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From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa X

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If I were to point out one aspect she got from Ned, or which is most like him, I would say look to how Ned always got to know his bannermen, deliberately. Ned is not an overly sociable person, but he understands that as a lord, it's something he needs to do - generosity and courtesy from his house towards his bannermen, and a willingness to listen to their concerns (even when he does not sympathize with them). Sansa seems to do this as well - first as a guest and later as a prisoner in King's Landing, she seems to show interest and concern in others.

Very very true. And what a useful trait for her to have carried on with. This needs to be the way of the lords who will end up in power - there were too many to start with that ignored their smallfolk, much to their detriment.

Another similarity with Ned might have been in that she could not bring herself to hate Myrcella and Tommen, nor other children. She might have a soft-spot for children - perhaps at times her undoing. Yes, she is naive, but given her age, her inability to see past her crushes and dreams is not so unusual. Still, even after those are dashed, and she understands she is in danger, with regard to children she is kinder than she needs to be. When Tommen was practising jousting, she could have just as easily hoped he'd break his neck. Instead, she encourages him in his dreams of knighthood, excuses his tears as a child, regardless of the fact that he could be fighting Starks in just a few years.

With Ned Stark, he's less naive, but I think despite the dangers of doing so, goes to Cersei to give her and especially her children a chance to escape and survive. The biggest and most fatal mistake he made, for certain. Why do it? I think it's more soft-heartedness towards children, rather than naively not knowing.

Perhaps this is where Sansa gets her specific kindness towards children. We shall see, depending on what Littlefinger is doing with Sweetrobin and whether she is in any position to do something about it.

There is also the aspect of Sansa being compare to the Mother that gets up a lot but this would seem to be a more concrete reason for her proclivities toward young people. I agree that that is probably why Ned wanted to give Cersei and the children a chance to escape, though I would argue that it still shows a certain naivete, as he does not factor in the mother, Cersei, and her persona. The best possible outcome would have been to perhaps find a way to spirit away the children without their mother.

3 - I think one thing Sansa did not learn, something which Ned probably tried not to teach her (at least, not yet), woiuld be the sort of ruthlessness or "lethal decisiveness" that comes with being a Lord or Lady. This does not mean Sansa would have to become nasty herself, just that she would have to be prepared.

A question though - Is Sansa learning something of this from her other teachers, such as Littlefinger? Especially after witnessing Lysa's murder and his actions around then.

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I think there's something to the idea of "Stark power" being vested in winter and the North. As Sansa gets older, she's able to appreciate the solemnity of the old gods, and to differentiate between what is truly meaningful and what is merely flashy/bright. Added to this her sense of loss over Winterfell and her idyllic childhood, and it goes towards explaining the need for reconnection with her father's religion. I also think her skinchanging ability might be playing a role here.

I really liked the bolded part here, I totally agree. I think this war is showing a lot of people that lesson, but none more so than Sansa, who started with such lofty perceptions.

As I said with the five questions in the last thread (What's your favorite....?) my favorite storyline that I hope to see in TWoW is Sansa developing her warg/skinchanging abilities. She seems to have done with the old dog on the Fingers to a small extent, but she hasn't consciously realized she has any such power. I would like her, whilst at the Gates of the Moon to realize that power within in her, and find some err, creative ways to use it to undermine her foes.

This is an interesting question. Pod talked above about the ruthlessness she hasn't learnt yet, but I'm not so sure we haven't seen signs of that in her thoughts on Joffrey and her relationship with Sweetrobin.

And don't forget "give Harrenhal to Lord Frey." Me thinks Sandor bb would have been proud. :lol:

I think you did a great job in covering the essential elements of their relationship. Though I find Ned's death tragic, I do think we have to appreciate that Arya and Sansa may come closer to truer fulfillment than they ever would have had he lived. Not to say he wouldn't have endeavoured to make them happy, and might have indeed succeeded, but Ned was part of the old tradition in Westerosi society and wasn't as liberal as some people seem to believe. We think of Sansa's experiences in the South as overwhelming negative, but she has learnt a lot and had positive growth in that environment too. If she is to return to the North, I think she will be able to effect a lot more change and progress than if she had never left.

I always thought of Ned as pretty conservative, actually. I think people mistake that for being a bad thing. :lol: But he is traditional in a lot of ways, very stolid in his views, which are for the most part, heeding the status quo. His socialization and hands-on parenting are the hallmarks of a different way of thinking, I believe, but not much else. I do agree that the girls wouldn't have been able to grow so much had their dad kept on living.

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I find it so heartbreakingly beautiful that the last time we read Ned he is being given the option of saving Sansa’s life over his honor. Sure, he did it for all of his family, but the way Varys says that they could bring Sansa’s head to him makes me cry

This is a very sad moment for me too. :crying:

Watching

doesn't help. (From about 0:50 on)

& I totally agree that it was the idea of having a lovely family with Joff and of devoting herself to him and their children the main reason why she wanted to be a queen. The power it could give her were not of consequence to her, and thus this might in a way make her more fit to rule if that is where her path lies, rather than someone like Cersei who lusted for power. I can’t remember where it is said in AGoT but I think this is sort of the same reason why Robert says Ned would be such a good hand or regent. When the option of loving her husband and being happy with him is stripped from her, Sansa still tries to be mindful of the poor during the riot for example, showing that she can put her heart after the people’s needs. Sort of similar to what Ned did when he sat the Iron Throne, bothered with pain by his leg, only in a different emotional level. I just hope that since Sansa has been forced to keep her personal desires at bay for so long now, she will before the end take matters into her own hands and do whatever she wants to do.

Sansa would be a great leader if that's how it ends up for her.

Definitely. For Ned I think it is because he is a good person. I think Sansa's reason is a deep well of compassion for all.

Also, I think that Sansa followed Ned’s lead regarding ruling better than Arya in the sense that Ned inspired loyalty with his banner men and people, yet he knew that is was unwise to befriend them in case he one day had to kill them for treason or something. Arya befriends Mycah and thus she is affected emotionally when he is killed unjustly. Sansa however follows Ned’s behavior (and even if it comes unconsciously at times, this just shows how much like her father she is). Yet LF’s tutoring may be one of the things that help her become a better player than Ned. You explain it better with this:

It's true that Arya really befriends a person, and it ends up hurting her more than being kind, but maintaining a certain distance. For Sansa this way of doing things is why I love her interactions, whether GRRM intended them romantically or not, with Sandor, because he is the one person I remember seeing her just be raw with. Such beautiful writing, and two souls laid bare when the both of them are so guarded normally.

I’m sure Ned had the greatest wishes and concept of Sansa, yet I think that he wasn’t aware of just how much she resembled him or how strong she could be. When he has one of his many talks with Arya after they are in KL he tells her that both Sansa and her will marry and keep some castle and have children. I think Ned was more than confident Sansa could win the title for the best qualified for these things, yet I am also sure that where he to somehow return from the dead to see how his children are doing, he would be not only so pleased with his eldest daughter, but speechless. The little girl he raised would have survived many of the strongest players in the game, enduring physical and emotional tortures without end and forcing to marry against her will and then forced into a weird father thing with LF. Without counting what is in store for her.

I think dad!Ned would be very proud of Sansa as well were he to know how she's gotten on. And relieved of course, considering the circumstances in which he left his family behind. Odd to think the guy that helped betray him is now in charge of his little girl, and may even be responsible for some of the education that will help her longevity further.

1-. It says about the culture of the North that people who are born there are mostly proud of it. It has such a heritage and inspires loyalty and survives winter after all, drawing its children to it and it’ traditions sooner or later.

That's so poetic of an answer, I adore it! (And agree. Everything returns to the North). It's a culture that turns out survivors.

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A question though - Is Sansa learning something of this from her other teachers, such as Littlefinger? Especially after witnessing Lysa's murder and his actions around then.

When you think about Ned's failure in KL perhaps it was a good thing? I mean ultimately, could he have given Sansa the tools she needed to make it in a Southern court filled with lies and treachery when he himself underestimates the danger? As much as we may scorn LF's perversions and the Hound's harshness, they were able to operate in that environment more successfully than Sansa's father.

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I think for Ned it would have benefitted her to learn about justice... though I feel confident Sansa will pick that up elsewhere through tutelage or experience, if she doesn't already have the building blocks within her. The skills she needs to survive, she certainly wouldn't have learned from him. I'm not even sure Catelyn really could have imparted those, as I don't think she has them to the extent that are needed to do really well. In sum, it's lucky that men like LF and the Hound chose, for whatever reason, to say what they say, and that Sansa picks up on it, and adds it to her arsenal. I agree that their tactics, though grey, are far better adapted for politicking circles.

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It might have had something to do with continuing the use of roman numerals, not to mention that Sansa X looks really badass.

Badass? It makes me think its a porn movie. Nevermind that. Sophie Turner is cool. She is the best and the only Stark worth talking about.

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This is a very sad moment for me too. :crying:

Watching

doesn't help. (From about 0:50 on)

:frown5: it really doesn't. the music was really haunting and i think i want to watch S1 again after that video!

about Ned and LF being sansa's tutors: some of the advice Petyr gives her is good, and considering that being Sansa Stark is perilous at the moment, it's good she is learning from one of the best some of the things we've read in Feasts. sighs, if only LF was teaching them to her for the right reasons... & even though LF betrayed Ned i think the latter would not disagree that in the present circumstances some of the things sansa has been learning are good, but what matters is what will Sansa do once she learns how horribly LF betrayed ned. and to think that of those present in the room at the time, one is at currently geogrphically close to sansa... ;)

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I think shit will hit the fan when Sansa finds out about that... But, using her learned restraint, I think she can effect a winning strategy ;)

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Oh gosh, am I really going first? FML. :leaving:

I'll be honest, I felt a lot of trepidation picking Ned as the person I wanted to analyze with Sansa, let alone me completing an analysis at all. I think that you all are so much better at it. In the end, though, I trudged on, and I hope that my points will be of interest, and can facilitate a healthy little discussion. This father and daughter dynamic, their similarities, their divergences; they were quite fun to explore.

So, for Sansa, and for Winterfell, read on!

An Analysis of Sansa & Ned

by: Candace

*snip*

To finish, a summary list of potential questions:

1. What does it say about the culture of the North and the Starks that Sansa, as she aged and survived, grew more and more to be like her father, moving away from some of the traits she had previously shared with Catelyn?

5. In a manner of speaking, Sansa/Alayne is currently fostering at the Eyrie, and err, LF has taken on the role of her second "father." Discuss anything about this that provokes you. I personally have to wonder how the solitude there impacted both father and daughter during their stays. Also, what impact does each person's foster parent have on their development? After all, Jon Arryn surely taught Ned some very different things than Littlefinger teaches Sansa. Ultimately the different teachings may have impact on the survival of the pupil and on their adult behavior.

6. Oh those words, oh if Sansa had taken them to heart when Ned spoke them. What do we think? Does Ned have a good idea of the traits that would best suit his eldest daughter in a partner? (After all, Ned, believed Arya could be happy wedding a great Southron Lord, and I think we all know how true that is....) How much are these traits like Ned's own nature?

7. Anything else concerning Ned and Sansa that you would like to bring up that I have talked on, or that I have overlooked?

Wow. That was really good.

1. I dunno what it says about the North, but I think it just showed that she had more in common with Ned. I also think her idealization of the southern courtly life had some part in her turning to her Northern roots when it turned out to be false.

5. Well, there's a few different points. I think Arryn was competent, but not particularly good at the Game. I mean he is responsible for letting the Lannisters get their claws in the throne. And it took him 15 years to figure something was up. He had no backup plan to let the king know the truth other than shouting, "The seed is strong!" on his death bed. And while people love to blame Robert for letting the kingdom be run into the ground, the whole point of the Hand of the King is to make sure it did not. He failed his job miserably. Littlefinger went from the lowest sort of lord with poor lands to Lord Paramount of the Riverlands and Protector of the Vale.

Then, there's intentions. Jon cared about Ned. Littlefinger cares about Sansa in a non-healthy way. Sansa knows this and gets practice figuring out his plots.

6. OK. I can't knock Ned for thinking Arya would be happy married. She was 9 or 10. A lot of boys and girls think this way at that age. Then, puberty hits and it's a different story. Now, Arya's tale has given her massive independence (by necessity) and certainly shaped her in ways Ned wasn't expecting. She might still be able to find happiness in marriage, but not a traditional one. But an Arya who grew up like a regular noble girl, she very well could have changed her mind. Or at least, like Cat, marry as her duty and then find happiness later (considering Ned, I'm fairly confident his daughters' welfare would be prime concern).

As far as the traits, it depends. I think they can describe Ned (though I think he wasn't entirely conscious of this). I think the part when she is older matters.

I think Ned wanted to give her some choice. He seemed uninterested in arranging any marriage, including his almost adult heir. And, assuming Lyanna and Rhaegar is real, he saw how arranged marriages can be bad. Something like, he'd find men for his daughters and let them pick.

Also, I think one of their biggest differences which will make the difference between Ned's failure and Sansa's future success, is that Sansa wants to learn. After the war, Ned fled to the North, which is somewhat political, but nothing like the south. Sansa, seeing that learning the game is her only chance of survival, actively is trying to learn.

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Wow. That was really good.

1. I dunno what it says about the North, but I think it just showed that she had more in common with Ned. I also think her idealization of the southern courtly life had some part in her turning to her Northern roots when it turned out to be false.

5. Well, there's a few different points. I think Arryn was competent, but not particularly good at the Game. I mean he is responsible for letting the Lannisters get their claws in the throne. And it took him 15 years to figure something was up. He had no backup plan to let the king know the truth other than shouting, "The seed is strong!" on his death bed. And while people love to blame Robert for letting the kingdom be run into the ground, the whole point of the Hand of the King is to make sure it did not. He failed his job miserably. Littlefinger went from the lowest sort of lord with poor lands to Lord Paramount of the Riverlands and Protector of the Vale.

Then, there's intentions. Jon cared about Ned. Littlefinger cares about Sansa in a non-healthy way. Sansa knows this and gets practice figuring out his plots.

6. OK. I can't knock Ned for thinking Arya would be happy married. She was 9 or 10. A lot of boys and girls think this way at that age. Then, puberty hits and it's a different story. Now, Arya's tale has given her massive independence (by necessity) and certainly shaped her in ways Ned wasn't expecting. She might still be able to find happiness in marriage, but not a traditional one. But an Arya who grew up like a regular noble girl, she very well could have changed her mind. Or at least, like Cat, marry as her duty and then find happiness later (considering Ned, I'm fairly confident his daughters' welfare would be prime concern).

As far as the traits, it depends. I think they can describe Ned (though I think he wasn't entirely conscious of this). I think the part when she is older matters.

I think Ned wanted to give her some choice. He seemed uninterested in arranging any marriage, including his almost adult heir. And, assuming Lyanna and Rhaegar is real, he saw how arranged marriages can be bad. Something like, he'd find men for his daughters and let them pick.

Also, I think one of their biggest differences which will make the difference between Ned's failure and Sansa's future success, is that Sansa wants to learn. After the war, Ned fled to the North, which is somewhat political, but nothing like the south. Sansa, seeing that learning the game is her only chance of survival, actively is trying to learn.

Thanks, Lord Bronn!

5. Very true about values and intentions. It'd be interesting to know how Ned might have done under a tutor like LF.

6. I meant to imply that he wouldn't be conscious of his traits, but you got it :)

It does seem a bit odd that none of the children had undergone any serious negotiations for a potential alliance, particularly Robb or Sansa. Cat says that she was betrothed at 12 if I remember, and so they were both about the same age (14, 11).

I like the differences you talked about at the end. I remember one of the quotes I had picked out to use but ended up not was also in Catelyn II, and it was Ned saying something like he wanted nothing to do with the South an the position offered to him, because they were a nest of adders/vipers. He seems to espouse a similar mentality, wanting nothing more than to stay within his own home and keep things simple. I think Sansa has learned that to be worldly is to survive. You may have to get out there to accomplish something.

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i've just read the chapter where Lady dies. It struck me here how much Ned's heart went out to Sansa when this happened,and how he held her in his arms as she cried. it's really sad and one of the few moments when we see ned comforting his eldest daughter... i wonder though if the whole Lady is from the North & Ned killing Lady issues/foreshadowing have still yet a role to play? i think these things have been discussed before, but i wonder if it is important that it is Ned the one doing the execution and the reference of Lady being of the north regarding her role in re-building Winterfell and of building the specific part where Lady is buried in her snow castle and of where she will stand in the future regarding social status...

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Responding to the list Lady Candace drew up. This is turning into such a big post I'm splitting it into parts. Then I want to respond to some points Lord Bronn raised.

To finish, a summary list of potential questions:

1. What does it say about the culture of the North and the Starks that Sansa, as she aged and survived, grew more and more to be like her father, moving away from some of the traits she had previously shared with Catelyn?

2. What of her mother does she retain even now, and has that helped her?

3. Does Ned possess something that Sansa has yet to learn or adopt that will be of benefit?

4. What level of culpability does Sansa really have in her father's execution? Given that they both made similar mistakes in trusting where they shouldn't.

1. Sansa looks like Catelyn. I think this made many people think she was more like Catelyn in character as well (and of course that gave the h8rs much fuel).

Now as for much of Sansa's character she is pure Ned. The reason I think this is often missed upon first glance is that she doesn't look like Ned, and Ned seems to favor Arya over her - or maybe not "favor" Arya so much as knows that Arya is insecure, feels overshadowed by her sister, and needs an extra measure of love. Hm - does this compassion for someone who doesn't quite fit in sound like someone we know? :)

In ADWD when the Northern men start rallying to save "Ned's little girl" (who isn't, as we know, but that's another post) they say things like it was safe for a young maid to go out in her "nameday dress" (birthday suit), that people were happy, well fed, and safe. Stark family = good governance and a sense of ruling as not just a right, but a responsibility. If Sansa has the Mother archetype, then Ned, I believe, has a lot of the Father in him. Ned is a father to his people, as opposed to Robert who is only a father to his people in the literal sense.

To Ned, ruling was a responsibility. As several others pointed out, he got to know his bannermen and treated them with respect (and a firm hand when necessary). In return, (most of) those bannermen feel tremendously loyal to him. Ned's little girl. The North Remembers. But as Caro99 said earlier, Ned doesn't cross the line with his bannermen so that they can get away with disrespectful or treasonous behavior (and contrasts that with Arya befriending the butcher's boy, which ended in disaster; not because that is a bad thing per se but in a feudal, rank-conscious society like Westeros, it had bad consequences that we moderns wouldn't have to go through and don't really understand).

As an earlier poster pointed out, people who are from the North seem to be proud of being Northerners in a way that Southerners for the most part don't share. No "The Reach Remembers!" or anything like that. I think that while Sansa may have desperately wanted to be southern at first (for immature reasons, but she was a child) she definitely came around to that Northern pride and realization that her roots were in the North and that's a good thing.

When Sansa refused to kneel before Tyrion at their wedding, he notes her "stiff Stark knees" and pride. Ned had the same. He took pride in who he was and where he was from - I'm a Stark of Winterfell, I have honor and responsibility, I do the right thing no matter what and, dammit, I am a Stark of Winterfell and as good as any Southerner any day.

Naivete - another trait that Sansa shares with Ned, to their mutual detriment. Sansa is always, but always, criticized for this, but I think Ned deserves to be called to account more, because he's a grown man and a ruler, whereas Sansa is a young girl. How is Sansa going to know that the Lannisters are untrustworthy and that the court is a snake pit? She's eleven! In the US, she would still be in elementary school or at the most, middle school. But Ned - Ned should have known better. He trusts people even after they warn him not to trust them (Littlefinger) and thinks everyone is as honorable as he. That chapter where he meets Cersei in the godswood and spills the beans on what he knows about her and her children and the incest - Ned, you just opened your big naive yap and DOOMED yourself. He meant well but that "meant well" meant his death. I can count on both hands the ways Ned was naive - thinking that Robert would comport himself as a friend, thinking that everyone played by the same honor and rules that he did, etc.

Ned telling stories by the fire brings me to two more qualities I see him sharing with Sansa: he is a family man who loves his children, and Sansa wants a family and children. I think Ned has a Father archetype just as Sansa has a Mother. They're both born to be parents. Ned had his flaws in raising his children (the biggest one being his not preparing them for the roles they would have to occupy as adults) but he's an awesome dad to have..

He also loves stories of heroes and glory days gone by. How is that different from Sansa loving romantic songs? While Sansa may have started out thinking that life is a song, Ned seems to think that life is a heroic tale.

2: I do think she has some of Catelyn's traits over and above the physical resemblance - a sense of family, an alignment with the Mother archetype - note that it was Catelyn who taught her the Mother hymn. Sansa badly wants children and a family. What she wanted with Joffrey was "his golden children." When she is alone in KL, having lost (so she thought) all her family, she dreams of having sons to name after her father and brothers. Her motherliness is her most important character quality she inherits from Catelyn.

3. Maturity most of all! People expect so much from a wee girl! Ned's a grown-ass man with years of ruling under his belt. Sansa is a child. When she first came to the court, she probably had a history of her own decisions on what dress to wear, what song to sing, and whether she had to eat beets. Not exactly ruling, or even being the lady of a castle. Ned also has the power and agency that comes with being a grown man and a ruler. Sansa is a young girl and as such is in a powerless position - and really would be even if she was secure and loved. Look how powerless Margaery really is. I think Sansa needs a few years to grow up (13 is still a kid) and power in her own right.

4. NONE. I repeat: Sansa was eleven. A child. We don't allow children to drive, vote, drink, or stand accused of crime as adults because they don't have the capacity to do such things. Sansa may have made a naive and, frankly, stupid mistake but that's what eleven-year-olds do. That's why parents or guardians are responsible for them - even in Westeros, the age of majority is 16. Littlefinger, Joffrey, Cersei and Ned himself are responsible for his death.

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Continued...

Oh gosh, am I really going first? FML. :leaving:

I'll be honest, I felt a lot of trepidation picking Ned as the person I wanted to analyze with Sansa, let alone me completing an analysis at all. I think that you all are so much better at it. In the end, though, I trudged on, and I hope that my points will be of interest, and can facilitate a healthy little discussion. This father and daughter dynamic, their similarities, their divergences; they were quite fun to explore.

So, for Sansa, and for Winterfell, read on!

An Analysis of Sansa & Ned

by: Candace

5.

In a manner of speaking, Sansa/Alayne is currently fostering at the Eyrie, and err, LF has taken on the role of her second "father." Discuss anything about this that provokes you. I personally have to wonder how the solitude there impacted both father and daughter during their stays. Also, what impact does each person's foster parent have on their development? After all, Jon Arryn surely taught Ned some very different things than Littlefinger teaches Sansa. Ultimately the different teachings may have impact on the survival of the pupil and on their adult behavior.

6.

Oh those words, oh if Sansa had taken them to heart when Ned spoke them. What do we think? Does Ned have a good idea of the traits that would best suit his eldest daughter in a partner? (After all, Ned, believed Arya could be happy wedding a great Southron Lord, and I think we all know how true that is....) How much are these traits like Ned's own nature?

7. Anything else concerning Ned and Sansa that you would like to bring up that I have talked on, or that I have overlooked?

5. You know, I hadn't made the connection between Sansa being fostered at the Eyrie and Ned being fostered there also until this thread...It just goes to show how a re-read and analysis makes me see new things in the books, over and over again.

But yes, that's there. Both Ned and Sansa are being fostered at the Eyrie. Ned looks back on those days with fond nostalgia - his bromance (ha, that is how I see it! Just like Stannis and Davos!) with Robert, how much he loved Jon as a second father. It seemed like the Eyrie was a happy place then. This was also before Jon married Lysa Tully (they married in a double wedding with Ned and Catelyn, much later). While Lysa was not a woman who spread warmth and joy wherever she went, Jon's first two wives might have been happy and kind-hearted ladies who treated Ned, Robert and the other squires well.

Sansa noted that at one time the Eyrie rang with noise, laughter, and happiness. She had to have heard that from Ned's recollections. But the Eyrie that Sansa arrived at was like a castle made of snow - Sansa repeatedly uses the words ice, coldness, isolation when she thinks of it. The Eyrie that Lysa made was downright creepy and unwelcoming - if she were modern I'd see her as one of those crazy neighborhood ladies whose house the kids are scared to go to. Sansa never feels at home in the Eyrie, and longs for her true home - Winterfell. And builds a snow replica of it in one of the most beautiful chapters in the whole series.

While the two guardians - Petyr Baelish and Jon Arryn - on the surface appear to be aligned with Good and Evil - there is a curious reversal here. Lord Bronn brought this up, and I will reply further in another post (as I said, these are LOOONG posts...) but Jon, whom Ned loved, didn't do a good job of teaching his wards how to function in the real world; whereas Littlefinger, who is not only a creepy molester but murders his wife right in front of Sansa, is doing a pretty good job even in spite of himself at preparing Sansa to be a player in the Game of Thrones.

Jon did nothing to disabuse Ned of his naivete, nor did he disabuse Robert of the idea that it's OK to drink, father bastards all across Westeros, and neglect "his" "legitimate" children and his lordly duties. Even if Robert was simply destined to be Lord Baratheon at that point, he was still a Great Lord, a member of one of the ruling houses. He had a responsibility. Ned took his responsibility very seriously and was an exemplary family man. Robert...well, honest Ned couldn't bring himself to tell Robert, on his death-bed, to tell a lie and assure Robert that he was a good king. He just damned him with faint praise "you're not as bad as Aerys the Mad" (left unspoken: You failed as a king, bro. Sorry that's not what you wanted to hear on your deathbed, but it's the truth). I wonder, what responsibility does Jon Arryn share for how Robert turned out?

Littlefinger is a cold-blooded murderer (and just wait until Sansa finds out about his role in Ned's execution. The fit is going to hit the shan then. Winter is coming indeed). But in his sociopathic and creepy-perv way, he's giving Sansa a good education on how to play the politics game - something Ned dismally failed at. I think Sansa will succeed where Ned failed paradoxically because she had an amoral mentor where Ned had a moral one (among many, many other reasons). It helps that Sansa is a bright, quick young woman; it also helps that she can cloak her steel in velvet.

Which brings me to another difference between Sansa and Ned: Ned was who he appeared to be. Sansa is not who she appears to be, in many ways. Even though I don't think people are going to continue seeing Sansa as a weak and stupid little girl (well, Cersei probably will...) she has that courtesy wall, a natural charm, and she's beautiful. That last one is important. Ned wasn't a man who could dazzle people and blind them with his looks. Cersei could. Jaime could. Dany absolutely can. I think Robb could to an extent. Joffrey could at first meeting but then his inner Caligula took over. Sansa is gorgeous - "even more beautiful than her mother." I see her learning to use that beauty to disarm people - not sexually in a femme fatale Cersei way, but in a "Rose of the North" type of way.

Sansa is Littlefinger's weakness and he blabs all his plans to her and, more important, tells her how he does it. Bullshit them and pay them, put them in your debt, employ spies to stir shit and enable you to splatter it on others and come out smelling like a rose (see: meeting with Lords Declarant). I don't think Sansa is going to go to those extremes, but I think she will get down and dirty if she has to in order to save the North, or Rickon, or maybe even Sweetrobin (who is her family, and Sansa takes Family and Honor, if not Duty, pretty seriously). She's learning from a man who rose from being the most minor of lordlings, and short and scrawny to boot, into one of the major power players in Westeros.

She's also learning in another way by being Petyr's chatelaine, taking on the responsibility of running the castle and offering hospitality to guests. This includes memorizing all those coats of arms, which is a very important skill for a feudal lady and that she seems to be a natural at. As a "home comforts" lover myself, I appreciated the scented candles and other warm touches she added to the room where the Lords Declarant met. :) One of my crackpots is that she (and Sandor!) will be given the Dreadfort after the Boltons are done away with. I could see her being able to turn the scary place into a loving home.

6. Curiously - despite Ned's favoring Arya - I think he had a better idea of what suited Sansa. Sansa does need someone brave and gentle and kind or with the potential to be that - not because she's a delicate flower but because she's at heart a family woman and any man she marries has to make a happy family with her; someone who would be right there as their babies are born, not out hunting. She needs a husband who will love his children as much as Ned does, and not pull a Robert and say, "Eddard, Bran and Rickon who? I had this vague idea my wife had some kids, but I forgot their names." When she fantasized about Joffrey, she wanted kids with him. Marriage, family and kids are a packaged deal to Sansa, just as they were with Ned; so Ned with that insight into his own nature knew who suited Sansa.

Paradoxically, I think he had less of an idea what would suit Arya. Maybe, maybe he was hoping she'd be more conventional as she grew up. But it's strange that Ned thought that Arya would be more suited to a family like the Tyrells rather than, say, the Umbers. I don't have an explanation for it. But more on marriages when I reply to Lord Bronn's post.

7. Both Ned and Sansa are loyal. Loyal to family, loyal to the North, and loyal to the Old Gods. Sansa thought she wanted to be a Southern girl but soon realized that she was Northern at heart. She loved the flash and glitter of the ceremonies of the Seven - and still has loyalty to the Mother - but she loved the Seven just for that flash and glitter. And that is so, so typical of an eleven-year-old girl. Many of them like things that sparkle - sequined sneakers, body glitter, Edward Cullen. I don't think she thought of the Seven beyond "oh, cool, fun ceremony, sparkly crystals!" Her true loyalties are to the Old Gods, even as she loved the sparkly crystals. She spends so much time in the Godswood, her secret meeting place was in the Godswood, one of the things she didn't like about the Eyrie was that no Godswood (or at least no weirwood tree) could grow in the stony soil, and when she builds her snow Winterfell, she carefully adds the Godswood. These are the gods of her childhood, the gods of her heart - and they are Ned's, not Catelyn's.

Sansa looks like her mother, but in character she is more her father's daughter.

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Great posts KRBD :) The other similarity between Ned and Sansa is that they are second children who never expected that they might day have to rule. Of course in Sansa's case, she still has brothers alive, but right now she imagines herself as the sole heir to Winterfell. We see Ned ultimately buckling down and taking over Brandon's responsibilities, politically and personally (the marriage to Catelyn), but like Sansa he too felt the burden of "having a claim."

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Wow. That was really good.

1. I dunno what it says about the North, but I think it just showed that she had more in common with Ned. I also think her idealization of the southern courtly life had some part in her turning to her Northern roots when it turned out to be false.

5. Well, there's a few different points. I think Arryn was competent, but not particularly good at the Game. I mean he is responsible for letting the Lannisters get their claws in the throne. And it took him 15 years to figure something was up. He had no backup plan to let the king know the truth other than shouting, "The seed is strong!" on his death bed. And while people love to blame Robert for letting the kingdom be run into the ground, the whole point of the Hand of the King is to make sure it did not. He failed his job miserably. Littlefinger went from the lowest sort of lord with poor lands to Lord Paramount of the Riverlands and Protector of the Vale.

Then, there's intentions. Jon cared about Ned. Littlefinger cares about Sansa in a non-healthy way. Sansa knows this and gets practice figuring out his plots.

6. OK. I can't knock Ned for thinking Arya would be happy married. She was 9 or 10. A lot of boys and girls think this way at that age. Then, puberty hits and it's a different story. Now, Arya's tale has given her massive independence (by necessity) and certainly shaped her in ways Ned wasn't expecting. She might still be able to find happiness in marriage, but not a traditional one. But an Arya who grew up like a regular noble girl, she very well could have changed her mind. Or at least, like Cat, marry as her duty and then find happiness later (considering Ned, I'm fairly confident his daughters' welfare would be prime concern).

As far as the traits, it depends. I think they can describe Ned (though I think he wasn't entirely conscious of this). I think the part when she is older matters.

I think Ned wanted to give her some choice. He seemed uninterested in arranging any marriage, including his almost adult heir. And, assuming Lyanna and Rhaegar is real, he saw how arranged marriages can be bad. Something like, he'd find men for his daughters and let them pick.

Also, I think one of their biggest differences which will make the difference between Ned's failure and Sansa's future success, is that Sansa wants to learn. After the war, Ned fled to the North, which is somewhat political, but nothing like the south. Sansa, seeing that learning the game is her only chance of survival, actively is trying to learn.

Just wanted to respond to a couple of thought-provoking points you brought up.

1) Jon Arryn as not good at the Game and failing at being Hand of the King: True. And I hadn't thought of that before this discussion - mainly because I didn't give Jon Arryn that much thought. But it's true - he did let Robert run the kingdom into the ground, which, as Hand, he should have put a stop to. Not only is he Hand, he's also Robert's foster father, and as a foster father (as opposed to Hand), he should have spoken up about Robert's irresponsibility in general. "Don't get drunk on your wedding night and call Cersei 'Lyanna.'" "Don't fuck the bride's cousin right in your own brother's marriage bed." (good god - poor Stannis and Selyse - that was a deeply shitty thing to do.) "You might want to pay attention to your trueborn kids." (Never mind they weren't his after all; the point is that Robert accepted them as his and ought to have behaved as a father.) Frankly, I sense that Jon Arryn spoiled Robert rotten. He even named his son after him. I think that the reason it took Jon A. so long to twig to the fact that the kids were, in fact, Jaime's, and had no backup plan about it other than shouting "The seed is strong!" on his deathbed (Lord Bronn) was because Robert took the place of a son for him, and Robert was a golden child who could Do No Wrong in his doting parent's eyes.

And also Jon A. did to Ned what I think Ned was guilty of doing to Sansa (and Arya): not letting him know enough about the Cold Cruel World and Hard Facts that have to be sucked up. No, Ned, the world is not full of honorable people eager to do the right thing just like you, so step carefully. If someone says "Don't trust me," then DON'T TRUST THEM.

Jon's also indirectly responsible for unleashing Littlefinger upon the world: Jon got Petyr his first job by giving him control of Gulltown customs - which he proved a whiz at, and so started his rise in the world. Okay, so Lysa was the one who persuaded Jon, but still, he could have said "No." Which leads me to believe that a) he trusted Littlefinger and b ) Lysa probably made his life an utter misery until he gave in. And, by the way, while I feel sympathy for Lysa having to marry a man who was so much older and whom she found repulsive, I can have some sympathy for Jon having to endure Lysa's batshittery.

Now as for mistakes, I think with Petyr - Sansa herself is his big mistake. While I give him credit for realizing that Sansa is far from stupid - he knows she's very smart - he thinks she's too young, too afraid, and too friendless to do him harm, and then there's his OMG CATELYN SHE IS MY REPLACEMENT CATELYN LOVE OF MY LIFE blinders.

Now as far as his children's marriages are concerned: Ned is really, really complacent here. Partly I think this is good, as I don't think he would ever force a child of his into a distasteful marriage; when he found out what Joffrey was really like, he wanted the engagement called off. He specifically said he wanted a "brave, gentle, kind" man - not a rich or lordly one - for Sansa. And I think he would have. I think he would have overlooked very high status for character - he'd sooner marry Sansa to a minor lord bannerman than to someone like Joffrey, or even someone like Renly who is handsome and would treat her well, but was known to be gay and in love with someone else and couldn't be the fully committed husband and father Sansa needs. I think Ned knew, better even than Sansa herself who was still eleven and naive, that what Sansa needed to be happy was not flash and glitter, but family and children and being a kind lady to the smallfolk - because he, Ned, values exactly that.

With Arya and Robb I see this as more problematic because of the positions they would have to occupy. Robb is the heir; Robb is going to rule Winterfell after his father. A Paramount lord's marriage is much, much more important politically and personally than some petty lordling, or even a daughter like Sansa who is unlikely to inherit the estate as she has three brothers before her. I'm surprised he didn't arrange a marriage for Robb at a young age. But I don't think he would have forced Robb to marry someone whom he didn't at least have the potential to love. No Selyse Florents for Robb. I think that Ned thought he had many more years to rule Winterfell and that certain lessons on life and love could wait - but I wish he had dinned into Robb's romantic, honorable head that a great lord has responsibilities that come with marriage, and that you above all do not alienate potential bannermen.

I think Ned might also have guessed that Robb, just like Sansa, had Southern ideals of what was attractive. Robb wound up marrying a Southern girl - not a "great lady" status-wise but definitely a "lady" in the Southern sense. Maybe that's why he didn't insist on Robb marrying Alys Karstark or Meera Reed. Though he might have really pushed Meera at Robb, saying "She's tough and smart and brave and self-sufficient - just what a Lady of Winterfell should be." And Robb, I think, would be happy with Meera (and Arya would be ecstatic to have a like-minded good-sister; they'd be BFF's in no time), or for that matter with Alys Karstark. But I think he had an ideal of Southern ladylike beauty just like Sansa had an ideal of southern handsome knighthood.

As for Arya - I think Ned dropped the ball here to a great extent, simply because when she grew up, Arya would be expected to fulfill the requirements of Westerosi womanhood, willy-nilly. This is doubly true if she were to marry into the South. She'd be miserable. However, I think Arya would be quite at home in Dorne (aside from the climate differences - no snowballs to throw!). I think if she married a Dornish nobleman or knight he'd be quite cool with Arya and her tomboyish, outspoken ways. For all we know, Ned had a Dornish husband in mind for her and that is what was meant by "Southern."

PS: Lady Candice, good point about the claim! I think some of Ned's flaws stemmed from the fact that he never was raised to rule. He was raised to be a good bannerman to his brother. Now Ned rose to the occasion as far as Winterfell and the North were concerned, but he was so out of his depth in politics outside the North. Both Ned and Sansa feel the burden of their claims, but Sansa's is greater due to her circumstances - I don't think Ned felt like a piece of meat to be fought over; nor was he captive in an enemy court as a young man. I wonder how much he felt that Catelyn loved his claim and not him when they were first married?

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I wonder how much he felt that Catelyn loved his claim and not him when they were first married?

In this particular case I guess he would have been concerned about the feelings Cat had for Brandon, and perhaps his own for Ashara Dayne.

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In this particular case I guess he would have been concerned about the feelings Cat had for Brandon, and perhaps his own for Ashara Dayne.

I would agree with this. Early in GOT, when they are talking, I think it's the scene in the godswood, Cat notices that Ned's comment about her and Brandon are rather bitter. I'd guess he has some insecurities too.

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I would agree with this. Early in GOT, when they are talking, I think it's the scene in the godswood, Cat notices that Ned's comment about her and Brandon are rather bitter. I'd guess he has some insecurities too.

That's a good point. (I love re-reads!) I can't help but feel that Ned felt like second best for quite some time. Even though most think that he had the power in the marriage (mostly over raising Jon) I think that Ned felt like the shy nerd in love with the cheerleader (Catelyn is beautiful and refined, a Southern lady, let's not forget) for quite some time. And not without reason, because Brandon was handsome and charming and a "player" and Catelyn did love him, and married Ned out of duty.

Barbrey Dustin nee Ryswell might have married a Stark after all if Brandon had lived to marry Catelyn. A second son would make a lesser match and so Rickard Stark might well have chosen Barbrey Ryswell, as lords seem to have married their younger sons to bannermen's daughters quite a bit. Of course then Ned would be with the woman Brandon devirginized. Poor Ned! He just couldn't win! :) (And then he'd have the fostering of Domeric Bolton, Barbrey's nephew of whom she was very fond. Domeric was supposed to be good-looking, charming and accomplished. I wonder if he would have married Sansa? Then poor Sansa would be in the soup in another way because Ramsay really, really wanted his legitimate half-brother and heir to the Dreadfort out of the way and would have killed his brother's wife too...I hate to think how. That's a bullet Sansa was better off dodging...poor, poor Jeyne.)

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Barbrey Dustin talks bitterly about the southern ambitions of Rickard Stark, and we know Hoster Tully joined the war on the condition of his daughters' betrothals. The previous generation is really filled with examples of destructive patriarchal power, which is why I think this time we're seeing that breakdown and Sansa and so many other women having a chance for greater agency.

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Hello:

Having Sansa as one of my favourites, I had to drop here first. I have been reading these threads for some weeks, and love them. I don't feel there's anything I could add that's not been said already, but one thing I definitely want to do: To congratulate all the participants in this wonderful thread, especially Brashcandy, MaryaStone, Queen Cersei I, Lady of the North, Lyanna Stark, Lady Candace, Summerqueen, Raksha the Demon, Starbird and Fire Eater, whose contributions are so thoughtful and clever (not meant to lessen other unnamed participants' contributions, really). All of you girls have done so much to enlighten me on Sansa's true character, which I always sensed from the start but wasn't able to express or put into words so cleverly as you do. Now I know exactly why I like her, and hope I can contribute at least a tiny bit in the future, once I become a veteran fan and more knowledgeable, for I'm new, too new to do anything for the time being besides reading the past re-reading and re-thinking threads one by one.

Thank you again, girls. Keep going, you are one of the 1 or 2 groups here that have been blessed with intelligent gals whose opinions are a joy to read.

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