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brashcandy

From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa XI

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oooh, that's interesting :) Do you have the page reference? I've always felt that your comparison of Petyr to satyrs was quite strong.

Also, this passage in AFFC when Sansa is preparing to leave the Eyrie is intriguing to me:

What's notable here is the depiction of the Eyrie as a tomb where no prayers are answered. Sansa thinks that she only hears the endless winds blowing. However, on her journey down the mountain we see that the wind takes on an actual character - that of a ghost wolf as big as the mountains. So, unbeknownst to Sansa, these prayers might have been answered after all.

The wind made me think of this:

“No, stay,” Bran commanded her. “Tell me what you meant, about hearing the gods.”

Osha studied him. “You asked them and they’re answering. Open your ears, listen, you’ll hear.”

Bran listened. “It’s only the wind,” he said after a moment, uncertain. “The leaves are rustling.”

“Who do you think sends the wind, if not the gods?”

These two from Bran's dream also mention the wind

At the heart of the godswood, the great white weirwood brooded over its reflection in the black pool, its leaves rustling in a chill wind. When it felt Bran watching, it lifted its eyes from the still waters and stared back at him knowingly.

Wings unseen drank the wind and filled and pulled him upward. The terrible needles of ice receded below him. The sky opened up above. Bran soared.

The first made me think of Sansa being the Heart Tree in her Snow Winterfell. In rereading Jon XII in his dream with the black ice armor there is an eagle calling him Snow and he is awakened by Mormont's raven pecking his chest and crying Snow. I suspect Bran is trying to communicate with him through his dreams. Sansa waking before her snow castle is before Bran reaches the cave with Bloodraven but by AFFC he may well be trying to communicate with Sansa as well.

The second one just stood out because if Sansa warged the falcon in the scene where she is looking down on the Lords Declarant and up at the falcon that line would fit perfectly with her looking down on the Eyrie. The main point is that the wind is very connected to the Old Gods and not to diminish the Jon reference but Lady is just as much a ghost wolf as Ghost.

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Thanks I found it! :) Yes, it's really interesting, and Arya even thinks she could mean the Hound. Is that a clue that it really isn't the Hound? LOL. Anyways, it'd be good to hear how others interpret it.

I assumed it referred to Vargo Hoat after Brienne has bitten off his ear and then he's sitting fevered in Harenhall until the Mountain gets to him and kills him. But since we know prophecies are never what they first appear, I like QOW suggestion too, which means this prophecy hasn't happened yet. LF does come off as a bit of a goat in the way he is described.

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Yay! Finally done. Busy week-end and trying to finish this means I haven't been up to date. So, sorry if I miss anything.

For Part 1 and the themes I used: http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/topic/72119-from-pawn-to-player-rethinking-sansa-x/page__st__60#entry3515402

CoK Sansa I Stories/Game Skill/SanSan

It is the tourney of Joffery’s nameday. Sansa goes to watch the tourney. It’s boring which worries Sansa. Then, Dontos comes out drunk and mostly naked. Sansa convinces Joffery not to kill him with Sandor’s help. Joffery cancels the tourney. Tommen still wants to tilt and Joffery relents to him, Myrcella, and Sandor. After Tyrion’s arrival, Joffery and Sandor leave.

Stories The first bit happens when Sansa is being led by Arys to the tourney. She reflects on all the knights and how they treat her. She regards Arys the best since he tries to be civil and objected to beating her. Then, she goes on to mention The Hound never hits her. Of course, Joffery never orders him to. This is the first Sandor as an anti-knight moment. The next is his dress. While Arys’s cloak was a part of him, it contrasted with who Sandor was. This contrast is important. Arys seems like a basically decent guy. He seems like a “true knight.” Yet, he still will beat Sansa if ordered. He may object. He may not hurt her as much as the others. But he still will hit her. The Hound does not. There is no indication that Sansa thinks The Hound wouldn’t. Simply, Joffery has the other five for that. I think this is less Sansa and more GRRM. He wants us to know from the very beginning of the book, Sandor does not fit in Kingsguard. He wants us to know this is a good thing for Sansa.

Game Skill Another part of stories is one that has been mentioned on this board before. The power of stories. Sansa tries to use it in a desperate attempt. She doesn’t believe Joffery believes her. Then Sandor steps in and backs her up. The scene does this show Sansa some innate understanding, but does so poorly. Sandor gives her an example of two things. Have more than one singer if possible. And make sure the singer comes from somewhere else. Sansa has every reason to lie to Joffery at that moment. But why would Joffery think Sandor might be lying? Even Sansa seems surprised and thinks she might have stumbled upon a saying she never knew.

SanSan While their relationship does not directly grow, we do see how Sandor is playing damage control. He tries to steer Joffery away from beating her. This can be compared to Arys and his objection. Sandor is actively manipulating Joffery at least somewhat while Arys is passive (he objected, but there is no evidence he tried to stop the beatings in anyway). I do not mean Sandor is Littlefinger level in his manipulation. But he is trying to do what he can. Lastly, I want to state that like the stories bit above, it is mainly GRRM trying to establish the “normal” at the beginning of the book rather Sansa’s point of view.

CoK Sansa II Sandor vs The Hound/ Stories/SanSan/Game Skill/Sex

Sansa is returning from her meeting with Dontos in the godswood. She bumps into The Hound literally. He takes her back to her room.

Sandor vs The Hound For much of it, he is The Hound. He takes this identity when he performs his duty as Kingsguard. This seems to be a general theme in the book. He is (Sandor) Clegane four times. Each time was something that set him apart from his job. Whether it was changing the subject before Boros could ask any follow up questions or simple drunken ranting about knights, the common factor is that it is not something a Kingsguard should be doing. The Hound is in Kingsguard. Sandor is not.

The Sandor/The Hound sides of him are at conflict. He gently pushes Sansa shortly after threatening to beat her. He inflicts pain when revealing his family’s history. This is the first glimpse that we the readers and likely Sansa herself gets that Sandor and The Hound are starting to rip each other apart.

Stories Well, first I want to continue a point Elba brought up in the Dontos post. Sansa asks for a friend or a knight. Then, she meets Dontos and Sandor. Really, I think they both can fit either of those in some degree, though Sandor winds up more in the knight category throughout Clash.

Other than that, we get Sandor’s continued mocking of Sansa and her stories. We also get a real one of how the Clegane family became the Clegane family. The moral leads us to….

SanSan As often is the case, their relationship grows when they’re alone in the middle of the night with The Hound drunk off his ass. It’s not healthy, but really the best Sandor is capable of. Sandor serves as Sansa’s protector. He called Sansa a liar and mocked her for it, but he never actually bothered to find out what really went on. He makes sure Boros does not ask any follow up questions by changing the subject. He also tries to teach her a thing or two.

But most importantly, Sansa shows actual interest in Sandor. She wants to know why he lets people call him a dog even though he doesn’t let people call him a knight. For his part, Sandor opens up about his family’s history. And ends it with the not subtle “A hound will die for you, but never lie to you. And he’ll look you straight in the face.”

Game Skill Sandor’s big lesson to Sansa is become a better liar. Despite his promise to not lie to her, he lies for her to Boros. Lies of omission, but still, a lie is a lie. Boros had no reason to suspect Sansa was lying despite that Sandor knew something was up. He doesn’t care what she is doing. But he wants her to become a better liar.

The other lesson was judgment. Sansa considered Boros the worst of the Kingsguard because of his temper. But Sandor recognizes the others, despite not being as hot-headed, are far more dangerous than Boros is. He tells Sansa as much.

Sex The song is sex. Sandor wants Sansa. He also knows he can never have her. So, he wants a song. He wants intimacy with Sansa. Something that he can have of her that is his alone.

With that in mind, the last bit of the chapter takes on new meaning. He rejects Florian and Jonquil. It is a song meant for Dontos. He might not know that specifically, but he recognizes it is not his song.

I don’t think Sansa’s offer is random. Dontos is her savior. While Sandor has been her sort of protector, if she is going to sing, it is going to be for her savior.

Then, he says he will have his song regardless of her consent which sounds weird for a song. But sex? It makes sense then. Sansa tells Sandor she will give it gladly, and he calls her a liar. Actually, he first calls her a pretty thing. Sansa and Sandor might not realize it on a conscious level, but I think on some level, they both know the sexual connotations of the song. Sandor might realize it a bit more than Sansa though.

CoK Sansa III Sandor vs The Hound/Game Skill/SanSan/Foreshadowing/Symbolism/Sex

Sandor tells Sansa to hurry up. Sansa knows there will be trouble but does not know what it is. The Hound informs her it is because of her brother. He escorts her to Joffery. Joffery orders Sandor to beat her, but Dontos interfers. Joffery then order Meryn and Boros to beat her. Sandor tries to tell him to stop. Joffery then orders her clothes off. After Boros rips her top off, Tyrion comes in and stops it. Sandor gives her his cloak. Then, Tyrion leaves with Sansa.

Sandor vs The Hound As above, in general, The Hound is performing the duties of Kingsguard. Sandor is trying his best to make it bearable (telling her it will be worse if she doesn’t hurry, giving her his cloak).

Game Skill Not much here. Though both Sandor and Tyrion remark how well trained she is. She is learning.

SanSan Once again, Sandor is in the protector role. The scene is filled with Sandor trying to make it better for Sansa. He tries to get her to hurry. He “not ungently” picks her up. Although Sansa doesn’t say it, I think he does hesitate, if only for a second, when Joffery orders him to hit Sansa. After all, when Joffery is tired by Dontos’s antics, he orders Meryn and Boros. Of course, there is the fact that he actually defied Joffery. I don’t think Meryn would have stopped for Dontos. Boros…. I dunno. But if he did, it would mainly be confusion rather than finding a happy distraction. Then, The Hound tries to tell him to stop, but Joffery refuses. Finally, Sandor gives her his cloak.

Foreshadowing Sandor giving Sansa his cloak is another foreshadowing of the BBW scene.

Symbolism Sandor giving the cloak represents his fracturing loyalty to Joffery. Throughout the scene, he tried to make things not as bad. Sansa and the treatment she receives is what is driving him away from the Kingsguard. Sure, the fire was the immediate cause at the BBW, but his loyalty was fracturing before that.

Sex Kind of a tangent thought, but I think Joffery was partly punishing Sandor when he ordered the beating to become sexual. He did so directly after Sandor tried to get him to stop. Though this really isn’t the goal of the post.

CoK Tyrion VIII Stories

The riot happens. Tyrion is afraid of what happened to Sansa (and what will happen to Jamie). Sandor appears with her. Sansa is in a state of shock. Sandor sends her off to get help.

Stories Sansa truly is in a story. The gallant knight saves her from a horrible fate. Yet, she is simply scared. She is no damsel in distress patiently waiting for her hero. She is a scared child.

CoK Sansa IV Stories/SanSan /Sex

Sansa goes to look at the invading army. She suddenly feels a pain and almost loses her balance. Sandor catches her in time. Sandor asks her if she is trying to fall. Sansa tells him he startled her. Sandor replies that he still frightens her though she was glad to see him during the riot. Sansa recalls the riot. She looks at him, but his eyes scare her. Then, they argue. Sansa asks him if he is afraid of going to Hell. Sandor laughs and replies the gods are as real as stories. Sansa leaves and has a nightmare only to awake to a greater one. She has flowered.

Stories There is two parts to this theme. The first is the continuation of the riot since we did not see it through Sansa eyes. She does not recognize it as story. She only remembers her fear.

The second part can be seen in this quote. “I’m honest. It’s the world that’s awful.” The Hound tries to draw Sansa into his bleak view of the world. The obvious part is where he tells her there are no true knights or gods and uses this quote. But another important part is where he compares Ned to himself. He enjoys killing people. Surely, Ned must like it too. He flat out tells Sansa Ned lied to her if he told her doesn’t like killing. Sandor is trying to break Sansa’s spirit.

I think there are two reasons for it. The first is a selfish reason. If she took his viewpoint, she’d be more accepting of him. The second is the Nietzsche quote, “Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man.” If Sansa surrenders to her cruel fate, she would suffer less.

SanSan Anger. It is the mood of this meeting. The Hound is growing angier. Sansa sees it. It frightens her. The anger in eyes is worse than the scars on his face. Again, the “look at my face” theme comes up. Sansa sincerely attempts to, but the eyes are too much for her to look at. His voice also bothers her. She even asks him if he enjoys scaring people.

Sansa has seen many sides of Sandor. But the rage that fills The Hound is something she rejects. She still cannot look him in the face as long as the hatred still fills them.

Sex Sandor is in between a menstrual pain and her first period. I have a hard time thinking this is a coincidence. With the events and dreams that come later, this is symbolic of Sandor’s part in Sansa’s sexual awakening. In this case, he is literally in the middle of it.

CoK Sansa V SanSan/Foreshadowing

Sansa goes to the sept. She sings the Mother’s song and prays for Sandor with others.

SanSan Sansa takes time out to pray for the Mother to gentle Sandor’s rage. This is actually a weird request for someone going into battle. Most basically, it is simply further proof that Sansa cares about Sandor’s well-being in whole.

Though let’s go a step further. Of course, this may be stretching it, feel free to decide. Combine this with previous Sansa chapter and the looking in the face. Sansa wants to see Sandor. She wants to be able to look at him. However, his rage (his brother, the world, himself, etc.) is too much for her. In the end, she wants to get closer to him.

Foreshadowing This has a couple of foreshadowings for the BBW scene. The first is the song used. The second is Sansa praying to the Mother to gentle Sandor. Using the Sansa = Mother theme, it tells us that Sansa will gentle Sandor. And she does. The next scene could have easily played out differently and Sandor could have become The Hound that haunts the Riverlands in Feast. But Sansa gets him back from the brink. And she is very much on his mind throughout the rest of his story and likely on the QI (assuming Sandor the Gravedigger theory). Now, it is not solely Sansa. Many people played/are playing a part. But Sansa has an important role in Sandor letting go his rage.

CoK Sansa VI Stories /Sex/SanSan

Sansa returns to her room. She discovers The Hound in her bed. The Hound is drunk and talking about how he lost. Sandor offers to take her away with him to the North. Sansa doesn’t accept his offer. Sandor takes his song at knife point. Sansa sings the Mother’s song causing Sandor to cry and leave his bloody cloak. Sansa curls underneath it until the battle was over.

Stories This is the ultimate story. The knight comes to save the captured princess. Sansa rejects it. This is a turning point for her. She rejects stories as reality. She might indulge a little, but she ultimately recognizes them for what they are. Compare this to her original run in with The Hound. She happily considered Joffery her shining prince who saved her. Now, she rejects the “shining knight” because she recognizes the truth. Sandor is a drunk, angry man. He has his good points, but she is no longer willing to overlook the bad.

Sex Where do I even begin? Well, let’s start by location. It takes place not only in Sansa’s room, but on her bed.

The bloody cloak is another obvious symbol. A bloody sheet is often a sign of girl losing her virginity. A cloak works just as well.

In a slightly disturbing example, after the song, Sandor’s tears are described as wetness that was not blood .I’ll just walk away from that double entandre (sp?).

Then, there is the song. As I said before, it represents intimacy. Sandor pulls her onto the bed for her to sing it and leaves a bloody cloak afterwards. The song itself is his. She offered Dontos’s song earlier, and he asked for it now, but she gave him a song for him alone. She shared a piece of herself with him that was for him.

Gentle Mother, font of mercy, save our sons from war, we pray, stay the swords and stay the arrows, let them know a better day. Gentle Mother, strength of women, help our daughters through this fray, soothe the wrath and tame the fury, teach us all a kinder way.

Before, she backs away from Sandor because of his rage. Yet, she sings a song wishing away his fury. It also points to a desire to become closer to him as she wishes away the thing that stops her previously. This is something she explores later when she makes Sandor more erotic (safe to do after he has disappeared).

Another important part is that Sansa cups Sandor’s cheek. It is reminiscent of the times when he has tried to force Sansa to look at him. Now, she is forcing him to look at her. It is a further act of intimacy that serves to increase the effect the song has on Sandor. This is where “the Mother” calms Sandor and tips the balance that sets him on his path to redemption rather than fully becoming The Hound.

Finally, this has to be asked. Was it rape? He did take a knife to her throat and had symbolic sex with her. While debatable, I lean towards no. First, the comments before where Sandor says she’ll sing for him or he’ll take it, and she says she’ll do it gladly. But more importantly, she doesn’t seem to feel like a victim. She adds in the unkiss and later has erotic dreams about him.

SanSan A lot of this is covered in Sex. So, feel free to apply the appropriate parts above to this part.

But there are two things that are separate. First, where Sansa thought he was going to kiss her. This isn’t necessarily sexual. The sex is in the song. This may be romantic, but not sexual. The important bit is: She closed her eyes, wanting it to be over, but nothing happened. “Still can’t bear to look, can you?” It goes with the theme of her not looking at him. Again, it is his violent nature that comes up. He had just offered to kill anyone who would hurt her. While she like some ferocity (her complaint about Dontos), that may be too much. And right before that, the smell that reeked the worst was the blood to further signify her rejection of The Hound. After his romantic offer was rejected, he goes for the sexual.

Lastly, there is the bloody cloak she lies under. While Dontos took the savior role, Sandor was her protector for Clash of Kings. She does not know how the battle will end. She cannot do anything about it. So, she takes comfort under her protector one last time.

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Great post Bronn. :)

Before, she backs away from Sandor because of his rage. Yet, she sings a song wishing away his fury. It also points to a desire to become closer to him as she wishes away the thing that stops her previously. This is something she explores later when she makes Sandor more erotic (safe to do after he has disappeared).

That's a very interesting point and something we have seen throughout with Sansa, and which appeared again in Tze's analysis of Jon Snow: Sansa sometimes struggles to fit people like Jon and Sandor within her worldview, but she creates spaces for them, or like here, wishes away the part of Sandor that she cannot accept, or which stands in the way of connecting with him further.

I'm wondering if Sansa turning him into a more erotic figure in her mind also has to do with that her worldview is changing, and she can now make room for him in it in a way she could not do before when she was tied up in the highborn lady role where women were proper ladies and men were knights (or they didn't fit). As Sansa the fugitive from a Lannister marriage and Alayne the bastard, her worldview has expanded to incorporate a different cast of people, which enables her to think of Sandor in the way she comes to do. It's still interesting to note that even in ACOK, Sansa's main beef with him isn't that he's lower born, nor his burns or uncouth language, it is his hatred and rage, which also the Elder Brother correctly identified as negative forces.

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All of you are gonna think I'm really crazy now because I have more crackpottedness to post about. All this may mean nothing, it may mean something. Who knows? But I enjoyed putting it together. :)

Talking of Snow White, myths and fairy tales had me thinking again about some things that have been mentioned in this thread.

This passage that we all know so well, has been lingering in my thoughts:

"He saw his father pleading with the king, his face etched with grief. He saw Sansa crying herself to sleep at night, and he saw Arya watching in silence and holding her secrets hard in her heart. There were shadows all around them. One shadow was dark as ash, with the terrible face of a hound. Another was armored like the sun, golden and beautiful. Over them both loomed a giant in armor made of stone, but when he opened his visor, there was nothing inside but darkness and thick black blood."

Now a few pages back Brash said:

Brash, I definitely don't think you've been thinking too hard! ;)

I was thinking on the wording of "dark as ash". What does or what could "dark" mean?

It could mean black--as in black ash, which is a tree.

This is what I found on them:

This is a northern tree, the most northern of the ash trees. (A northern tree...very interesting!) The black ash leaves are a darker shade of green on their upper surfaces, as opposed to the paler green color of the undersides. In autumn, they turn a shade of brown, although some cultivars exist that change to yellow. (Yellow is a Clegane color).

The bark is grey, thick and corky even on young trees (Sandor's armor is grey)

And there's this: The Black ash is a member of the olive family and adapts to cold conditions.

Here's a passage from AGOT, from the Tourney of the Hand, I think:

"Sandor Clegane was the first rider to appear. He wore an olive-green cloak over his soot-grey armor. That, and his hound’s-head helm, were his only concession to ornament."

Here is more about the black ash tree:

The Celtic meaning of the ash tree deals with power and magnitude. The ash is an expansive specimen of the Ogham, and the ancient Celts were rightly impressed by its massive size. Not only was its girth tremendous, its height was towering (Sandor is a very tall man)

It's mass, height, and deeply imbedded roots were all metaphors for the spiritually minded Celts (and us too). The ash speaks to us of growth, expansion, and higher perspective. If we think symbolically as the ancient Celts were apt to do, we can liken our own soul-growth with that of the ash. With greater (higher) attainment, the more we need to stay grounded (well rooted). (Could this be a symbol of some soul searching or "spiritual growth/revelation" Sandor may come to experience?)

This concept falls right in line with the mystic message of the ash. Indeed, certain druid accounts indicate the realm between earth and sky were connected or held together by the mighty ash.

Although it is associated with the element of air, the ash is also akin to the fire element for its amazing burning qualities. The wood of the ash burns with intense heat, even when green. This surfaced ideas of resurrection and renewal (could this also hint at a transformation Sandor might undergo while at the QI, or something that might play into Sansa's Persephone mythos?) for the Celts.

The ash was commonly used for protective rituals because it was believed that helpful energies were contained within its great body. Specifically, the ash was thought to be the guardian of children, and was often used as a healing agent for childhood illnesses. (Could this also have a significance, which might tie into Tze's last post in which he speculated that Sansa might fall ill, somehow being poisoned by a pomegranate? Could she be taken to the QI for treatment like Lady Lea stated in one of her recent posts?)

Its association with children may come from creation myths within Celtic lore. In some accounts the ash was considered the cradle of life, so too was it considered a gentle giant and a protector of youth. (He may not have been "gentle" at the time but look how Sandor protected/watched out for Sansa and Arya, when he didn't have to).

Just some food for thought........

EDIT: Spelling...*sigh*

Re: Childhood illnesses--Sansa is very close to an ailing child in the Vale--Sweetrobin. Now that they're at the Gates of the Moon, is it likely that the Lords Declarant (or even Petyr's supporters) might insist that he see a great healer--the Elder Brother at the Quiet Isle?

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Re: Childhood illnesses--Sansa is very close to an ailing child in the Vale--Sweetrobin. Now that they're at the Gates of the Moon, is it likely that the Lords Declarant (or even Petyr's supporters) might insist that he see a great healer--the Elder Brother at the Quiet Isle?

That's entirely possible too. I think that theory was mentioned a few threads ago, or during the Rereads. (?) :)

There are enough possibilities to drive one mad...... :laugh:

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Great analysis, Lord Bronn. Congratulations!

Now, this bit had me thinking:

Another important part is that Sansa cups Sandor’s cheek. It is reminiscent of the times when he has tried to force Sansa to look at him. Now, she is forcing him to look at her. It is a further act of intimacy that serves to increase the effect the song has on Sandor. This is where “the Mother” calms Sandor and tips the balance that sets him on his path to redemption rather than fully becoming The Hound.

Do you realise that this is arguably the first time someone has touched him in a gentle way? I personally think so. It seems that Sandor was never touched or caressed after his mother/sister deaths in childhood, and now this girl expresses genuine care for him not only verbally but physically as well. It's obvious that it wasn´t only the song, but both it and her touching him combined that eventually decided he´d end up at the QI. Words are powerful, but if you combine them with body language and touch, the message gets across much clearer: "Look, I care for you, it's not your disfigurement that frightens me (here the touching his face proves she's sincere, and if it was the burnt side she touched, even better) but that rage you have inside, which I'd wish was gentled (here the song reinforces the message) for your good and mine".

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Lord Bronn - wonderful post. I savoured every word (as one could expect when it comes to Sandor and Sansa) ;) Honestly, what I've found so enriching about these projects is that we all basically have the general idea about what's significant and what's not, but it just sometimes takes another person who will shed new light, or say something in the only way they can say it, and suddenly it's like the floodgates open and you're in a whole new world of understanding. :)

For example:

Sex The song is sex. Sandor wants Sansa. He also knows he can never have her. So, he wants a song. He wants intimacy with Sansa. Something that he can have of her that is his alone.

With that in mind, the last bit of the chapter takes on new meaning. He rejects Florian and Jonquil. It is a song meant for Dontos. He might not know that specifically, but he recognizes it is not his song.

Yeah, this is a really great point about him recognizing it's not his song and quite fitting considering that he's not her Florian, and he's not viewing her as his Jonquil. Given that Sandor doesn't accept that song, and later on we see what happens with poor Dontos, I'd say that was a good thing. There's a harsh honesty/cyncism in most of his interactions with Sansa, but it does challenge Sansa to tailor her approach to him.

] CoK Sansa V SanSan/Foreshadowing

Sansa goes to the sept. She sings the Mother’s song and prays for Sandor with others.

SanSan Sansa takes time out to pray for the Mother to gentle Sandor’s rage. This is actually a weird request for someone going into battle. Most basically, it is simply further proof that Sansa cares about Sandor’s well-being in whole.

Though let’s go a step further. Of course, this may be stretching it, feel free to decide. Combine this with previous Sansa chapter and the looking in the face. Sansa wants to see Sandor. She wants to be able to look at him. However, his rage (his brother, the world, himself, etc.) is too much for her. In the end, she wants to get closer to him.

Not stretching at all, but again, something that makes sense now that you actually articulate it. I mean, we've known that she shows some care and concern for his well being, but I think the deeper symbolic resonance directly relates to your point about wanting to "see" him and get closer to him. It's important I think that this intimacy is facilitated not by a sexual song, but a religious one. That meeting in her room is about sex, but yet, it's not. It's like GRRM wants us to recognize that this relationship is more than two people being attracted to one another, and the characters, particularly Sandor is realising this as well.

] Stories This is the ultimate story. The knight comes to save the captured princess. Sansa rejects it. This is a turning point for her. She rejects stories as reality. She might indulge a little, but she ultimately recognizes them for what they are. Compare this to her original run in with The Hound. She happily considered Joffery her shining prince who saved her. Now, she rejects the “shining knight” because she recognizes the truth. Sandor is a drunk, angry man. He has his good points, but she is no longer willing to overlook the bad.

Great point. Sansa not leaving with Sandor is extremely important for their relationship, but moreso for her own character development.

] Sex Where do I even begin? Well, let’s start by location. It takes place not only in Sansa’s room, but on her bed.

The bloody cloak is another obvious symbol. A bloody sheet is often a sign of girl losing her virginity. A cloak works just as well.

In a slightly disturbing example, after the song, Sandor’s tears are described as wetness that was not blood .I’ll just walk away from that double entandre (sp?).

Heh! Yeah, that line has always had me looking sideways too. GRRM knows what he's doing, for sure. If we take in the whole symbolic sexual deflowering that's going on, Sansa and Sandor are both playing an "active" role here, and both are losing something to one another.

Another important part is that Sansa cups Sandor’s cheek. It is reminiscent of the times when he has tried to force Sansa to look at him. Now, she is forcing him to look at her. It is a further act of intimacy that serves to increase the effect the song has on Sandor. This is where “the Mother” calms Sandor and tips the balance that sets him on his path to redemption rather than fully becoming The Hound.

And I just wanted to say a bit about the cupping of the cheek. We talked a lot about this when the Sandor threads were still active: it's really an act associated with a lover or someone you're particularly close to emotionally. I'm going to wager a guess and say most of us don't run around cupping just anyone's cheek, close friend or not. It's really reserved for a special kind of relationship. It's not merely a touch, but the actual shape of your hand connotes that affinity. This is why I think that whilst we know this is Sansa's moment of displaying remarkable empathy and compassion, there's an underlying current of desire there as well that has to be acknowledged.

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Lord Bronn, Clash of Kings is my favorite book mainly because of the Sansa & Sandor relationship thing they got going on there, but your analysis of it just made me appreciate those bits with them more if that’s even possible!

So to begin with Joff’s nameday… I’ll always wonder how it was possible that Sandor was only ordered to hit Sansa once (thankfully it went unnoticed when he didn’t) because I can’t make up my mind if he sort of told Joff he wouldn’t do that, or dare I think Joff thought a blow from Sandor would hurt beyond repair Sansa, so he left her for the less strong guys? Sandor must have known how to manipulate Joff better than his own mother at times I think! And I can practically see and hear Sandor’s reaction to Sansa telling Joff he couldn’t kill Dontos.

But good catch on the difference between Arys and Sandor’s chose of clothing!

About the serpentine steps scene: I think it was nice of Sandor not to enquire further where Sansa had been after she told him the godswood. I imagine LF would be subtlety trying to weasel more answers from her in the chance of her spilling the truth, but Sandor, whether he believes her story to an extent or not, leaves her be and allows her to keep some sort of privacy.

You said this:

Sandor’s big lesson to Sansa is become a better liar. Despite his promise to not lie to her, he lies for her to Boros. Lies of omission, but still, a lie is a lie.

Which I think fits nicely into Alayne’s saying of, “If a lie is kindly meant, it can’t be that bad...”

I’d never thought of it much really, but you’re right in this:

With that in mind, the last bit of the chapter takes on new meaning. He rejects Florian and Jonquil. It is a song meant for Dontos. He might not know that specifically, but he recognizes it is not his song.

i tend to remember florian and jonquil as something linked with Sansa & Sandor, but there was an important reason for this not being the song Sansa finally gave him during the battle. Florian and Jonquil is romantic, a stage they’re relationship couldn’t reach until she grew up and he let go of his rage, thus the Hymn for the Mother’s mercy fits in nicely! Or like Brash said:

Not stretching at all, but again, something that makes sense now that you actually articulate it. I mean, we've known that she shows some care and concern for his well being, but I think the deeper symbolic resonance directly relates to your point about wanting to "see" him and get closer to him. It's important I think that this intimacy is facilitated not by a sexual song, but a religious one. That meeting in her room is about sex, but yet, it's not. It's like GRRM wants us to recognize that this relationship is more than two people being attracted to one another, and the characters, particularly Sandor is realising this as well.

Then, he says he will have his song regardless of her consent which sounds weird for a song. But sex? It makes sense then. Sansa tells Sandor she will give it gladly, and he calls her a liar. Actually, he first calls her a pretty thing. Sansa and Sandor might not realize it on a conscious level, but I think on some level, they both know the sexual connotations of the song. Sandor might realize it a bit more than Sansa though.

I’ll always take this as a foreshadowing for Sansa one day when the time is right allowing Sandor into her bed, willingly until G.R.R.M proves me wrong! & it also fits in nicely with your comments on Sandor being in the middle of Sansa’s awakening sexuality.

On Sansa being humiliated: I know that the people at court have more important things to consider, so it’s only us who have the privilege to analyze Sandor thoroughly that we can see how he definitely would never rape a 12 year old like the Hound is rumored to have done at Saltpans. Why? Well, besides not being his brother, when he is seeing a girl being publicly humiliated he feels uncomfortable (regardless of what he feels about her) because he isn’t the kind of monster people think he is. He is just as normal in a way as any man in his right man ought to be when they find themselves in the same position of spectators as Sandor did... But interesting theory about Joff punishing Sandor. I just saw his order to have her being stripped as another level of his psychotic mind, but i guess he may have wanted to say to Sandor, “If you don’t like it then wait until i tell them to do this to her...”

About the riot:

Sansa truly is in a story. The gallant knight saves her from a horrible fate. Yet, she is simply scared. She is no damsel in distress patiently waiting for her hero. She is a scared child.

it is like an image from a song in a way, isn’t it? It’s just sad to think little Sansa may have thought being saved and carried away by a guy would be much more romantic than what actually took place... another crushed illusion from her childhood

And then later on with the rooftop scene:

But another important part is where he compares Ned to himself. He enjoys killing people.

Nice catch and something Sansa has also thought of, when they first met, “properly”...

Good thoughts here:

This is the ultimate story. The knight comes to save the captured princess. Sansa rejects it. This is a turning point for her. She rejects stories as reality. She might indulge a little, but she ultimately recognizes them for what they are. Compare this to her original run in with The Hound. She happily considered Joffery her shining prince who saved her. Now, she rejects the “shining knight” because she recognizes the truth. Sandor is a drunk, angry man. He has his good points, but she is no longer willing to overlook the bad.

& just because i wanted to point out the bits which i really liked from your post, here they are:

Then, there is the song. As I said before, it represents intimacy. Sandor pulls her onto the bed for her to sing it and leaves a bloody cloak afterwards. The song itself is his. She offered Dontos’s song earlier, and he asked for it now, but she gave him a song for him alone. She shared a piece of herself with him that was for him.
Before, she backs away from Sandor because of his rage. Yet, she sings a song wishing away his fury. It also points to a desire to become closer to him as she wishes away the thing that stops her previously. This is something she explores later when she makes Sandor more erotic (safe to do after he has disappeared).
Another important part is that Sansa cups Sandor’s cheek. It is reminiscent of the times when he has tried to force Sansa to look at him. Now, she is forcing him to look at her. It is a further act of intimacy that serves to increase the effect the song has on Sandor. This is where “the Mother” calms Sandor and tips the balance that sets him on his path to redemption rather than fully becoming The Hound.
But more importantly, she doesn’t seem to feel like a victim. She adds in the unkiss and later

From Lyanna:

I'm wondering if Sansa turning him into a more erotic figure in her mind also has to do with that her worldview is changing, and she can now make room for him in it in a way she could not do before when she was tied up in the highborn lady role where women were proper ladies and men were knights (or they didn't fit).

Well, it would certainly be nice if she returns to being the highborn lady/princess/regent/queen and refuses to let her new views and standards be taken from her... thus being able to stay with Sandor..?

Oh Milady of York, I loved your words on why Sandor reacted so when his little bird cupped his face!

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Thanks for the support everyone.

Milady of York, brashcandy: I didn't think about this before your posts, but it wasn't only Sansa's first time. Sandor's fucked before, but never made love. The song choice supports this. He orginally didn't want Florian and Jonqui because it was not his. He wanted the greater intimacy. But by the BBW, he was willing to take whatever he could get. Instead, she instinctively gives a song that is truly for him.

So to begin with Joff’s nameday… I’ll always wonder how it was possible that Sandor was only ordered to hit Sansa once (thankfully it went unnoticed when he didn’t) because I can’t make up my mind if he sort of told Joff he wouldn’t do that, or dare I think Joff thought a blow from Sandor would hurt beyond repair Sansa, so he left her for the less strong guys? Sandor must have known how to manipulate Joff better than his own mother at times I think! And I can practically see and hear Sandor’s reaction to Sansa telling Joff he couldn’t kill Dontos.

I was kinda thinking about this. It may be because he wasn't a knight. Knowing Joffery, he likely enjoyed destroying her fantasies about knights and such. Having Sandor do it would have the same impact.

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Thanks for the support everyone.

Milady of York, brashcandy: I didn't think about this before your posts, but it wasn't only Sansa's first time. Sandor's fucked before, but never made love. The song choice supports this. He orginally didn't want Florian and Jonqui because it was not his. He wanted the greater intimacy. But by the BBW, he was willing to take whatever he could get. Instead, she instinctively gives a song that is truly for him.

Yeah I agree. Having sex isn't the same as enjoying true intimacy with someone, and that's what he's been missing all along.

I was kinda thinking about this. It may be because he wasn't a knight. Knowing Joffery, he likely enjoyed destroying her fantasies about knights and such. Having Sandor do it would have the same impact.

Hmmm, that's an interesting theory. Also, Joffrey looks up to the Hound as well, so I feel like there was a natural reluctance to use Sandor for such "base" behaviour. But who knows how things work in Joffrey's twisted mind.

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Great post Lord Bronn!!!

Stories Well, first I want to continue a point Elba brought up in the Dontos post. Sansa asks for a friend or a knight. Then, she meets Dontos and Sandor. Really, I think they both can fit either of those in some degree, though Sandor winds up more in the knight category throughout Clash.

I've noticed before that Sansa is thinking about her Florian taking her home to WF. It is immediately after this thought that she runs in to Sandor. I've wondered before if this foreshadows his later attempt to take her away from KL or is a hint that he will be the one to ultimately help her get home.

SanSan As often is the case, their relationship grows when they’re alone in the middle of the night with The Hound drunk off his ass. It’s not healthy, but really the best Sandor is capable of. Sandor serves as Sansa’s protector. He called Sansa a liar and mocked her for it, but he never actually bothered to find out what really went on. He makes sure Boros does not ask any follow up questions by changing the subject. He also tries to teach her a thing or two.

We've talked before on how Sandor respects Sansa in a way that her other protectors (Tyrion and LF especially) do not. They may offer her some protection but they are still using her. He didn't force her to go with him the night of the BBW and he didn't force her that night either. He knew she was lying about what she was up to but he didn't try to pry any further. He let her keep her secret and even helped to protect them for her. It's another example of the respect that he shows her I think.

I also wanted to comment on his drunken behavior and a rather rude question he makes earlier in their meeting. As they are talking he asks her if he needs to beat her and then begins to lose his balance a bit from the alchohol. At this stage, he says he has had to much wine. I'm wondering if he is talking about the fact that he was having trouble standing or because of what he just said to her. Sansa's physical abuse was still taking place on a regular basis at this point in the story and it's possible he realized that he just made a crass remark. But, he makes a lot of those, so I'm not sure....

Then, he says he will have his song regardless of her consent which sounds weird for a song. But sex? It makes sense then. Sansa tells Sandor she will give it gladly, and he calls her a liar. Actually, he first calls her a pretty thing. Sansa and Sandor might not realize it on a conscious level, but I think on some level, they both know the sexual connotations of the song. Sandor might realize it a bit more than Sansa though.

I wanted to add a bit on the body language that is taking place at this point of their conversation. I did a write up in a previous thread on what is unsaid during this scene and it shows just how much physical contact is taking place, even though there are only a few lines of text here. At this point, they are standing and facing each other, very close together. He has his hand on her chin, with her face pointed upwards. That sounds an awful lot like how a couple might look just before they kiss. I don't know that he was planning to do so, but the body language at this point is very suggestive.

Although Sansa doesn’t say it, I think he does hesitate, if only for a second, when Joffery orders him to hit Sansa. After all, when Joffery is tired by Dontos’s antics, he orders Meryn and Boros. Of course, there is the fact that he actually defied Joffery. I don’t think Meryn would have stopped for Dontos. Boros…. I dunno. But if he did, it would mainly be confusion rather than finding a happy distraction. Then, The Hound tries to tell him to stop, but Joffery refuses. Finally, Sandor gives her his cloak.

I've always taken this scene as him disobeying an order. Back in GOT, Joff tries to get him to talk about teasing Robb and he refuses to do so. I think we've gotten some hints that he knows the line on how to disobey orders. At this point, he was ordered to hit her and did nothing while Dontos steppped in. From the way I read that scene, he stood there while this was going on, not doing anything. I take his lack of action as a refusal to follow orders. Trant, Moore, and Blount would not have let Dontos continue I don't think.

More to follow tomorrow....

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Great post Lord Bronn and interesting discussion. I agree that both Sansa and Sandor are intimacy virgins. And yeah, the line that when Sansa cupped Sandor's face there was a "wetness that was not blood" has a double meaning is a really great catch! I just took it as GRRM being a bit more poetic than saying tears, but "wetness" is very sexual isn't it, as in, ahem, semen (cough). Following through on my earlier comment that Sandor's offer to her that night is a proposal, I am now realizing how this whole scene is not just the wedding but there is a consummation aspect as well. So, we have the proposal, (come with me, we'll go North, I'll protect you,) to the wedding with the cloak of protection being accepted, to symbols of consummation, (the bed, the bloody sheet, the wetness).

Also, regarding the Mother's song, I never understood why Sansa can't remember to sing Florian and Jonquil when Sandor specifically requests that. Wouldn't hearing him say sing Florian and Jonquil make her then remember it? Yet she draws a blank and can't think of it or anything to sing until the song of the Mother comes to her. But then when you look at the words, soothe the wrath and tame the fury, teach us all a kinder way, it becomes evident what this moment is all about.

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Oh I didn't think semen Elba, I was thinking of another kind of wetness :blushing:

I also wanted to comment on his drunken behavior and a rather rude question he makes earlier in their meeting. As they are talking he asks her if he needs to beat her and then begins to lose his balance a bit from the alchohol. At this stage, he says he has had to much wine. I'm wondering if he is talking about the fact that he was having trouble standing or because of what he just said to her. Sansa's physical abuse was still taking place on a regular basis at this point in the story and it's possible he realized that he just made a crass remark. But, he makes a lot of those, so I'm not sure....

I think it's a worthy point to consider. It seems like it's a moment of "oh, went too far" and he realises he's really had too much wine and needs to steady himself.

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We've talked before on how Sandor respects Sansa in a way that her other protectors (Tyrion and LF especially) do not. They may offer her some protection but they are still using her. He didn't force her to go with him the night of the BBW and he didn't force her that night either. He knew she was lying about what she was up to but he didn't try to pry any further. He let her keep her secret and even helped to protect them for her. It's another example of the respect that he shows her I think.

This is something I think needs to be emphasised more than it normally is (and also why, in the end, it is a good thing that Sansa does not go with him out of Kings Landing). He respects her wishes more than any other man she has dealings with. In this case, he even respects them more than Ned does (in the case where he wanted to break off the betrothal with Joffrey and Sansa did not).

Throughout, we don't see Sandor forcing his view on Sansa. He argues with her, mocks her, but when push comes to shove he ends up respecting her as a person.

There are a couple of things that can be seen even as early as ACOK, and before Sansa is aware of it. In contast to Tyrion, LF et al, he respects her wishes, he acts selflessly around her, he does not wish to use her for his own personal gain.

What is more, in doing so, he is putting Sansa's wishes and well being ahead of his own, perhaps without even noticing it, but he is doing that. At the riot, when he tries to get Joffrey to stop beating her, when he lies to Boros Blount etc. and also at the BotBW, where if he was going to desert, it would have been advantageous to swap sides and have Sansa to offer up as "gift" to Robb, but even so he let her be. (Not to mention that he let her be physically, too, of course.)

It's also an example of "Words are wind", where it is more interesting to examine actual actions and the reasons for those actions instead of what people are saying. Sandor makes a lot of crass, rude and uncouth remarks, but as Arya later notices, his bark is worse than his bite. At least when it comes to Sansa and Arya.

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Thanks for the support everyone.

Milady of York, brashcandy: I didn't think about this before your posts, but it wasn't only Sansa's first time. Sandor's fucked before, but never made love. The song choice supports this. He orginally didn't want Florian and Jonqui because it was not his. He wanted the greater intimacy. But by the BBW, he was willing to take whatever he could get. Instead, she instinctively gives a song that is truly for him.

I was kinda thinking about this. It may be because he wasn't a knight. Knowing Joffery, he likely enjoyed destroying her fantasies about knights and such. Having Sandor do it would have the same impact.

Great post, Lord Bronn! Just a few thoughts on this point in particular, because it's always interested me. I agree that Sandor has fucked before - women he's paid for. I don't think he's ever had sex with a woman he hasn't paid to do it. Sansa is probably the only woman who has touched his face willingly. The wetness there is, ah, symbolic indeed...Sansa has taken his emotional virginity. (Now if Sandor is the one to take her physical virginity, that will make me very happy. :) )

She sings the Mother Song not just because she instinctively realizes that Sandor won't want Florian and Jonquil, but because she herself is a Mother archetype. I don't mean to link that and sex in a squicky, Lannister or Littlefinger way! I mean that Sansa represents something lacking in Sandor's life. I do not know how close he was to his mother and sister, but it is known that they both die when he is young (younger than 12 to be sure). Sansa has touched him without being paid to. She has acknowledged his scars.

The way Sansa treats Sandor is unique: she treats him as a person. His employers call him "dog," or "the Hound" when they're feeling generous. People around him think he's a deformed monster. He has no real friends. He has no women he doesn't pay for. The Lannisters are not nice bosses. Sansa offers Sandor a unique regard, as a person and potentially someone who might love him. Hence the Gentle Mother, Font of Mercy. In a brief moment, she is all that to Sandor.

And that brings me to another point that Lord Bronn made in his analysis - neither was ready, in their character development, to leave together on the night of the Battle of the Blackwater. Not just Sansa, but Sandor, and not merely because he was drunk and ill-tempered. I don't think he was ready to emotionally work with the fact that someone - especially a beautiful, high-born young woman - saw him as a human being and might potentially offer him friendship, if not love. I have a psychology background and I know that when someone who has been traumatized and not known real love is offered it, they can push it away (at best) or lash out at the one offering love and even abuse them (at worst). Sandor is the armed and dangerous fighter, but Sansa's love/friendship is far more dangerous to him than he is to her. People from abusive backgrounds, who have not known much love in their lives, feel far too vulnerable to accept the love they are offered later on without much therapy or spiritual work or other work on themselves.

His time on the Quiet Isle might be the Westerosi version of therapy that Sandor needs in order to reconnect with Sansa again as an emotional equal. He needs to be in a position to accept what she has to offer. He needs to be able to see himself as a human being, not as a monster.

(ETA because I have further thoughts now that I have more caffeine in my system): Sansa had a happy childhood. She may have been a little bit of the odd one out among the Stark siblings (however, in a way, I see her as being like Robb to a degree if only because Robb seemed to have that romantic attraction toward southerners that embodied conventional gender and chivalry ideals) and she may have had an acrimonious relationship with Arya and a distant one with Jon, but she was loved by both her parents and by her septa. Sandor, OTOH...there is an actual book, The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog, which title came to mind when I thought of Sandor's childhood. Unlike the boy of the title, Sandor wasn't raised by dogs, but I can't help but believe he was raised as one. His brother abused him, his father almost certainly abused him, his mother and sister died young. A person like Sansa, who was loved as a child by someone, can accept love far more readily than someone who never had that love.

In order to see Sandor as a romantic prospect, Sansa has to get over her ideals of "what is beautiful is good" and she is already well on her way down that road. There is also societal conditioning of who is a good husband for a high-born lady, as well as a stern double standard of sexual behavior held by Westeros outside of Dorne. But all this is pretty small potatoes compared to the deeply-ingrained psychological issues that Sandor has. He allowed himself to accept Sansa's compassion and soul-validation for that one moment. But how would he have dealt with her if they did run away together? Would he have been able to accept what she offered - even if it was "just" friendship and validation - on a day-in-day-out basis without lashing out to the point where he'd drive Sansa away for good? Just like Stranger, Sandor has the impulse to bite whoever comes near.

Sandor needs a lot of work. Westeros has no therapists, but there is the Quiet Isle, which I am seeing as a healing retreat. (I'm picturing Sandor going to some Trappist or Zen monastic retreat to sort his head out!) The wound on his leg has ostensibly "killed" him, yes, but I think the Elder Brother has worked some magic healing and the grave-digger is Sandor. But the wounds on his soul...those, THOSE are going to take some deep healing. The grave-digging is symbolic to me, as is the fact that he stopped to skritch the dog's ears. There is a part of him that can offer love, probably a great deal of love. I think he would - does - love Sansa more than she ever could love him just because of what she means to him and I think that will always be the case. But "what is dead never dies, but rises again, harder and stronger"...I think that Sandor will come away from the QI healed enough to be with Sansa.

And yes, I know, it is to laugh to expect a happy ending from this series, but it's not over till it's over, right?

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I just love your analysis, KRBD!

Here is my take on the song, I will be personal here and tell that the first time I read that song in the books, I did not pay attention. Not until the BBW scene I read it carefully, and I'm not ashamed to confess I cried a lot. Why? There's a song they sing in Roman Catholic churches that, while not exactly similar in a verbatim style, has a strong resemblance to the one Sansa sang. It was sung by the church choir at my mother's funeral, a tough time for anyone, but for someone who has survived a difficult childhood thanks to her mother is much harder.

I'll translate the portion I remember best for you to judge:

Good Mother, I see in you

a woman full of God.

Good Mother, with faith

let us live though darkness.

Look at your children walk,

seeking light.

Look at the anguish and pain,

give us a faith like yours,

take care of us.

Now, what am I trying to say? First, Sansa was scared, and when you're scared, you can momentarily forget even your own name: think of how people react to near-death accidents, and then you know what she's gone through earlier. Second, she quickly sensed what state of mind Sandor was in. At that stage, a romantic song was the last thing he needed, as KRBD pointed out. Third, I’m inclined to think that she, having realised what sort of a situation that one was, decided to show him what to do, that is, the song is a message she sends consciously and reinforces by caressing his face, which is the first time someone touches him, because prostitutes do not kiss or cup their clients’ faces. Fourth, despite his state –drunker than ever– he got the message and understood it in a more conscious level that it appears at first, the tears are a sign of that. But there is something more, and here I am putting forward a bit of speculation on my part: I think that one reason he could understand what she meant is that the song brings to his mind the two women who have loved him, his mother and his sister. Probably they, like all women, used to sing it and he sang it as a child too (interestingly, Jaime Lannister also recalls this same song and how he and Cersei prayed when they were motherless and distressed children, and he can draw strength from that memory to overcome the loss of his hand), which means that it reminds him there was once a lovable Sandor Clegane, before the abuse and the burn, before The Hound, before becoming this brutal and disfigured soldier. In other words, she showed him the way out of the thing that was killing him slowly; in the same way that hearing that song at the funeral told me I could go on without my mum, for she’d given me the tools to do so, Sansa’s song told him to gentle his rage in any possible way, and he’d be the man she knows he has the potential to be.

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Analysis of Bran and Rickon

Bran

Idealism and Disillusionment

Studying Sansa’s and Bran’s relationship in the novels reveals very interesting parallels in their outlook and development. Both have the distinction of starting out as two of the most idealistic Stark children, with Bran espousing the same kind of innocent passion for knighthood and fondness for the stories of the great heroes of time past. When Robert comes to Winterfell with his family and extended entourage, Bran is impressed by the golden knight Jaime Lannister, while Sansa believes that she has discovered love with her betrothed Prince Joffrey.

Bran was going to be knight himself someday, one of the Kingsguard. Old Nan said they were the finest swords in all the realm. They were only seven of them, and they wore white armor and had no wives or children, but lived only to serve the King. Bran knew all the stories. Their names were like music to him. Serwyn of the Mirror Shield. Ser Ryam Redwyne. Prince Aemon the Dragon. The twins Ser Erryk and Ser Arryk, who had died on one another’s swords hundreds of years ago, when brother fought sister in the war the singers called the Dance of the Dragons. The White Bull, Gerold Hightower. Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning. Barristan the Bold… Ser Jaime Lannister looked more like the knights in the stories, and he was of the Kingsguard too, but Robb said he killed the mad old king and shouldn’t count anymore… Bran had been marking the days on his wall, eager to depart, to see a world he had only dreamed of, and begin a life he could scarcely imagine.

Compare to Sansa’s thoughts in her first chapter:

She gazed at Joffrey worshipfully. He was so gallant, she thought. The way he had rescued her from Ser Ilyn and the Hound, why, it was almost like the songs, like the time Serwyn of the Mirror shield saved the Princess Daeryssa from the giants, or Prince Aemon the Dragonknight championing Queen Naerys’s honor against Ser Morgil’s slanders.

These romanticised visions are soon crushed at the hands of those who were expected to safeguard them. Bran never even gets to leave Winterfell whilst Sansa’s disillusionment gradually grows throughout her experiences in King’s Landing. Had Bran gone to the Southern court as well, we can imagine the impact the reality of the corruption and immorality of the Kingsguard/knighthood would have had on his ideals. He instead experiences it in one brutal act and doesn’t remember how he fell initially. Bran’s broken body symbolises the broken institution of knighthood in Westeros. It is crippled and defunct, and Martin establishes that within the first chapters of the novel. The later killing of Sansa’s wolf Lady extends this theme of broken justice and corrupt morality. A couple things of note here:

  • We hear all the time that Sansa brings her problems upon herself by being too foolish and naïve; she has her head in the clouds and this blinds her to harsh realities. You might be tempted to believe that no other member of the Stark family held knights in high esteem or believed that they were essentially good and honourable. Obviously this isn’t the case, but there seems to be a gender bias in how Sansa and Bran seem to read in the fandom. Is longing to fall in love with the hero really different from longing to be the hero?
  • Had Bran journeyed South as was initially intended, would his disillusionment have been even greater than Sansa's? She is the one to witness after all the deposition of Bran's hero, Barristan the Bold, and suffers beatings from the Kingsguard, the organization Bran holds in high esteem.

In AGOT when Sansa witnesses the men heading off to apprehend Gregor Clegane, the scene is very similar to Bran’s in Winterfell, where he is looking out at the men arriving to Winterfell after Robb has called the banners.

Sansa:

The next morning she woke before first light and crept sleepily to her window to watch Lord Beric form up his men. They rode out as dawn was breaking over the city, with three banners going before them; the crowned stag of the king flew from the high staff, the direwolf of Stark and Lord Beric’s own forked lightning standard from shorter poles. It was all so exciting, a song come to life; … Alyn carried the Stark banner. When she saw him rein in beside Lord Beric to exchange words, it made Sansa feel ever so proud. Alyn was handsomer than Jory had been; he was going to be a knight one day.

Bran:

The maester had taught him all the banners: the mailed fist of the Glovers, silver on scarlet; Lady Mormont’s black bear; the hideous flayed men that went before Roose Bolton of the Dreadfort; a bull moose for the Hornwoods; a battle-axe for the Cerwyns; three sentinel trees for the Tallharts; and the fearsome sigil of House Umber, a roaring giant in shattered chains…

“How many knights?”

“Few enough,” the maester said with a touch of impatience. “To be a knight, you must stand your vigil in a sept, and be anointed with the seven oils to consecrate your vows. In the north, only a few of the great houses worship the Seven. The rest honor the old gods, and name no knights … but those lords and their sons and sworn swords are no less fierce or loyal or honourable. A man’s worth is not marked by a ser before his name. As I have told you a hundred times before.”

“Still,” said Bran, “how many knights?”

Once again, we see Sansa and Bran preoccupied more with knighthood and the implicit distinction they believe it conveys, rather than grasping the gravity of the situation unfolding around them and/or appreciating that men who are not knights can be just as admirable and principled. That both of them take a while to give up on their dreams is I think quite realistic. Sansa receives the most criticism for it, but even up to ADWD we see that Bran still feels a sense of loss and sadness over not becoming a knight. Sansa’s and Bran’s arcs are therefore intimately connected by that initial valorising of knighthood and legendary heroes. Both are challenged to work beyond their disenchantments and to find meaning outside of the traditional roles of knight and lady.

Learning to Fly

It’s interesting that Bran and Sansa are connected with avian imagery, with Sansa being called the little bird by Sandor and Jojen telling Bran that he will be the winged wolf. This yearning to fly and to be free is emphasised by the powerlessness both feel by their respective circumstances. Sansa is held prisoner by the Lannisters, and Bran is a prisoner in his own body. He eventually learns to open his third eye, and to accept his power as warg and greenseer. We’ve seen Sansa gaining greater clarity and perspective as well, learning to not associate beauty with inner goodness.

They also share similar reflections on the godswood, and it becomes a source of comfort and security for both of them during these dark times:

Bran had always liked the godswood, even before, but of late he found himself drawn to it more and more. Even the heart tree no longer scared him the way it used to. The deep red eyes carved into the pale trunk still watched him, yet somehow he took comfort from that now. The gods were looking over him he told himself…

Lady would have liked this place, she thought. There was something wild about a godswood; even here in the heart of the city, you could feel the old gods watching with a thousand unseen eyes. Sansa had favoured her mother’s gods over her father’s … Yet she could not deny that the godswood had a certain power too. Especially by night.

When Sansa moves on to the Vale it’s the lack of a godswood there that she feels most keenly, and this sense of disconnection from her roots contributes to a feeling of loneliness and desolation. Yet, the wind that Sansa hears blowing may very well be a sign from her brother Bran, as Ragnorak intimated in his post upthread, and certainly her thinking of the wind that sounds like a ghost wolf connects directly to her siblings and Stark heritage. Interestingly, when Bran heard the contents of Sansa’s letter, written back in AGOT urging her family not to go to war with the Lannisters, he thinks it’s because Sansa has lost her wolf:

Bran felt all cold inside. “She lost her wolf,” he said, weakly, remembering the day when four of his father’s guardsmen had returned from the south with Lady’s bones. Summer and Grey Wind and Shaggydog had begun to howl before they crossed the drawbridge, in voices drawn and desolate. Beneath the shadow of the First Keep was an ancient lichyard, its headstones spotted with pale lichen, where the Kings of Winter had laid their faithful servants. It was there they buried Lady, while her brothers stalked the between the graves like restless shadows. She had gone south, and only her bones had returned.

It would be therefore be quite fitting if Bran was indeed the one who sent this “reminder” to Sansa on her way across that narrow mountain ledge in the Eyrie. Given what happened to Lady, perhaps this was a signal to Sansa to remember her wolf, remember her Starkness and to return to the North?

Bran’s dream

He saw his father pleading with the king, his face etched with grief. He saw Sansa crying herself to sleep at night, and he saw Arya watching in silence and holding her secrets hard in her heart. There were shadows all around them. One shadow was as dark as ash, with the terrible face of a hound. Another was armored like the sun, golden and beautiful. Over them both loomed a giant in armor made of stone, but when he opened his visor, there was nothing inside but darkness and thick black blood.

We've had a lot of discussion on this lately. The common interpretation of the three figures in the dream is that it’s referring to Sandor, Jaime, and Gregor Clegane. Lately, I’ve been rethinking this interpretation based on Tyrion’s thoughts about Littlefinger being the one who truly armours himself in gold. For now, Ungregor still remains the likeliest candidate for the giant in stone armour, however, if Jaime really is the “golden and beautiful” shadow, I’d be willing to consider that Littlefinger could represent the stone giant, due to his family’s sigil, as well as arguably being a central figure responsible for the considerable bloodshed and torment in the kingdoms.

Rickon

Rickon has both personal and political significance with respect to Sansa’s future. When she is envisioning her marriage to Willas Tyrell, she thinks:

She pictured the two of them sitting in a garden with puppies in their laps, or listening to a singer strum upon a lute while they floated down the Mander on a pleasure barge. If I give him sons, he may come to love me. She would name them Eddard, and Brandon and Rickon, and raise them all to be as valiant as Ser Loras. And to hate Lannisters, too. In Sansa’s dreams, her children looked just like the brothers she had lost. Sometimes there was even a girl who looked like Arya.

These thoughts highlight the close bond between the Starks, with Sansa planning to honour the memories of her younger brothers and father by giving her children their names. Her last memory of Rickon would have been of a very young child, but his image still remains, and tellingly, she wants these children to grow up hating the Lannisters.

But perhaps it is politically that we will see Rickon helping Sansa the most. She is tired of being treated as a bargaining chip due to her claim to Winterfell, and laments that no one will ever love her for herself. Rickon’s reappearance could lift the burden of the claim from Sansa’s shoulders, and enable her to make a decision based on what she truly desires, and not one informed by duty.

Sansa’s experience with the difficult Sweetrobin might also be valuable in preparing her to one day act as regent for Rickon until he comes of age, and her association with the mother figure throughout the novels, as well as the foreshadowing of Queenship, could be resolved precisely by this role.

Overall, Bran and Rickon have important roles to play in determining the outcome of Sansa’s future. All of the Stark children are essentially “ghost wolves” but Jojen’s prediction of that the wolves will come again heralds a return to power and a reconnection of the pack.

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This is something I think needs to be emphasised more than it normally is (and also why, in the end, it is a good thing that Sansa does not go with him out of Kings Landing). He respects her wishes more than any other man she has dealings with. In this case, he even respects them more than Ned does (in the case where he wanted to break off the betrothal with Joffrey and Sansa did not).

I don't think that is a good comparison. She was a child at the time (well, she still is, but maturity has been forced on her. And Ned was right about Joffery. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying Sansa killed Ned or anything like that. But I can't fault Ned for being a good parent and trying to stop a mistake. I can't really blame Sansa either for doing the typical teenage rebellion thing. It's nature.

I do agree with the rest of your post.

1. And that brings me to another point that Lord Bronn made in his analysis - neither was ready, in their character development, to leave together on the night of the Battle of the Blackwater. Not just Sansa, but Sandor, and not merely because he was drunk and ill-tempered. I don't think he was ready to emotionally work with the fact that someone - especially a beautiful, high-born young woman - saw him as a human being and might potentially offer him friendship, if not love. I have a psychology background and I know that when someone who has been traumatized and not known real love is offered it, they can push it away (at best) or lash out at the one offering love and even abuse them (at worst). Sandor is the armed and dangerous fighter, but Sansa's love/friendship is far more dangerous to him than he is to her. People from abusive backgrounds, who have not known much love in their lives, feel far too vulnerable to accept the love they are offered later on without much therapy or spiritual work or other work on themselves.

His time on the Quiet Isle might be the Westerosi version of therapy that Sandor needs in order to reconnect with Sansa again as an emotional equal. He needs to be in a position to accept what she has to offer. He needs to be able to see himself as a human being, not as a monster.

2. And yes, I know, it is to laugh to expect a happy ending from this series, but it's not over till it's over, right?

Great post! Just a few things I want to comment on.

1. I also think he needed to meet up with Arya. First, she represents one of his lowest points. He murdered a child. He can't bring back Mycah, but he can try to make amends to Arya. Second and most importantly, Arya and Sandor have A LOT in common. She's in many ways, a little Hound herself. I think a good part of the reason he wanted her to be back with the family (besides the obvious reward he expects) is that he did not her to become him.

It was also a relationship he could handle. She hated him. Yet, I have no doubt, that if he wasn't injured and if Lysa was killed before they made it to her, they'd still be together. Because, in the end, she forgave him even if she has yet to consciously do it. Am I making sense? She was hateful enough of him he could accept the human connection easier than he could with Sansa. Though The Hound and Arya's relationship was more pseudo-father/daughter.

2. I think it's cynical to believe the story won't have a happy ending. Now, it won't be, "And they lived happily ever after," but there is no reason believe there is only doom and despair for ending. Yeah, lots of bad stuff has happened. But that's the way of it. Bad stuff happens and the heroes overcome.

*awesome stuff*

Great post! Just a few things i want to comment on:

1. I never noticed the parallel between Bran's and Sansa's dreams. Then again, I tend find Bran a little boring. Not ")(*@)(&)@(@ NOT ANOTHER @)(#$&#[email protected] IRONBORN CHAPTER!!!!" But still not one I read with intensity.

2. While I'm sure some male/female bias is involved in looking down on Sansa for her dreams, I think timing might be an explanation for some people. Sansa holds onto stories throughout GoT and most of CoK. Bran realizes he'll never be a knight beginning in GoT. So, some might simply be overlooking the parallel.

3. I prefer the Sandor-Jamie-Littlefinger version. Sandor has played an important part in both Stark girls' lives. Jamie is on a quest to see them both to safety. And Littlefinger is a cause of much of the bloodshed that has effected them both.

Of course, it's possible that one or more may be a character that has not yet met them but will play an important part.

I know this off topic but my interpretation is:

Hound-face: Sandor (almost certain) or Gregor ONLY IF they are supposed to villains.

Golden: Jamie (golden), Littlefinger (as brash has said), Dornish (possibly a Sandsnake, going by the sun connotation), or possibly Aegon, especially if he is a fake and comes from Dorne

Giant: Littlefinger (his signal) or Tyrion (Giant of Lannister, depends on how far to the darkside he falls): I do not think it is Gregor, I simply don't think he is that important

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Great post! Just a few things i want to comment on:

1. I never noticed the parallel between Bran's and Sansa's dreams. Then again, I tend find Bran a little boring. Not ")(*@)(&)@(@ NOT ANOTHER @)(#$&#[email protected] IRONBORN CHAPTER!!!!" But still not one I read with intensity.

Thank you :) Yes, I tend to find Bran's chapters dull, but doing this analysis really helped me to get a bit more excited about them. I think a lot of it has to do with him warging Summer all the time, and I just find it a bit boring. Ditto on the Ironborn - those are god awful.

2. While I'm sure some male/female bias is involved in looking down on Sansa for her dreams, I think timing might be an explanation for some people. Sansa holds onto stories throughout GoT and most of CoK. Bran realizes he'll never be a knight beginning in GoT. So, some might simply be overlooking the parallel.

The thing is, even though Bran is injured and knows that he'll never walk again, his love for knights and desire to be one is still at the forefront of a lot of thoughts throughout AGOT and ACOK. It's only when he finally makes the decision to seek out the three-eyed crow that he begins it seems to accept the inevitable.

3. I prefer the Sandor-Jamie-Littlefinger version. Sandor has played an important part in both Stark girls' lives. Jamie is on a quest to see them both to safety. And Littlefinger is a cause of much of the bloodshed that has effected them both.

I prefer this version as well, and I think you're right about Gregor not being important enough. This dream has the giant looming above both of the shadows, and that suggests to me the person has to be a central figure in the narrative and how everything will unfold relating to Sansa and Arya. Plus, Arya was pretty freaked out by the Titan of Braavos on her way into the city, and states that he would be able to step over the walls of Winterfell. This seems to correspond with Sansa's snow castle scene in the Eyrie.

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