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brashcandy

From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa XVIII

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This contribution comes from a first time poster in this thread. Some of you might even recall that I left the board last Spring. Since then, I have corresponded with Brashcandy (mainly about a separate project of mine that I hope you will hear about). Brash has encouraged me to submit a few ideas about Sansa here. This will be mostly about the boy lord of the Eyrie, but, if my suggestions are correct, the implications for Sansa are intriguing.

Robert Arryn is introduced surprisingly early in the story. It happens in the crypts of Winterfell, where the dialogue between Ned and Robert is intense. Given that the conversation contains much of our introduction to the story, it's remarkable that so much of it is about Sweetrobin.

“We both did.” Ned paused a moment. “Catelyn fears for her sister. How does Lysa bear her grief?”

Robert’s mouth gave a bitter twist. “Not well, in truth,” he admitted. “I think losing Jon has driven the woman mad, Ned. She has taken the boy back to the Eyrie. Against my wishes. I had hoped to foster him with Tywin Lannister at Casterly Rock. Jon had no brothers, no other sons. Was I supposed to leave him to be raised by women?”

Ned would sooner entrust a child to a pit viper than to Lord Tywin, but he left his doubts unspoken. Some old wounds never truly heal, and bleed again at the slightest word. “The wife has lost the husband,” he said carefully. “Perhaps-the mother feared to lose the son. The boy is very young.”

“Six, and sickly, and Lord of the Eyrie, gods have mercy,” the king swore. “Lord Tywin had never taken a ward before. Lysa ought to have been honored. The Lannisters are a great and noble House. She refused to even hear of it. Then she left in the dead of night, without so much as a by-your-leave. Cersei was furious.” He sighed deeply. “The boy is my namesake, did you know that? Robert Arryn. I am sworn to protect him. How can I do that if his mother steals him away?”

“I will take him as ward, if you wish,” Ned said. “Lysa should consent to that. She and Catelyn were close as girls, and she would be welcome here as well.”

“A generous offer, my friend,” the king said, “but too late. Lord Tywin has already given his consent. Fostering the boy elsewhere would be a grievous affront to him.”

“I have more concern for my nephew’s welfare than I do for Lannister pride,” Ned declared.

(Eddard I, AGoT)

Ned and Robert return to Robert Arryn a moment later.

“His son...” Ned began.

“His son will succeed to the Eyrie and all its incomes,” Robert said brusquely. “No more.” That took Ned by surprise. He stopped, startled, and turned to look at his king. The words came

unbidden. “The Arryns have always been Wardens of the East. The title goes with the domain.” “Perhaps when he comes of age, the honor can be restored to him,” Robert said. “I have this
year to think of, and next. A six-year-old boy is no war leader, Ned.”

“In peace, the title is only an honor. Let the boy keep it. For his father’s sake if not his own.

Surely you owe, Jon that much for his service.”

(Eddard I, AGoT)

All this makes me inclined to believe that the Lord of the Eyrie is not likely to die soon as a character of little significance. Within the conversation, the only hint of Sweetrobin's importance seems to be that Tywin seems interested in fostering the boy, something that he had never done. Of course, I presume Tywin is aware that the boy is difficult.

We would tend to dismiss such a sickly child, so capricious and mean, and raised by a half-crazy, possessive and unpleasant mother.

“Come to Mother, my sweet one.” She straightened his bedclothes and fussed with his fine brown hair. “Isn’t he beautiful? And strong too, don’t you believe the things you hear. Jon knew. The seed is strong, he told me. His last words. He kept saying Robert’s name, and he grabbed my arm so hard he left marks. Tell them, the seed is strong. His seed. He wanted everyone to know what a good strong boy my baby was going to be.”

(Catelyn VI, AGoT)

We all understand that Jon Arryn's last words refer to King Robert and the truth about the paternity of his heirs: it's about the strength of the Barratheon seed, the prominence of black hair in this family etc. Why would the Lord of the Eyrie devote his last thoughts to the Barratheon line? After all, shouldn't Lysa's interpretation be taken more seriously, even if those very words are preceded what is, under all appearances, an unwise motherly bias. Isn't it likely that a father reserves his last words for his only and long awaited son?

Lysa repeated to Sansa what she had told Catelyn.

He is eight. And not robust. But such a good boy, so bright and clever. He will be a great man, Alayne. The seed is strong, my lord husband said before he died. His last words. The gods sometimes let us glimpse the future as we lay dying.

(Sansa VI, ASoS)

We heard something about sickly children who would become great men.

“In a sense. Those you call the children of the forest have eyes as golden as the sun, but once in a great while one is born amongst them with eyes as red as blood, or green as the moss on a tree in the heart of the forest. By these signs do the gods mark those they have chosen to receive the gift. The chosen ones are not robust, and their quick years upon the earth are few, for every song must have its balance. But once inside the wood they linger long indeed. A thousand eyes, a hundred skins, wisdom deep as the roots of ancient trees. Greenseers.”

(Bran III, ADwD)

Of course, it is Lord Brynden's lecture to Bran.

So could Sweetrobin have the gift? There are a few hints of that. There is a striking image the first time we see him with his mother.

She opened her robe and drew out a pale, heavy breast, tipped with red.

(Catelyn VI, AGoT)

The colors of Lysa's breasts match those of the weirwood, whose color is often called pale. And, especially, the situation of child depending on his mother for nourishment recalls Lord Brynden in a symbiosis with the trees. I noticed the resemblance, even before I read the confirmation of the analogy in GRRM's very words.

Before them a pale lord in ebon finery sat dreaming in a tangled nest of roots, a woven weirwood throne that embraced his withered limbs as a mother does a child.

(Bran II, ADwD)

The needs of Sweetrobin with his mother mirror those of the greenseer with the tree.

What are the signs that Sweetrobin has the gift? Is he in contact with the old gods? He might be. Here is Sweetrobin at the Eyrie.

The wretched boy had started it, looking down on him from a throne of carved weirwood beneath the moon-and-falcon banners of House Arryn.

(Tyrion V, AGoT)

Could the weirwood throne be a channel for green dreams? Are there green dreams? We don't know that, because Sweetrobin's sleep seems controlled by Maester Colemon.

Robert Arryn’s shaking sickness was nothing new to the people of the Eyrie, and Lady Lysa had trained them all to come rushing at the boy’s first cry. The maester held the little lord’s head and gave him half a cup of dreamwine, murmuring soothing words. Slowly the violence of the fit seemed to ebb away, till nothing remained but a small shaking of the hands. “Help him to my chambers,” Colemon told the guards. “A leeching will help calm him.”

(Sansa VII, ASoS)

“I am not hungry,” he decided. “I want to go back to bed. I never slept last night. I heard singing. Maester Colemon gave me dreamwine but I could still hear it.”

(Alayne I, AFfC)

Colemon lingered a moment before following. “My lord, this parley might best be left for another day. His lordship’s spells have grown worse since Lady Lysa’s death. More frequent and more violent. I bleed the child as often as I dare, and mix him dreamwine and milk of the poppy to help him sleep, but...”

“He sleeps twelve hours a day,” Petyr said. “I require him awake from time to time.”

(Alayne I, AFfC)

The situation is similar to Bran with Maester Luwin. Indeed Luwin does not like green dreams and wolf dreams. After Bran has dreamt of being a wolf:

The door to his bedchamber opened. Maester Luwin was carrying a green jar, and this time Osha and Hayhead came with him. “I’ve made you a sleeping draught, Bran.”

Osha scooped him up in her bony arms. She was very tall for a woman, and wiry strong. She bore him effortlessly to his bed.

“This will give you dreamless sleep,” Maester Luwin said as he pulled the stopper from the jar. “Sweet, dreamless sleep.”

“It will?” Bran said, wanting to believe.

“Yes. Drink.”

Bran drank. The potion was thick and chalky, but there was honey in it so it went down easy. “Come the morn, you’ll feel better.” Luwin gave Bran a smile and a pat as he took his leave. Osha lingered behind. “Is it the wolf dreams again?”

Bran nodded.

“You should not fight so hard, boy. I see you talking to the heart tree. Might be the gods are

trying to talk back.”

“The gods?” he murmured, drowsy already. Osha’s face grew blurry and grey. Sweet,

dreamless sleep, Bran thought.

(Bran I, ACoK)

I shall add this curious line. A sign that the three-eyed crow might have tried to contact him.

Robert was afraid of men with moles.

(Alayne I, AFfC)

Indeed Lord Brynden has a famous birthmark on his face. There is another hint that Sweetrobin wouldn't be happy in Lord Brynden's cave.

“Music soothes him,” she corrected, “the high harp especially. It’s singing he can’t abide, since
Marillion killed his mother.”

(Alayne II, AFfC)

Indeed the Children of the Forest sing in the cave.

And they did sing. They sang in True Tongue, so Bran could not understand the words, but their voices were as pure as winter air.

(Bran III, ADwD)

Sweetrobin is very much in danger of dying of excess of sweetmilk, which, I suppose, is the same substance as sweetsleep.

“Is that your counsel, maester? That we find a wet nurse for the Lord of the Eyrie and Defender of the Vale? When shall we wean him, on his wedding day? That way he can move directly from his nurse’s nipples to his wife’s.” Lord Petyr’s laugh made it plain what he thought of that. “No, I think not. I suggest you find another way. The boy is fond of sweets, is he not?”

“Sweets?” said Colemon.

“Sweets. Cakes and pies, jams and jellies, honey on the comb. Perhaps a pinch of sweetsleep in his milk, have you tried that? Just a pinch, to calm him and stop his wretched shaking.”

“A pinch?” The apple in the maester’s throat moved up and down as he swallowed. “One small pinch... perhaps, perhaps. Not too much, and not too often, yes, I might try...”

“A pinch,” Lord Petyr said, “before you bring him forth to meet the lords.”

“As you command, my lord.”

(Alayne I, AFfC)

The waif explains to Arya the nature of the substance.

“Sweetsleep is the gentlest of poisons,” the waif told her, as she was grinding some with a mortar and pestle. “A few grains will slow a pounding heart and stop a hand from shaking, and make a man feel calm and strong. A pinch will grant a night of deep and dreamless sleep. Three pinches will produce that sleep that does not end. The taste is very sweet, so it is best used in cakes and pies and honeyed wines. Here, you can smell the sweetness.”

(Cat of the Canals, AFfC)

But Lord Robert needed to be calmed on the vertiginous descent from the Eyrie.

“Give his lordship a cup of sweetmilk,” she told the maester. “That will stop him from shaking on the journey down.”

“He had a cup not three days past,” Colemon objected.

“And wanted another last night, which you refused him.”

“It was too soon. My lady, you do not understand. As I’ve told the Lord Protector, a pinch of
sweetsleep will prevent the shaking, but it does not leave the flesh, and in time...”

“Time will not matter if his lordship has a shaking fit and falls off the mountain. If my father
were here, I know he would tell you to keep Lord Robert calm at all costs.”

“I try, my lady, yet his fits grow ever more violent, and his blood is so thin I dare not leech him
any more. Sweetsleep... you are certain he was not bleeding from the nose?”

“He was sniffling,” Alayne admitted, “but I saw no blood.”

(Alayne II, AFfC)

I understand that sweetmilk is made with a pinch of sweetsleep. And later.

“Just give him a cup of the sweetmilk before we go, and another at the feast, and there should be no trouble.”

“Very well.” They paused at the foot of the stairs. “But this must be the last. For half a year, or longer.”

(Alayne II, AFfC)

Littlefinger expects Robert to die.

When Robert dies. Our poor brave Sweetrobin is such a sickly boy, it is only a matter of time.

(Alayne II, AFfC)

What if the sweetsleep and the near death experience that could come with it make Sweetrobin open his third eye?

I shall say that a completely different reasoning led me to the greenseer suspicion. But I do not want to go into that reasoning here. Of course the greenseers are related to the Children of the Forest, or at least to the worshippers of the Old Gods. However, the Arryn are noted for being of pure Andal blood.

The Arryns are descended from the Kings of Mountain and Vale, one of the oldest and purest lines of Andal nobility.

(Appendix, ASoS)

What did Jon Arryn mean when he said: The seed is strong ?

Other questions: why was Tywin Lannister interested in fostering Robert Arryn, while he had fostered no other child before? Why did Lysa Arryn leave abruptly King's Landing with Robert (it is not out of fear for Robert after Jon Arryn's death, since she poisoned her husband and had no particular reason to feel threatened)? Did she sense that some people had an undue interest in her son?

Sweetrobin, at best, throws chamberpots at those who displease him, and at worst, wants to make them fly through the Moon Door. It's worrying to think what he could do with the power of greenseer: a hundred skins, a thousand eyes and a wisdom as deep as the roots of the trees. It's interesting now to look back at Bran's Fall, and the discussion about letting him live. It was obvious for us that he should live. But, we can only hope for the best now that Bran seems to be inheriting the weirwood throne beyond the Wall. From my perspective, Sweetrobin is a sort of (perhaps evil) twin to Bran.

The same question arises for Sweetrobin. Except that it seems a folly to give so much power to a capricious and irresponsible boy. The question of his life or his death arises in much thornier terms. I don't know how Sansa would learn about whatever gift her cousin has, but she seems to be in position to save Lord Robert or to let him die. The moral quandary could be her responsability. Sansa's choice.

ETA: minor things

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@Bran Vras, this was precise, profound and quite observant analysis of SweetRobin. Furthermore, I would really like to read more of your projects, so I would wait for you to post it here. But allow me to answer on some of questions.

1. Tywin`s offer of fostering young Arryn was calculative as Tywin is. Seeing what kind of influence Jon Arryn has on both Robert and Ned, and how both of them are devoted to him, Tywin would have wanted to have a strong ally in the future. There is another possibility that Tywin suspected Jon Arryn has something against his daughter and wanted to make sure Arryn`s lips are sealed for good.

2. Lysa had abruptly left KL certainly on LF`s demand. His plan was to ensure Lysa tells no one anything about Jon`s death, and while she was in KL, there was always opportunity for a mad woman to give out a secret. She was much easier to control when she was in Eyrie.

As for SweetRobin, I think there is something in him. And you are quite right when it comes that his introduction came sooner than we would expect(Martells hadn`t appeared until SOS, Tullys, Greyjoys and Tyrells until COK). Also, I would like to point out Robert`s obsession and infatuation with flying. He was exhilarated when anyone was near Moon door. Let him fly was his line over and over again.

Sansa certainly isn`t aware of SR`s gift, but she would do him no harm. His life stands upon the edge of a knife, and Sansa is the ony one ready to pull him on safe ground.

P.S. @ Bran Vras, if you`d like, I would love to read more of your work, so please contact me through PM.

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Bran, it's wonderful to have you presenting these ideas here. I'm currently restricted to posting from my phone, so unfortunately my feedback is going to be limited, but you already know I'm very intrigued by what you've noted and the incredible possibilities it could present in Sansa's story line.

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On the question of Sweetrobin having a "third eye": so far the only greenseers/green dreamers we have seen or heard about are Singers of the Song of Earth or of first men descent. One of Andal ancestry would be quite a surprise. He would also have to be a warg, tho' now that I think about it, I do not recall any scene with young Robert that includes a warg-able critter. Does anyone else recall such?

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On the question of Sweetrobin having a "third eye": so far the only greenseers/green dreamers we have seen or heard about are Singers of the Song of Earth or of first men descent. One of Andal ancestry would be quite a surprise. He would also have to be a warg, tho' now that I think about it, I do not recall any scene with young Robert that includes a warg-able critter. Does anyone else recall such?

May be it could mean that the Tully blood is the one that reactive the "warg" genes in the Starks kids, and may be Lysa passed to Sweetrobin a similar genetic code.

The same could be said of Jon, introducing a new set of genes differentes of the First Men.

Obviously is pure speculation.

BUt it would be intersting if the sickly boy result in a warg or something along those lines, in this threads is often noted how insighful he can be, not trusting LF or being afraid of Lyn Cobray. And also what implications this could bring to Sansa, May be stablish a conection with her brothers ? Or wake up her warg abilities and helping her by knowing she is not alone with this situation?

Very good post Bran.

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There are a few reasons why Sweetrobin was introduced early: First, we have the whole wardenship of the East situation which helps us, as readers, to take notice of Ned's distrust of the Lannisters vs. Robert's tolerance/kind of trust on the them. And the second one is the whole foresting issue, which is the reason why Lysa decided to kill Jon Arryn and it's brought back to our attention as Cat hears conflicting versions (Dragonstone vs. the Rock). So, when we are finally told the truth, we can get all 'Oh, it was there, all along!"

Now, he might still have plenty of life ahead - after all, that would be unexpected. But there is no indication Sweetrobin ever had a prophetic dream.

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Bran Vras I think while impressive writing, sometime a cigar is just a cigar and a sickly little boy is just a sickly little boy about to killed by LF.

“Come to Mother, my sweet one.” She straightened his bedclothes and fussed with his fine brown hair. “Isn’t he beautiful? And strong too, don’t you believe the things you hear. Jon knew. The seed is strong, he told me. His last words. He kept saying Robert’s name, and he grabbed my arm so hard he left marks. Tell them, the seed is strong. His seed. He wanted everyone to know what a good strong boy my baby was going to be.”

I’m not convinced:

After all, shouldn't Lysa's interpretation be taken more seriously, even if those very words are preceded what is, under all appearances, an unwise motherly bias. Isn't it likely that a father reserves his last words for his only and long awaited son?

Lysa is practically mad already not a good witness and since the last thing her husband was doing before he died was investigating Roberts bastards and his non all Lanister supposed ’real’ kids I rather think some final gasp about his own sickly child is unlikely.

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Time now for something different and more light hearted: a song to be sung to Sansa rather than one that could be sung by her or about her. (Come to think of it, I could imagine her singing this---I wonder if a high harp would sound like a lute?)

This comes from John Dowland's Second Book of Ayres: "Fine Knacks for Ladies". This is not one of Dowland's sorrowful songs, of which there are many, but a cheerful one of which there are not so many.

The text is by that most well-known of authors "Anon." :

Fine knacks for ladies, cheap choice, brave and new, 

Good pennysworth, but money cannot move; 

I keep a fair, but for the fair to view; 

A beggar may be liberal of love. 

Though all my wares be trash, the heart is true. 

Great gifts are guiles, and look for gifts again,

My trifles come as treasures from my mind, 

It is a precious jewel to be plain:

Sometimes in shell, the orient pearls we find. 

All others take a sheaf, of me a grain! 

Within the pack: pins, points, laces and gloves, 

And diverse toys, fitting a country fair; 

But my heart lives, where duty serves and loves: 

Turtles and twins, court's brood, a heav'nly pair.

Happy the heart that thinks of no removes. 

Now my question is: who would offer Sansa "treasures from my mind"---who would sing her this song? Any suggestions? (Not Marillion, at least not as we encounter him. :(

We do know who "Great gifts are guiles" must refer to.....

I must say, doing these posts is more fun than arguing about whether Dany or Jon is AAR.

Here is a short piece from the Guardian about the song, which I found insightful. Saves me the trouble of coming up with something of my own: when in doubt link!

http://m.guardiannews.com/books/booksblog/2008/jul/21/poemoftheweekfineknacksf

Emma Kirkby:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dabqyiJZN0c

Ms. Emma is as good as it gets in this literature

The King's Singers:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KGX1XQaLQ0M

From a BBC show I think, whence the spoken intro.

Chicago Early Music Ensemble:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=hStDR_U81sM

Sound quality a bit unwonderful, but I like this soprano---expressive singing.

James Bowman, Countertenor

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=B8KIPakir0Q

If you want to hear what a counter-tenor sounds like, here is your chance. Not Alfred Deller, but not bad.

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Bran Vras, thanks for a very interesting post. :)

I had forgotten how early on Sweetrobin was introduced and how much emphasis was put on him being sickly. It makes it more unlikely he will die quietly, I think.

Strangely, the weirwood colours are prevalent in the Vale, despite Sansa noticing that no weirwoods can grow in the stony meager soil.

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Bran welcome to the thread! I really liked your post. I have always been intrigued by little Robert's character and I have never believed that he will just die early as LF would like Sansa to believe. But I had never given thought to the possibility that he might have some greenseer abilities because it's supposed to be extremely rare and we already have Bran. But after reading your post it seems like there could be something there. Perhaps it's more of a greendreamer ability like what Jojen has that gives him a stronger intuition about people and his greendreams have been subdued because of the sweetmilk. Now that Maester Colemon wants to stop the sweetmilk perhaps this will give any greendreams Sweetrobin experiences a chance to get stronger.

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Here is a little contribution to the Beauty and the Beast project. As usual, a huge thank you to my wonderful beta, Milady of York :)

Beastly figures: The dog

Dog symbolism

The dog has many symbolical meanings that are often ambivalent. Thus, it’s praised for its obedience and its loyalty, but, on the other hand, the term “dog” is also used as an insult in many languages and cultures.

The dog is allegedly the first animal to have been domesticated by men, who have been using it as an auxiliary to hunt, to protect their herds and their homes. Valued for its obedience and loyalty, the dog is considered as a protector of women and children, especially in Japan.

Because of its function as keeper, the doors of the Underworld are guarded by dog figures in many mythologies, Cerberus and Garm being two of the most famous ones. But the dog is also a psychopomp, a creature whose purpose is to escort the souls of the departed to the afterlife. This is for example the function of the Egyptian divinity Anubis. The dog is often associated with death, as it keeps the gates of the Underworld or lends its features to a death divinity. Because of its connections with two different worlds, the dog is thought to be an intermediary between the living and the dead, and also an emissary from the gods.

Because of its knowledge of two worlds, the dog is a wise figure. In many cultures it’s a civilizing hero that is the master or the conqueror of the fire. Thus, in Northern Africa, many tribes believe that the dog stole the fire from some deity and brought it to men. There is also a triple association dog-fire-sexuality, as fire was first obtained by friction. Here is a tale from New Britain to illustrate this: long ago, obtaining fire by friction was a secret that only a mysterious brotherhood knew about. The members of this brotherhood were all men, and thus women didn’t know how to make fire. One day, a dog observed these men making fire and decided to reveal its origin to women. To explain how to obtain fire, the dog did this: it painted its tail with the colors of the brotherhood and rubbed it against a log until the fire caught. A woman was sitting on that same log, and once the fire caught she said to the dog: “You have dishonored me, now you must marry me.” Fire can have a sexual meaning because it was first obtained by rubbing together materials such as wood or stone in a back and forth movement reminiscent of the sexual act. It is also very frequent around the world and especially among tribes in Papua New Guinea. Because of its connection with sexuality, many tribes believe a dog to be their mythical ancestor.

In Celtic culture, the dog is a positive figure associated with the warrior. Unlike the Greeks and the Romans, the Celts honor the dog and use it to make flattering metaphors on the warriors’ exploits. Cú Chulainn is the best example to illustrate this fact.

But the dog’s image isn’t always positive. In medieval art, its meaning is ambivalent, as it represents envy, rage or possession by the Devil. On the other hand, it also stands for faith and loyalty. The dog’s colors also hold different meanings: for instance, a white dog means a good and happy marriage, whereas a nasty black one means unbelief and paganism.

Sometimes its signification is clearly negative. In the Bible, the dog is considered as impure because it didn’t obey Noah’s order not to have sex. As a punishment, the dogs now remain stuck together after their coupling. In Islam, the dog is also impure, although Muslims also grant it holy qualities. Thus they praise its loyalty, its obedience and the fact that it doesn’t bite but protect its master. In addition, in the Middle Ages, death by hanging was considered as infamous, and to make it even more infamous, dogs were hanged along with the men. Milady of York has brought to my attention the story of Queen Jezebel whose corpse was eaten by wild dogs as a punishment for deviating Israel from God via her husband. For this reason, to be eaten by a dog is humiliating in old Israel because it means this person has lost God’s favour.

Sandor Clegane, “The Hound”

Like its symbolic counterpart, Sandor Clegane is an ambivalent character. Two of his main qualities are his obedience and his loyalty. However, these two qualities are somehow corrupted in the Lannisters’ service, as they lead him to commit evil deeds such as the killing of Mycah. Hence Clegane’s ambivalent, as he has qualities that he uses negatively. Also, the Lannisters (especially Joffrey) but also members of the Brotherhood without Banners (such as Lem Lemoncloack) refer to him as “Dog,” which is not a compliment.

One of the traditional jobs of a dog is to keep its home and its masters safe. In ASOIAF, Sandor Clegane has the same function. At the beginning of the story, he’s Joffrey’s sworn shield and before him, he had been Cersei’s sworn sword as well. So it’s his duty to keep them safe. As the narrative goes on, we also see him trying to protect Sansa and, to some extent, Arya.

In relation to the dog’s association with death, we see Sandor kill Mycah, Ned’s guards, Beric Dondarrion and Polliver. If he’s the gravedigger, he also fulfills a psychopomp function, laying people to rest. Some time ago, this thread discussed the similar appearance the gravedigger and the Stranger share. Like the dog, it seems that Sandor lends his features to a god of death. Note that his horse, too, is called Stranger, which adds importance to his connection with death.

It’s of course hard to ignore Sandor’s association with fire. But unlike his symbolic counterpart, Sandor is definitely not the master of fire but more like its victim. Is it a subversion of the tradition, or will Sandor conquer fire by overcoming his fear of fire? That remains to be seen. However, it must be mentioned that at the Blackwater’s battle, he resists his fear for days. And so does he against Beric Dondarrion. So he may still conquer fire by eliminating his fearful reaction to it. If there is an aura of mystery around making fire in the legends, so is the case with Sandor’s situation, as very few people know how he got disfigured. As far as we know, they are three: Gregor, Sandor and Sansa.

The triple association dog-fire-sexuality is also hard to ignore in Sansa’s storyline, since she has come to associate Sandor with her marriage bed. All these elements are combined in one single scene: on the night of the Battle of the Blackwater, with the fire roaring outside, the dog (Sandor) and the sexuality symbolized by the bed and the bloody cloak. Note that the bed is also a place of rest, birth and death. I’ve also argued before that after that night, Sandor gains a sexual dimension he didn’t have until then in Sansa’s mind and these elements could reinforce this theory. In the story, it’s hinted that Sandor looks like one of the First Men, the Starks’ ancestors. The first time he interacts with Sansa, she believes he’s her father. And he’s more than once thought to be Arya’s father. So once more, Sandor is associated with traditional dog symbolisms.

Like in Celtic culture, it’s hard to miss the dog-warrior connection in Sandor’s case, as he often fights: at the Hand’s tourney, at the Blackwater, at the Twins or at the Inn at the Crossroads. In addition, his nickname is a reference to his ferocity in battle as well as his nature.

It was mentioned earlier that in medieval art the dog is a symbol for rage; and rage is such a central notion in Sandor’s character. It’s what frightens Sansa and what makes her pray the Mother to “gentle.” As for the dog as a symbol of unbelief and paganism, it’s relevant here as well, because Sandor doesn’t believe in gods: “There are no true knights, no more than there are gods.” Note also that his horse’s name is blasphemous as well.

In short, the dog has ambivalent and sometimes contradictory significations that are not fixed. In that respect, Sandor Clegane’s character is very similar to his symbolic counterpart as he has both a positive and a negative influence in the story.

Fin

I hope you enjoyed the reading :)

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Bran, it's wonderful to have you presenting these ideas here. I'm currently restricted to posting from my phone, so unfortunately my feedback is going to be limited, but you already know I'm very intrigued by what you've noted and the

incredible possibilities it could present in Sansa's story line.

I have been posting from a cell phone for some time now: I feel your pain :) PtP has helped me understand and be sympathetic to Sansa, but SweetRobin will be a stretch.

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I have been posting from a cell phone for some time now: I feel your pain :) PtP has helped me understand and be sympathetic to Sansa, but SweetRobin will be a stretch.

It is really irritating :) Anyways, I think that early conversation between Ned and Robert foreshadows the approach that Sansa - the child who greatly resembles her father - will take to Sweetrobin; i.e. he might be annoying and sickly, but he's still family and worthy of sheltering. Robert also talked of Sweetrobin being left to be raised by women, but as we noted a while back, he's escorted down the Mountain by three women, two of whom are quite skilled in dealing with his peculiarities. If there's something to what Bran Vras has proposed, it would continue the developing pattern of the game of thrones (and LF's machinations) being undermined/superceded by greater, unknown powers.

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It's amazing in reflection what an arse Robert was at almost every occasion and how Ned never saw it until it was too late.

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Love the essay Mahaut! The ambiguous symbolism certainly shines through with Sandor's character as well.

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Agreed on the self-awareness of Brienne, Le Cygne.

OT and crackpot: but the description of Bronze Yohn as tall with the white hair and "gnarled" hands, made me think of a weirwood tree. Rag and I have been interested in his bronze armour with the runes, and I wonder if this can be added to the theory that BY will be instrumental in helping Sansa in some way given the First men affiliation of House Royce.

I had forgotten about Bronze Yohn having "gnarled" hands. Jon's dream in DwD where he is in black armor on the Wall has him wake with a gnarled hand on his shoulder. We discussed that in the LtL reread and Bloodraven was a popular candidate and the tree-like aspect of gnarled came up too.

Still catching up.

Bran Vras thanks for sharing that. Very well put together. Nice to see your thoughts grace the board again.

Mahaut Wonderful job. A pleasure to read.

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Thanks Lyanna Stark and Ragnorak :)

There's more to come on the wolf symbolism... and maybe on the bird too if I find enough information. Sorry Milady of York, it will be more work for you :unsure:

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Mahaut, your essay was really great. I enjoyed reading it. I like how you presented ambigous symbolism of dogs. And considering that we are talking very much about "beauty and the beast" motives and now about dogs, let we just remember another Disney classic "Lady and the Tramp". Rather more fitting, don`t you think...

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