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From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa X

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I believe, Lady Lea, that 'not that I know of' is the appropriate answer in this context.

Given the game of thrones I would probably say concern rather than jealousy personally. Particularly as his sister receiving a gift of flowers at a tournament led to a civil war.

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I think Sansa would be a great peace-time queen or ruler a major house - in a strategic marriage, as regent for Winterfell while Rickon grows up, or even as Lady Lannister if Tyrion regains Casterly Rock. At this point, she has probably the best qualities of anyone in the book to be a good peace-time ruler or co-ruler - she is honourable, she would be kind to the people, she is now savvy enough in the game of politics to be clever at it, I could see her developing arts and industry - an all round renaissance type ruler.

But I do struggle to see a realistic "player" path for her at this point in the story, other than just to lear, wait, survive and be on the map when the wars are over... And maybe that is enough...

I am sure that others on this forum will have far cleverer ideas on this than me (and of course GRMM will!), so curious to hear any thoughts!

Welcome to the thread MrsManderly,

Your post raised some valid questions and they are certainly ones that we continue to tackle from time to time. The premise of these threads is not that Sansa will necessarily become a player in the political sense (although this isn't excluded from the definition), but that she'll ultimately have control over her life and the ability to fulfill her desires; in a word: agency. Now if we take this theme as the guiding force in Sansa's arc and we add it to the foreshadowing Martin has supplied for us in the text, we can come up with at least four possibilities:

1. Sansa as Queen of the Seven Kingdoms or Sansa as Queen in the North

2. Remaining Alayne Stone, and living a secluded life of private enterprise

3. Becoming regent for one of her brothers (provided they live)

4. Marriage to a man of her choice/Ladyship of a great castle

There are many roads open to Sansa as we can see, but as always we have to put these options into the context of what is happening in Westeros, and Sansa's expressed feelings. We know Sansa is not necessarily ambitious and that she's shown reluctance to playing the game in LF's style. She's also not keen to be involved in a so-called "strategic" marriage again which limits her agency. There's also the threat of the Others, bringing more war and devastation to the already ravaged landscape.

As you noted, Sansa has many admirable qualities, and I think we'll see them having an impact in some capacity, but her immediate first "play" has to be to rid herself of LF's influence and control, and somehow protect her cousin Sweetrobin if his life is still in danger. Honestly, after that everything is just guess work. Trusting any authority figure like the Royces comes with its own dangers as you noted, but it might be worth it in the end. Or, she may depend on persons like Lothor Brune and Mya Stone for assistance. We still don't know how Martin will play out the Harry the heir storyline but given his similarities to Robert Baratheon, and Sansa's noted connection to Sandor, I don't see that being a huge factor in her arc.

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I believe, Lady Lea, that 'not that I know of' is the appropriate answer in this context.

Given the game of thrones I would probably say concern rather than jealousy personally. Particularly as his sister receiving a gift of flowers at a tournament led to a civil war.

ymmv Lummel ;)

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1. Regarding the Vale, I am of a similar opinion. He already offered to get her maiden-ness out of one tower, she refused, so now she needs to get out of this one herself. Actually I think I would be a wee bit put off if Sandor were a main architect in this portion of her story. I want Sansa to take her own actions. After all, love one's self before falling in love, or in this case, take care of one's own ass before kicking ass in The Game! She needs this to more fully mature as a player and person, and so I hope she does it without his help. After that though, I'd be down for another meeting.

Additionally, it would be quite the full circle of growth for Sansa to go from believing wholeheartedly in the "knight in shining armor" to realizing that she is her own knight and savior. Each of her rescuers thus far (aside from Sandor), have turned out to be men with something to gain from her "rescue." Joffrey to gain an even larger sense of pride and entitlement, Ser Dontos to gain money, and LF to gain some unforeseen political power. She's learning quickly that men don't rescue women for love, they rescue them for power. That Sansa is the queen in this game of chess, the most important piece, is something that she'll come to realize and employ. To realize her value in the game of thrones and use it for her own ascension, I think, would be the logical conclusion of her story. Sandor rescuing Sansa from the Vale would tank any sort of growth or maturity that she's shown so far and should show by the series end. A character should never start and end the same person in a work of fiction, especially a fantasy as steeped in myth as ASOIAF.

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OK this might be harking back too far in this thread. If so I apologize. We see that Sansa has grown into her Starkness. This is because she has lost everything, much in the same way that Ned had. After everyone is gone, people talk about Ned and his attributes, so she has something to model herself upon. It's very rarely we hear Catelyn get mentioned. With Littlefinger trying to mold a new more pliant Catelyn, as part of her growth she is rebelling, choosing to become Starker.

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Additionally, it would be quite the full circle of growth for Sansa to go from believing wholeheartedly in the "knight in shining armor" to realizing that she is her own knight and savior. Each of her rescuers thus far (aside from Sandor), have turned out to be men with something to gain from her "rescue." Joffrey to gain an even larger sense of pride and entitlement, Ser Dontos to gain money, and LF to gain some unforeseen political power. She's learning quickly that men don't rescue women for love, they rescue them for power. That Sansa is the queen in this game of chess, the most important piece, is something that she'll come to realize and employ. To realize her value in the game of thrones and use it for her own ascension, I think, would be the logical conclusion of her story. Sandor rescuing Sansa from the Vale would tank any sort of growth or maturity that she's shown so far and should show by the series end. A character should never start and end the same person in a work of fiction, especially a fantasy as steeped in myth as ASOIAF.

Yes, this, a thousand times! Her arc, as I see it, is growing from "My knight will rescue me!" to "I must rescue myself!" It's all about finding her own power. If she wants to re-take the North, or if she and Rickon are reunited and she takes on the role of his guardian and regent, if she wants to rescue Sweetrobin and help raise him into a good man - she is going to need her own powerful self. I have said many times before that she is identified with the Mother, and even if she never has children ( :crying: :crying: ) she will almost certainly be responsible for nurturing someone (Rickon, Sweetrobin, the North) and she cannot do that from a position of weakness. Mothers need to protect and provide for their children. In the animal world, it is the mothers with babies who are the most ferocious; try to hurt (or even come near) a mama wolf's cubs and she will kill you.

Sansa has been developing her strength and self-reliance throughout the books and I really want to see this flower (ha!) in TWOW. And also this is why if she marries Harry the Heir, I'll eat my hat. Harry might have attracted the Sansa of AGOT, but she's fed up to the teeth with gallant knights by AFFC and I cannot see her thinking "A man to rescue me and take back the North for me! Wow, what an awesome idea!" Her response to that LF proposal at the end of AFFC was tepid, because she knows that marrying Harry or anyone else will not solve her problems and might add to them, and also because she knows that LF is a liar and BS artist.

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With Littlefinger trying to mold a new more pliant Catelyn, as part of her growth she is rebelling, choosing to become Starker.

Yes, this is a good point. When LF requests for her to be Alayne Stone in her heart, she's initially going to protest, but instead decides to feed him "lies and arbor gold." Part of his strategy is to remake Sansa into his perfect Cat, controlling her thoughts and directing her desires in a way that he was unable to with Catelyn. I think it's a good chance that we'll see Sansa's rebellion emerge in the reclaiming of her identity, but this will happen on her own terms.

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Her response to that LF proposal at the end of AFFC was tepid, because she knows that marrying Harry or anyone else will not solve her problems and might add to them, and also because she knows that LF is a liar and BS artist.

Yeah, I'm thinking that last daring "rescue" by Littlefinger (crossing fingers) was the end of her hope/belief in "true knights." Her BS detector seems to be in great working condition these days.

What I find interesting is that Sansa, above any of the other children/young adults in ASOIAF, has the best understanding and competency dealing with deception, and in GOT she seemed the least equipped to handle it. Jon has just experienced it for the first time (really in the worst way possible for his first encounter with it); Dany, because of the inundating prophecies she gets around every corner, deals with fairly minor deceptions very poorly. And Robb didn't even get a chance to deal with real deception :crying:

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Given the game of thrones I would probably say concern rather than jealousy personally. Particularly as his sister receiving a gift of flowers at a tournament led to a civil war.

Yeah, bad memories.

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So, I tend to look at things in terms of what we’re not talking about, and a big thing I noticed in looking at Robb and Sansa is that while the relationship between Sansa and Arya in AGOT gets dissected, we don’t talk a lot about Robb and Bran, which seems to parallel Sansa and Arya quite a bit. So, I’m going a bit off-plan, in that I’m bringing in Arya and Bran too, and focusing here only on AGOT, but this is just the starting point, and I’m thinking that the whole analysis will take several posts, over several weeks. Sorry. I’m going chronologically, so the parallels are a bit all over, but I’ve tried to use bold text to emphasize where appropriate.

So the first time we see Robb, it’s through Bran’s eyes, as Ned is decapitating the NW deserter. Bran’s really concerned with “trying to seem older than seven, trying to pretend he’s seen all this before.” In other words, he’s engaged in his first performance of masculinity, using Robb as a model for his own behavior. He gets so caught up in the performance that he misses a lot of what’s going on – “afterward Bran could not recall much of what had been said,” and he seems to measure everything by a Robb metric – Ice is “as wide across as a man’s hand, and taller even than Robb,” but this metric also serves to emphasize that while Robb is almost a man grown, he’s not quite there yet (it’s not Robb’s hand, but “a man’s”). This is also the chapter that establishes that, like Sansa, Robb has “his mother’s coloring, the fair skin, red-brown hair, and blue eyes of the Tullys of Riverrun.” When Jon and Robb go off racing, “Bran did not try to follow. His pony could not keep up.”

The first time we really see Sansa, it’s through Arya’s eyes, during the sewing scene. Arya is really concerned with the crookedness of her stitches, and she “worried that Septa Mordane might have read her thoughts,” an anxiety not dissimilar to Bran’s, and Arya, engaged in a performance of femininity, seems to measure everything by a Sansa metric – “Sansa’s needlework was exquisite. Everyone said so,” and “’She has such fine, delicate hands.” So, while Robb doesn’t yet have a man’s hands, Sansa already has the hands of a lady. Arya also misses a lot of the conversation in this scene, as Bran does in his first chapter, and it’s through Arya that we see that “Sansa had gotten her mother’s fine high cheekbones and the auburn hair of the Tullys.” [Note: though later, Catelyn’s POV establishes that all the children save Arya have her coloring, it’s interesting that, when we first meet Robb and Sansa, through Bran and Arya’s eyes, the narrative chooses to emphasize their Tully coloring, ignore Bran’s, and contrast with Arya’s Stark-y look.] Bran’s pony is unable to keep up with Robb’s horse; Arya feels herself unable to keep up with Sansa’s needlework.

It’s worth noting a couple of other parallels re: Bran/Arya POVs and depictions of Robb and Sansa – Robb has two companions of an age with him – Jon and Theon (with Bran being left to the side) – paralleling Sansa’s two companions – Jeyne Poole and Beth Cassel (with Arya left out of the conversation). Both also notice/emphasize things about Jon that Robb and Sansa are presented as overlooking (Jon’s selflessness in leaving himself out re: the direwolves, Sansa’s insistence that he is their half-brother). Both Robb and Sansa seem more accepting of Jon’s status as bastard – it’s left to Bran and Arya to question this status.

There’s also considerable attention given, during the Winterfell part of the narrative, to establishing other parallels between Robb and Sansa. During the feast, Jon notes that, as Robb escorts Myrcella, “Robb didn’t even have the sense to realize how stupid she was; he was grinning like a fool,” a description not unlike how “Sansa looked radiant as she walked beside” Joffrey – Robb is as willing to overlook Myrcella’s stupidity, as impressed by her status, as Sansa is willing to overlook Joffrey’s haughtiness. When Ned makes the decision to go to King’s Landing, he frames the decision about who goes and who stays in terms of duty: Robb “must learn to rule…He must be ready when his time comes,” and “Sansa must wed Joffrey…we must give them no grounds to suspect our devotion.”

These parallels begin to diverge in the first Arya POV, with the fighting practice scene Arya observes between Robb and Joffrey, in which “’Joffrey is truly a little shit.’” This is the beginning of the disillusionment with the Lannisters/Baratheons for the other Stark children, especially Robb, but not for Sansa, who does not get to witness it (and also misses the role the Hound plays in shaming/provoking Robb in front of other knights), and it is perhaps a bit of foreshadowing – Robb gets held back from attacking Joffrey by Theon, which serves as a parallel to later events, in which Robb cannot attack King’s Landing because he has to deal with Theon’s sacking of Winterfell.

There’s a line in Bran’s second chapter that gets me every time – “Robb was the one they were leaving behind” at Winterfell. There’s the irony that he leaves Rickon out (“but Rickon was only a baby”) and doesn’t yet know that he’ll be staying too, but it also feels like a parallel to what happens to Sansa, left behind in King’s Landing (but I might be stretching a tad bit there). As the one left behind, the Stark in Winterfell, Robb begins to take on responsibility almost immediately – appointing men, caring for Rickon, wearing real steel – and he also experiences the aftermath of the attack on Bran, further shading his impression (and ours) of the Lannisters. And the narrative takes pains to contrast what we (and Robb) now know of the Lannisters with what Sansa does not yet see – her first POV (which includes, early on the admission that “Sansa did not really know Joffrey yet” – establishing her ignorance relative to a.) the rest of her family and b.) the audience) follows the chapter in which Bran is attacked, which ends with everyone at Winterfell talking trash about the Lannisters and plotting Catelyn’s trip to King’s Landing.

It’s worth noting that the Hound also shames Sansa in this chapter, as he did with Robb in the yard: “’The Starks use them for wet nurses,” and Sansa realized that the two stranger knights were looking down on her and Lady, swords in their hands, and then she was frightened again, and ashamed. Tears filled her eyes.” Once again, this seems to be a deliberate parallel with Robb (especially when we consider the audience for this shaming), but while Joffrey is instigating the situation with Robb in the practice yard, here Joff comforts Sansa – so it’s not just that she’s not witnessing his cruelty – he’s also treating her with a kindness that none of the rest of her family gets to experience.

If we believe Joffrey sent Bran’s attempted murderer, there’s also an interesting parallel between the preceding Catelyn POV and this, Sansa’s first POV – near the end of the first chapter, Bran’s wolf attacks and kills the man Joffrey sent to kill Bran, and at the end of the second, Nymeria attacks Joffrey to defend Arya. Robb isn’t there for the first (only the aftermath), but Sansa is there for the second – it’s interesting that at this point in the narrative, she’s been witness to more violence than Robb (I’m not counting the execution of the NW dude – that falls under more of a “justice” category for me).

Bran’s dream shows us Robb growing taller and stronger and Sansa crying herself to sleep at night, which seems a reflection of where we are in the narrative, but also some foreshadowing of what’s to come, and then Robb finds Bran awake. We have another Sansa/Arya and Robb/Bran parallel in that Arya is required to dine with Sansa and her father, though she’d rather dine in her room, and Bran is required to attend Robb’s meeting with Tyrion, though he’d rather be in his room; the end of the Arya chapter ends with her allowed to use her Needle; in Bran’s, he learns that he will be able to ride a horse again; both are a callback to their first POVs, and their sibling-related performance anxieties about needlework and riding. Also interesting is that this chapter is where Robb first sees the wolves ready to attack (though they’re called off; he will see them attack again – first the wildlings that attack Bran, then the Greatjon, and finally in battle) – Summer, Grey Wind, and Shaggydog all make to attack Tyrion, calling back to the earlier attacks on the Lannister lackey and Joff.

At dinner with the Night’s Watchmen, Robb loses it when they insist Benjen is dead – “’My uncle is not dead,’ Robb Stark said loudly, anger in his tones. He rose from the bench and laid his hand on the hilt of his sword. ‘Do you hear me? My uncle is not dead!” His voice rang against the stone walls, and Bran was suddenly afraid.” Compare to Sansa’s reaction to Arya telling her unwelcome truths about the Lannisters in her next POV: “’You’re horrible,’ she screamed at her sister. They should have killed you instead of Lady.” When faced with harsh truths at this point in the narrative, both Robb and Sansa choose to lash out at the messenger. The predominant image in Robb’s overreaction is his hand on the sword hilt; in Sansa’s, it’s the stained dress – it serves to emphasize their roles as the eldest children of each gender - little Lord and Lady Stark, but both images emphasized how each still needs to grow into their assigned role – the move to the sword is immature on Robb’s part (whereas before, what’s emphasized is his growth in physical maturity, here he is shown to be in need of emotional growth; also, it’s a callback to the earlier line about not drawing steel unless one intends to use it), and the stain on Sansa’s dress emphasizes her own unladylike behavior. They’re both struggling to conform to the roles that have been thrust upon them – Robb as Stark in Winterfell, Sansa as the eldest Lady in her father’s household.

I also see parallels between Sansa’s betrayal of the plan to leave King’s Landing and Robb’s consideration of calling the banners. He’s supposed to be the Stark in Winterfell, and after Ned’s confrontation with Jaime in the streets of King’s Landing (before Ned’s arrest), he’s considering taking matters into his own hands (as Sansa does in going to Cersei), calling the banners, and “marching off to war”(Bran 5). It’s interesting that Sansa thinks “if Mother or Robb did anything treasonous, called the banners or refused to swear fealty or anything, it would all go wrong” – Sansa’s the one who often gets accused of treasonous behavior towards her family, but here she calls out that what Robb has been considering, and ultimately does, is an act of actual treason. In calling the banners and marching to war, abandoning his post as the Stark in Winterfell, Robb is rebelling not just against familial directives (and Luwin’s advice), but also against the throne. Sansa’s rebellion is familial, but not political. Robb’s is both, and Bran’s next POV calls him out on the fact that “it did not have to be Robb” to go, that he could have sent the bannermen under another’s command, and remained obedient to his parents. In this context, it’s hard not to read a parallel between Robb’s choice and Sansa’s.

As the bannermen arrive, Bran calls out Robb’s “cool courtesy,” another parallel to Sansa.

When Catelyn arrives to meet Robb’s host, she calls him out on his rebellion, pointing out that other men could have led the battles, and his response is to ask if she’s going to send him home – he’s reacting like a rebellious child, and Catelyn is the one who must give him strength, convince him that he must win in order to save them all (now that he’s taken this course of action, it is his duty to win – and he agrees); after he shares the battle plan, she thinks that “he is his father’s son, and Ned taught him well.

When Sansa goes to ask for mercy for Ned, she frames it in terms of duty and courage: “Now, she told herself, I must do it now. Gods give me courage…I must be as strong as my lady mother.” Like Robb, she is undertaking the only course of action she can, having made the decision to rebel – it is her duty to ask for mercy for her father, and she knows that she must be cunning in her choice of words (as Robb must be cunning in choosing his battles) and courageous. She, like Robb, looks to Catelyn as a source of strength in this scene, though she doesn’t have the benefit of Catelyn’s actual presence.

In Ned’s last POV, Varys visits him and makes vague threats about how if he doesn’t confess his treason, it may cost Sansa her life – his confession before the beheading can thus be seen as an attempt to save not just his own life, but hers – he’s compromising his principles in order to save Sansa. In the very next chapter, Catelyn compromises her own principles (and Robb, and Arya) in approaching Walder Frey, so that Robb can have the bridge. It’s interesting that the series of parallels that began the novel with Bran and Arya’s relationships with their siblings seem to find closure in relationships with, and the motivations of, their parents.

Ok. Here’s where I get excited about this stuff: the chronology at the end is this – Sansa goes to Cersei, Robb calls banners, Sansa asks for mercy, Ned agrees to confess, Robb wins Whispering Wood, taking Jaime prisoner, Joff kills Ned. I’m just gonna say it: if Robb doesn’t win Whispering Wood, Joff doesn’t kill Ned. That decision, on Joff’s part, is all about making himself look big. And why does he feel the need to look big? Right. Robb (and think back to the practice yard at Winterfell) makes the Lannisters look dumb by winning a battle and capturing Jaime. Joff needs to have the last word. Robb doesn’t fight that battle, Joff worries about looking good by being merciful, compassionate to Sansa. So, basically – if we want to blame a Stark for Ned’s death, it’s on Robb.

A final note, re: Sansa and Joffrey – the text makes a point that, after Ned’s death, Sansa is “seeing him for the first time.” This is borne out by the rest of the text – she misses the confrontation with Robb at Winterfell, she’s drunk when the Mycah incident happens (and this is why she has trouble remembering when questioned), and there are times when she sees what she thinks is compassion, which the rest of her family doesn’t get to see. But here’s the thing – Robb, Arya, and Jon all see what Joffrey is before they leave Winterfell, and yet none of them speak to Sansa about it. If she’s ignorant, it’s because her siblings have let her down, her parents have used her (they thought the Lannisters killed Jon Arryn and let the engagement continue, sending Sansa to King’s Landing; then, when they think the Lannisters tried to kill Bran, the engagement is still on), and no one has had her best interests at heart.

The last Sansa and Catelyn POVs make clear what’s coming in the next book – Sansa is a hostage, Robb is King in the North! If this book was about comparing the two, the next is about contrast.

Edited because I meant b.), not B)

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Great write up Myth and Stuff! There are quite a few things in here that I had never even noticed before that really were eyeopening. The part about Sansa being drunk when Joff attacks Mycah in particular I never paid attention to before. It just slipped right by me that she was drinking for the first time before it all happened and that would definitely cause some problems with remembering what happened later on.

I also see parallels between Sansa’s betrayal of the plan to leave King’s Landing and Robb’s consideration of calling the banners. He’s supposed to be the Stark in Winterfell, and after Ned’s confrontation with Jaime in the streets of King’s Landing (before Ned’s arrest), he’s considering taking matters into his own hands (as Sansa does in going to Cersei), calling the banners, and “marching off to war”(Bran 5). It’s interesting that Sansa thinks “if Mother or Robb did anything treasonous, called the banners or refused to swear fealty or anything, it would all go wrong” – Sansa’s the one who often gets accused of treasonous behavior towards her family, but here she calls out that what Robb has been considering, and ultimately does, is an act of actual treason. In calling the banners and marching to war, abandoning his post as the Stark in Winterfell, Robb is rebelling not just against familial directives (and Luwin’s advice), but also against the throne. Sansa’s rebellion is familial, but not political. Robb’s is both, and Bran’s next POV calls him out on the fact that “it did not have to be Robb” to go, that he could have sent the bannermen under another’s command, and remained obedient to his parents. In this context, it’s hard not to read a parallel between Robb’s choice and Sansa’s.
Love this. This is a great point and needs to be noted, but there's a difference too. Robb's disobedience is to defend his father and his family not go against him as Sansa does so that's why I think Robb doesn't get vilified the way Sansa does. But regarding what I highlighted in bold, Sansa also gets called out for being stupid,shallow, etc. but this thought shows how perceptive and smart she really is. She recognizes the position that they are all in and takes a course of action that best works within that situation.

A final note, re: Sansa and Joffrey – the text makes a point that, after Ned’s death, Sansa is “seeing him for the first time.” This is borne out by the rest of the text – she misses the confrontation with Robb at Winterfell, she’s drunk when the Mycah incident happens (and this is why she has trouble remembering when questioned), and there are times when she sees what she thinks is compassion, which the rest of her family doesn’t get to see. But here’s the thing – Robb, Arya, and Jon all see what Joffrey is before they leave Winterfell, and yet none of them speak to Sansa about it. If she’s ignorant, it’s because her siblings have let her down, her parents have used her (they thought the Lannisters killed Jon Arryn and let the engagement continue, sending Sansa to King’s Landing; then, when they think the Lannisters tried to kill Bran, the engagement is still on), and no one has had her best interests at heart.

And the narrative takes pains to contrast what we (and Robb) now know of the Lannisters with what Sansa does not yet see – her first POV (which includes, early on the admission that “Sansa did not really know Joffrey yet” – establishing her ignorance relative to a.) the rest of her family and b.) the audience) follows the chapter in which Bran is attacked, which ends with everyone at Winterfell talking trash about the Lannisters and plotting Catelyn’s trip to King’s Landing.

Exactly. This is one of those things where you really have to keep the POV structure in mind and when you do put the information in context that way, it's obvious that Sansa really has no inkling of Joff being anything other than charming at this point. She gets so much flack for this and again is considered to be shallow and stupid which is so frustrating because when you look closer it's clear that she never has the information that the reader and rest of the kids (except for maybe Rickon already have).

I liked the parallels you noted between Robb and Sansa too, with the anger at the messenger, their cool courtesy, their actions in defying their parents and how the Hound "shamed" both of them early on. Again, that's easy to miss because Robb is not a POV so we never get his voice or thoughts but you're right, there are a lot of similarities.

Ok. Here’s where I get excited about this stuff: the chronology at the end is this – Sansa goes to Cersei, Robb calls banners, Sansa asks for mercy, Ned agrees to confess, Robb wins Whispering Wood, taking Jaime prisoner, Joff kills Ned. I’m just gonna say it: if Robb doesn’t win Whispering Wood, Joff doesn’t kill Ned. That decision, on Joff’s part, is all about making himself look big. And why does he feel the need to look big? Right. Robb (and think back to the practice yard at Winterfell) makes the Lannisters look dumb by winning a battle and capturing Jaime. Joff needs to have the last word. Robb doesn’t fight that battle, Joff worries about looking good by being merciful, compassionate to Sansa. So, basically – if we want to blame a Stark for Ned’s death, it’s on Robb.

Wow!! Awesome - mind blown.

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Mythsandstuff, this was an excellent analysis which I really enjoyed reading. But I am pretty sure Whispering Wood and the capture of Jaime happened after Ned's execution. Tywin knew about Ned's death when he got news of Jaime's capture, even though his army was closer to Riverrun then to the capital. And Joffrey told Sansa about Whispering Wood quite a few days after Ned's death.

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Thanks, Elba!

In coming back to this with the benefit of food and sleep, I'm seeing a ton of edits I'd like to make, but I've also been thinking a lot about GRRM's process this morning - I have so many questions, and I keep thinking about the fact that Sansa is the last POV added in AGOT. She's developed through this series of parallels with Robb, almost as if he decided the beheading scene was a good template, and took the Bran/Robb stuff there and applied it to Arya/Sansa in Arya's first POV, then decided to just run with it; we don't get her POV until we've left Winterfell, and her POV, for most of the book, is defined by her POV-related ignorance about Joffrey, relative to both her family and the audience. I feel like we've talked a lot about the problems with Sansa's development that might be a result of her being added last (for instance, the fact that she doesn't really interact with Jon - Robb, Bran, and Arya get a chance to develop as individuals by interacting with him, but not Sansa or Rickon). I've been trying to put my finger on where it is that I think we first get who Sansa is on her own terms, and why - I think it's clear it's the tourney scene - the Sansa POV on that is all about character development, and both chapters are setting up the kind of political acumen that allows her to beg for mercy for Ned.

That scene is also interesting, though, in comparison to the scene where Robb impresses Catelyn with his prowess as a military strategist - he reads the battlefield like Sansa reads the tourney, and both have an uncanny ability to foresee events (where Tywin will move, who will win the tourney). It's interesting that while Catelyn is there to warn Robb not to trust Roose Bolton, Ned doesn't warn Sansa about Littlefinger (because he's not there). In these scenes, both Robb and Sansa end up more positively evaluating allies (the Greatjon, the Hound) who initially try to shame them. For me, these two scenes are all about setting up the next two books - they're the last direct parallel between Robb and Sansa before things start to diverge, in terms of motivation for rebellion, and they establish the military and political competencies Robb and Sansa will rely on in the coming books.

Mythsandstuff, this was an excellent analysis which I really enjoyed reading. But I am pretty sure Whispering Wood and the capture of Jaime happened after Ned's execution. Tywin knew about Ned's death when he got news of Jaime's capture, even though his army was closer to Riverrun then to the capital. And Joffrey told Sansa about Whispering Wood quite a few days after Ned's death.

Thanks! So they happened at the same time, or it happened after Ned's execution? Because if it's after, that's awfully troll-like of GRRM, putting the Whispering Wood chapter before the Ned's Dead chapter. I'll buy that Joff might not have known, and that part of my analysis might be crap, but Martin's certainly leading us down that path.

Edited because grammar and stuff.

ETA this also: I read the development of Sansa's political acumen like this: 1. Tourney 2. "Joffrey's not a Baratheon" 3. Begging for mercy 4. Heads on spikes, lesson from Hound re: courtesy armor. It's interesting that the development of Robb's military acumen gets more of a slow roll, and he considers the problems in calling the banners, thinking strategically, before his scene with Catelyn, but the development of Sansa's political competency seems to happen boom, boom, boom (for lack of better words). Robb's skill is highlighted once Catelyn appears; Sansa's really starts to develop when Ned is gone (if we consider his absence from most of the tourney a bit of foreshadowing).

Last edit, I swear:

I've also been thinking of these lines again - Robb “must learn to rule…He must be ready when his time comes,” and “Sansa must wed Joffrey…we must give them no grounds to suspect our devotion.” The end of AGOT is all about Robb being ready, his time having come, and Sansa's giving no grounds to suspect devotion. Puts both rebellions in a whole 'nother context. Gawd, I love foreshadowing.

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Thanks! So they happened at the same time, or it happened after Ned's execution? Because if it's after, that's awfully troll-like of GRRM, putting the Whispering Wood chapter before the Ned's Dead chapter. I'll buy that Joff might not have known, and that part of my analysis might be crap, but Martin's certainly leading us down that path.

Edited because grammar and stuff.

Whispering Wood was after Ned's death. The POVs are very out of order time wise which is part of the problem with the structure of the books. It adds to the book, in my opinion, but it also means that readers constantly think that the character knows more than they actually do. Sansa, as you mentioned, is a perfect example of this. The planning of the RW and Jaime's escape from Riverrun are others. I, and many others, think that LF is the one that manipulated Joff in to killing Ned. Varys hints at it with his line about a small man casting a large shadow. Many think he's talking about Tyrion but it's actually LF. We also learn in Dance, during Cersei's WoS that LF had asked to marry Sansa at this time.

You might like this link:

http://asoiaf.wester...lobal-timeline/

It's timeline of the POVs done a few years ago. It's missing Dance but is still very useful. I find that many readers make a lot of assumptions about the timeline. I've got this link bookmarked, it's been very useful. There are some other similar efforts on the interwebs that I've found too.

OK, rest of my writeup to follow shortly.

ETA:

1. Slowly but surely working on Jaime writeup. Time has been very limited lately.

2. Myths - your post was truly amazing. You picked up on so much that I have never seen before.

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Whispering Wood was after Ned's death. The POVs are very out of order time wise which is part of the problem with the structure of the books. It adds to the book, in my opinion, but it also means that readers constantly think that the character knows more than they actually do. Sansa, as you mentioned, is a perfect example of this. The planning of the RW and Jaime's escape from Riverrun are others. I, and many others, think that LF is the one that manipulated Joff in to killing Ned. Varys hints at it with his line about a small man casting a large shadow. Many think he's talking about Tyrion but it's actually LF. We also learn in Dance, during Cersei's WoS that LF had asked to marry Sansa at this time.

You might like this link:

http://asoiaf.wester...lobal-timeline/

It's timeline of the POVs done a few years ago. It's missing Dance but is still very useful. I find that many readers make a lot of assumptions about the timeline. I've got this link bookmarked, it's been very useful. There are some other similar efforts on the interwebs that I've found too.

OK, rest of my writeup to follow shortly.

ETA:

1. Slowly but surely working on Jaime writeup. Time has been very limited lately.

2. Myths - your post was truly amazing. You picked up on so much that I have never seen before.

Thanks! You know what's hilarious? I spent like an hour reading the timeline thread before starting on my post last night, and still screwed it up. Gah!

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A lot of interesting stuff. I like the Bran/Robb and Arya/Sansa parallels you drew. I think I remember reading in the books how Sansa thought they were alike. Nice job.

One minor thing. The parallel drawn between Sansa not realizing Joffery's nature and Robb not realizing Myrcella's stupidity is iffy at best. Jon's comments are more his bitterness at being excluded because of his bastardy rather than a fair evaluation of Myrcella.

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Thanks! You know what's hilarious? I spent like an hour reading the timeline thread before starting on my post last night, and still screwed it up. Gah!

These book are incredibly dense. I've read the books, passage, chapters, and whatot so many times and yet I still miss stuff on a regular basis. Not sure if this is a compliment to the books or a recognition of my incredibly bad memory. :)

That timeline is incredible insn't it? I'm hoping something like it is revisited with information from Dance.

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A lot of interesting stuff. I like the Bran/Robb and Arya/Sansa parallels you drew. I think I remember reading in the books how Sansa thought they were alike. Nice job.

One minor thing. The parallel drawn between Sansa not realizing Joffery's nature and Robb not realizing Myrcella's stupidity is iffy at best. Jon's comments are more his bitterness at being excluded because of his bastardy rather than a fair evaluation of Myrcella.

Can we say at that point, before the practice yard scene, they might also not be a fair evaluation of Joff? I still think it's interesting that Jon draws the parallel - the fact he turns out to be right about Joff, but not Myrcella, isn't as important to me as the fact that he's observing a similarity between Robb and Sansa - we know that "a bastard had to learn to notice things, to to read the truth that people hid behind their eyes." There's a lot of time spent establishing Jon's perceptiveness and willingness to accept "harsh truths" - I still think this parallel is significant, as it's one of the few things about Sansa we get from Jon.

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Great analysis myths! And really looking forward to the rest of it :)

I've been trying to put my finger on where it is that I think we first get who Sansa is on her own terms, and why - I think it's clear it's the tourney scene - the Sansa POV on that is all about character development, and both chapters are setting up the kind of political acumen that allows her to beg for mercy for Ned.

I have to say that I really appreciate how you've approached this analysis in terms of comparing Sansa's and Robb's political journey and showing initially how they're viewed through the eyes of their siblings. Sansa gets a very different immersion in politics than Robb does; she is surrounded by courtly intrigue, while he is involved in fighting and military tactics, but both are still very young and inexperienced, and their respective training grounds challenge them to mature and acquire tough outer shells. Also of note: your point about Sansa not having a POV until we leave Winterfell. Obviously this is a deliberate choice by Martin, but I don't know if many readers pay attention to how the narrative structure itself positions Sansa as an outsider, and how it may be influencing perceptions of her character.

That scene is also interesting, though, in comparison to the scene where Robb impresses Catelyn with his prowess as a military strategist - he reads the battlefield like Sansa reads the tourney, and both have an uncanny ability to foresee events (where Tywin will move, who will win the tourney). It's interesting that while Catelyn is there to warn Robb not to trust Roose Bolton, Ned doesn't warn Sansa about Littlefinger (because he's not there). In these scenes, both Robb and Sansa end up more positively evaluating allies (the Greatjon, the Hound) who initially try to shame them. For me, these two scenes are all about setting up the next two books - they're the last direct parallel between Robb and Sansa before things start to diverge, in terms of motivation for rebellion, and they establish the military and political competencies Robb and Sansa will rely on in the coming books.

Very insightful reading. We can all appreciate that Robb is fighting a war on behalf of the Starks, but Sansa too is fighting her own personal battle, and she's at all times surrounded by the enemy. The mental strength that it takes to endure this is incredible and once again, given the preference for martial prowess and "active" resistance, isn't fully appreciated. In light of Robb's death, and Sansa potentially facing her own "calling of the banners", I think her ability to represent a Northern resistance shouldn't be in doubt.

Robb's skill is highlighted once Catelyn appears; Sansa's really starts to develop when Ned is gone (if we consider his absence from most of the tourney a bit of foreshadowing).

This is intriguing :)

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