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brashcandy

From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa XX

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Comprehensive, convincing and utterly conclusive - amazing work Milady. This essay is testament not only to how helpful professional insight can be, but really to the power of paying attention to the detailed textual evidence that we have in the novels; that step by step breakdown of each of Sandor's appearances essentially sold your case. I wonder if the tendency to depict Sandor as an alcoholic in the fandom comes about in part because of his fairly uncouth mannerisms, and the easy mental leap to imagining him as unstable and prone to alcohol abuse? Anyways, based on your precise classifications and the textual evidence, it seems that the character in Sansa's life who deserves the label of alcoholic/suffering from alcohol dependency would be Dontos and not Sandor:

Sansa's first mention of Dontos is when she goes to the throne room in AGOT to plead for her father's life:

Sickly Lord Gyles covered his face at her approach and feigned a fit of coughing, and when funny drunken Ser Dontos started to hail her, Ser Balon Swann whispered in his ear and he turned away.

The next time she sees him is at Joff's name day tourney:

Finally a chestnut stallion trotted into view in a swirl of crimson and scarlet silks, but Ser Dontos was not on it. The knight appeared a moment later, cursing and staggering, clad in breastplate and plumed helm and nothing else. His legs were pale and skinny, and his manhood flopped about obscenely as he chased after his horse. The watchers roared and shouted insults. Catching his horse by the bridle, Ser Dontos tried to mount, but the animal would not stand still and the knight was so drunk that his bare foot kept missing the stirrup.

Then we have his appearance in the Godswood as her "Florian":

"I feared you would not come, child."

Sansa whirled. A man stepped out of the shadows, heavyset, thick of neck, shambling. He wore a dark grey robe with the cowl pulled forward, but when a thin sliver of moonlight touched his cheek, she knew him at once by the blotchy skin and web of broken veins beneath. "Ser Dontos," she breathed, heartbroken. "Was it you?"

"Yes, my lady." When he moved closer, she could smell the sour stench of wine on his breath. "Me." He reached out a hand.

Sansa shrank back. "Don't!" She slid her hand under her cloak, to her hidden knife. "What... what do you want with me?"

"Only to help you," Dontos said, "as you helped me."

"You're drunk, aren't you?"

"Only one cup of wine, to help my courage. If they catch me now, they'll strip the skin off my back.

Their next encounter is during Sansa's beating in the throne room on Joff's orders, where Dontos tries to protect her. Given his new job as a court fool, it's not hard to imagine his drunkenness being overlooked. Later on, with the Battle of Blackwater imminent, he is drunk once again in the godswood:

"Lord Stannis wants to smoke out the Imp's savages." Dontos swayed as he spoke, one hand on the trunk of a chestnut tree. A wine stain discoloured the red-and-yellow motley of his tunic.

...

He is drunk again. My poor Florian he names himself, and so he is. But he is all I have.

And skipping ahead to ASOS when he is responsible for bringing Sansa to the boat after the Purple Wedding:

He staggered out from under the trees, reeling drunk. He caught her arm to steady himself.

As an aside, when I was reading your first section I noticed that LF bet twice on the Hound, first with a hundred golden dragons that he would be defeated by the Kingslayer, and then an off hand comment about giving a hundred silver stags to have seen his face when he learnt that Ned sent Beric after his brother. Considering Sandor's noted ambivalence when it comes to returning violence to Gregor, I'm not so sure he would have been deeply perturbed that someone else had to deal with him. Hopefully this is a sign of LF continuing to underestimate and misread Sandor Clegane in the future :)

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Great as usual Milady :)

We don’t really know about Sandor’s off-page consumption. So he might be drunk more often than we think. However his alcohol consumption doesn’t affect his professional life (as you very well demonstrate) unlike Ser Dontos who’s unable to fight on Joffrey’s name day. Also, in addition to Brashcandy’s post, Ser Dontos is described as “a drunk” in ACOK’s appendix. The appendix is like a mini wiki of the book’s characters and this appendix states that the only thing worth knowing about Dontos is that he’s a drunk. That makes his alcoholism a key feature of his personality unlike Sandor Clegane.

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That makes his alcoholism a key feature of his personality unlike Sandor Clegane.

Precisely. I think the portrait of Sandor Clegane that emerges from Milady's essay is a man who takes his job very seriously, and is a responsible and highly capable sworn shield. Off duty, and on special occasions, he's relaxed and can indulge. Do you we see him using alcohol in problematic ways? Yes. But is he an alcoholic? No.

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Comprehensive, convincing and utterly conclusive - amazing work Milady. This essay is testament not only to how helpful professional insight can be, but really to the power of paying attention to the detailed textual evidence that we have in the novels; that step by step breakdown of each of Sandor's appearances essentially sold your case. I wonder if the tendency to depict Sandor as an alcoholic in the fandom comes about in part because of his fairly uncouth mannerisms, and the easy mental leap to imagining him as unstable and prone to alcohol abuse? Anyways, based on your precise classifications and the textual evidence, it seems that the character in Sansa's life who deserves the label of alcoholic/suffering from alcohol dependency would be Dontos and not Sandor:

First, Milady, like Brash have said, amazing work. The entire story has another context when proofs are presented so dilligently like yours. And, of course, your own professional insight helps us to fully understand the topic. I won`t pretend that I know much about alcohol abuse or dependancy, for my specialty regarding human health is in another area. However, one thing I can talk about is Sandor`s lack of inhibitions when he is drunk.

As we all know, and possibly have chance to see and experience, alcohol have strong impact on brain, especially brain`s chemistry and production of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemical compounds that our brain produce and are divided in 2 groups: excitatory (stimulates brain elecro-chemical activity) and inhinitory (decreases activity). Alcohol increases the effects of innibitory neurotransmiter GABA, while at the same time decreases the effects of excitatory neurotransmiter glutamate. All of this leads to numerous effects on cerebral cortex, that ultimately makes person to percieve much more informationfrom senses and inhinits clear, rational thinking, thus provoking what scientists call basic instincts. All of this mixed with high dosage of dopamine, or as some call it pleasure neurotransmitter also inhibits person`s rational behavior. That`s why people under influence are seemingly bounderless, and as some scientists claim are led by basic human instincts. Without rational portion of the brain, emotional side takes control. And that`s something very important when we discuss Sandor.

I`ll use this to talk about all the situations Milady had found for us when Sandor was drunk:

1. Sandor is drunk during the banquet after Hand`s tourney. We all know what happens after. He tells his deepest secret to Sansa. he opens himself to her, as he hasn`t to no one ever before. Without inhibitions, Sandor pours out his deepest emotions and tells Sansa what he hasn`t told anyone.

2. Sandor is drunk when he meets Sansa returning from Godswood. In this conversation, Sandor is infuriated on Sansa since she can`t lie and gives her a good advice about lying.

3. Battle at Blackwater bay. This one is connected with his trauma when he was burnt as a child. Facing the wildfire, Sandor had to use drink to surpress his fear (one of the common effects of alcohol), he fights for days, and then he gos at the end to Sansa`s room. Here all inhinitions are gone. He abandoned Joffrey, and for some reason (let us not pretend we don`t know why :)), he came to Sansa`s room to help her leave the city.

4. After RW drunkness. Here we see also Sandor`s emotional distresss. The reason has to be connected with RW, because RW hadn`t just taken Arya her family, it took Sandor`s chance for better life. We see him being somewhat nicer to Arya, or at least less cruel. And in this situation, his drunkness made him forget how people see him and he dreams of spending the winter in the village

5. At the Crossroads Inn. In this situation, we see Sandor`s reason gone, and the avalanche of the rage and hatred he feels for his brother and his men, depression caused by Robb`s death and his inability to adapt anywhere. This is where Sandor experiences complete meltdown, that ultimately leads to his `death` under the tree.

As Milady pointed out, we have seen him drunk in rare occasions. But, his emotional status during his drunk episodes are far more interesting. In 3 out of 5 is connected with Sansa, and I firmly believe that the road to Robb has in a way begun with Sansa`s song. His depression after RW can also be related to Sansa and the fact he wants to become better man. That leads us to simple conclusion that analogical, rational side of Sandor`s brain inhibits him of following his emotions. The same emotions that bursts out whenever he is drunk. And those emotions led him always to Sansa.

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Bran Vras, that was very interesting!

I really love what Gwendoline Christie says here in this interview where she's talking about Jaime and Brienne, and I'm glad she challenged the interviewer:

"I don't think that anyone genuinely can predict the way in which their relationship will go in any regard. Genuine and true love is so rare that when you encounter it in any form, it's a wonderful thing, to be utterly cherished in whatever form it takes...

"But at the same time, we all want to see the impossible actually happen, to see these two extraordinary characters reach that amazing stage. Everyone's a sucker for some love and romance and whatever that may bring."

http://www.rollingst...-tarth-20130522

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Precisely. I think the portrait of Sandor Clegane that emerges from Milady's essay is a man who takes his job very seriously, and is a responsible and highly capable sworn shield. Off duty, and on special occasions, he's relaxed and can indulge. Do you we see him using alcohol in problematic ways? Yes. But is he an alcoholic? No.

Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t want to imply that he’s an alcoholic. I tried to anticipate the fact that people might point out that Sandor could be drinking off-page by saying that Milady had shown well that his alcohol consumption (even if problematic sometimes) had no impact on his job. I’m sorry if it was poorly worded because I completely agree with you :(.

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Thank you for that link LC.

Genuine and true love is so rare that when you encounter it in any form, it's a wonderful thing, to be utterly cherished in whatever form it takes...

Very true.

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Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t want to imply that he’s an alcoholic. I tried to anticipate the fact that people might point out that Sandor could be drinking off-page by saying that Milady had shown well that his alcohol consumption (even if problematic sometimes) had no impact on his job. I’m sorry if it was poorly worded because I completely agree with you :(.

Oh no Mahaut! I understand exactly what you were saying. It seems my response was the one that was poorly worded :)

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I love that Christie stressed the "unusual" part of the story, too. That's why I read this series. The more unusual, the better.

Mahaut, I understood what you both said. :)

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Going quickly back to Bran Vras’s post. I found this quote from Jon in Arya’s first chapter in AGOT and thought it was quite relevant to our previous discussion about shields and sword:

Girls get the arms but not the swords. Bastards get the swords but not the arms. I did not make the rules, little sister.

I personally take it as a good sign that Sansa (a girl posing as a bastard) might end up with the two items she’s not supposed to inherit.

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Going quickly back to Bran Vras’s post. I found this quote from Jon in Arya’s first chapter in AGOT and thought it was quite relevant to our previous discussion about shields and sword:

I personally take it as a good sign that Sansa (a girl posing as a bastard) might end up with the two items she’s not supposed to inherit.

Good catch Mahaut. I think the bit of conversation that comes before the part you quoted helps to expand on the significance too:

"The Lannisters are proud," Jon observed. You'd think the royal sigil would be sufficient, but no. He makes his mother's House equal in honor to the king's."

"The woman is important too!"

"A wolf with a fish in its mouth?" It made her laugh.

So a wolf with a fish in its mouth might look silly, but what about a wolf with big leather wings like a bat?

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Brilliant analysis Milady as usually. I also wonder about Sandor being labelled as cruel. Yes, his a hard man and a outstanding swordsman but nothing in the text attains to outright cruelty. His harsh with Arya during their time together but non the less takes care of her even when all his hopes of a ransom or being taken into the Starks service are dashed. With Sansa he helps her as best he can. He could not speak outright against her treatment by Joff, he doesn't have Tyrion's leverage and I believe Sansa understands this. Her thoughts about him later shows this.

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Really though provoking analysis Bran Vras. I would never have connected the bat symbolism to Sansa on her maternal side. That's why I love this thread. It's truly brilliant. If GRRM ever reads it. I'm sure he' ll go Wow!!

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Ahh Milady, you did it again, and I'm so happy that people are willing to clarify after seeing some things on tumblr over the weekend Sandor and drinking. What happened after Blackwater is a diffrent story, but yeah, even now he may very well be in the road of redemption or something on the QI. It was so funny when I read that the ship Sandor and Stranger boarded during the battle was called Prayer. i try to remind myself that these are george's books that we are talking about, and maybe my mind is playing tricks on me, but it's kind of nice to know that he boarded a ship that could mean something deeper, seeing as sansa was praying for him that night, and her hymn to the mother for Sandor was answered.

Brash as well did a great job regarding Dontos. it reminded me of the time when it was brought up that in the last Alayne chapter in Feast, sansa notices that LF's breath no longer smells of mint, bbut of wine. it could be nothing of course, but it's intresting to consider what or who could have caused petyr to start taking a night cap... (;

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It was so funny when I read that the ship Sandor and Stranger boarded during the battle was called Prayer. i try to remind myself that these are george's books that we are talking about, and maybe my mind is playing tricks on me, but it's kind of nice to know that he boarded a ship that could mean something deeper, seeing as sansa was praying for him that night, and her hymn to the mother for Sandor was answered.

Yeah, that was a nice bit of symbolism considering Sansa's actions during the day and night. I think it also supports how much subtlety and detail Martin has invested in the relationship.

Brash as well did a great job regarding Dontos. it reminded me of the time when it was brought up that in the last Alayne chapter in Feast, sansa notices that LF's breath no longer smells of mint, bbut of wine. it could be nothing of course, but it's intresting to consider what or who could have caused petyr to start taking a night cap... (;

Ah minty fresh LF :) The mint as metaphor for his corruption, or his attempt to mask it? In any case I agree with you that his wine tinged breath may indicate he's becoming careless or over-confident.

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Hi guys,

I am quite new to the board, but I have I have been following and have read ALL of the Rethinking Sansa posts and I have to say, they are very intriguing. You guys have done quite an amazing job the past year, and though I have only discovered this thread quite recently, it is very interesting.

And I know this may be a bit off topic (and quite random for that matter) from the discussion that has been going on so far, but while I was reading the past thread, someone mentioned this. I don't know if it has been mentioned before...

MeikoElektra:

​Pawns might seem like relatively useless pieces on a chessboard, but their lack of value means they are often the ones you have to watch for (and yet no one seems to notice). A pawn can take a rook/castle, help in the checkmate of a king or protect a knight. Of course, pawns are also the only pieces that can bring back a queen. Yay symbolism! :P

It is rather interesting to see that Sansa (the pawn) has already fulfilled two of the actions: checkmate of a king and protect a knight.

Checkmate of a king - she was involved (indirectly) in the murder of Joffrey.

Protect a knight - maybe not so much protecting, but Sansa was the one to save Ser Dontos.

Yet she does need to fulfill "take a castle" and "bring back a queen."

Again I might be completely wrong, but if we take it into consideration... :)

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Yet she does need to fulfill "take a castle" and "bring back a queen."

Again I might be completely wrong, but if we take it into consideration... :)

First, welcome to the forum and to the thread :cheers: . I hope you`ll enjoy here.

Wow, this was wonderful chess refference. I adore it. I am more interested in `bring back the Queen` part. In one of theories, Dany will land in the Vale, and Sansa will help her with Vale armies, other of course is Sansa becoming the Queen. But, the pawn needs to go through entire board, and then with its last move, it doesn`t just bring back the Queen, it basically transforms into Queen. So, in that chess refference, Sansa who was called the pawn for the first time, at the end of her journey as a pawn will become Queen.

Again, welcome, and I hope you`ll stay around.

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