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brashcandy

From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa VIII

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@Kittykat - Great response above elucidating Sansa's moments of kindness and compassion. I think what HopeforSpring meant on the proper order of things is that Sansa isn't so much reacting out of kindness but from a desire to see everything return to normal, or "the way it should be." However, based on what we see in the novel, Sansa is quite adept at dealing with chaotic situations which throw her world view into turmoil. If she was focused on "Order" then she would never have been able to develop a relationship like the one she did with Sandor. And we see that most of her compassionate acts are actually instinctive, meaning that she hasn't thought about them at all.

(Edited because I answered the wrong question and it sounds nonsensical!)

It is true that Sansa is, or has become, quite adept at coping with chaotic situations. She's very smart (as Arya actually muses upon in her first chapter). It's interesting that she is now learning from Littlefinger, who is the master at stirring up chaos so he can take advantage of it.

And yes, if she was focused on Order then she'd still be stuck on the Knight of Flowers. Or she'd dutifully consummate her marriage with Tyrion. She'd still be the same person in FFC that she was in GOT and she is not.

I also see the development of her compassionate characteristics as coming from maturity; as a sheltered preteen the compassion was always there under the surface, but not given the impetus to develop that it has been now that she's faced all the hardships and fear that she has now. For instance - I know she must have seen peasants in the North, but the Starks seem to have taken good care of their people. Now she sees starving people en masse in KL and it hit her like a ton of bricks and her first instinct was to give them money.

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Hmm...then how about Sansa being linked to the Mother archetype? (I'm not quite sure how to word the question)

This was meant for the other post (I double posted so edited this one :)) Yeah the mother archetype wouldn't be bad, although based on his response to questions regarding symbolism he may choose not to clarify this at all.

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Yeah, I get why Sansa does/feel all those things. That's why I called her human as opposed to some of the language on other threads ;-)

But I've just felt like, not so much now, but at previous stages her morality has come comparing the actions of everyone to what has been done in songs and trying to behave "properly" not from a deep emotional connection to the weak. And that is fine. Moving from behavior based on songs to how she is going to function in the real world I think very much is her journey; I think she is growing into some compassion. She had no need for it as the beautiful daughter of Lord Stark of Winterfell, Hand of the King. Since that has been taken away from her I think she is becoming more sophisticated. I think she is starting to grow up and defining her own song.

I just don't agree with the birds landing on her fingers deer following her through the forrest language that a few of the posts have for her and I was wondering if that was a problem here. I'll just keep my mouth shut. Being even mostly decent is a huge feat in Westeros!

At least no one on this thread is espousing the "you can't call it rape if they're married because they didn't call it that in Westeros" line that I was looking for some refuge from ;-)

Edit: A little bit of punctuation

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Yeah, I get why Sansa does/feel all those things. That why I call her human as opposed to some of the language on other threads ;-)

I think it makes her quite exceptional, from both an in-world perspective and from a modern one as well.

But I've just felt like, not so much now, but at previous stages her morality has come comparing the actions of everyone to what has been done in songs and trying to behave "properly" not from a deep emotional connection to the weak.

Yes, she's tried to be a good little lady, but when for example Sandor accuses her of being a pretty talking bird, all flash and no substance, she shortly disproves such an assessment by her response to him after hearing the story. Sansa was focused on behaving as a lady should and using her courtesy armor, but that went hand in hand with a deeply compassionate core that we notice does rise to the surface when she's met with new challenges.

At least no one on this thread is espousing the "you can't call rape if they're married because they didn't call it that in Westeros" line that I was looking for some refuge from ;-)

No, you definitely won't see that here.

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Several possible questions:

1. You [GRRM] have stated previously that symbolism is important in the series. Should we pay more attention to Sansa's choices of clothing?

2. There seems to be an emphasis on Sansa's clothing, the dream where she and Joff are on the iron throne and both dressed in gold (which appears to tie in with Joff being dressed in his golden armour once dead and Olenna Tyrell being dressed in gold at the PW where he is poisoned), and also in the Eyrie where there appears to be an important scene regarding Sansa's choice of dress as her choice to meet the Lords Declerant seems to parallel Cersei's choice to visit the High Septon. Is there more to clothing choices than meets the eye? (This is probably too long winded)

3. Apart from death, will there be a possibility that some POVs will leave the story (per say) with out dying? Fulfill their role and quietly have their ending before the end of the series.

4. We know Sansa imagined the Unkiss, but has Sandor ever actually kissed anyone?

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At least no one on this thread is espousing the "you can't call it rape if they're married because they didn't call it that in Westeros" line that I was looking for some refuge from ;-)

This line fills me with so much hate. I'm pretty sure holding a woman captive, emotionally and physically abusing her for months and then having sex with her is rape regardless of cultural norms (of course, this is NOT the Westros cultural norm).

People who claim it is another arranged marriage miss the fact that fathers, while seeking political marriage, most likely look out for their daughters welfare. Stannis is not the most affectinate father, but he still was revolted when someone suggested marrying Shireen to Tommen in a surrender. But Sansa's marraige was decided by those had no interest in her welfare. Quite the opposite once she popped out a child (especially a son).

EDIT: The irony is not considering rape is a big knock to Tyrion. Because if that wasn't wrong, then it was only for his own concerns (he wanting his wife to want him), and not hers. So, instead of Tyrion doing something right and compassionate (albiet he had personal reasons), Tyrion's actions are just kinda sad and pathetic.

EDIT2: Just in case someone wants to say that Stannis's problem was surrender, here's the quote:

"He would even have given them Shireen. Mine only child, he would have wed to a bastard born of incest.”

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2. I see lots of comments that Sansa needs to become more active, seek revenge, take out LF etc. before they can like her. Based upon her story arc, do we foresee people who will still not like her? We've had many discussions on Sansa and the various scenarios that might lead to the downfall of LF, using her tools of compassion and empathy as she had in the past. I wonder if some uses are going to be looking for something more dramatic, a shove LF out the moon door type of scene.

Yeah, I think they're some who still want her to get physical and may be disappointed when that doesn't happen. It wouldn't be very realistic though. I do think we're going to see Sansa have to become more manipulative and a little bit more risky in how she goes about undermining LF. We still have to see how the hairnet plays out too.

4. What would it take in future books for recognition of her sexual awakening to take place? We saw some strong resistance to the idea that Sansa is experiencing a sexual awakening recently so I've wondered what would convince posters to acknowledge it. I think its possible that readers will continue to dismiss this until Sansa take very proactive action, I don't think her passing thoughts about an unkiss will serve.

I agree. A lot of the prevailing opinion concerning the unkiss is that it's still childish Sansa having a fantasy. The sexual awakening won't be noticeable until she actually has sex perhaps, but I hope that it is coupled with an active choice of partner that enables the appreciation for the contrast of her wedding night to Tyrion. If Martin is going to write a scene like this for Sansa, it has to be empowering and based on genuine mutual desire. I would be extremely disappointed if we see anything else.

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i can't write the questions to George in a subtle manner now, but maybe we could ask him something regarding the tapestries that LF asked from Cersei? Or is the hairnet will be used or seen again? or if Sansa manageed to take the white cloak with her to the vale?

that bit about sandor having ever kissed anyone is nice too!

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Yes. I've seen both the well meaning and what I would consider to be the mean-spirited form of infantilization. The latter group tends to invest their arguments with shallow readings of Sansa's journey - she's just an abused girl trying to make it in a cruel world; let's not expect too much from her past survival because she's the archetypal princess in the tower/damsel in distress. We all appreciate that Sansa had to survive in KL, but when I think of her experiences during that time what emerges is what you noted above: the core compassion and empathy that she uses to effect change, and the strength that she retains not to submit to her captors. Sansa is not an "innocent child" anymore: we've seen that change in her personal fantasies and in the kinds of relationships she develops with others now. Even in early ASOS she can no longer relate to the Tyrell cousins, and in the Vale she's acting as a surrogate mother for Sweetrobin. Indeed, as we've seen in recent readings done by KRBD and Valkyrja, Sansa has been consistently aligned with the mother figure from very early on, and mothers are defined by their compassion and mercy, not by innocence and chastity. If you analyse the call for Sansa to grow darker and the other extreme which wants her to remain a sweet child, the dichotomy is based on the same static appraisal of Sansa's character. Both viewpoints erase the continuing development she's undergoing, with the former marking her starting point in the Vale with LF and the latter never letting her get past the first few chapters in AGOT. In order to fully appreciate Sansa's movement from childhood to womanhood and what she's left behind and what she's kept, we have to look at the full picture presented to us in all of the novels so far. Having an "innocent" vision of the world isn't what will protect Sansa or ensure that she keeps her core qualities. Rather, it's the confrontation with the real world - with its conflicting harshness, sweetness and bittersweetness (heh Martin) - that challenges us to discover how we want to respond, and ends up strengthening and affirming those traits that define who we are as individuals.

i highligted a section that really sticks out to me. I saw quite a bit of defense of Sansa centered around the idea that she is just a poor abused little girl so we should feel pity for her. That's not technically wrong, she was an abused child while in KL. But the problem is with the word just.The shallow reading allows for sympathy for Sansa while also denying her the agency that Sansa very much commands. We see her inner rebellion, her attempts to manipulate Joffrey, her growing connection with Sandor, her moments of empathy, and so on. Those are just as much a part of her as the abuse. By putting the emphasis on the abuse, I worry that it negates the rest of Sansa as a character. I guess what bothers me about it is that this sympathy, although kindly meant (to borrow Sansa's phrase) is still a disservice to her as a character.

The thing with most other characters is that while he may be playing the long game with them too, and to no lesser degree, unlike Sansa they have a lot of action in between, which may or may not be of any relevance in the long run. He shows what they do and think to a greater degree than he does with Sansa. Sansa's arc is much more subtle and I think that's why most readers don't get it. As we know, you have to look very closely at her chapters and you also have to bear in mind what is happening before and after in order to recognise all the symbolism. This may be true for other characters too, but since there's also a lot of action, readers don't need to focus on the symbolism so much in order for them to like the characters or to understand what is going on (at least on the surface) even though they might miss some of the nuances. With Sansa it's almost only nuances, and they are very easy to miss.

Another point could be that her kindness and gentle strength go under in a world like Westeros that is ruled by violence and ruthlessness, especially in war time. Her strengths don't count much in such a world, they are easily ignored or played down, or even when recognised, dismissed as useless in the Game of Thrones. Unjustifiably so, I think, but it's why most readers (and characters!) fail to see how they could be relevant and it's why they keep underestimating her. I think this is also reflected in the way her chapters are written, with so many things being left unsaid and with all the symbolism that is so easily ignored and/or dismissed.

Considering this is a fantasy series and in most fantasy books the hero/heroine saves the day by using some kind of weapon or magic to defeat their opponent, I'm sure there will always be readers who don't like her because she's not badass enough. Personally, I find the idea of using her compassion and empathy to defeat LF very appealing and also rather refreshing, especially in a fantasy book. So I sure hope that's what will happen :)

Great post! Yes, I couldn't agree more. Sansa's character stands alone when it comes to action. Actually, now that I think about it, people find Bran chapters boring because of the lack of action despite liking the character himself. Yes, the more enjoyed ones do tend to be more action-oriented. Hench, Jon, Tyrion, Arya, and Jaime.

I find it fascinating that Sansa's story is only half of what is one the page. The rest is through what is unsaid, the body language, the symbolism, piecing together her thoughts. It is very nuanced indeed and to see what is happening with her, you need to put a lot of work in to it.

I stand corrected. :) Poor Arya had her share of derogatory nicknames! Sansa and Jeyne are both very young and probably didn't understand how badly the nickname hurt Arya - and I really doubt that Sansa even knew that Arya had an inferiority complex, given that that was from Arya's POV. The thing I find reprehensible is that Septa Mordane seems to have egged on the rivalry, and she blatantly favors Sansa as the "good" sister and picks apart Arya's efforts at embroidery and her general behavior in a way that is emotionally abusive. I don't expect preteen girls to have adult empathy and social skills, but Mordane is a grown woman and a teacher AND a Stark employee (so to speak). Mordane really, really should have known better.

I don't think either sister was blameless in their estrangement, and again, it's something that happens all too often in real life to real siblings. And Westeros is full of screwed-up families with siblings imprisoning or even killing one another - verbal taunts and squabbling are pretty mild stuff.

Compared to the Lannister siblings, I'd say the relationship between Sansa and Arya look pretty close to perfect. :) I've wondered before how much less pronounced the rivalry between them would have been if Septa Mordane had not been a part of their lives.

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4. We know Sansa imagined the Unkiss, but has Sandor ever actually kissed anyone?

:) Good question. I tend to believe Sandor hasn't kissed anyone. Sex is quite easy to do with a kind of no strings attached mentality, but kissing requires a close connection with someone and most oftentimes implies genuine desire.

i highligted a section that really sticks out to me. I saw quite a bit of defense of Sansa centered around the idea that she is just a poor abused little girl so we should feel pity for her. That's not technically wrong, she was an abused child while in KL. But the problem is with the word just.The shallow reading allows for sympathy for Sansa while also denying her the agency that Sansa very much commands. We see her inner rebellion, her attempts to manipulate Joffrey, her growing connection with Sandor, her moments of empathy, and so on. Those are just as much a part of her as the abuse. By putting the emphasis on the abuse, I worry that it negates the rest of Sansa as a character. I guess what bothers me about it is that this sympathy, although kindly meant (to borrow Sansa's phrase) is still a disservice to her as a character.

Yeah it really nags me too. But you know what I realised in this whole process of thinking about questions to ask GRRM and looking at other people's suggestions is that there's not a lot of focus/interest in questions that concern women as a group: sexual agency, sisterhood, patriarchal oppression, etc. I mean, there's a lot of fascinating questions on prophecies, the different regions, the magical animals etc, but the overarching themes seem to get lost in the shuffle. And I think this could be why Sansa's story isn't so well appreciated or why there's just the normal expectation that she will be a game player and/or get married. Her storyline revolves mostly around what I've noted above concerning agency, and she's lost her magical animal, so she's no longer very appealing to the traditional fantasy elements people go looking for.

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Edit

@Kittykat - Great response above elucidating Sansa's moments of kindness and compassion. I think what HopeforSpring meant on the proper order of things is that Sansa isn't so much reacting out of kindness but from a desire to see everything return to normal, or "the way it should be." However, based on what we see in the novel, Sansa is quite adept at dealing with chaotic situations which throw her world view into turmoil. If she was focused on "Order" then she would never have been able to develop a relationship like the one she did with Sandor. And we see that most of her compassionate acts are actually instinctive, meaning that she hasn't thought about them at all.

(Edited because I answered the wrong question and it sounds nonsensical!)

It is true that Sansa is, or has become, quite adept at coping with chaotic situations. She's very smart (as Arya actually muses upon in her first chapter). It's interesting that she is now learning from Littlefinger, who is the master at stirring up chaos so he can take advantage of it.

And yes, if she was focused on Order then she'd still be stuck on the Knight of Flowers. Or she'd dutifully consummate her marriage with Tyrion. She'd still be the same person in FFC that she was in GOT and she is not.

Thanks for the explanations! I took the word ordered to mean that she likes thinks scheduled which I knew was not correct! I agree with both of you that Sansa is very good at dealing with chaos, her circumstances have changed rather dramatically several times in the books. Her marriage to Tyrion was pushed on her just moments before the ceremony and we saw an initial moment of shock (rightfully so!) and then she starts making decisions on how to handle it. I think the fact that Sansa is able to cope with chaos as well as she does is the reason why we do not see more signs of trauma coming from her. She's a survivor and I'm not sure I could agree that comes from a need for other.

Hmm, this has me wondering about some of the compassionate acts that she does that seemed to be missed by some readers. They are very instinctive, so we do not see Sansa making decisions to do something or reflecting after the fact. She just does it on an instinctual level and I wonder if that leads some readers to miss just what exactly it is that she is doing. Her help with Lollys is a good example of what I'm talking about. The text reads as if she spoke to Lollys for just a moment but when you put the scene in context, there is a lot more going on. It's the same with Lancel during the BBW. She helps him but barely reflects on why she would want to do so. As readers, if we consider that he knew about her beating and enjoyed watchig her hurt, her act grows even more in significant. But, just reading the words on the page at that moment don't convey just how much of a compassionate act it is.

Several possible questions:

1. You [GRRM] have stated previously that symbolism is important in the series. Should we pay more attention to Sansa's choices of clothing?

2. There seems to be an emphasis on Sansa's clothing, the dream where she and Joff are on the iron throne and both dressed in gold (which appears to tie in with Joff being dressed in his golden armour once dead and Olenna Tyrell being dressed in gold at the PW where he is poisoned), and also in the Eyrie where there appears to be an important scene regarding Sansa's choice of dress as her choice to meet the Lords Declerant seems to parallel Cersei's choice to visit the High Septon. Is there more to clothing choices than meets the eye? (This is probably too long winded)

Since brashcandy answered the question about the ukiss, which I agree with, I wanted to chime in with my thoughts on clothes. I do believe they are important and not just for Sansa. Mance had a cloak with red in in which could foreshadow his later tie to Mel. There are some scenes with Dany where the importance and meaning of her clothes are also symbolic. She wears the lion's pelt that Drogo made for her when speaking with Daario at one point. She wears it while talking and then it falls off of her when she says that she is the blood of the dragon yet acts in a way that is not. We also see in GOT that Sansa wears shifts to bed, she isn't nude. Yet, she wakes up without clothes on the morning of her moon blood and we learn that Tyrion had her wear something to bed as well while they were married. So, these two times that her decision to go naked to bed are also associated with sex. The first of course is the moon blood which is a passage in to adulthood. The second is the marriage bed, a place that we would naturally associate with the act of sex. Yet, Tyrion has her wear a shift to bed, symbolizing the absence of sex in their marriage. Jaime's clothing choices are symbolic too. Earlier in the series, he's almost always in the Lannister red and gold while later in the series he wears white. When Tyrion arrives in Pentos, he's given the clothing of a boy which I think is a nice parallel to where he is at that point in the storyline. He's lost his status, wealth, and name and has become dependent on others. Placing him in child rather than adult clothing makes sense.

Slightly related, I think there is also symbolism in food. The scene where the GG proposes that Dany marries again is a really good example. If you pay attention, it's pretty apparent that the GG is manipulating Dany and even making some subtle threats. However, Dany doesn't notice any of this. And the food they are eating - lamb. It reminds me of the phrase "leading a lamb to slaughter".

This line fills me with so much hate. I'm pretty sure holding a woman captive, emotionally and physically abusing her for months and then having sex with her is rape regardless of cultural norms (of course, this is NOT the Westros cultural norm).

People who claim it is another arranged marriage miss the fact that fathers, while seeking political marriage, most likely look out for their daughters welfare. Stannis is not the most affectinate father, but he still was revolted when someone suggested marrying Shireen to Tommen in a surrender. But Sansa's marraige was decided by those had no interest in her welfare. Quite the opposite once she popped out a child (especially a son).

EDIT: The irony is not considering rape is a big knock to Tyrion. Because if that wasn't wrong, then it was only for his own concerns (he wanting his wife to want him), and not hers. So, instead of Tyrion doing something right and compassionate (albiet he had personal reasons), Tyrion's actions are just kinda sad and pathetic.

EDIT2: Just in case someone wants to say that Stannis's problem was surrender, here's the quote:

"He would even have given them Shireen. Mine only child, he would have wed to a bastard born of incest.”

Yes!! I see many offering examples of marriages within the text to show that the marriage between Tyrion and Sansa is not that unusual but I don't think that's an accurate assessment of what marriage within Westeros looks like. The ones that we see, RW, PW, the Jeyne/Ramsey wedding, Dany/Drogo are not normal at all. They were made in war times where one side needed to secure alliance or secure power. If you pay attention to what characters are saying or details on other matches, it becomes much more apparent just how atypical they are. Viserys' reflections on Dany's age and his statement that he sold her show that this is not normal. Brandon and Cat also knew each other and spent time together before they were expected to marry. A woman being dragged to the alter is simply not normal.

I agree on your points about Tyrion too. He rapes her which is what it would have been or he does not. So, then he's a rapist. Or he doesn't and it's because of his feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. Either way, I think his behavior point out just how much of a sham the marriage was.

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A few more thoughts on clothes to add on to what Kittykatknits is saying:

- Cersei loves fine clothes; when she is described, it is almost always wearing some very fancy and expensive creation of silk, velvet, samite or other luxury fabrics, often in green to set off her hair and eyes.

- When she is deteriorating physically and mentally in AFFC, she blames her washerwomen for "shrinking her clothes" when in fact it is implied (and pretty obvious to the readers) that she is becoming bloated from drinking - her clothes are not shrinking, SHE is expanding.

- Then during her Walk of Shame she hears, "my wife has sweeter teats than those," and her stretch marks and sagging breasts are exposed to the world - she has used fine clothes to disguise her body flaws. I would add that stretch marks and less-firm boobs are pretty normal after bearing and breastfeeding three children, and are not flaws, but Cersei thinks they are and that a queen should appear perfect. And if Cersei were less hated, the spectators wouldn't zero in on her flaws; but they are there specifically to jeer at and humiliate her. (Edit: I would also add that Cersei wants to appear in the image of the Maiden - young and perfect - even after being physically a mother old enough to have a grown son (I guess her to be in her mid-thirties). She is also obsessed with her youth and beauty and does not want to grow into a more mature beauty that a Mother might have. Cersei is an overaged Maiden gone wrong. She uses her clothes to disguise her Mother's body but when she is naked there is no hiding behind illusions.)

- Post Walk of Shame, Cersei wears what is almost a Silent Sisters garb (maybe foreshadowing?) a modest gown and cowl to cover her shaved head. Kevan thinks she looks like the most respectable matron.

Sansa and clothes:

- When the seamstress measures her for new clothes prior to her wedding, the seamstress lies to Sansa about what exactly she is being measured for (a wedding gown and trousseau).

- Sansa loves her new dress but when the maiden's cloak is wrapped around her shoulders she realizes to her horror what is going on. Her fine clothes are a sham just as much as her sham wedding. The clothes are not really hers.

- Again with clothes not being really hers - the silver hairnet with the poison amethysts is another sham - it's not there just to make her look pretty, it's there to poison Joffrey and frame her for the crime.

- In the Vale, the first dress leftover of Lysa's that Sansa/Alayne wears is a Tully red-and-blue dress. It is interesting that she picks her mother's house colors just as she first wanted to use "Catelyn" as her disguise name. I think the dress is a way of remembering her mother, and connecting her with the Mother archetype. Petyr makes her change clothes as the dress is "too Tully" and would give the disguise away. I wonder what the significance is of Petyr, who sees Sansa as a replacement for Catelyn Tully, doesn't want her to be too Tully. (Other than the obvious - a Tully dress on someone who so strongly resembles Catelyn would instantly scream "Sansa Stark!" to Bronze Yohn or anyone else who knew what the real Sansa looked like.)

- Then Alayne/Sansa longs for a fancy dress but knows that she has to appear fully Alayne Stone and a bastard daughter of a minor lord can't dress too far above her station. So she picks the brown wool dress embroidered in gold. I see this as symbolic in another way than just Sansa fully taking on her Alayne disguise - that brown and gold dress must have been insanely flattering on her! Even with the brown dye in her hair, she still would have warm coloring, and the brown would bring out her blue eyes. Sansa is a tall, slender, beautiful teenage girl, just the kind of person who doesn't need fancy clothes to look gorgeous. (As a Shorty McShortypants I'm jealous! :D ) Just as she is rejecting the idea of handsome knights (and dreaming instead of someone flawed and scarred, yet genuinely protective of her) she is rejecting the idea that beautiful clothes make the lady.

- Finally, when they leave the Eyrie, Sansa/Alayne leaves behind all her aunt's luxurious dresses and takes a more suitable Alayne wardrobe of simpler clothes. She still loves fine clothes, but she now realizes she doesn't need them. I see this as Sansa growing into the realization that she's beautiful and strong just as she is, without the trappings of "ladyhood" and high birth. She will carve a place for herself as Alayne Stone, bastard brave young woman, on her terms and without the benefits (and drawbacks) of ladyhood.

I am contrasting Cersei and Sansa here because of the way they use clothes to give the image they want the world to see. Cersei is using fine clothes to disguise her inner nature and Alayne/Sansa is using simple clothes to be more true to herself and develop a true nature that doesn't need flash and glitter to shine through.

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Thanks for the explanations! I took the word ordered to mean that she likes thinks scheduled which I knew was not correct! I agree with both of you that Sansa is very good at dealing with chaos, her circumstances have changed rather dramatically several times in the books. Her marriage to Tyrion was pushed on her just moments before the ceremony and we saw an initial moment of shock (rightfully so!) and then she starts making decisions on how to handle it. I think the fact that Sansa is able to cope with chaos as well as she does is the reason why we do not see more signs of trauma coming from her. She's a survivor and I'm not sure I could agree that comes from a need for other.

Hmm, this has me wondering about some of the compassionate acts that she does that seemed to be missed by some readers. They are very instinctive, so we do not see Sansa making decisions to do something or reflecting after the fact. She just does it on an instinctual level and I wonder if that leads some readers to miss just what exactly it is that she is doing. Her help with Lollys is a good example of what I'm talking about. The text reads as if she spoke to Lollys for just a moment but when you put the scene in context, there is a lot more going on. It's the same with Lancel during the BBW. She helps him but barely reflects on why she would want to do so. As readers, if we consider that he knew about her beating and enjoyed watchig her hurt, her act grows even more in significant. But, just reading the words on the page at that moment don't convey just how much of a compassionate act it is.

I agree with all this but what I find frustrating about it is that more people don't see these traits as being strong and active and therefore not "feminist". It goes back to the discussions we've had before about our culture and times favoring women who are very active, tomboyish types. So, if you're not a tomboy and don't act out physically does that mean you can't be strong and are always going to be a victim? I think Sansa shows a very strong strength of character but unfortunately some people will never see that.

Also, I love the discussion about the symbolism of the clothing everyone!! Kittens your post was great. Again it highlights just how nuanced Sansa's character is. I definitely remember reading an anti-Sansa post recently that made fun of the fact that in Feast she's still so into clothes and is all whiny about not getting to wear Lysa's beautiful fancy dresses!!! :bang: Don't remember who posted that but I just thought - way to NOT read deeper into the text buddy. I mean that's a prime example of people basing their opinions of Sansa on the most superficial of readings. I'm not saying that you can't like Sansa mind you, but at least base your argument on a comprehensive reading of the text - sheesh!

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I definitely remember reading an anti-Sansa post recently that made fun of the fact that in Feast she's still so into clothes and is all whiny about not getting to wear Lysa's beautiful fancy dresses!!! :bang: Don't remember who posted that but I just thought - way to NOT read deeper into the text buddy. I mean that's a prime example of people basing their opinions of Sansa on the most superficial of readings. I'm not saying that you can't like Sansa mind you, but at least base your argument on a comprehensive reading of the text - sheesh!

Whoever said that needs to read more carefully and distinguish between "regretful" and "whiny!" :bang: The Sansa-haters will pick on just about anything...

Sansa knows she can't take the really fancy dresses with her, and she has a pang of regret, but I don't hear her "whining," sheesh! She soon forgets all about clothes between persuading Sweetrobin to be a good, brave boy, listening to Randa gossip, and then having LF summon her to his study for plans for her future and a nice long "fatherly" (ew ew SQUICK :stillsick: ) kiss. No time to think about clothes.

I predict that she is going to win hearts in her plainer clothes because of who she is. There is a discussion in the Dany/Jon Learning to Lead thread about the power of love vs. the power of fear in leaders, and how ruling through love works better than ruling through fear. Cersei ruled through fear and the power of sex/lust; nothing against lust, mind you, but it's a very short-sighted way for someone to RULE, because youthful Maidenly beauty does not last forever. Cersei glamoured those around her (partly) with her clothes and long golden hair and, stripped of those, was seen for who she really was. Sansa is likewise deprived of her fine clothes and her beautiful red hair (by its being dyed to brown) but I think this is part of the process of her owning her power and using it. I think her getting people to love her will be part of her consolidating her power base.

She'll also probably charm HtH but I hope she doesn't have to marry him because he sounds like Robert Baratheon, Jr! Two bastards at only age 15, and he likes to drink and carouse (IIRC). Frankly, he sounds like someone the GoT-era Sansa might have fallen for (because of his looks and superficial gallantry) and made excuses for - at first; but she wised up so quickly about Joffrey, and I think she will never, ever make that mistake again.

What would be true irony is if HtH really fell in love with her, but it's too late, as she loves someone else and is sick to the death of gallant knights anyway.

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Yeah it really nags me too. But you know what I realised in this whole process of thinking about questions to ask GRRM and looking at other people's suggestions is that there's not a lot of focus/interest in questions that concern women as a group: sexual agency, sisterhood, patriarchal oppression, etc. I mean, there's a lot of fascinating questions on prophecies, the different regions, the magical animals etc, but the overarching themes seem to get lost in the shuffle. And I think this could be why Sansa's story isn't so well appreciated or why there's just the normal expectation that she will be a game player and/or get married. Her storyline revolves mostly around what I've noted above concerning agency, and she's lost her magical animal, so she's no longer very appealing to the traditional fantasy elements people go looking for.

I noticed the same thing as well. It seemed most people are focused on the mythology of the books, for lack of a better term. By that I mean, CoTF, magic, history, prophecies and what not. I find all of that interesting but it's not what draws me to the books. Martin puts a lot of work in to the differing themes within ASOIAF - politics, the nature of power, sexuality, feminine power/sisterhood/patriarchy, religion and others. I don't think I've ever seen an interview that asks him to reflect on why he chose to look in to these themes or attempt to draw from him if he has messages, what they mean, why he chose them and so forth. I think these themes are much more revealing when it comes to exploring the different characters and provide more insight in to human nature than questions that ask whether there are more weirwoods in the South.

I'm disappointed but I'm not surprised that the issues you bring up are not mentioned by others. i think it goes back to some of the recent discussion in other threads on the nature of feminism, second wave feminism and equal rights for men and woman. To me, exploring the nature of feminine power and erotic power is much more complex and a much more fascinating study than the more limited viewpoint that some seem to subscribe too.

Sansa is about the themes in the book, she's not about swords and sorcery and I would agree, she pays a price for that in the fandom. I think some may try to fit her in to a trope within fantasy, leading to the ideas of marriage and playing the game.

- Then during her Walk of Shame she hears, "my wife has sweeter teats than those," and her stretch marks and sagging breasts are exposed to the world - she has used fine clothes to disguise her body flaws. I would add that stretch marks and less-firm boobs are pretty normal after bearing and breastfeeding three children, and are not flaws, but Cersei thinks they are and that a queen should appear perfect. And if Cersei were less hated, the spectators wouldn't zero in on her flaws; but they are there specifically to jeer at and humiliate her. (Edit: I would also add that Cersei wants to appear in the image of the Maiden - young and perfect - even after being physically a mother old enough to have a grown son (I guess her to be in her mid-thirties). She is also obsessed with her youth and beauty and does not want to grow into a more mature beauty that a Mother might have. Cersei is an overaged Maiden gone wrong. She uses her clothes to disguise her Mother's body but when she is naked there is no hiding behind illusions.)

This was a brilliant post!!! Great parallel between Cersei and Sansa.

I'm just quoting this particular paragraph as its about a moment where I felt Martin crossed a line and its the only point in the story where I felt demeaned as a woman. So, I turn 36 next month and I've been pregnant, given birth, and nursed. The description and message that Martin seemed to give when it comes to Cersei's body left me feeling absolutely disgusted and frankly, rather pissed off at the time. His focus on her sagging breasts and stretch marks as if she is losing her beauty at the ripe old age of 34/35 was flat out offensive. It's as if a woman's body at this stage is no longer an object of beauty but past it's prime and used up. His need to focus on her humiliation and insecurity because she is no longer the ideal desirable woman was just awful. As soon as I read some of the text during the WoS, I put the books down for several days before I could go back to it. It's really the only point in the series where I felt Martin went from merely exploring the impact of patriarchy/misogyny and reinforcing it. The message he sent me, despite the fact that my breasts don't sag and I have no stretch marks, is that I am no longer beautiful.

OK. Rant over. We can now resume regular Sansa discussion.

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Lots of interesting stuff on clothes.

Being a sterotypical man, I don't pay much attention to clothing I wear, much less others. But when i finally do my reread, I think I'm going to have to pay attention.

Thanks for the insight.

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Great post on clothing KRBD! I love the point you highlighted about the horror that dawns on her as she realises she has to put on the maiden's cloak and it alerts her to what is going on. A deeper symbolic meaning that being a maiden means victimization for her? And certainly Sandor's cloak has relevance here as well, since she wears it twice, and both times experiences a sense of gratitude and comfort. The second time she wears the cloak it's on her own accord, and perhaps it's meant to foreshadow her ultimately choosing her own husband, an unthinkable privilege for a noble woman in that time.

With regard to her clothing choices in the Eyrie, what makes her second choice so interesting is because of the similarity to the Clegane house colours of autumn:

The dress she picked picked was lambswool, dark brown and simply cut, with leaves and vines embroidered around the bodice, sleeves and hem in golden thread. It was modest and becoming, though scarce richer than something a serving girl might wear.

She completes the look with the ribbon of autumn gold around her neck. Once again, Petyr is able to quickly realise the obvious loyalties that might betray Alayne as Sansa, but he's clueless concerning that connection to Sandor :) LF is doubly excluded in the symbolism here: Sansa as a Stark remains outside of his influence, and now even his own creation looks better in another man's colours.

I'm disappointed but I'm not surprised that the issues you bring up are not mentioned by others. i think it goes back to some of the recent discussion in other threads on the nature of feminism, second wave feminism and equal rights for men and woman. To me, exploring the nature of feminine power and erotic power is much more complex and a much more fascinating study than the more limited viewpoint that some seem to subscribe too.

Yup. And I think we would actually get more out of Martin and a sense of where he's taking events in the novels if these kinds of questions were asked more because they call on him to explain/clarify his general philosophy.

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Sansa knows she can't take the really fancy dresses with her, and she has a pang of regret, but I don't hear her "whining," sheesh! She soon forgets all about clothes between persuading Sweetrobin to be a good, brave boy, listening to Randa gossip, and then having LF summon her to his study for plans for her future and a nice long "fatherly" (ew ew SQUICK :stillsick: ) kiss. No time to think about clothes.

I completely agree that there is a difference between wanting to dress nicely and appreciating fine clothes to being whiny about it. Sansa clearly feels a bit of regret for having to leave all those lovely clothes behind (and so would I!) but she does it without complaint and doesn't try and smuggle a prettier dress in among what she is brining or anything. Sansa here is pragmatic and only brings what she needs as Alayne. Overall, she seems really focused on doing the right thing to become Alayne, and thinking through every step she takes to make it the correct one. Like how she uses the scented candles during the Lords Declarant meeting, etc.

I predict that she is going to win hearts in her plainer clothes because of who she is. There is a discussion in the Dany/Jon Learning to Lead thread about the power of love vs. the power of fear in leaders, and how ruling through love works better than ruling through fear. Cersei ruled through fear and the power of sex/lust; nothing against lust, mind you, but it's a very short-sighted way for someone to RULE, because youthful Maidenly beauty does not last forever. Cersei glamoured those around her (partly) with her clothes and long golden hair and, stripped of those, was seen for who she really was. Sansa is likewise deprived of her fine clothes and her beautiful red hair (by its being dyed to brown) but I think this is part of the process of her owning her power and using it. I think her getting people to love her will be part of her consolidating her power base.

Oh is that thread worth reading again? I stopped reading and posting in it when it became a love Jon hate Dany fest.

Regarding Cersei, I agree that a lot of her beauty was confidence, clothes and that she had a lot of "help". Not saying that she is not a very beautiful woman, but she always seem to dress in ways that compliment her looks and make her look her best, i.e. Cersei plays her strengths, if you will, and she does it well. I actually think LF was partly wrong when he said her beauty will soon desert her. With the dresses and hair help Cersei would get, and with the make up of that time, I am sure she could have presented herself as pretty attractive well into her forties. The Walk of Shame seemed more Cersei's own insecurities surfacing than her being objectively ugly or used, at least it seemed that way to me. Jaime certainly didn't seem to mind her looks last time he saw her.

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