class structure to Westeros. She made a very accurate judgment about Jeyne and Ser Beric and she expressed disdain over Arya being with the common folk. It doesn't make her a snob but it does show some of Arya's naivatee her. Arya, especially early on, makes several statements about Sansa. That doesn't make any of it true. It just means that these are Arya's opinions.

<Wonderful post filled with Cat love>

First, yesterday's post and now this? What are you doing to me? I need to go get another picture frame and put this on my wall too.

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The Maid archetype seems to be the least powerful of the seven. Other archetypes are invoked for protection (the Mother for mercy, the Smith for success in hard work, etc.) but the Maiden is beautiful and helpless and worshipped by young girls crowned with flowers (Margaery wants to participate and Cercei has a fit about it).

Mothers and Crones have much more power. It does depend on their husbands and sons, but Maidens are absolutely powerless except for what personal qualities they can bring to bear. And lucky ones like Mya get to have both sex and power - power that they carve out themselves. Mya is an entrepreneur. Mya has made herself indispensable to the Eyrie. I hope Alayne/Sansa learns some of these lessons from Mya.

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The Maid archetype seems to be the least powerful of the seven. Other archetypes are invoked for protection (the Mother for mercy, the Smith for success in hard work, etc.) but the Maiden is beautiful and helpless and worshipped by young girls crowned with flowers (Margaery wants to participate and Cercei has a fit about it).

Mothers and Crones have much more power. It does depend on their husbands and sons, but Maidens are absolutely powerless except for what personal qualities they can bring to bear. And lucky ones like Mya get to have both sex and power - power that they carve out themselves. Mya is an entrepreneur. Mya has made herself indispensable to the Eyrie. I hope Alayne/Sansa learns some of these lessons from Mya.

Yes, you bring up a good point. What is the Maiden for, anyway? If the Mother is for mercy, the Crone for wisdom, the Warrior for battle, the Smith for hard work, the Father for justice, the Stranger for outsiders and/or death... what does the Maiden stand for? Is she like a "token god" for girls to identify with?

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Here's what the wiki says: "Maiden, representing innocence and chastity, she is usually prayed to to protect a maiden's virtue".

Nice, so basically the Maiden is there to make sure the girls aren't spoiled goods. Not to actually help women, just to protect the men's property.

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Interesting that Mya comments on how a man will die or lie or leave you, since Sansa seems to think Lothor Brune could be a good match for Mya. Will Sansa somehow be able to help Mya get over her trust issues and in doing so become her friend (and maybe getting over some of her own trust issues as well?)

It seems to me one of Sansa's issues so far has been to know in whom to trust. Almost every time she has trusted in someone, it has come at a steep cost, perhaps with the exceptions of Sandor. Cersei completely used her, the Tyrells did too, Dontos told LF about the Tyrell plan, LF himself is just...well, not trustworthy in the least. That's a pretty short list of people who are trustworthy for Sansa since it's basically limited to "maybe Sandor" and apart from that: empty.

Mya Stone though doesn't have any ulterior motives when it comes to Sansa. She doesn't seem to want to advance in society or marry LF (unlike Myranda) and seems fairly happy doing what she does. Perhaps Sansa needs to find these people who likes her for herself and doesn't want anything off her when she needs people to trust? Mya seems like a prime candidate for this.

Brash:

That is exactly what i think its happening! The matchmaking with mya & lothor is in a way Sansa trying to justify that it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to end up with Sandor. & the fact that she is so far in Feast doing this unconsciously is great cause without fully realizing it some part of her mind already knows Sandor isn’t such a bad idea and is trying to let her see that. I don’t know if all the pillow talks she can have with randa will help her see that there is a reason for her constant thinking about Sandor, but i feel that the moment if and when they meet again will be when the blind falls of her eyes and she will see the obvious...

I'm coming late to this conversation but just want to echo both your thoughts and state that I agree. I really do think it is important that Sansa's moments and feelings towards Sandor are kept a secret for a reason. It's a concealed Chekov's gun, perhaps?

Also, when it comes to a friendship with Mya, I don't think there is a requirmement that Sansa completely trust or reveal her secrets with Mya. Friendship, even under normal circumstances, can begin slowly with people slowly revealing themselves with each other. I think they could both benefit from each other. Even so, I still think a deepening relationship between them is likely.

On Septa Mordane, and her influence on Sansa Stark:

- The Starks, minus Catelyn, worship the Old Gods. Catelyn has a small sept, but the rest of the family worships the old way (and, disclaimer, I'm pro-Old Gods myself!). So why have a septa for Sansa and Arya? Not to train them in religion, but to inculcate in them the social graces necessary for a lady and to provide them with an education. Noble Westerosi women, at least at Sansa's level, are literate. Mordane also seems to be the one responsible for teaching Sansa how to sew, how to sing and dance, in short all the graces needed for a lady.

In Jon's first POV chapter, he muses that both his sisters are to wed great southern lords. I could see that being planned for Sansa, but for Arya? It would certainly bring the lulz if Arya were to wed Ser Loras and go live at Highgarden. I think that Ned was blinded by love of his daughter (I love her therefore everyone else will) and the fact that the Stark name and house were prizes on the marriage market.

Lots of great thoughts here!!! Ned built the Sept for Catelyn when she first came to WF. Septa Mordane was the first Septa that had ever been brought North too and was done at Cat's request. I think this makes sense as Catelyn was a follower of the Seven and from we can tell, the Stark children were educated in both faiths. Sansa followed the Seven to a much greater degree than the other children. Many of the Septa's duties seem pretty typical.

As to Jon, this is just his impressions but I'm not sure he was correct. Ned and Cat have a conversation after Robert suggests Sansa and Joff marry. Ned makes statements that he hadn't thought about marriage for either of the daughtes yet and didn't think he would have to for several years. I could see Cat wanted to marry them in to Southern houses to advance their House but I'm not certain that would happen. Both parents seemed to want to keep their children close so it's also possible that at least one would marry into a Northern family. We do know that Arya was expected to be a proper Lady Wife someday though. This is a good question to think about though. If Ned had never gone South, were would they have ended up?

Sansa, though, I could see as showing innate talent from birth. A pretty, graceful child, so quick to walk and talk, already knowing her letters at five or six...I'm sure it was at Catelyn's behest that Septa Mordane was summoned from the Southlands to make Lord Eddard Stark's lovely older daughter into a perfect lady, a prize for some southern lord. Arya - well, do the best you can with her!

So Sansa becomes a teacher's pet and excells at everything (except math) that Septa teaches her. In turn, I think Septa Mordane genuinely loves the girl. She's a virgin nun, and who knows why she took vows? Did she seek out the quiet life or was the decision made for her - a younger daughter of a poor noble house like the Westerlings, far down in the family birth order and with no good matches remaining for a younger and plain daughter?

The Septa is a bit of a social climber and has fixated on Sansa as her prize. I think Sansa is the closest to a daughter that she has. But - danger, Will Robinson! - Septa Mordane is a maid and not suited for the Mother role.

Yep, I think Septa Mordane cared about Sansa very much and I always thought she prefered Sansa over Arya. She certainly never had a problem of insulting Arya and making unfavorable comparisons. I think that Septa Mordane thinking of her as a daughter is quite possible. Sansa

Your thoughts on Septa Mordane's background are good ones. We never are told. In fact, we don't know much about Septas and how they choose that as a path in life. Maybe someone else can recall a bit more than this?

Septa Mordane's unhelpful Birds and Bees advice was that all men were beautiful in the dark. Said by a celibate nun. What does she know? Sansa is too polite to laugh but I can imagine Arya laughing till she wet her pants at the irony of that. Don't take Mother advice from a Maiden! Except...

...Sansa has shown that she can find Sandor Clegane beautiful and appealing in the dark despite his scars. So, yay Septa Mordane on that one! I'm sure Mordane meant it to work with someone like Tyrion (and that didn't work) but when it came to Sandor, her advice, er, flowered. And long may it bloom, say I. :thumbsup:

More helpfully, Septa Mordane has done an excellent job teaching Sansa the things that have continued to serve her well: her graciousness, her manners, and her charm. Mordane has told Sansa that good manners are as tough as good armor, and Sansa wields them well. Sansa treats people well, and even after she becomes Alayne, she remembers her courtesy and charm. The Knights of the Vale remark upon it when they see her.

In the end, Mordane's maiden lessons don't all serve Sansa bad. And to be fair to her, she had no idea what the Lannisters were about or what kind of political shitstorm they were all to be caught in. A Maiden is an innocent and chaste archetype, naive to the ways of the world. Sansa always had more of the Mother in her, and although she might play "maid" on the surface, she is all Mother deep down.

The final death of Sansa's maidenly innocence was seeing Septa Mordane's head, along with her father's, on a spike after Joffrey had her executed. One could say that Sansa lost her spiritual and emotional virginity that day. She is no longer the Maiden and her song is the Mother.

In my last post, you see some of my thoughts on Septa Mordane and her advice her. She did give her the idea of courtesy armor which Sansa even managed to turn in to a weapon. But, I always felt that this was Sansa's innate instincts and that the Septa just helped her give it it a name. A Septa teaching a woman about marriage and sex doesn't make sense to me either.

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KRBD, thanks so much for your enlightening post on Septa Mordane! As we've all been discussing lately, the Septa seems to have had a fairly negative impact on Sansa in terms of not encouraging her to question things and basically training her as a pretty talking bird. Although we can appreciate that the Septa had no idea of the mess the girls' lives would become, she's presented overall as a very snobbish woman and an inadequate teacher who fostered jealousy between Arya and Sansa.

Lyanna Stark explored a lot of these issues in her thread: http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/topic/69881-septa-mordane-worst-teacher-in-westeros/

The final death of Sansa's maidenly innocence was seeing Septa Mordane's head, along with her father's, on a spike after Joffrey had her executed. One could say that Sansa lost her spiritual and emotional virginity that day. She is no longer the Maiden and her song is the Mother.

Hmmm, interesting. I definitely agree that this was a brutal blow to her innocent conception of the world and marked the beginning of an end to her naivete. What we also see is that the moment strengthens Sansa and doesn't have the devastating impact Joffrey wanted. As regards her being aligned with the mother, there is value in this opinion. She's known victimization as a maid, but the mother's song offers her protection and helps Sandor as well.

Kittykatknits:

In my last post, you see some of my thoughts on Septa Mordane and her advice her. She did give her the idea of courtesy armor which Sansa even managed to turn in to a weapon. But, I always felt that this was Sansa's innate instincts and that the Septa just helped her give it it a name. A Septa teaching a woman about marriage and sex doesn't make sense to me either.

More troubling is what the Septa teaches Sansa about marriage and sex. There doesn't seem to have been very much outside of telling her that all men are beautiful and she needs to find the beauty in her husband. Such advice is ultimately geared towards women's subjugation. I think of the Septa as a bit of a dinosaur honestly.

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More troubling is what the Septa teaches Sansa about marriage and sex. There doesn't seem to have been very much outside of telling her that all men are beautiful and she needs to find the beauty in her husband. Such advice is ultimately geared towards women's subjugation. I think of the Septa as a bit of a dinosaur honestly.

Yep, you pretty much reflect exactly what I had been thinking of in another post! :) It completely negates feminine desire and reinforces the idea of woman as objects to be sold off. This is the first time we ever see Sansa drawing on her Septa's advice failing her too. Which makes sense, how can a woman who has no experience with marriage or sex really help Sansa at a time like this?

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Yep, you pretty much reflect exactly what I had been thinking of in another post! :) It completely negates feminine desire and reinforces the idea of woman as objects to be sold off. This is the first time we ever see Sansa drawing on her Septa's advice failing her too. Which makes sense, how can a woman who has no experience with marriage or sex really help Sansa at a time like this?

Indeed. And I just remembered, the mother's song was taught to Sansa by Catelyn, not Septa Mordane.

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Indeed. And I just remembered, the mother's song was taught to Sansa by Catelyn, not Septa Mordane.

I had forgotten that. Very apt, as Sansa's thinks of her mother's strength, and with the mother's song, she draws on that strength in a moment where she needed it. I think you just made that whole scene even more powerful form.

My love for Catelyn just grew a little more.

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Sansa is intelligent! Weren't there any GOOD books for her to read? Was there no Jeyne Austen to be found anywhere in the library tower? (And just what kind of illuminated manuscripts may have been hidden in the back stacks of that tower - Brandon Stark the elder sounds like a player...maybe Septa was trying to keep Sansa from finding them.

Lol, that thing about Brandon Stark made me recall Tom Jones, the history of a foudnling and Sansa reading it :)

Sansa has shown that she can find Sandor Clegane beautiful and appealing in the dark despite his scars. So, yay Septa Mordane on that one! I'm sure Mordane meant it to work with someone like Tyrion (and that didn't work) but when it came to Sandor, her advice, er, flowered. And long may it bloom, say I.

:bowdown: :agree:

A Maiden is an innocent and chaste archetype, naive to the ways of the world. Sansa always had more of the Mother in her, and although she might play "maid" on the surface, she is all Mother deep down.

This reminded me of the talk back in the FPTP rereadings where Sansa was meant to represent the Mother, and even more so now that she is taking the surrogate role with Sweetrobin… & I liked how you put it that what attracted Sansa from the religion of the 7 was just really the Mother and all the pretty show of the glitter and crystals.. hadn’t really seen it that way till now but she does seem to find her strength from the old gods, so another check to the qualities that show just how much of a Stark Sansa really is!

- It might be that kitty- a Chekov’s gun which isn’t really as concealed as George would want to make us believe

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My apologies for such a scattershot post, but I'm responding more to general themes rather than specific posts. Also, this thread moved really fast so if this seems like a response to something specific then I just didn't catch it.

Right now I think Sansa is gathering the right tools to be incredibly powerful when the time is right. I would be shocked however, if she ended up on the Iron Throne. If she does end up ruling, I believe it will be as Queen in the North. From that, she will either make her own marriage pact or have her own Sir Walter Raleigh. (After all, Elizabeth wasn't really a virgin queen.) That said, I'm sure Sansa would happily step aside from ruling anything if she could marry someone she truly loved.

As to her virginity, I still think she's really too young to contemplate losing it before marriage, not to mention the myriad of other things on her plate. And, as pointed out, she's still married. If anything, I think the prospect of an annulment protects her from Petyr rather than from any other suitor. And as for losing her virginity itself, I still have a very difficult time seeing her willingness to do so before her wedding night. Yes, we see her exposed to single women who enjoy other men's company, but she's doing so as Alayne and not as Sansa. We never see Sansa's thoughts on sex before marriage. What she does dream about is Tyrion turning into Sandor in the marriage bed and when the question of, "you know what happens in the marriage bed" comes along, she thinks of Sandor and the unkiss. These are all thoughts related to marriage. I don't see any particular arc with the people Sansa is around and sexual agency nor do I see them pointing to Sansa being willing to have premarital sex. I see Alayne being around people who freely take liberties and Alayne sort of nodding and smiling, but that's it. We have no idea what kind of affect this will eventually have on Sansa. If anything, I see that these are people that Sansa/Alayne can eventually use against Littlefinger when the time is right. Sansa did say, "I will make them love me." These are people she can use because they love her. Littlefinger is not loved. He just has power.

When I read the Alayne chapters I see a distinct divide between Sansa and her Alayne persona and one that Sansa is very much aware of. It's possible that Sansa will choose to merge with parts of Alayne but it's also quite possible she will leave everything behind.

I think that Sansa is not all that changed from the Sansa we meet in AGoT. Yes, the naivete is gone, but I believe she still wants to marry for love, she wants a family and children. When I read the Alayne chapters I simply see Sansa in survival mode, and I take it all with a grain of salt as to its applicability to Sansa. And in an odd way, I do think that Sansa's life so far is quite a bit like the songs she loves. I don't know how it ends, but she's a beautiful princess who's been trapped twice now. She has had one protector in Sandor who looks monstrous but isn't and another protector who doesn't look monstrous but actually is in Petyr. It may well be that one of Sansa's lessons is that the songs are lovely to sing about but actually living them is painful.

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Indeed. And I just remembered, the mother's song was taught to Sansa by Catelyn, not Septa Mordane.

I always think of the caged bird singing when Sansa offers the Mother's hymn. Is it too much to suppose that GRRM might have read Maya Angelou or Paul Dunbar's "Sympathy"? The fear, rage, and longing for freedom, the imagery of the nightmare scream, they seem like important subtexts, even though there is no greater discussion of race going on here in Martin's scene.

ETA I also think of Sterne's A Sentimental Journey and the encounter with the starling who cannot get free of its cage. Especially, the way Austen uses the scene in Mansfield Park as a way to consider the plight of women regarding marriage.

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As to her virginity, I still think she's really too young to contemplate losing it before marriage, not to mention the myriad of other things on her plate. And, as pointed out, she's still married. If anything, I think the prospect of an annulment protects her from Petyr rather than from any other suitor. And as for losing her virginity itself, I still have a very difficult time seeing her willingness to do so before her wedding night. Yes, we see her exposed to single women who enjoy other men's company, but she's doing so as Alayne and not as Sansa. We never see Sansa's thoughts on sex before marriage. What she does dream about is Tyrion turning into Sandor in the marriage bed and when the question of, "you know what happens in the marriage bed" comes along, she thinks of Sandor and the unkiss. These are all thoughts related to marriage. I don't see any particular arc with the people Sansa is around and sexual agency nor do I see them pointing to Sansa being willing to have premarital sex. I see Alayne being around people who freely take liberties and Alayne sort of nodding and smiling, but that's it. We have no idea what kind of affect this will eventually have on Sansa. If anything, I see that these are people that Sansa/Alayne can eventually use against Littlefinger when the time is right. Sansa did say, "I will make them love me." These are people she can use because they love her. Littlefinger is not loved. He just has power.

Your post raised some really great points :) I have to disagree slightly on the one about not getting Sansa's thoughts on sex before marriage, as we do see her thinking that it was ok if her mother slept with Petyr because of love. As for the thoughts of Sandor in connection to the marriage bed, I don't think it necessarily means that she associates sex with marriage and wouldn't engage in it outside of that union. Sansa has become disillusioned with marriage, not love or sex or intimacy with the right man, and this I think will have an impact on the decisions she makes in her personal life. Also, whatever affects Alayne affects Sansa, and so she is going to be influenced by others but I think her own experience will be what guides her. Randa asks if she knows what goes on in the marriage bed, and she does understand, meaning that Sansa is already aware of these things, and now Alayne is going to be exposed to much more knowledge given her bastard identity. And what is Sansa aware of? Well, she knows that her marriage didn't bring her any pleasure and that she was exploited for her claim to Winterfell, a claim that still places her in jeopardy. By contrast, she knows that Sandor was the only person she could trust in KL, and that he feels something for her which she might be beginning to feel for him. She also knows that marriage does not equal love/happiness and that often women have to look outside of their marriages to find it.

I always think of the caged bird singing when Sansa offers the Mother's hymn. Is it too much to suppose that GRRM might have read Maya Angelou or Paul Dunbar's "Sympathy"? The fear, rage, and longing for freedom, the imagery of the nightmare scream, they seem like important subtexts, even though there is no greater discussion of race going on here in Martin's scene.

ETA I also think of Sterne's A Sentimental Journey and the encounter with the starling who cannot get free of its cage. Especially, the way Austen uses the scene in Mansfield Park as a way to consider the plight of women regarding marriage.

That's really interesting! Dunbar's poem is one of my favourites :) My feeling is that both Sansa and Sandor would represent the caged bird in their scene.

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Aaargh... I lost my reply just when I was about to post, so I hope I still have my thoughts together.

Your post raised some really great points :) I have to disagree slightly on the one about not getting Sansa's thoughts on sex before marriage, as we do see her thinking that it was ok if her mother slept with Petyr because of love.

Thank you for the response! :) Can you point me to this passage? I think I read so fast that I just missed it.

As for the thoughts of Sandor in connection to the marriage bed, I don't think it necessarily means that she associates sex with marriage and wouldn't engage in it outside of that union. Sansa has become disillusioned with marriage, not love or sex or intimacy with the right man, and this I think will have an impact on the decisions she makes in her personal life.

I think that Sansa has become disillusioned with her claim being used for marriage, but not marriage itself. During Petyr and Lysa's bedding she thinks that it wouldn't have been so bad to be undressed by friends for a man she loved. When she was betrothed to Joffrey it was rainbows and puppies and "it's all I've ever wanted" but then it became ugly very fast. She was held hostage for her claim, she was married to Tyrion for her claim, and Littlefinger hopes to marry her to Harry for her claim. I do agree about love and sex and intimacy, but I don't see any eroticism from Sansa. She dreams of kissing Sandor which may be nothing more than an attempt to romanticize a terrifying experience. She later dreams of him in the marriage bed, possibly because she's mistaken Lothor Brune for him after he shielded her from an almost certain rape. The replacement of Sandor could be comfort for her, rather than anything erotic, since absolutely nothing erotic happened in her own marriage bed. And there's nothing erotic about her dream of Sandor in the marriage bed. She dreams of him demanding a song, and although we can guess what he means by that there's no indication that Sansa has a physical reaction to that or understands the double meaning.

Also, whatever affects Alayne affects Sansa, and so she is going to be influenced by others but I think her own experience will be what guides her. Randa asks if she knows what goes on in the marriage bed, and she does understand, meaning that Sansa is already aware of these things, and now Alayne is going to be exposed to much more knowledge given her bastard identity. And what is Sansa aware of? Well, she knows that her marriage didn't bring her any pleasure and that she was exploited for her claim to Winterfell, a claim that still places her in jeopardy. By contrast, she knows that Sandor was the only person she could trust in KL, and that he feels something for her which she might be beginning to feel for him. She also knows that marriage does not equal love/happiness and that often women have to look outside of their marriages to find it.

I also agree that what affect Alayne affects Sansa, but we don't know to what extent yet. I tend to think it's going to have more to do with her learning the game and if there is sexual growth, it will be a side note. Randa does talk a great deal about sex and innocence and succeeds in making Sansa blush which, whatever her awareness level is, she's still not entirely comfortable with talk of that nature yet. And no, her marriage didn't bring her pleasure, but I think that had more to do with "Surprise! You're marrying a Lannister today!" than anything else. I'm reasonably certain she would have been unhappy with Jaime, even though she would have been less repulsed by him.

As for marriage not equaling love and happiness, I do agree that she's aware of this, which is why I think she will end up deciding for herself who she will marry and refuse, once she has the power to do so, to let others decide for her.

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The replacement of Sandor could be comfort for her, rather than anything erotic, since absolutely nothing erotic happened in her own marriage bed. And there's nothing erotic about her dream of Sandor in the marriage bed. She dreams of him demanding a song, and although we can guess what he means by that there's no indication that Sansa has a physical reaction to that or understands the double meaning.

Monica, can I start with saying that I love your Darcy avatar! :)

Regarding the replacement of Sandor as erotic or not, I would have agreed with you on my first read through, more or less, but on closer examination it does look like there is more to it than that. As it often is with GRRM, we may have to dig a bit in other POV's or other chapters to get the full meaning.

I think everyone remembers Sandor's drunken comment on the Serptentine Steps when he says "One day I'll have a song from you, whether you will it or not" and Sansa's reply "I'll sing it to you gladly".

Fast forward to Sansa's marriage to Tyrion: This is how Sansa describes Tyrion whom she later substitutes in what seems to be this very same situation.

The cold made her shiver, but she obeyed. Her eyes closed, and she waited. After a moment she heard the sound of her husband pulling off his boots, and the rustle of clothing as he undressed himself. When he hopped up on the bed and put his hand on her breast, Sansa could not help but shudder. She lay with her eyes closed, every muscle tense, dreading what might come next. Would he touch her again? Kiss her? Should she open her legs for him now? She did not know what was expected of her.

"Sansa." The hand was gone. "Open your eyes".

She had promised to obey; she opened her eyes.

He was sitting by her feet, naked. Where his legs joined, his man's staff poked out stiff and hard from a thicket of coarse yellow hair, but it was the only thing about him that was straight.

Like in many of Sansa's chapters it can be useful to note things like body language, what is left unsaid and also where people are positioned. So here we have a stark naked and aroused Tyrion close enough to Sansa to fondle her breast.

Then if we move on to Petyr's and Lysa's wedding, where we have Sansa outside pondering her own marriage, how it wouldn't have been so bad with the bedding if it had been for a man she loved with friends who loved them both, we have Lysa screaming upstairs and then Marillion comes along "helpfully" and adds the following little gems:

"Marillion?" she said, uncertain. "You are...kind to think of me, but...pray forgive me. I am very tired."

"And very beautiful. All night I have been making songs for you in my head. A lay for your eyes, a ballad for your lips, a duet to your breasts. I will not sing them, though. They were poor things, unworthy of such beauty." He sat on her bed and put his hand on her leg. "Let me sing to you with my body instead."

...

"I'm a maiden," she protested.

"Truly? Oh, Alayne, Alayne, my fair maid, give me the gift of your innocence. You will thank the gods you did. I'll have you singing louder than the Lady Lysa."

Then about two seconds later, Lothor Brune shows up and scares off Marillion, and Sansa mistakes him for Sandor. She says of Lothor's voice

Not the Hound's, no how could it be? Of course it had to be Lothor...

Now lastly, we have Sansa substituting Tyrion in her dream with Sandor. I think judging from the above we can also surmise that she knows full well what a Song is a metaphor for, too, based on Marillion's comments.

And she dreamt of her wedding night too, of Tyrion's eyes devouring her as she undressed. Only then he was bigger than Tyrion had any right to be, and when he climbed into the bed his face was scarred only on one side. "I'll have a song from you," he rasped, and Sansa woke and found the old blind dog beside her again. "I wish that you were Lady," she said.

One thing to keep in mind here is to go back and look at the Tyrion scene and what Sansa is actually substituting, which is an aroused naked guy, and then the song metaphor after Sansa has just heard Lysa screaming the house down, supposedly from sexual pleasure, and Marillion promising her that he'll have her singing even louder.

I always got the second reference (the song), but it's only when you really go back to the Tyrion wedding scene and combine the two you go "What is this I don't even..."

Adding the two together makes it difficult to see it as anything else than eroticising***.

*** With this I am not making a value statement on whether it is appropriate, proper, believable on a meta level, or anything else, simply a text analysis. I tend to think human sexual desire isn't logical or appropriate most of the time, but I know others disagree.

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I truly believe Sansa will remain virgin until her marriage(if that ever happens, due to the annulment). Why? I agree with all of you when you say she isn`t that erotic (one of the main reason why she was so drawn to Taena Marryweather or Ellaria Sand, Kella or Mya Stone). Her innocence is the best mask she has, I mean it`s there, we all know she is kind and good, and innocent in every way, but underneath of all of that she is starting to show side which is far from innocent 13 years old girl. Underneath of that innocence of a pawn, you can see smartness of a player...Sex is powerful tool, especially if woman is clever enough to know when to wide her legs and when to cross them. Sansa was never taught of that wisdom. Her obidience, her manners, her flattering are her weapons. Not sex. But, if she is ever to become a player, she`ll need entire arsenal.

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I'm coming late to this conversation but just want to echo both your thoughts and state that I agree. I really do think it is important that Sansa's moments and feelings towards Sandor are kept a secret for a reason. It's a concealed Chekov's gun, perhaps?

There really seems to be the Chekov touch on it, same as with Arya's hiding Needle. It seems the relationship built between Sansa and Sandor would be rather pointless if nothing came of it and it was just dropped and Sandor became some sort of inner voice for Sansa and stayed that way, as a sort of passive adviser.

As a sidenote regarding inner voices and their meaning, I recently read Harbor which is centred around a father whose daughter is lost and how he comes to realise that he is literally the conduit for her in this world, and he hears her voice in his head and lets it guide him. She manages to communicate this by the writing "Carry me" (I cried so hard at this :crying: ). The point if this inner voice and being the conduit for her is that it helps him rediscover her.

I guess my point is that "the inner voice" thing does not only mean that it needs to remain a memory, it can be an activating force and propel the character forward. It also means that Sandor is not dead to Sansa, she ponders where he is and what he thinks of things, along with remembering his advice. It's also obvious once you start to look for it that she really uses him as a yardstick for how to view other men, and mostly it seems they come up short. Even her description of Loras whom she finds to pretty is strangely...unflattering to Loras. To the reader, he comes across as pretty and shallow (the flower) while Sandor as the fierce companion and protector (the dog).

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I think that Sansa has become disillusioned with her claim being used for marriage, but not marriage itself. During Petyr and Lysa's bedding she thinks that it wouldn't have been so bad to be undressed by friends for a man she loved. When she was betrothed to Joffrey it was rainbows and puppies and "it's all I've ever wanted" but then it became ugly very fast. She was held hostage for her claim, she was married to Tyrion for her claim, and Littlefinger hopes to marry her to Harry for her claim. I do agree about love and sex and intimacy, but I don't see any eroticism from Sansa. She dreams of kissing Sandor which may be nothing more than an attempt to romanticize a terrifying experience. She later dreams of him in the marriage bed, possibly because she's mistaken Lothor Brune for him after he shielded her from an almost certain rape. The replacement of Sandor could be comfort for her, rather than anything erotic, since absolutely nothing erotic happened in her own marriage bed. And there's nothing erotic about her dream of Sandor in the marriage bed. She dreams of him demanding a song, and although we can guess what he means by that there's no indication that Sansa has a physical reaction to that or understands the double meaning.

As for marriage not equaling love and happiness, I do agree that she's aware of this, which is why I think she will end up deciding for herself who she will marry and refuse, once she has the power to do so, to let others decide for her.

Sansa does indicate that she is disillusioned with the entire idea of marriage. In her final chapter in Feast, she does think that she does not want to marry, perhaps not ever again. But, she has these thoughts in the same chapter where she is thinking of Mya and Luthor together and reflects on Sandor and his unkiss more than once. So, we don't know where she will go with these thoughts, but it is becoming apparent that she is thinking of sex and love as something seperate from marriage.

But, I agree that when/if she marries again, Sansa will be the one to decide for herself.

Regarding the replacement of Sandor as erotic or not, I would have agreed with you on my first read through, more or less, but on closer examination it does look like there is more to it than that. As it often is with GRRM, we may have to dig a bit in other POV's or other chapters to get the full meaning.

It can frustrate me at times that Sansa does not always reveal her thoughts to us as the readers. She makes some great statements or alludes to something and then we get no reaction from her. With Sansa, we really need to step back and look at her broader storyline to see what is happening or better understand her reactions. I think this causes many readers to miss just what is happening. Your example here and then the conversation on the serpentine steps are two good examples of this. I'd say the same about the death of Lady too. But, it shows just how much a reader needs to work to understand how much the POV structure influences them.

I truly believe Sansa will remain virgin until her marriage(if that ever happens, due to the annulment). Why? I agree with all of you when you say she isn`t that erotic (one of the main reason why she was so drawn to Taena Marryweather or Ellaria Sand, Kella or Mya Stone). Her innocence is the best mask she has, I mean it`s there, we all know she is kind and good, and innocent in every way, but underneath of all of that she is starting to show side which is far from innocent 13 years old girl. Underneath of that innocence of a pawn, you can see smartness of a player...Sex is powerful tool, especially if woman is clever enough to know when to wide her legs and when to cross them. Sansa was never taught of that wisdom. Her obidience, her manners, her flattering are her weapons. Not sex. But, if she is ever to become a player, she`ll need entire arsenal.

But isn't using sex as a weapon Cersei's approach? I think if and when Sansa decides to have sex, she will not do so for a tool but rather because she wants to. But, her manners, flattery, empathy, and compassion are her weapons, I completely agree with you. I think those are the tools that she will use as she moves to a player role.

There really seems to be the Chekov touch on it, same as with Arya's hiding Needle. It seems the relationship built between Sansa and Sandor would be rather pointless if nothing came of it and it was just dropped and Sandor became some sort of inner voice for Sansa and stayed that way, as a sort of passive adviser.

As a sidenote regarding inner voices and their meaning, I recently read Harbor which is centred around a father whose daughter is lost and how he comes to realise that he is literally the conduit for her in this world, and he hears her voice in his head and lets it guide him. She manages to communicate this by the writing "Carry me" (I cried so hard at this :crying: ). The point if this inner voice and being the conduit for her is that it helps him rediscover her.

I guess my point is that "the inner voice" thing does not only mean that it needs to remain a memory, it can be an activating force and propel the character forward. It also means that Sandor is not dead to Sansa, she ponders where he is and what he thinks of things, along with remembering his advice. It's also obvious once you start to look for it that she really uses him as a yardstick for how to view other men, and mostly it seems they come up short. Even her description of Loras whom she finds to pretty is strangely...unflattering to Loras. To the reader, he comes across as pretty and shallow (the flower) while Sandor as the fierce companion and protector (the dog).

It's the secretive nature that I think is really important. I know some disagree (side-eyeing Lummel here) but I believe that he will do more than just live on in her thoughts. The imagery between them is quite substantial. He's not a memory in the way that other characters are. He is still very much with her. Martin's recent comments really convinced me. We had the build up in book two and we will see a payoff. Her thoughts on where he is are important ones, they are not the thoughts on someone who is merely reflecting upon a piece of advice or two. I think it indicates that she wants to see him again. I really like that highlighted sentence by the way.

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