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From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa XX

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Over the last few pages of the thread, let me agree with those who point out Sansa's marriage was just another act of war by the Lannisters against the Starks.

Von Clausewitz said war is a continuation of politics by other means, but I think this can be reversed: politics is a continuation of war by other means. Certainly in the case of this political marriage between Tyrion and Sansa, this is true.

Incidentally, Robb Stark also had it correct with regard to Sansa's fate had she actually been made to bear a Lannister child - her usefulness would have expired, and she'd be killed. Now I am not sure if this was just foreshadowing or something more, that Robb did not see the horrible parallel yet to come:

Had Sansa been made pregnant with Tyrion (or any Lannisters') child, she would have taken on the role of both Roslin Frey and Edmure Tully - with her own death growing in her belly. (Makes me wonder if Tywin's plans for the RW were intrinsically tied to Sansa's wedding - two enemies end up essentially killed by the birth of their own heirs.)

In any case, I would like to say that Tyrion certainly understood this "marriage as weapon" aspect of it, which I would agree contributed to his reluctance to bed her, and helped spur his final reckoning with his father. Sansa's predicament did not leave much moral ambiguity for him to cling to - the other Lannisters were setting him up for another Tysha situation. To do what his father wanted, he'd have to forsake being Tyrion the man and be the Lannisters' "twisted monkey demon" (another monster in his father's service). I think Tyrion was right about what Sansa would have done, had he actually forced a consummation: It would have to be an utterly cold act on his part; she would be "dutiful" (meaning endure it in order to survive), perhaps choosing to "go away inside" in order to cope, as others have.

I think for her part, Sansa understood this "act of war" aspect of it too, despite her natural innocence. She was a POW. All she meant to them was leverage against Robb and a claim on the North, this being simultaneously the reason for her horrible captivity, but also the only reason her captors kept her alive. The Lannisters were enemies - even the nicer ones like Tyrion were not actually on her side, and she could never be on theirs.

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The Tyrion-Sansa marriage was doomed to failure, as the two of them had nothing in common. They never even had a conversation that could be considered normal, and it is very hard to conceive of any normal conversation they could have had. I agree that Tyrion would have liked the marriage to work, given some time, and that he was deceiving himself that it ever could.

I actually think having nothing in common was a smaller problem for them (albeit one that was causing them some issues, to be sure). One reason why I found the show so disappointing in this regard was that suddenly Sansa and Tyrion had normal comversations, while in the novels they are always awkward or borderline hostile at times, when Sansa is completely stonewalling him and Tyrion gets depressed and frustrated.

One major factor has been left out in the preceding analyses, however. Sansa had no incentive whatsoever to try to make the marriage work because she knew she was getting out. The escape was planned and scheduled. Bye bye, buy bonds. All she had to do was stonewall until Joff and Marg's wedding. (She does not think of this in her marriage POV chapter, and I think that is in character. After that, she only has one POV until the escape, on the morning of Joff's wedding. She doesn't mention the escape in that chapter, but that is a case of GRRM fooling the readers.)

She doesn't know that she will escape though. She *hopes*. She has prodded Dontos before, but he has told her to wait. So she doesn't know that she will get out. At the point of Joff's wedding tho, she is so desperate she is considering suicide if she doesn't get out soon. She is at her wits' end, you might say.

And how many of those could protect her from Joffery? Marriage to Tyrion was the only thing that got Sansa out of King's Landing with her maidenhead intact, not carrying a Lannister child or Joff's bastard in her belly.

Tyrion can't though. As was pointed out by others and I believe by yourself, Tywin is the one pulling the strings. Tywin is the one who puts Joffrey to bed. Tywin decides the bedding should be put off, but Tywin is also the one pressuring Tyrion to consummate the marriage.

Hence the facts are that only Tywin could "protect" Sansa from being abused by Joffrey. Tywin has however set her up for marital rape and is perfectly fine with that, he even comments that Sansa's happiness is not the point of marrying her to a Lannister.

The thought that Tyrion is protecting Sansa comes from Tyrion himself, who doesn't realise in ASOS that his formal powers have been severly curtailed and that Tywin is now running the show, and that he should try and reconstruct a power base for himself instead of navel gazing. Tyrion's POV is his POV though, and not necessarily the whole truth.

When Sansa and Tyrion have awkward relations, Sansa is doing more than employing courtesy armor. She is playing her part in a counterplot. Any analysis that overlooks that is flawed.

I don't think anyone has said she is not lying to Tyrion and withholding important information from him, however, she also could not be sure about how it would pan out. She had absolutely no guarantees, and even on the day she ends up fleeing, she doesn't know when and if it's actually going to happen. You are completely right though that she is playing Tyrion and he doesn't realise it.

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Pod the Impaler opined:

"Incidentally, Robb Stark also had it correct with regard to Sansa's fate had she actually been made to bear a Lannister child - her usefulness would have expired, and she'd be killed. Now I am not sure if this was just foreshadowing or something more, that Robb did not see the horrible parallel yet to come"

I do not understand this either here or in the text. Children die in infancy all the time in Westeros in noble families as well as among small folk: there is nothing like modern health care available ..... Seriously, one is going to gamble on one child living long enough to inherit Winterfell and never mind living long enough to have children to continue the line? Ditto for Roslyn and Edmure.

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Pod the Impaler opined:

"Incidentally, Robb Stark also had it correct with regard to Sansa's fate had she actually been made to bear a Lannister child - her usefulness would have expired, and she'd be killed. Now I am not sure if this was just foreshadowing or something more, that Robb did not see the horrible parallel yet to come"

I do not understand this either here or in the text. Children die in infancy all the time in Westeros in noble families as well as among small folk: there is nothing like modern health care available ..... Seriously, one is going to gamble on one child living long enough to inherit Winterfell and never mind living long enough to have children to continue the line? Ditto for Roslyn and Edmure.

The statistical probability of a Lannister/Stark heir surviving is bigger than a child that did not have a Maester available for treatment. Should Sansa manage to produce a heir and a "spare" then it is likely at least one of them will live past infancy. In fact, infant mortality among the noble families of Westeros with a Maester available seems significantly lower than during the "real" medieval ages. We see the contrast with how the wildlings treat their infant children, i.e. not giving them names until they reach a certain age, since the harsh climate and lack of Maesters make the infant mortality far higher.

The line of thought is not that Sansa will give birth and immediately be killed, but that when the Lannister dominion over the Starks seem secured, she will be removed from the game. Even if she is not killed, she would have to be permanently confined to the South.

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The statistical probability of a Lannister/Stark heir surviving is bigger than a child that did not have a Maester available for treatment. Should Sansa manage to produce a heir and a "spare" then it is likely at least one of them will live past infancy. In fact, infant mortality among the noble families of Westeros with a Maester available seems significantly lower than during the "real" medieval ages. We see the contrast with how the wildlings treat their infant children, i.e. not giving them names until they reach a certain age, since the harsh climate and lack of Maesters make the infant mortality far higher.

The line of thought is not that Sansa will give birth and immediately be killed, but that when the Lannister dominion over the Starks seem secured, she will be removed from the game. Even if she is not killed, she would have to be permanently confined to the South.

Yeah, it is true that each child birthed is like a turn at Russian Roulette, so maybe she'd live long enough to breed some spare spawn, but the point is that the Lannisters use her Stark blood to plant one of their own in Winterfell, and from then on she is not necessary. She would never raise any children she bore, they would be raised in a 100% Lannister process. The claim is a matter of politics and control, not actual integrity of bloodlines. As we can see with the fake Arya gambit later, they will resort to an even lower-order of excuse to control the North, if need be.

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Yeah, it is true that each child birthed is like a turn at Russian Roulette, so maybe she'd live long enough to breed some spare spawn, but the point is that the Lannisters use her Stark blood to plant one of their own in Winterfell, and from then on she is not necessary. She would never raise any children she bore, they would be raised in a 100% Lannister process. The claim is a matter of politics and control, not actual integrity of bloodlines. As we can see with the fake Arya gambit later, they will resort to an even lower-order of excuse to control the North, if need be.

I see another connection to be made here, between Sansa, the Arryns, Littlefinger, and the Lannisters.

Sansa (or Alayne, if it please you) is now promised to Harry the Heir, who represents the last of the Arryn line. As we know from Littlefinger, Harrold is Robert's heir. The Lord Jon Arryn left behind only one son, despite having three wives.

Essentially, what is being discussed about Sansa and Tyrion's child, or children, was acutally apparent in the Vale, where Sansa is now.

Somewhat off-topic post, sorry. I just thought it was interesting to think about.

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I see another connection to be made here, between Sansa, the Arryns, Littlefinger, and the Lannisters.

Sansa (or Alayne, if it please you) is now promised to Harry the Heir, who represents the last of the Arryn line. As we know from Littlefinger, Harrold is Robert's heir. The Lord Jon Arryn left behind only one son, despite having three wives.

Essentially, what is being discussed about Sansa and Tyrion's child, or children, was acutally apparent in the Vale, where Sansa is now.

Somewhat off-topic post, sorry. I just thought it was interesting to think about.

I have a crackpot theory floating around that Littlefinger's mother might be a Gulltown Arryn.

Making him next in line, after HtH.

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To add to my theory I found this:

"When you've found yourself in a bed with an ugly woman, the best thing to do is just close your eyes and get on with it," he declared. "Waiting won't make the maid any prettier. Kiss her and be done with it."

"Kiss her?" Ser Barristan repeated, aghast.

"A steel kiss," said Littlefinger.

So those are your gifts from me, my sweet Sansa . . . Harry, the Eyrie, and Winterfell. That's worth another kiss now, don't you think?

Sansa will give him that kiss alright if she finds him in her bed one night.

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To add to my theory I found this:

"When you've found yourself in a bed with an ugly woman, the best thing to do is just close your eyes and get on with it," he declared. "Waiting won't make the maid any prettier. Kiss her and be done with it."

"Kiss her?" Ser Barristan repeated, aghast.

"A steel kiss," said Littlefinger.

So those are your gifts from me, my sweet Sansa . . . Harry, the Eyrie, and Winterfell. That's worth another kiss now, don't you think?

Sansa will give him that kiss alright if she finds him in her bed one night.

Interesting :eek:

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I've always been surprised that it never seemed to occur to Tyrion that Sansa would have an unfortunate "accident" if she gave birth to an heir and a spare. He seemed to be almost as naive about the marriage as Sansa was towards her betrothal with Joffrey in GoT. While I don't believe that Sansa ever explicitly considers the scenario considering we only have her POV the day of the wedding and her escape, it seems likely that it would have crossed her mind at some point. She really had no incentive whatsoever to try and make the marriage work.

Perhaps I'm overestimating the morality of Westerosi nobility, but I feel that those present at the wedding must have recognized how wrong it was. I can't believe some people even called for a bedding. I felt sick reading the chapter- was it really necessary to have such a big "celebration" and act happy that a 12 year old girl was clearly forced into marriage and expecting rape later?

I hope that Stannis dismissing Sansa "Lady Lannister" does not reflect the general feelings of Westeros. Hopefully if Sansa attempts to get an annulment, the fact that it was Tyrion she was forced to marry will work in her favor. Tyrion being a hideous Lannister dwarf would convince even the most deluded that Sansa never gave consent. Convincing the North (and people like Stannis) that she wasn't truly a traitor who became "Mrs. Lannister" by choice would be much more difficult if she was forced to marry an uninjured Lancel. While Tyrion's looks are no fault of his own, it would be hard to believe that the beautiful Sansa Stark chose to marry the Imp.

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I've always been surprised that it never seemed to occur to Tyrion that Sansa would have an unfortunate "accident" if she gave birth to an heir and a spare. He seemed to be almost as naive about the marriage as Sansa was towards her betrothal with Joffrey in GoT. While I don't believe that Sansa ever explicitly considers the scenario considering we only have her POV the day of the wedding and her escape, it seems likely that it would have crossed her mind at some point. She really had no incentive whatsoever to try and make the marriage work.

Tyrion wasn't completely naïve; he did know that Robb would have to die afterall. But he doesn't seem to consider what it will mean for Sansa outside of her personal distaste towards him.

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Male Influences II: A Closer Look at Littlefinger and the Hound

A From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa Project

1. Different Scents, Different Intentions

2. No True Knight, No True Champion

3. The Hound and the Mockingbird Climb up the Ladder

4. Ancestry Pride and Contempt

5. Bloody Cloaks and Bloodied Hands

Milady of York and I would like to introduce our first co-written project for the PTP Rethinking series, where we explore the parallels between two characters with special relevance in Sansa's arc: Petyr Baelish and Sandor Clegane. These men are familiar subjects of analysis on the thread, however, there hasn't been a detailed examination of how Martin has deliberately set them up as subtle foils, inviting a close comparison and contrast that is not limited to their feelings for Sansa.

Yet, the eldest Stark daughter has a very important role to play in how this rivalry unfolds in the text, and it's one that is critical to the question of her emerging agency. This is due to the fact that she is not functioning as the object or prize in this contest of sorts, but rather as an agent with her own understanding and appreciation of the situation happening around her, not to mention particular wishes and desires. With both Littlefinger and the Hound unaware of each other's presence and influence in Sansa's development, the scope for her autonomy and action is significantly increased.

In examining the men's behaviour in complementary situations and scenes filtered through Sansa's perspective, we hope to highlight not only some intriguing foreshadowing clues and details for character analysis, but to ultimately centre on what this unknown rivalry means for Sansa's future, exceeding the issues of romance and compatibility.

The project has been divided into five discrete sections, which will be individually posted and open for discussion. We'd like that each section be given due attention, so those commenting are asked to resist jumping ahead of the conversation, and to stay on topic in order to maximize the analysis and insight we are hoping to achieve. The full list of essay headings is in the outline above, and Milady will be posting the first one shortly. For those who are new the thread and what we do here, or those interested in de-lurking for the first time, this would be a nice opportunity to add your voice to the discussion.

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A Closer Look at Littlefinger and the Hound I: Scent

Different scents, different intentions

Sansa is a girl that tends to mentally register the smell of people’s breath in emotionally charged situations: she reacts to Dontos’ winey breath, she has a nightmare in which she recalls the garlicky breath of her assailant during the riot, she notes Lady Olenna’s sour breath, she catches that Marillion is drunk by his breath when he tries to assault her, and she notices the same when her aunt attempts at throwing her out the Moon Door, and last when she’s being talked by Baelish into accepting the marriage to Harrold Hardyng… This also happens with the men interested in her, for in their first meeting, one of the first things Sansa notices is the smell of Petyr Baelish’s breath, indicating how close to her the man is as he’s talking to her about how much her mother mattered to him in his youth:

“Your mother was my queen of beauty once,” the man said quietly.
His breath smelled of mint.
“You have her hair.” His fingers brushed against her cheek as he stroked one auburn lock. Quite abruptly he turned and walked away.

This scent is one she will notice repeatedly throughout their later interactions, especially once she’s abducted by him and taken to the Fingers and then to the Eyrie. In the former location is where she hears the first positive remark on this, when Lysa Arryn compares Littlefinger to her late husband Jon Arryn:

“Half his teeth were gone, and his breath smelled like bad cheese. I cannot abide a man with foul breath. Petyr’s breath is always fresh . . . he was the first man I ever kissed, you know.”

So the smell of mint on his breath is permanently associated to her first impressions of him, which weren’t exactly positive, and then it is associated to her aunt by herself. Sansa notices this particular smell again when he kisses her forcefully the first time:

Sansa tried to step back, but he pulled her into his arms and suddenly he was kissing her. Feebly, she tried to squirm, but only succeeded in pressing herself more tightly against him. His mouth was on hers, swallowing her words.
He tasted of mint.
For half a heartbeat she yielded to his kiss . . . before she turned her face away and wrenched free.

Baelish is the only character in the books that has this smell as a personal characteristic, which raises the question of why exactly does he use mint. The probable explanations are:

  • Cleanliness, but then he’s not someone that stands out due to being a dandy or taking greater care of his appearance compared to the average noble, as Renly Baratheon noticed once; so this alone isn’t a satisfying answer.
  • Masking smells, which could be either bad breath or drinking more mulled wine than he lets out, which is a plausibility that’d obey to either natural causes or the spices in the wine that can cause temporary halitosis.
  • A metaphor for his personality. “Pigs got the mints for their breaths to mask their stinking lies,” as the song by DJ Snack put it so succinctly. The idea of the scent of mint and other herbs as masks for a person’s true self is as old as Hippocrates and Jesus, perhaps older even, as the former believed that a sweet breath reflected not only a healthy body but pleasant character traits too, and the latter was prone to berating the Pharisees (a word that is now synonymous with hypocrisy) on their habit of tithing mint and other herbs that symbolised their moral cleanliness in the eyes of their god, but that given their disregard for justice, mercy and honesty was rather a blatant symbol of their duplicity.

This interpretation is so far the one that looks more accurate in view of Baelish’s manipulative insincerity, and the impression that the author might’ve had this metaphor in mind is supported by the fact that the only other character that chews some herb to freshen his breath is the Kindly Man of the House of Black and White, who, according to Arya, “was fond of chewing orange rinds to sweeten his breath,” and then if we remember that the Faceless Men are professionals in the art of lying and masking emotions, we have the textual evidence to link masking the breath with herbs to lying.

But there’s something else: minty breath is also linked to romance since Antiquity. In archaic Roman literature, poet Ovid advised lovers in Book I: XIII of his Ars Amatoria (The Art of Love) to be careful of not going to meet the lover with “bad breath exhaled from unwholesome mouth,” and at that time the method used to eliminate or mask strong-smelling breath or to sweeten it was herbal concoctions and rubbing/chewing mint leaves (or other fragrant herbs); a method that was still very popular during the Middle Ages, with some new inventions also essentially herbal. The association of sweet breath to romance also persisted during that period, as evidenced by medieval writer Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, in one of which—The Miller’s Tale—we read two passages that describe two of the male characters, Nicholas and Absalom, as habitually using herbs for sweetening the breath and chewing fragrant leaves on the eve of going to meet the woman he’s having an affair with respectively:

He had a chamber to himself in that lodging-house, without any company, and handsomely decked with sweet herbs; and
he himself was as sweet as the root of licorice or any setwall
.

. . .

When the first cock had crowed, up rose this frisky lover, and arrayed him in his gayest with all nicety.
But first he chewed cardamoms and licorice to smell sweetly
, before he had combed his hair, and put a true-love charm under his tongue, for by this he hoped to find favour.

And how does this relate to Littlefinger’s case? The first time we read about his minty breath isn’t in the scene with Sansa but in one of her mother’s POVs in the first book. In Catelyn XI, we find this passage:

She had not thought of that in years. How young they all had been—she no older than Sansa, Lysa younger than Arya, and Petyr younger still, yet eager. The girls had traded him between them, serious and giggling by turns.
It came back to her so vividly she could almost feel his sweaty fingers on her shoulders and taste the mint on his breath.
There was always mint growing in the godswood, and Petyr had liked to chew it.
He had been such a bold little boy, always in trouble. “He tried to put his tongue in my mouth,” Catelyn had confessed to her sister afterward, when they were alone. “He did with me too,” Lysa had whispered, shy and breathless. “I liked it.”

So there it is, the origins of Petyr Baelish’s habit of chewing mint is intrinsically a part of the feelings he harboured towards Catelyn Tully. The girls and him used to spend time in the godswood at Riverrun, where they’d play kissing, and the boy would chew mint leaves when that happened, an habit that, together with his obsession with Lady Stark, persisted into adulthood. We know from her own memories and from her sister Lysa’s that this childish kissing didn’t mean much to Catelyn, who rejected his advances and never saw him as more than “a brother;” but those kissing games did have an impact on Lysa, who years later still remembers his kiss as her first and speaks positively of the smell of his breath.

It’s therefore very interesting that when they meet, which is also the occasion in which Littlefinger steps out as a suitor in his own mind, Sansa would notice the same thing her mother remembers: the smell of mint on his breath. The next time she notes that is at the Eyrie when he forces a kiss on her, a scene that parallels her mother’s experience: both happen at the godswood, there’s the element of forcing both girls on the part of Littlefinger, both girls react similarly to the taste of mint, both girls reject him, and jealous Lysa witnesses both scenes.

As a curiosity, the very legend about the origins of mint is linked to love and jealousy; according to Greek poet Oppianus, it originated from a nymph from the Underworld river Cocytus called Mintha, who was the lover of Hades, but when he fell in love and abducted Persephone, she “complained loudly with overweening words and raved foolishly for jealousy, and Demeter [Persephone’s mother] in anger trampled upon her with her feet and destroyed her. For she had said that she was nobler of form and more excellent in beauty than dark-eyed Persephone and she boasted that Hades would return to her and banish the other from his halls: such infatuation leapt upon her tongue. And from the earth spray the weak herb that bears her name.”

Sandor Clegane, on the other hand, couldn’t have a more different smell associated to him in situations that had emotional significance. In the same Sansa chapter in which she had met Baelish earlier in the day, he had been drinking at the banquet following the Hand’s tourney, which is the smell she noticed when he stopped on his way escorting her back to her bedchamber:

“I’ll tell you what it was, girl,” he said, a voice from the night, a shadow leaning so close now that
she could smell the sour stench of wine on his breath
.

This is the only time in the first book that she notices any sort of odour in the Hound, and she can easily know the causes, because he tells her that he’s had too much drink and she herself isn’t quite sober either. Interestingly, next time he is undeniably in his cups, during the encounter at the Serpentine steps in the second book, she doesn’t comment on Clegane’s breath despite the proximity, because thrice he was close enough for her to smell the wine on him: when he grabs her by the wrist, when he tells her about her maturing body and, lastly, in front of her bedchamber when he’s cupping her chin and leaning towards her.

The blood masked the worst of his scars, but his eyes were white and wide and terrifying. The burnt corner of his mouth twitched and twitched again.
Sansa could smell him; a stink of sweat and sour wine and stale vomit, and over it all the reek of blood, blood, blood.

Here, she can also know the causes: the exertions of the battle and wine, and of the two it’s the scent of blood she’s fixated on. And in this occasion, she’s again also tipsy herself.

On close examination, we can spot that their last and their first conversations run along parallel lines; the similarities are concentrated on six elements:

  • The Hound and Sansa are drunk in both scenes; both unintentionally due to partaking in the banquet in the first one, and intentionally on the Hound’s part the second time.
  • The first encounter ends with the Hound’s threat to Sansa if she reveals his secret, and the second encounter begins with the same threat if she screams and reveals his whereabouts.
  • He mocks her for “repeating” what she was taught and what she hears, in both scenes, before the serious things are said.
  • The Hound insists on Sansa looking at his face right before he’s about to tell her the important things: the truth about his scars, and his offer to take her with him and protect her.
  • Sansa notes the smell of the wine on his breath exactly as he’s saying the important things to her, not before or after.
  • On both occasions, Sansa ends up unexpectedly touching the Hound of her own volition as a response: she places a hand on his shoulder and tells him Gregor is no true knight; and cups his cheek after she sings the Mother’s Hymn.

What does this reveal? Essentially, two things: that having their defences lowered because of their alcohol consumption accounts for the uncharacteristic talk and actions, but not as much or in the way that is commonly believed; and that it’s the emotions stirred by what is happening or what she’s hearing that sharpen Sansa’s sensory sensitivity in general, causing her to be more keenly aware of smells especially, as noted in the introduction listing the scenes in which she perceives odours more sharply.

Elaborating on the former observation, the Hound would have told Sansa his secret independently of drunkenness for two reasons: first, because that idea of alcohol as a disinhibitor of social behaviours all by itself is based on anecdotal “evidence” at best, and scientifically outdated, because the reality is that in people the effects of alcohol are dependent on external cues and not in pure and simple alterations in neurochemistry, because alcohol ingestion doesn’t automatically lead to disinhibited social behaviour, as it can lead to inhibited social behaviour, too; that is, it can go both ways. Which of the two behaviours will prevail depends therefore on other factors, so the key is “external cues.” Meaning that an individual’s reaction is prompted by the circumstances or the persons surrounding him whilst inebriated. Simply put, what prompted Sandor to open his mouth and sing his story was Sansa herself, her behaviour, her attitude, her words, what she stirs in his insides; not the mere fact that he was drunk and therefore it was easier for him. We’re speaking of something that had been haunting him for two decades, something that, considering his PTSD, probably caused nightmares in the nights as is common in trauma victims, something he’d never had the opportunity to speak of to anyone before, and now there’s this courteous and kind little girl chirping niceties to him, a girl that had already caught his attention before this event and whose behaviour gets at him and sparks in him the need to speak up and wipe off that conduct of hers. On the night of the Blackwater is when the disinhibitory effect of wine is more evident, but again, even then there’s the “external cue” factor, as he’d already opened up to her other times before and felt her compassionate reaction to his story, her curiosity, her defiance, etc., so it’s again Sansa herself.

Then we get to the connection of Sansa’s olfactory perception and her emotions. Females in general have a sharper sense of smell and they also tend to be guided by smell in their favourable or unfavourable responses to men; and where this ability kicks in when it comes to emotions is in three aspects in particular: in romance, what’s more important for initial attraction is how the man smells (other factors weigh in later than this one), and it’s not enough to not smell foul or just smell clean but actually smell good, hence the millennia-old advice to would-be Romeos to use herbs, perfumes and all the aromatic paraphernalia that continues to this day. Second, smell also impacts greatly on first impressions, because females tend to unconsciously rate people regardless of gender and age as well as things more positively when there’s a nice scent in the air. And last, they can actually react to negative emotions transmitted through chemical signaling, perceiving odours more keenly when scared or disgusted. So, applying this theoretical corpus to Sansa’s experience, by all means it should’ve not been the Hound with his far from pleasant wine breath and even less pleasant attitude the one to elicit such a positive reaction from Sansa, because all odds were against him, olfactorily and behaviourally, to scare her forever and have her avoid him thenceforward, as would’ve been logical; yet what he got instead was her trust and her compassion. She was able to see through her own fright and the winey smell to instinctively react to what she was hearing, and sense the real causes and motives, which enabled her to offer what she could at those moments in the form of tactile comforting.

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This sounds very exciting - looking forward to it =)

ETA: ninja'd by Milady's amazing first post!

I really like the way in which you described LF's minty breath - it consistently brings up the thought of his "clean hands" philosophy and is a very subtle, but effective hint from GRRM about the kind of person that LF truly is. It is interesting to remember that in AGoT, Sansa speaks dismissively of Mycah because of his foul smell, but is comfortable with and accepting of Sandor's stench of wine and blood. Smells can almost be seen as a mask in a way, they cover the source and can either describe it or mask it (all those air freshener commercials come to mind). Perhaps this change in Sansa's reaction to pleasant and unpleasant smells is an indication of her character growth and ever developing keenness in perceiving the true faces of those around her?

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Wonderful analysis and beautifully written, Milady

I would like to add couple of observations:

1. Importance of the scents. As Milady noticed in her essay, scents represent important part of Sansa's observational skills. In the first Sansa POV in AGOT, Lady does the sniffing, and therefore differentiated the danger Illyn Payne and Hound will represent in future for Sansa. On her own, after Lady's death, there is significant amount of evidence to support Milady's claim about scents. This is quite important, because in wolves, olfactry system is quite superior to ours, and it speaks about Sansa's dual nature - the wolf and the girl. Different scents Sansa felt throughout entire series are quite important in her evolutionary road. With recognition of enemies and allies, observing below ugly mask and foul scent, Sansa learnt to see truth much better. Importance of scents in Sansa's story is deeply intertwined with her wolf nature and evolution of her as a political figure.

2. Adapting to certain smells. Scientifically speakink, olfactory receptors adapts quickly. In translation, we get accustomed quickly to certain scents. Hound's proximity to Sansa in her second POV, made her feel scent of wine. This is time where Sansa comes to know Sandor in different light, after he tells her the story. The next several meetings go without any olfactory reception, and the last time they meet, there is another scent - scent of blood. Interpretation of this is quite useful in determining their relationship. We see Sansa getting accustomed to rough exteriority and harsh personnality Sandor has, but unlike for the first time, she is not repelled by it, she grew to know him better and accepts him as he is. The last time, she doesn't feel the scent of wine she felt when Sandor was telling her his story, but scent of blood, the new scent is dominating the old one. Basically, on some olfactory level, they are closer and closer to each other. As for LF, it is quite the oposite. Sansa feels the mint during her first and last meeting with LF. This talks about inability to adapt to LF's methods and clear discomort by the his closeness. Whether the scent of mint is pleasent or not, thing is Sansa isn't comfortable around it. This can be used in future analysis of Sansa becoming player, and the separation from LF.

So, speaking about Sansa's nose, isn't just the story about mere perception. It is, as Milady noted in her essay, story about deep connection between perception, truth and emotions. Sansa's nose proves one thing, that she never stopped being who she really is - a wolf capable of catching different scents but bound by its human nature.

Again, Milady, congratulations on nice analysis. It was indeed a pleasure to read it.

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It is interesting to remember that in AGoT, Sansa speaks dismissively of Mycah because of his foul smell, but is comfortable with and accepting of Sandor's stench of wine and blood.

[snip]

Perhaps this change in Sansa's reaction to pleasant and unpleasant smells is an indication of her character growth and ever developing keenness in perceiving the true faces of those around her?

I am not sure that would be a valid comparison of both cases once we examine the causes. Mycah's smell was really foul all the time, as a result from working as a butcher's boy, so it was due to poor hygiene. Sansa grew up in a noble household, and is a person that cares about her personal hygiene, she even uses lemon scent for perfuming herself, and hates the smell of dung and flies in the stables, which has nothing to do with snobbiness or immaturity. It's simple cleanliness. Also, she apparently has a very sensitive sense of smell, going by the examples in the text, so she'd notice smells more keenly.

On the other hand, Sandor's wine breath is circumstantial. He smelled of wine twice, because he's been drinking at a banquet, and in such a situation even the cleanliest person will smell of wine; and the second part, the wine is also secondary, blood is more noticeable because he'd just been at a battle for a long time, a situation in which there's no chance to clean oneself or change clothes. There's no textual proof whatsoever that he has a foul smell at all, much less that Sansa could've accustomed herself to a bad smell that wasn't there in the first place, or even to get used to the wine breath, because she notices it on Dontos constantly, and also because Sandor wasn't drunk in other occasions apart from the ones mentioned and the Serpentine. If that was so, Sansa would've noticed any smell on him, winey or otherwise.

Wonderful analysis and beautifully written, Milady.

Again, Milady, congratulations on nice analysis. It was indeed a pleasure to read it.

Thank you for your compliments. The merit is also our host's, Brashcandy, who is co-authoring this project with myself.

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Thanks Mlady, fascinating look at this important aspect of the one "Wolf Child"

who loses her wolf early on. While the other Starks depend on their wolf's to

warn them of enemies, Sansa has no such advantage and must hone her own senses.

Well done.

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<snip>

you made some great points and made me think, if Ty took Sansa and did knock her up, as you said, her days are numbered. But I wonder if Ty's are too. Once Tywin gets a Lannister heir to WF, I think Tyrion may have outlived his usefulness. I believe Tywin would have taken the child to raise to be a "proper" Lannister that would bring honor back to the house. I believe Tywin would have allowed Tyrion to die at that point, or at least do something to separate him from the child. Tywin would want the Lannis-Spwan to be loyal to him, not his gargoyle son.

I know Tywin has been against kinslaying, but after all the "shame" he's been bringing to the family name, I think while he wouldn't partake in the planning, I think Tywin would allow Tyrion to die.

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Yay, more essays! Great job Milady and Brash! I'm really excited for these because I do find it fascinating how LF and the Hound have been set up as opposites in Sansa's chapters. Their size, the way they dress, the way they "operate", etc. are all diametrically opposed. I do believe that what GRRM is going for here is the idea of the scents masking the underlying character beneath. Sandor's scents are very real and he does not try to hide them whereas the LF is all about appearances.

From Mladen:

This is quite important, because in wolves, olfactry system is quite superior to ours, and it speaks about Sansa's dual nature - the wolf and the girl. Different scents Sansa felt throughout entire series are quite important in her evolutionary road.
Great point and blood in particular is a very strong scent for wolves. Both Arya and Bran refer to the smell of blood numerous times when they are in their wolf's consciousness. This is why I also get the feeling that the blood smell is the more real, powerful and true scent for Sansa than the wine, because as Milady noted the wine smell also has some negative connotations for Sansa, for example with Marillion and Lysa. The wine can go either way in that it can cause people to be less inhibited but with other people it may have the opposite effect so it's not as clear cut as the smell of blood from which one cannot hide. Given this, I wonder what it will mean that in Sansa's last chapter in AFFC she smells wine on LF's breath for the first time. We have speculated that it is evidence of LF perhaps slipping for the first time and losing some control, but we haven't been given a clear indication yet if Sansa will recognize this as a negative thing coming from LF the way it has with most of the others who had wine breath.

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