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brashcandy

From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa XX

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If Arya thinks it stupid, something interesting must be going on.

Along with the maxim "Old Nan is almost always right", this may be one of the two most consistent truths in the series.

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Given the discussion on vengeance and justice, I'm reposting Milady of York's excellent write-up on the subject to be found in this thread:

From the perspective of evolutionary psychology, vengeance is learnt and has always depended on societal factors for support and validity, from before the time of the famous biblical principle a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth to this day; revenge, on the other hand is biologically ingrained in the mind. It’s not learnt, it’s an instinct we are born with, and we all possess it in varying degrees of intensity depending on personality and education.

Clinicians have studied and identified the cognitive and neurological process of revenge, and have discovered these interesting–and somewhat startling–facts: the dorsal striatum –striated body– In the brain, which is the part that processes rewarding stimuli and controls biological and behavioural reactions to rewards lights up to: a. food, b. drugs, c. sweets, and d. revenge. The idioms just desserts and sweet revenge make more sense now.

The brain processes revengeful thoughts as rewarding, when we punish those we perceive as having wronged us or when we think of avenging ourselves on them, the corpus striatum lights up to these thoughts and releases dopamine, the “feel good” neurotransmitter, thusly stirring emotions that lead to/reinforce revengeful behaviour. Furthermore, there’s another brain portion that is activated at the same time: the left prefrontal cortex, that is in charge of planning. Which means that having thoughts of revenge automatically leads you to think of a step by step plan toward the goal to be obtained. But, as mentioned before, there are personality traits that foster these vindictive impulses and others that do the opposite. Amongst the pros, two are the most important; first, empathy: the more empathetic the person is, the less likely he or she will act on revengeful thoughts. Second, control and the ability to restrain one’s emotions impact the possibility of seeking revenge, but not necessarily prevent the person from having the thoughts, only from acting on them by focusing on what’s really in his or her control. And of the negative factors, authoritarians and ambitious ones are more vengeful, as they are motivated by power and the desire for status, because they don't want to lose face (Some Lannisters are in this group). Also, people who show great respect for traditions, social expectations and a deference to authority have the most favourable opinions about vengeance and retribution, as are those who have witnessed/feel that the legal establishment is unstable, corrupt and/or practically chaotic, so they tend to be more approving of revenge. Collectivists are more likely than individualists to seek both revenge and vengeance, but their emotional triggers vary: for individualists get angry because they perceive a violation as personal; for collectivists it’s humiliating to perceive a wrong done to someone with a shared identity because it means an injury to oneself.

Why do people seek revenge? On a basic level, because of the cathartic effect it has. Or rather, the catharsis they think they will obtain. There used to be a widely held theory that built-up aggressive energy needs to be released at some point through an aggressive action, such as taking revenge, because it is cathartic and, by reducing subsequent aggressiveness, was beneficial as it served to restore inner balance. This belief still persists despite abundant anecdotal and clinical proof to the contrary: aggression is not inevitable but occurs through an interplay of situational and personality factors that do not necessarily lead to revenge. Aggression inevitably triggers subsequent aggression through increasing negative affect and activating thoughts related to aggression. An eye for an eye makes everyone blind, as the saying goes.

And what about feelings after exacting revenge? In short, revenge rather than providing closure or even catharsis, does the opposite, for it keeps the wound open and fresh. There was once an interesting experiment with two groups: one that had been given the opportunity to exact revenge on someone who’d damaged them and the other had been also damaged, but had not had an opportunity for revenge. The experimenters asked the first––who'd been allowed to punish––to predict how they'd feel if they hadn't been allowed to, and he asked the second, non-punishing, group how they believed they'd have felt if they had. The punishers said they would’ve felt worse if they hadn’t had revenge, and the non-punishers told they’d have felt better if they’d had revenge… and both groups were wrong!

Because an objective examination of both groups found out that the non-punishers were the happier and most satisfied lot in the end, and the punishers did in fact feel worse, thus demonstrating that people are awful at predicting the emotional outcome of revenge. The explanation for this curious result is ruminations: if there is no revenge, a woman can trivialise the experience by telling oneself that a woman didn't act on a woman’s vengeful impulses, and it's easier to forget it and move on; but when there is revenge, trivialisation and moving on are no longer possible, so a woman replays and re-enacts the experience again and again in her head, which takes a high emotional and physical toll. Sounds familiar?

But the failure to feel good after revenge does not mean there is no pleasant side of retribution . There are two theories for why revenge could be satisfying. The first is comparative suffering––seeing an offender suffer supposedly can restore emotional balance––and the second theory is called the understanding hypothesis— an offender’s suffering is not enough to achieve satisfactory revenge on its own, so the avenger must be assured that the offender has made a direct connection between the retaliation and his behaviour. Testing both theories in experiments with groups of punishers, both were given the chance to take revenge on a wrongdoer, but one group had the additional opportunity to send the punished a message that acknowledged that the retaliation had come as a result of their misbehavior, and the other group had to send messages without this explanation and full of indignation over the bad deed. The results lean toward validating the second theory that revenge can succeed only when an offender understands why the act of vengeance has occurred, because the group with a message of understanding were more satisfied and at peace than those who only delivered an indignant message. In fact, the only time punishers felt more satisfaction than participants who took no revenge was when they delivered the message with the explanation, that is: unacknowledged revenge felt no better than none at all. Successful revenge is therefore about more than retaliation, it is about delivering a message to the offender so he recognises his wrongdoing. If the message is not delivered, it cannot reestablish justice in the eyes of the punisher.

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Hi all! just popping in here with a few quick comments. First of all, great essay Daphne! I really love the way you summed it up with how Sansa is taking on a look which is less like Cat while Arya is taking on qualities that are more like Cat. I agree. And I also agree with the idea mentioned in the discussion following the essay that Ned's and Cat's philosophies envelope both girls which is why Ned was exactly right that they are two sides of the same coin.

Also, when reading these last two pages I too thought of Milday's essay that Brash reposted above. It is so fitting to this discussion as Arya and Sansa are the two characters whose stories are the most tied to these themes of vengeance and justice and even mercy. Through Arya I think it's becoming so evident that her vengeance is not truly satisfying her and in fact is leading her down a very dark path. Sansa has struggled with this too, particularly with Marillion where she has to talk herself into the reasons why he is bad and deserves to be punished. The idea that Milady mentions in that last paragraph of her essay is that vengeance and justice are and must be connected, which is something the Faceless Men are trying to get Arya away from. Sansa too is now standing at the edge of a moral precipice which could lead her down a very dark path as well if she ends up divorcing those ideas of vengeance from justice.

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And what about feelings after exacting revenge? In short, revenge rather than providing closure or even catharsis, does the opposite, for it keeps the wound open and fresh... Successful revenge is therefore about more than retaliation, it is about delivering a message to the offender so he recognises his wrongdoing. If the message is not delivered, it cannot reestablish justice in the eyes of the punisher.

Fascinating piece, Milady. I thought these two sections were especially relevant to the present discussion. In general, I would say that GRRM goes to great pains throughout the series to demonstrate that 'revenge doesn't pay', but he does allow the reader a few cathartic moments where vengeance and justice go hand in hand. The most obvious example of this is Jon's execution of Janos Slynt.

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Second 'half' of my essay on Sansa, Arya and Cat is below. This section runs more along the lines of three mini-essays of varying lengths - one on 'northern' identity, one on lying/playing the game, and one on the language of 'good girl' in the series. As an aside, I know that another poster first made the connection between Sansa's and Jeyne Poole's use of 'good girl', but I'm afraid I can't remember who it was. They get the credit for this idea!

‘He had no patience with this game they played’

‘Lying’ and ‘playing the game’ is a crucial theme for both Arya and and Sansa, although not for Catelyn; although Catelyn proves herself to be an adept politician, she continues to shun deception. Although Petyr claims to have introduced Sansa to the idea that ‘a lie is not so bad if it is kindly meant’, we know that Sansa has been telling white lies since Game; in her very first appearance, she lies for Arya to protect her from Septa Mordane [GOT, 69], and lies for Arya again in her first point-of-view chapter [GOT, 139]. Her confusion during Lady’s trial can also be read as a type of white lie, as she refuses to speak out directly against Arya, although Arya, of course, has a different opinion: “Liar, liar, liar, liar.” [GOT, 156]. Sansa’s reticience, of course, stems from her recognition of the consequences of accusing her betrothed, the crown prince, in public, and her resort to courtesy for the next three books is also a form of ‘kindly lying.’

In the Eyrie, Sansa becomes more accomplished in deception, but again, this development was prefigured earlier. As early as Game, Sansa has a fair idea of how to manipulate Joffrey, even if she is ultimately unsuccessful, when she pleads for her father’s life; she claims to have accepted that Ned is a traitor, but asks for ‘mercy’, and draws on her personal relationship with the prince ‘Sansa smiled, a shy secret smile, just for him.’ [GOT, 626]. In Storm, Sansa manipulates Tyrion into thinking that she is no threat, sneaking out to meet Ser Dontos in the godswood in front of his nose; when he threatens to come with her, she sees him off effectively ‘you are kind to offer, but... there are no devotions, my lord. No priests or songs or candles. Only trees, and silent prayer. You would be bored.’ Even Tyrion recognises that she has read him accurately: ‘She knows me better than I thought.’ [sOS, 712]. Tyrion’s subsequent chapters indicate quite how badly he has misjudged Sansa [sOS, 797], [sOS, 819]. Interestingly, Martin suggests that Sansa’s ability to read people and situations is innate when he has her note that her avatar, Lady, ‘could smell out falsehood’ [COK, 208].

In contrast, Arya’s attitude to the game of thrones, and the careful social courtesies that allow Sansa to gain her information, is similar to Ned’s: ‘he had no patience with this game they played, this dueling with words.’ Arya’s plans are effective, but her thinking is essentially short-term, and her experience with lying is of a different kind to Sansa’s; she is learning to react instantly to situations and read people swiftly as she trains as an assassin, while keeping her own intentions entirely hidden. By Feast, her ability has become almost preternatural, as she reads ‘the waif’ and identifies her lies [FFC, 643]

‘She was a Stark of Winterfell... This is her place’

Ned’s statement that “She was a Stark of Winterfell... This [the crypts] is her place” [GOT, 43] refers to Lyanna, but it could just as easily relate to Lady, Sansa, Arya, or even, in some contexts, Catelyn. Arya’s links to the north are the most explicit, with her consistent use of wolf imagery, but Catelyn, too, seems to become more of a ‘Stark’ as the series goes on, without forsaking her Tully heritage. Catelyn’s first chapter in Game demonstrates her ‘otherness’ from the Starks [GOT, 24], but this is not a reading of the character that can be sustained throughout the novels. Catelyn adopts the Stark motto: “Because they are the knights of summer, and winter is coming.” [COK, 256] and becomes an increasingly ‘cold’ portent of doom as her sufferings increase, holding fast to Ned’s values and ideals even as she is willing to be more pragmatic than her husband.

When he is forced to kill Lady, Ned says, ‘She is of the north. She deserves better than a butcher’, and he insists that Lady’s bones are taken to Winterfell [GOT, 158-9]. Lady’s essential links to the north mirror Sansa’s; she continually draws strength from the north and from her Stark heritage.‘I am a Stark, yes, I can be brave,’ [sOS, 384] she reflects, and, later in Storm, thinks ‘If Lady was here, I would not be afraid.’ [sOS, 799] and ‘I must be brave, like Robb.’ [sOS, 802]. Sansa’s snow castle scene at the Eyrie has been much discussed, as it emphasises her links to Winterfell [sOS, 1100] but there are a series of less obvious links in the novels as well. When Ned is imprisoned in Game, his language prefigures Sansa’s castle: ‘He made plans to keep himself sane, built castles of hope in the dark’ [GOT, 629]. More subtly, Catelyn’s comments on Brienne‘There are walls around this one higher than Winterfell’s’ [COK, 409] – recall Sansa’s ‘icy’ courtesy armour and how she uses northern coldness as a defence, especially as we know Brienne can be as romantic and naïve as Sansa inside her walls. Another troubling note in Sansa’s Feast characterisation, indeed, is when she stops using Robb or other Starks as a model of bravery, and turns to Littlefinger instead: ‘Feeling near as bold as Petyr Baelish, Alayne Stone donned her smile...’ [FFC, 417] – although, perhaps it is crucial that the girl seeking courage here is Alayne, not Sansa Stark.

‘Lady didn’t bite anyone, she’s good... I’ll make her be good’

A particular phrase that is associated with Sansa, and later, seems to transfer to Jeyne Poole, is the idea of being a ‘good girl’; a related idea seems to be that of having a ‘gentle heart.’ What is particularly interesting is that Sansa’s lupine alter ego, Lady, does not seem to be innately ‘good’, although she is characterised as ‘gentle.’ Septa Mordane is the first to note that Lady threatens Sansa’s ‘good girl’ status: ‘You’re a good girl, Sansa, but I do vow, when it comes to that creature [Lady] you’re as wilful as your sister Arya’. [GOT, 139]. When Sansa pleads for Lady’s life, she tells the king ‘No, not Lady, Lady didn’t bite anyone, she’s good... don’t let them hurt Lady, I’ll make her be good, I promise, I promise...’ [GOT, 157-8] The idea here is that Sansa, the ‘good girl’, will have to make Lady be a good wolf, even though she is hardly aggressive at the moment, as Ned reflects: ‘She was the smallest of the litter, the prettiest, the most gentle and trusting’. [GOT, 158] Unpicking the relationship between Sansa’s identity as a Stark, her relationship with Lady, and the significance of Lady’s death is torturous, with much of the evidence pointing in different directions, but here, at least, it seems that while Lady represents gentleness, sharp observational skills (see below) and strength, she doesn’t fit with Sansa’s image as a ‘good girl’.

The reasons for this become clear as Game progresses, and it becomes obvious that Sansa uses ‘good girl’ to refer to the ideal, obedient lady she is meant to be, a figure that stands in direct contrast to the rebellious Arya. When she sneaks off to tell Cersei of Ned’s plans, she thinks ‘She was the good girl, the obedient girl, but she had felt as wicked as Arya that morning, sneaking away from Septa Mordane, defying her lord father’ [GOT, 548]. Speaking up for Jeyne, she asks ‘Where are you sending her? She hasn’t done anything wrong, she’s a good girl.’[GOT, 546] and, when frightened by Cersei after being told Ned is a ‘traitor’, she protests ‘I’m not like Arya... She has the traitor’s blood, not me. I’m good, ask Septa Mordane, she’ll tell you’ [GOT, 549]. This refrain comes to be automatic for Sansa: ‘She woke murmuring, “Please, please, I’ll be good, I’ll be good, please don’t”’ [GOT, 742] and when she first puts on her ‘courtesy armour’, the ‘good girl’ language blends into that of the courtesy defence: ‘She was a good girl, and always remembered her courtesies.’ [GOT, 750]. The ‘good girl’, then, once Sansa’s aspiration, becomes her mask. While she realises the restrictions of being the ‘good girl’, and having no agency in her own life, she retains her ‘gentle heart.’ Catelyn reflects on Sansa’s marriage to Tyrion, Mother take mercy on her. She has a gentle soul’, and Lady Tanda tells Sansa, who is crying after Joffrey’s murder, ‘You have a good heart, my lady... Not every maid would weep so for a man who set her aside and wed her to a dwarf,” although Sansa, who is crying for quite different reasons, thinks ‘A good heart. I have a good heart. Hysterical laughter rose up her gullet...’ [sOS, 832]. Unlike the rigidity of the ‘good girl’ persona, Sansa’s ‘gentle heart’ becomes her strength, and her future may depend on whether or not she can retain it.

Both Catelyn and Arya’s character arcs indicate the danger of being ‘heartless’ or ‘hard-hearted.’ Catelyn reflects, after hearing of Bran and Rickon’s deaths, that ‘There is an empty place within me where my heart was once.’[COK, 572] This mirrors Arya’s reaction to Catelyn and Robb’s murders: ‘She could feel the hole inside her every morning when she woke... It was a hollow place, an emptiness where her heart had been’ [sOS, 883]. In the House of Black and White, she uses a similar image: ‘I have a hole where my heart should be, she thought, and nowhere else to go.’ [FFC, 394]. This imagery reflects Catelyn’s new identity – Lady Stoneheart – and links this idea of heartlessness to the pursuit of vengance. The Ghost of High Heart makes this point explicitly when she tells Arya ‘I see you, wolf child. Blood child. I thought it was the lord who smelled of death... Begone from here, dark heart. Begone!” [sOS, 593] However, lest we should assume too neat a division between ‘gentle-hearted’ Sansa and ‘dark-hearted’ Arya, Martin plays with the reader by associating Sansa with Lady Stoneheart as well – in her alias, Alayne Stone. If Sansa allows her natural sympathy to be corrupted, he seems to be saying, she might well follow a path as dark as her sibling’s.

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Daphne 23, just came out of lurk to say very well done. I really enjoyed all the insights you posted regarding Sansa and Arya. Copy and pasting and printing this to share with my hubby tonight. Well done!

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Daphne 23, just came out of lurk to say very well done. I really enjoyed all the insights you posted regarding Sansa and Arya. Copy and pasting and printing this to share with my hubby tonight. Well done!

Amazing! I hope he enjoys it :)

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Interestingly, Martin suggests that Sansa's ability to read people and situations is innate when he has her note that her avatar, Lady, could smell out falsehood. [COK, 208].

Very interesting, and something which I think is increasingly highlighted as Sansa's naive worldview is slowly stripped away and she begins to take a much more critical look at what is happening around her. As your examples reveal, Sansa has been playing a game for much longer than is generally appreciated, although in KL she has no access to any kind of greater power - no resources, influential friends or inside information. She can really only try to ensure her own survival and that her escape plans are not detected. Her situation there reminds me of what Petyr says to her in AFFC:

"In the game of thrones, even the humblest pieces can have wills of their own. Sometimes they refuse to make the moves you've planned for them. Mark that well, Alayne..."

It makes one naturally intrigued about what Sansa could do in the Vale now, where she has more freedom of movement and is armed with some important "behind the scenes" knowledge of game-playing - lies and arbor gold.

And if we needed another hint that Sandor was envisioned as her Lady replacement, he tells her on the Serpentine Steps:

"A dog can smell a lie, you know. Look around you, and take a good whiff. They're all liars here ... and every one better than you."

Another troubling note in Sansa's Feast characterisation, indeed, is when she stops using Robb or other Starks as a model of bravery, and turns to Littlefinger instead: Feeling near as bold as Petyr Baelish, Alayne Stone donned her smile...[FFC, 417] although, perhaps it is crucial that the girl seeking courage here is Alayne, not Sansa Stark.

I think that is key, but I also believe that whilst she's no longer drawing on them as conscious models of bravery and boldness, they are still influencing her in much more significant and subtle ways than Petyr ever could. Look at the dress she chooses to wear to meet the Lords Declarant which LF talks of as being "too Tully". He tells her it won't be fit for the Lords to see her prancing about in his dead wife's clothes, but these are also Catelyn's colours too. When he asks her to go change, she puts on a simple brown dress embroidered with vines and leaves and a ribbon of autumn gold. Interpretations of the symbolism of the dress vary, but in terms of the colours present, there's an association with House Clegane.

I also think Sansa has an implicit understanding of the difference in the kind of bravery men like Petyr Baelish demonstrate, and the ones she associates with the members of her family. Being heavily involved in manipulation and treachery is not something Sansa would naturally connect to her father or brothers.

Lady didn't bite anyone, she's good... I'll make her be good'

However, lest we should assume too neat a division between gentle-hearted Sansa and dark-hearted Arya, Martin plays with the reader by associating Sansa with Lady Stoneheart as well in her alias, Alayne Stone. If Sansa allows her natural sympathy to be corrupted, he seems to be saying, she might well follow a path as dark as her sibling's.

I really loved this section, Daphne :) That Lady threatened Sansa's good girl status is spot on, and reminds me of a post I made some months ago in response to comments on my essay on Sansa's awakening sexuality:

"...Women are given very little chance in society to have an autonomous identity, since from the time they're born they're already being drafted for whatever role is deemed appropriate. This is perhaps one reason why Lady is killed off so early in the narrative. Not to take away Sansa's "Starkness" or as foreshadowing of her death, but to have her find her back to a "beastly" self that is no longer based on societal norms and constructs, but founded on her own transformative, creative, genuine experiences."

(Lord Bronn Stokeworth also noted how this can apply to Arya's separation with Nymeria too)

Sansa is initially presented to us as the obedient and dutiful daughter, but her destiny is not to be self-sacrificing and submissive. We see her rebel against her father's wishes in AGOT when she goes to Cersei and pleads to stay in KL, an act for which she receives intense hatred in the fandom. But that prefigures a much more important (and ultimately "wiser") rebellion against patriarchal authority in ASOS, when she refuses to blind herself to the lack of desire she feels for Tyrion, and tells him that she may "never" want to sleep with him. Not surprisingly, Septa Mordane is referenced there too:

Look at him, Sansa told herself, look at your husband, at all of him, Septa Mordane said all men are beautiful, find his beauty, try.

Indeed, I think the questions of sexuality, love and genuine erotic desire are crucial aspects of Sansa's quest for agency, and the dream she has on the Fingers is a good illustration of how Lady ties into this. After replacing Tyrion with Sandor in a marriage bed - a dream that shows Sansa's "acceptance" of the Hound's desire - she immediately wishes the old blind dog were Lady upon waking.

Instead of dooming Sansa to an early death or some other negative foreshadowing, Lady's death may have actually been about liberating Sansa from the shackles of the "good girl" persona, and enabling her to achieve genuine fulfilment at the end of all this. I'd therefore take the sound of the ghost wolf she hears in AFFC as a very good sign for her future interactions with LF- who of course is invested in her being a loyal and devoted daughter.

(Edit: apologies for the formatting hell)

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So so good Daphne23! The good girl, the way Cat become more of a Stark through the books and everything else was a very enjoyable read. made me wonder if sansa is drawing some inner northern strenght by the fact that lady is buried in winterfell. wonder what that could mean for arya, that nymeria is stalking the riverlands, and hasn't been able to return home. (:

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And if we needed another hint that Sandor was envisioned as her Lady replacement, he tells her on the Serpentine Steps:

"A dog can smell a lie, you know. Look around you, and take a good whiff. They're all liars here ... and every one better than you."

Great catch!

I think that is key, but I also believe that whilst she's no longer drawing on them as conscious models of bravery and boldness, they are still influencing her in much more significant and subtle ways than Petyr ever could.

Oh, I definitely agree, especially in relation to her hidden 'Sansa Stark' self. I think to an extent Alayne is influenced more by Petyr, but then 'Alayne' is inherently associated with lying and treachery, and Sansa uses her as a conscious mask.

I really like your comments about Lady as well. Sansa seems to become more 'Stark' after losing Lady, so it obviously isn't sufficient to say that the loss of Lady indicates the loss of her Stark identity. Indeed, Lady's death marks the beginning of her mistrust; although she remains loyal to Joffrey, she loses her trust in Cersei. It's as if Lady's loss has caused Sansa to gradually appropriate more strongly those elements of her personality that Lady represented - a kind of symbolic reverse-warging? - while losing the outward symbol that she is a a 'lady' and a 'good girl'.

Thanks for all the comments!

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made me wonder if sansa is drawing some inner northern strenght by the fact that lady is buried in winterfell. wonder what that could mean for arya, that nymeria is stalking the riverlands, and hasn't been able to return home. (:

I do have concerns about Arya's future :(

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Daphne23, this is wonderful essay. I have to say you really emphasized the role of lies in Sansa`s arc as much as the `good girl` imagery. It is beautifully presented and written, and it really raises and answers several questions.Now, my observations:

1. Stark ladies and lies. For Starks, lies aren`t noble. Connection between lies and dishonor are connected throughout entire alpha male of Stark family, Ned. Catelyn is also someone who in most occasions tells the truth. Even when she is charged with high treason and he son is disappointed, she tells exactly what happened. So, how comes that Stark girls learnt to lie that good? Especially Sansa. In the vicious world they live in, lie isn`t just dishonor. It transforms and becomes both weapon and shield. Many use it as a weapon to pursue some goal, Sansa use it as a shiel, courtesy shiel` as you said. Lies for Sansa are rarely mean of achieving something, her lies have this double function:

1. Protecting and preserving her life and sanity

2. Protecting others

Sansa in the most wonderful way, through lies, shows how close she is to her Northern roots, and especially to her father. Ned, who as we know lied only about one thing(Jon`s parentage most likely), did that to protect Jon`s life. Sansa whom we see lying many times, have managed to protect many with her lies - Dontos, Sweetrobin. The idea that lie can serve as a shield to others is perfectly introduced in Sansa`s story, where one of 10 comandments of Christian world is tossed aside for the good of others.

2. Being Stark of Winterfell. `On my honor as a Tully, on my honor as a Stark`... One of the last words of Catelyn wonderfully sums not just hers, than also the honor of her girls. Tully and Stark. The idea of Tully honor that is preceeded by family and duty, is somewhat similar to Stark ideal of honor. On Jon reread thread we discussed extensively about love, righteousness and honor, and some of us think that love always prevails honor, and that between love and honor, somehow right thing to do in ASOIAF was always against that noble code. That wonderfully shows us that love always trumps everything. Ned sacrificed his honor for Lyanna and Sansa, Arya`s love led her on vendictive road without return, Sansa understood that lies should and have to be used as a shield. That great Stark paragon and virtue, honor, is nothing comparing to their alliegence and their `place`. As Sansa builds Winterfell of the snow, and Arya hides the Needle, it clearly shows us that their paths, no matter how painful and different, at the end, always leads to one place - home. And that`s something that both Houses girls come from celebrate as highest ideal(or at least, for Tullys, their words do).

However, lest we should assume too neat a division between ‘gentle-hearted’ Sansa and ‘dark-hearted’ Arya, Martin plays with the reader by associating Sansa with Lady Stoneheart as well – in her alias, Alayne Stone. If Sansa allows her natural sympathy to be corrupted, he seems to be saying, she might well follow a path as dark as her sibling’s.

3. Stone and emptiness. As you, Daphne, wonderfully noticed there is also sense of emptiness in each of Stark at some point. Catelyn is a shell as LS, Arya feels growing hollow in her heart, it`s like what Varys said in TV show `pit that wants to take us all`, and Sansa feels empty after RW news. This emptiness is also symbolically followed by stone imaginary. Lady Stoneheart, Alayne Stone, Arya`s heart is like stone. But, interestingly, it`s not positive. Arya`s pain is so big that she feels nothing, Sansa and Catelyn`s identities are losing in that stone. Stone here isn`t symbol of strength, it`s symbol of emptiness and surpressed identity and pain. But, as snow covered stone in Alayne chapter, and Arya dreams of Nymeria and wargs cats, we are presented with the fact that Stark identity is so strong in these girls, that no matter what tricks they are subdued by LF or Kindly Man, no matter how much they try to forget who they are, for it brings the great pain, they will always return to that. And Sansa, as someone who is foreshadowed to rebuild snow castle, is the one who will gather the family. She and Jon, as alpha male, will succeed in what neither Robb nor Catelyn did. To unite the pack. And for Starks, there is no more important thing than that.

Again, Daphne, really great reading. Congratulations on nice essay.

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It's as if Lady's loss has caused Sansa to gradually appropriate more strongly those elements of her personality that Lady represented - a kind of symbolic reverse-warging? - while losing the outward symbol that she is a a 'lady' and a 'good girl'.

Yeah, reverse-warging is a good way of putting it :) And we've seen her lamenting the fact that no one will love her for herself, only her status as heir to Winterfell, and part of the attraction of becoming a bastard is that she's no longer a "lady", with no claim to exploit. I find her brief expectation of marriage to Willas Tyrell interesting to consider from this perspective. At the time Sansa is immensely grateful for the chance to escape the Lannisters, and to make a life with Willas even though he is crippled and potentially unattractive. It's not an ideal situation - as Dontos tells her the Tyrells may be only interested in her claim - but she's willing to become the "good girl" again (a considerably more enlightened, realistic version), and get Willas to love her for herself:

She pictured the two of them sitting together in a garden with puppies in their laps, or listening to a singer strum upon a lute while they floated down the Mander on a pleasure barge. If I give him sons he may come to love me.

After the Tyrion marriage, however, I think all flirtation with being the good girl or the good wife is completely removed from Sansa's sensibilities. She doesn't remove her courtesy armour, and she continues with her escape plot.

As for having a gentle heart, I agree that it's an important quality that defines Sansa's interactions with others. I wonder though about what meaning Martin wants us to attribute to her "Stone" identity. I think your point about the connection to Lady Stoneheart, and Arya's "heartless" condition is quite suggestive, but I'm also thinking of Mya's characterisation of a stone as a mountain's daughter, which seems to be a lesson about not trusting easily in men (particularly fickle fathers), and learning to depend on oneself. Perhaps this can also be viewed as Mya's own "hard-heartedness" after Robert's abandonment and her disappointment with Mychel Redfort, but in light of Sansa's experiences up to this point, I can't help thinking that becoming a stone for her is less about walking a dark path and more to do with achieving badly needed agency.

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‘She could feel the hole inside her every morning when she woke... It was a hollow place, an emptiness where her heart had been’

I had forgotten this quote, it wonderfully illustrates how much of Cat's emotional world is in Arya...

Sansa used to be a good girl and a "true lady", for real - both in the 'good' and the 'bad' sense. Now it's mostly an armor. In a way, she is constantly lying. As the best lies are based on a core of truth, Sansa's success in lying is based on her natural inclinations, the core of her true personality. Arya, on the other hand, is a very straightforward person. She has to put much effort on learning to lie, but she has excellent instincts on who (not) to trust. She also identifies as a lady of 'the bad kind'.

Cat is in-between. She has been the good and patient daughter - wife - mother, as her duty required... But it seems this has taken a toll on her, she is sick and tired of having to invent sideways for her opinion to be heard, she becomes more and more sharp and outspoken as the situation tightens - as winter is coming... She seems to run out of patience.

It's also interesting that Sansa is far more efficient in deceiving men. Her facade of "female vulnerability" along with her beauty have a blinding effect on men but not so much on women (I have a bad feeling about Myranda Royce).

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Hi! It had been a while since my last post. But I was having that thoughts about Second Sons (not only the name where Daario Naharis was) but also the amount of characters that are second child. Sansa is the second one, Daenerys is the second one, Sandor, Nedd.

About the Lannister: there it can be considered by different points. One is the technical that Jaime was the second one (he came out graping Cersei´s foot), but if it is focus only on second sons then Tyrion is the second one. And Tommen also.

So there is the second child: Sansa, Daenerys, Sandor, Nedd, Jaime, Myrcella, Stannis, Margaerys, Quentin. And the second son: Bran, Sandor, Nedd, Tyrion, Tommen, Stannis, Loras, Trystan.

I can´t remember if it is posted something here about second childs. But I think interesting to think about it (more when I remember that Henry VIII was also a second son). I can´t get right now the idea that tie together all, and I will love to hear your ideas about it.

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So there is the second child: Sansa, Daenerys, Sandor, Nedd, Jaime, Myrcella, Stannis, Margaerys, Quentin. And the second son: Bran, Sandor, Nedd, Tyrion, Tommen, Stannis, Loras, Trystan.

Daenerys is third child, and Margery fourth.

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I can't help thinking that becoming a stone for her is less about walking a dark path and more to do with achieving badly needed agency.

I very much hope so :) I find Sansa's future hard to predict and the implications and hints in the text sometimes convoluted and contradictory, but I would love to see her gaining agency without compromising her core values.

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Thanks for the two lovely essays Daphne23. I really enjoyed reading them :) .

I like your idea that Lady threatens Sansa’s “good girl” status when she’s fed under the table. This scene of Sansa feeding Lady is also reminiscent of another one in a previous chapter:

Something rubbed against his leg beneath the table. Jon saw red eyes staring up at him. “Hungry again?” he asked. There was still half a honeyed chicken in the center of the table. Jon reached out to tear off a leg, then had a better idea. He knifed the whole and let the carcass slide to the floor between his legs. Ghost ripped into it in savage silence.

So Sansa is not only willful but she also acts like her bastard brother when she feeds her direwolf under the table. I hope I’m not pointing out a similarity that has already been observed earlier, but here is also another proof that Sansa could be closer to Jon than it is often believed.

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I am two weeks behind on this thread and am almost hesitant to bring it up again, but in regards to whether or not Sandor is an alcoholic is in many ways besides the point. What he does off duty is somewhat unclear as he is not a POV character. But he does seem that when he reaches his lowest point, he has very little self control. When the Tickler, Polliver, and the squire see him and Arya in the inn, he tells them that maybe if the squire can't hold his alcohol, maybe he shouldn't drink. Sandor would probably do well to remember that himself since he captured by the BWB and gets "fatally" injured after drinking too much. If he ends up going sober and staying sober after time on the Quiet Isle, so much the better for him.

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