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Milady of York

From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa XXI

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We seem to be going around in circles, so I'll make this brief. What hostility? Pointing out that you ignored a relevant point is now "unwarranted hostility"?

The tone of each of your replies to me has been angry and antagonistic, including this one:

To the main point of the argument: not being emotionally mature does not equal lack of awareness concerning what one feels. As we see with Sandor, the issue is not that he can't recognize his feelings for Sansa, but that he is ill-equipped to handle them.

At no point in this discussion did I claim that their relationship was romantic or sexual from the get-go in AGOT, so thanks for letting me know you do not share such a view, but really, how is it relevant?

As for what a lot of people see or don't see, good for them. I am dealing with what the text reveals, and while theirs is not a conventional romantic relationship and Sandor does not have straightforward motivations (nice strawmen, btw), we see that with respect to his feelings and to what those feelings evince in him, he is more enlightened than Sansa.

And really the strawmen arguments are becoming tiresome. No one said that Sandor did not have any deep insecurities or that these don't play out in the Blackwater scene. Of course he speaks about going away in a "vague" way! He wasn't planning to desert before the battle as far as we know. But coming to Sansa's room and wanting to take her with him reveal a depth of attachment, and also that he's confronting those insecurities.

And if you want to talk about strawmen arguments, how about each of your replies to me, in which you're arguing against such views as that Sandor doesn't have a deep attachment to Sansa or that his offer to take Sansa away from King's Landing was no sincere? I'm not sure why you were arguing against that, maybe you've confused me with someone else?

Guess what! I'm talking about the text reveals as well! And the other people who see things differently than you also are talking about what the text reveals! But not everyone interprets the text the same as you do. Shocking, I know. Maybe we should stop this discussion, since you seem incredibly angry with this fact?

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[mod] I think the discussion of whether someone is being hostile or not should be dropped. If you think a post is out of line, report it and the moderators will decide whether it is or isn't. If you want to address personal differences, in the middle of a thread is not the time or place to do it. [/mod]

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[mod] I think the discussion of whether someone is being hostile or not should be dropped. If you think a post is out of line, report it and the moderators will decide whether it is or isn't. If you want to address personal differences, in the middle of a thread is not the time or place to do it. [/mod]

I agree; it's really detracting from this thread, and while I like to read about people's views, I really don't want to see this series get the ax because of arguments. :(

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I agree; it's really detracting from this thread, and while I like to read about people's views, I really don't want to see this series get the ax because of arguments. :(

Thank you. Our aim is that these threads should be a place for analysing and discussing Sansa and everything related to her in one way or other in an environment as cordial as possible, so hopefully it will continue for the benefit of interested readers such as yourself.

All right, now let's move on, I have a little something prepared to post . . .

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A Duncan/The Fiddler & Sansa/The Hound parallel



Wine, my dear boy, brings truth, sang the Greeks centuries before the phrase became commonplace round the world, a seemingly unimportant bit of historical trivia that came to memory whilst re-reading Sansa’s second ACOK chapter, in which she’s caught at the Serpentine steps by a Hound in a state of inebriation that causes him to lower his guard and start throwing romantic hints that Sansa misses from start to finish, and which led me to find an unexpected yet interesting parallelism.



Let’s take a look at the mentioned scene:



She was racing headlong down the serpentine steps when a man lurched out of a hidden doorway. Sansa caromed into him and lost her balance. Iron fingers caught her by the wrist before she could fall, and a deep voice rasped at her. “It’s a long roll down the serpentine, little bird. Want to kill us both?” His laughter was rough as a saw on stone. “Maybe you do.”


The Hound. “No, my lord, pardons, I’d never.” Sansa averted her eyes but it was too late, he’d seen her face. “Please, you’re hurting me.” She tried to wriggle free.


“And what’s Joff’s little bird doing flying down the serpentine in the black of night?” When she did not answer, he shook her. “Where were you?”


“The g-g-godswood, my lord,” she said, not daring to lie. “Praying . . . praying for my father, and . . . for the king, praying that he’d not be hurt.”


“Think I’m so drunk that I’d believe that?” He let go his grip on her arm, swaying slightly as he stood, stripes of light and darkness falling across his terrible burnt face. “You look almost a woman . . . face, teats, and you’re taller too, almost . . . ah, you’re still a stupid little bird, aren’t you? Singing all the songs they taught you . . . sing me a song, why don’t you? Go on. Sing to me. Some song about knights and fair maids. You like knights, don’t you?”


He was scaring her. “T-true knights, my lord.”


True knights,” he mocked. “And I’m no lord, no more than I’m a knight. Do I need to beat that into you?” Clegane reeled and almost fell. “Gods,” he swore, “too much wine. Do you like wine, little bird? True wine? A flagon of sour red, dark as blood, all a man needs. Or a woman.” He laughed, shook his head. “Drunk as a dog, damn me. You come now. Back to your cage, little bird. I’ll take you there. Keep you safe for the king.” The Hound gave her a push, oddly gentle, and followed her down the steps.



The Hound escorted her across the drawbridge. As they were winding their way up the steps, she said, “Why do you let people call you a dog? You won’t let anyone call you a knight.”


“I like dogs better than knights. My father’s father was kennelmaster at the Rock. One autumn year, Lord Tytos came between a lioness and her prey. The lioness didn’t give a shit that she was Lannister’s own sigil. Bitch tore into my lord’s horse and would have done for my lord too, but my grandfather came up with the hounds. Three of his dogs died running her off. My grandfather lost a leg, so Lannister paid him for it with lands and a towerhouse, and took his son to squire. The three dogs on our banner are the three that died, in the yellow of autumn grass. A hound will die for you, but never lie to you. And he’ll look you straight in the face.” He cupped her under the jaw, raising her chin, his fingers pinching her painfully. “And that’s more than little birds can do, isn’t it? I never got my song.”


“I… I know a song about Florian and Jonquil.”


“Florian and Jonquil? A fool and his cunt. Spare me. But one day I’ll have a song from you, whether you will it or no.”


“I will sing it for you gladly.”


Sandor Clegane snorted. “Pretty thing, and such a bad liar. 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.”



The line that caught my eye during this re-reading was “drunk as a dog.” This phrase is uttered only by Sandor Clegane in all the 5 books, no one else says that even though other characters do get drunk on-page and make comments on their drunkenness as well. By itself, it didn’t appear to be anything noteworthy. . .



. . . until I read The Mystery Knight and found this scene:



“It almost looks as if it’s made of snow.”


Dunk turned. John the Fiddler stood behind him, smiling in his silk and cloth-of-gold.


“What’s made of snow?”


“The castle. All that white stone in the moonlight. Have you ever been north of the Neck, Ser Duncan? I’m told it snows there even in the summer. Have you ever seen the Wall?”


“No, m’lord.” Why is he going on about the Wall? “That’s where we were going, Egg and me. Up north, to Winterfell.”


“Would that I could join you. You could show me the way.”


“The way?” Dunk frowned. “It’s right up the kingsroad. If you stay to the road and keep going north, you can’t miss it.”


The Fiddler laughed. “I suppose not . . . though you might be surprised at what some men can miss.” He went to the parapet and looked out across the castle. “They say those northmen are a savage folk, and their woods are full of wolves.”


“M’lord? Why did you come up here?”


“Alyn was seeking for me, and I did not care to be found. He grows tiresome when he drinks, does Alyn. I saw you slip away from that bedchamber of horrors, and slipped out after you. I’ve had too much wine, I grant you, but not enough to face a naked Butterwell.” He gave Dunk an enigmatic smile. “I dreamed of you, Ser Duncan. Before I even met you. When I saw you on the road, I knew your face at once. It was as if we were old friends.”


Dunk had the strangest feeling then, as if he had lived this all before. I dreamed of you, he said. My dreams are not like yours, Ser Duncan. Mine are true. “You dreamed of me?” he said, in a voice made thick by wine. “What sort of dream?”


“Why,” the Fiddler said, “I dreamed that you were all in white from head to heel, with a long pale cloak flowing from those broad shoulders. You were a White Sword, ser, a Sworn Brother of the Kingsguard, the greatest knight in all the Seven Kingdoms, and you lived for no other purpose but to guard and serve and please your king.” He put a hand on Dunk’s shoulder.


“You have dreamed the same dream, I know you have.”


He had, it was true. The first time the old man let me hold his sword. “Every boy dreams of serving in the Kingsguard.”


“Only seven boys grow up to wear the white cloak, though. Would it please you to be one of them?”


“Me?” Dunk shrugged away the lordling’s hand, which had begun to knead his shoulder.


“It might. Or not.” The knights of the Kingsguard served for life, and swore to take no wife and hold no lands. I might find Tanselle again someday. Why shouldn’t I have a wife, and sons? “It makes no matter what I dream. Only a king can make a Kingsguard knight.”


“I suppose that means I’ll have to take the throne, then. I would much rather be teaching you to fiddle.”


“You’re drunk.” And the crow once called the raven black.


“Wonderfully drunk. Wine makes all things possible, Ser Duncan. You’d look a god in white, I think, but if the color does not suit you, perhaps you would prefer to be a lord?”


Dunk laughed in his face. “No, I’d sooner sprout big blue wings and fly. One’s as likely as t’other.”


“Now you mock me. A true knight would never mock his king.” The Fiddler sounded hurt. “I hope you will put more faith in what I tell you when you see the dragon hatch.”


“A dragon will hatch? A living dragon? What, here?”


“I dreamed it. This pale white castle, you, a dragon bursting from an egg, I dreamed it all, just as I once dreamed of my brothers lying dead. They were twelve and I was only seven, so they laughed at me, and died. I am two-and-twenty now, and I trust my dreams.”


Dunk was remembering another tourney, remembering how he had walked through the soft spring rains with another princeling. I dreamed of you and a dead dragon, Egg’s brother Daeron said to him. A great beast, huge, with wings so large, they could cover this meadow. It had fallen on top of you, but you were alive and the dragon was dead. And so he was, poor Baelor. Dreams were treacherous ground on which to build. “As you say, m’lord,” he told the Fiddler. “Pray excuse me.”


“Where are you going, ser?”


“To my bed, to sleep. I’m drunk as a dog.”


“Be my dog, ser. The night’s alive with promise. We can howl together, and wake the very gods.”


“What do you want of me?”


“Your sword. I would make you mine own man, and raise you high. My dreams do not lie, Ser Duncan. You will have that white cloak, and I must have the dragon’s egg. I must, my dreams have made that plain. Perhaps the egg will hatch, or else—”


Behind them, the door banged open violently. “There he is, my lord.” A pair of men-at-arms stepped onto the roof. Lord Gormon Peake was just behind them.


“Gormy,” the Fiddler drawled. “Why, what are you doing in my bedchamber, my lord?”


“It is the roof, ser, and you have had too much wine.” Lord Gormon made a sharp gesture, and the guards moved forward. “Allow us to help you to that bed. You are jousting on the morrow, pray recall. Kirby Pimm can prove a dangerous foe.”


“I had hoped to joust with good Ser Duncan here.”


Peake gave Dunk an unsympathetic look. “Later, perhaps. For your first tilt, you have drawn Ser Kirby Pimm.”


“Then Pimm must fall! So must they all! The mystery knight prevails against all challengers, and wonder dances in his wake.” A guardsman took the Fiddler by the arm. “Ser Duncan, it seems that we must part,” he called as they helped him down the steps.



Turns out that Ser Duncan the Tall is the only other character in the ASOIAF universe to use the exact same phrase besides Clegane. Coincidence? Not likely. There’s a case to be made for this being a deliberate authorial choice, considering that another of Duncan’s catchphrases, “Dunk the lunk, thick as a castle wall,” is repeated twice in relation to someone that is sure to be his descendant, Brienne of Tarth (it’s also mentioned in relation to two others, but only repeated twice for her), whom Jaime bites back in exasperation using that very phrase, “Are you as thick as a castle wall?”



However, it’s not just the similarity in wording what is intriguing; it’s the scene in its entirety and that it has many elements in common with the Sandor/Sansa encounter in the Red Keep. The scene itself opens with the description of Whitewalls as a castle “made of snow” (a line repeated to describe the Eyrie) followed by a mention of Winterfell, which evoke imagery that’s prominent in Sansa’s storyline; and it unfolds, the parallels stand out:



  • Both scenes take place in the open outside of their living quarters and in the night, without witnesses: Sandor and Sansa meet at the Serpentine steps as he was returning from his night off, and the Fiddler and Duncan meet on the roof of Whitewalls, non-coincidentally, as the former had followed the latter there.
  • In both cases, one of them is unaware of the other’s innuendo. Sansa is too young and innocent to understand what Sandor Clegane is insinuating, and Ser Duncan, though not as young, is nonetheless just as naïve and doesn’t grasp Daemon II Blackfyre is flirting with him.
  • Wine plays a big role in disinhibiting the Hound and the Fiddler, and both men include drinking in their insinuations:

Sandor:


“A flagon of sour red, dark as blood, all a man needs. Or a woman.”


Daemon:


“Wonderfully drunk. Wine makes all things possible, Ser Duncan.”


  • There’s talk of “true knights” and lordships in both scenes, and it’s the oblivious parties the ones who hold the belief in true knights. Daemon uses the concept to reproach Duncan for mocking his offer of a lordship he doesn’t want, and Sansa to defend her fondness for knights from Sandor’s derision by telling him she likes only true knights, and he rejects the courteous my lord treatment she bestows upon him.
  • The flirting parties take the initiative to touch the others as they’re saying something filled with double-entendre: the Hound grabs Sansa by the wrist to prevent her from falling down the steps after she bumps into him, and later cups her chin as he reminds her that he hasn’t gotten his song yet, and Daemon puts a hand on Duncan’s shoulder and kneads it as he speaks of the knight serving and pleasing his king, that is, himself.
  • Clegane and Blackfyre remark on Sansa’s and Duncan’s comely appearance, revealing the physical aspect of their attraction:

Sandor:


“You look almost a woman . . . face, teats, and you’re taller too, almost . . .”


Daemon:


“You’d look a god in white, I think.”


In addition to this, previously the Fiddler had remarked on Duncan’s size and strength as attractive traits (“I’ve tried men of many lands and races, but never one your size. Was your father large as well?” “Look at the size of him. We want strong men.”), which later Sansa will also consider desirable physical traits in a mate (“She had pictured how her betrothed would stand behind her tall and strong, sweep the cloak of his protection over her shoulders”).


  • The men reveal details about their family and themselves that they weren’t expected to confess: the Hound tells Sansa why he prefers dogs and tells her the history of his House; and the Fiddler tells Duncan about his prophetic dreams and his brothers fallen during the first Blackfyre uprising.
  • The Fiddler uses weapon imagery to insinuate his feelings to Duncan both in this scene (“I had hoped to joust with good Ser Duncan here.”) and before, on their first encounters (“I would love to cross swords with you, ser.” “I should love to try my lance on you.” “What do you want of me?” “Your sword.”), something the Hound never does verbally and as straightforwardly, though he later does employ weaponry in the same phallic context with regard to Sansa.
  • The language used in the flirting is very similar, as both the Hound and the Fiddler use musical metaphors for sexual innuendo: for Clegane, it’s singing; for Blackfyre, it’s fiddling.

Sandor:


“I never got my song.”


“I . . . I know a song about Florian and Jonquil.”


“Florian and Jonquil? A fool and his cunt. Spare me. But one day I’ll have a song from you, whether you will it or no.”


Daemon:


“I would much rather be teaching you to fiddle.” / “Be my dog, ser. The night’s alive with promise. We can howl together, and wake the very gods.”


Not to mention that when Sandor is making the song insinuation, he’s standing in front of Sansa’s bedchamber, and Daemon forgets in his inebriation that they’re in the open and demands of the intruder to explain “what are you doing in my bedchamber.”



So, all these similarities considered, what are we to make of this? Three possible conclusions occur to me: one, that the cited line at the beginning might be another hint from GRRM that nods towards the existing hypothesis on Sandor as one of Duncan’s descendants just as the “thick as a castle wall” is one of many hints pointing to Brienne as his descendant, and there are others as well that aren’t going to be analysed here. Two, that if Sandor isn’t a descendant of Duncan the Tall, then this might be a matter of thematic parallels, as the salient dilemma in Sandor’s arc is dealing with the knightly code of honour and “true” knighthood, which is also a key motif in Ser Duncan’s storyline, and which also creates a fitting parallel between Sandor’s struggles with keeping knightly principles whilst being a non-knight and Brienne’s status as ASOIAF’s truest knight whilst being a non-knight. And third, perhaps the relevant one for this specific scene, that GRRM intended the Serpentine scene between Sandor and Sansa to be a turning point in their relationship, for thenceforward what was in essence a mentor-pupil/bodyguard-protégée type of interaction veered towards the romantic angle, which the parallel with the scene in The Mystery Knight underscores, and Sansa’s dream at the Fingers would suggest that she now does fully comprehend the nature of that encounter, for when the man in her erotic dream speaks, he repeats the words she was told at the Serpentine: “I’ll have a song from you.”


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A Duncan/The Fiddler & Sansa/The Hound parallel

I hope you don't think this is antagonistic, my dear, but that's bloody good stuff :)

More later...

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A Duncan/The Fiddler & Sansa/The Hound parallel

Wine, my dear boy, brings truth, sang the Greeks centuries before the phrase became commonplace round the world, a seemingly unimportant bit of historical trivia that came to memory whilst re-reading Sansa’s second ACOK chapter, in which she’s caught at the Serpentine steps by a Hound in a state of inebriation that causes him to lower his guard and start throwing romantic hints that Sansa misses from start to finish, and which led me to find an unexpected yet interesting parallelism.

Excellent post!

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*snip*

And third, perhaps the relevant one for this specific scene, that GRRM intended the Serpentine scene between Sandor and Sansa to be a turning point in their relationship, for thenceforward what was in essence a mentor-pupil/bodyguard-protégée type of interaction veered towards the romantic angle, which the parallel with the scene in The Mystery Knight underscores, and Sansa’s dream at the Fingers would suggest that she now does fully comprehend the nature of that encounter, for when the man in her erotic dream speaks, he repeats the words she was told at the Serpentine: “I’ll have a song from you.”

It's a great catch, Milady, and excellent work in highlighting the predominant parallels with the Serpentine steps encounter. I agree with your conclusion that it suggests this is "the moment" where Sandor and Sansa's relationship takes a definite romantic turn and I think it's supported in every encounter they have after that point. What's interesting for me as well is how the scene between Dunk and the Fiddler also has intriguing affinity with the night Sandor comes to Sansa's room during the Blackwater battle.

“It almost looks as if it’s made of snow.”

Dunk turned. John the Fiddler stood behind him, smiling in his silk and cloth-of-gold.

“What’s made of snow?”

“The castle. All that white stone in the moonlight. Have you ever been north of the Neck, Ser Duncan? I’m told it snows there even in the summer. Have you ever seen the Wall?”

“No, m’lord.” Why is he going on about the Wall? “That’s where we were going, Egg and me. Up north, to Winterfell.”

“Would that I could join you. You could show me the way.”

“The way?” Dunk frowned. “It’s right up the kingsroad. If you stay to the road and keep going north, you can’t miss it.”

The Fiddler laughed. “I suppose not . . . though you might be surprised at what some men can miss.” He went to the parapet and looked out across the castle. “They say those northmen are a savage folk, and their woods are full of wolves.”

“M’lord? Why did you come up here?”

And at the Blackwater:

He is drunker than I’ve ever seen him. He was sleeping in my bed. What does he want here? “What have you lost?”

“All.” The burnt half of his face was a mask of dried blood. “Bloody dwarf. Should have killed him. Years ago.”

“He’s dead, they say.”

“Dead? No. Bugger that. I don’t want him dead.” He cast the empty flagon aside. “I want him burned. If the gods are good, they’ll burn him, but I won’t be here to see. I’m going.”

“Going?” She tried to wriggle free, but his grasp was iron. “The little bird repeats whatever she hears. Going, yes.”

“Where will you go?”

“Away from here. Away from the fires. Go out the Iron Gate, I suppose. North somewhere, anywhere.”

Of course the Blackwater scene is remarkably different in terms of tone and mood, but we see the same wondering on the part of Dunk and Sansa about the behaviour and comments of the Hound and the Fiddler, and in both scenarios the North is highlighted as a place the men entertain the possibility of going to. Just as the Fiddler isn't really interested in the beauty of Northern climes, it's clear that Sandor is not simply mentioning this place as a random location, but precisely to set up his later appeal for Sansa to go with him.

Another evocative line was this one:

“Be my dog, ser. The night’s alive with promise. We can howl together, and wake the very gods.”

Now we can all remember Robert's "Get her a dog, she'll be happier for it", so whilst the Fiddler is making a bold-faced plea, Sansa is already in the company of her dog :) This is perfectly reinforced during the Blackwater scene as well:

Sansa backed away from the window, retreating toward the safety of her bed. I’ll go to sleep, she told herself, and when I wake it will be a new day, and the sky will be blue again. The fighting will be done and someone will tell me whether I’m to live or die. “Lady,” she whimpered softly, wondering if she would meet her wolf again when she was dead.

Then something stirred behind her, and a hand reached out of the dark and grabbed her wrist.

Of course, what Daemon has in mind is not the protection of an animal, but an erotic encounter between himself and Dunk. But the word he uses to represent this (howl) is associated with wolves, not dogs. You mentioned the Fingers, Milady, and Sansa's awareness of what Sandor meant when he asked for the song. But even more provocative is the first thing she consciously longs for when she awakens:

“I’ll have a song from you,” he rasped, and Sansa woke and found the old blind dog beside her once again. “I wish that you were Lady,” she said.

At this stage, it seems like Sansa is beginning to be very interested in howling with her dog as well.

There are other significant parallels that may correspond to a link between Dunk and Sandor as descendants or holding thematic import, such as when Dunk talks about finding Tanselle and wonders that joining the KG would mean giving up a wife and sons, which is the same thing we see Sandor pondering when he is actually given the white cloak. And the Fiddler's talk of Dunk having a white cloak reminds me very much of Sansa keeping Sandor's bloody cloak, and the implicit promise or dream of fulfillment that such an action symbolizes for their relationship.

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The Mother role model and its impact on character development: The case of Daenerys and Sansa

Motherhood in fantasy is usually an archetypal thing rarely explored through an actual maternal character. There are reasons for this: mothers are supposed to be protective and sheltering figures, and all that mothering, when properly done, tends to protect our protagonists from things like incentive moments. It is easier to address the idea through a magical Mother Goddess figure or the protagonist’s internal memories than to construct a plot that can somehow reconcile a positive mother figure with the prerequisite failure to protect her child protagonist from the plot. Martin uses his complex realism and rich cast of multi-generational characters to explore both mothers on the page and the impact mothers have as role models.

Cat is probably the most involved and complex treatment of a mother on the page. We get the boy-king going off to war with his mother still telling him what to wear and what to say, and we see it through her eyes, not his. We see a mother struggle with the balance of protecting and letting go. And since Cat is a POV character, she also offers us the best insight into a maternal role model for Sansa with whom we also have the benefit of her perspective. Sansa has had all the benefits of a noble upbringing, a stable home and family, younger siblings to practice the maternal role with, and a mother to model herself after.

In contrast to Sansa we have Dany who has absolutely no female role models, positive or negative, in her life at all. Martin throws this girl with no maternal role model into the maternal role herself: Dany evolves into Mhysa, an archetypal mother who ends up acting as the external iconic maternal figure for the oppressed of Essos, in a way much like motherhood typically serves as an internal influence for the motherless protagonist. Her evolution into that role offers a good contrast with Sansa. Both girls are about the same age, both experience a sense of captivity and yearn for freedom, and both have compassionate inclinations that conspire with their circumstances to lead them to a maternal role. And they have somewhat similar, though inverted, starting points over the first book with the primary difference being role models.

Dany starts off defined by her technical role as younger sister, but in reality is closer to a mix between daughter and chattel; and her betrothal is one of commerce whose purpose is to start a war. Sansa’s betrothal is political as well, but it has its roots in the genuine affection between Robert and Ned and is one designed to preserve a peace. Ned agrees in large part out of a sense of family responsibility; there is the protection of Cat’s sister and her son, and a familial duty to the foster father and brother (family beyond blood) who filled the roles of his biological father and brother who were killed, ironically, by Dany’s father. Sansa’s betrothal is therefore rooted in the maternal aspects of duty and sacrifice to protect the family, which is the very thing that ought to have stopped Dany’s betrothal.

Mothers are the cornerstone of our sense of “home.” Sansa has had a stable home, a place to call her own, and the journey her betrothal launches is met with a sense of adventure. Dany has been migrant since her distant memory of the house in Braavos; which is the closest thing she has to a sense of home and it is something she feels was prematurely stripped from her. She meets her betrothal’s journey with a sense of dread, and her isolation is demonstrated by her being the only woman at her betrothal and her not even having a common language to speak with anyone at her own wedding. In contrast, Sansa has Jeyne and Beth to gossip with when she learns the news, and her father and brothers, who are so protectively concerned for her welfare she doesn’t feel the need to even ponder her own potential safety.

The theme of home will recur for both Sansa and Dany. Dany continually yearns for the house in Braavos, that was never her home and the only things she truly draws from it are a vague sense of having been safe and loved by Darry. It is a thing she seeks to recreate, but has no blueprint in her experience to do so. In truth, it was much the same place as Illyrio’s manse—a place where luxury and comfort came at a price. Perhaps on some level Dany understands this, since she knows that they had to leave because the servants stole the gold and her reticence in accepting Illyrio’s hospitality is concern over the price. She embraces her freedom on the Dothraki Sea, yet doesn’t embrace it as a home.

“What do you pray for, Ser Jorah?” she asked him.

“Home,” he said. His voice was thick with longing.

“I pray for home too,” she told him, believing it.

Ser Jorah laughed. “Look around you then, Khaleesi.”

But it was not the plains Dany saw then. It was King’s Landing and the great Red Keep that Aegon the Conqueror had built. It was Dragonstone where she had been born. In her mind’s eye they burned with a thousand lights, a fire blazing in every window. In her mind’s eye, all the doors were red.

Thus the Seven Kingdoms and Viserys’ dream of “home” become a stand in for the home in Braavos that never truly was. Much is made of Sansa’s initial naïveté regarding stories, but Dany only gets those stories as a wedding gift from Ser Jorah; she lacks even fairy tales as basic guidance. When she initially finds Vaes Tolorro, a mother’s choice, a place to plant trees, she doesn’t embrace it as a home. She only embraces Meereen as “home” after seeing the destruction her intended method of claiming King’s Landing has brought upon Astapor. Even then, Meereen isn’t intended to be a home but merely the blueprint she never had for how to claim Westeros as a home. By the end of Dance with Dragons, Dany is still so lacking in a sense of home that she embraces Drogon’s meager cave as Dragonstone.

The role of Mother is defined by children and “home” is the place in the world a mother makes for those children. Dany didn’t recognize a home when she stumbled upon it because she never truly had one. With no female role models at all, she can only rely on the meager guidance of the two male figures who came closest to providing her with safety—Viserys and Khal Drogo. So it is little wonder she tries to carve out a place for her children with fire and blood.

Sansa is quite different. In an emotionally cruel captivity in King’s Landing, she can find comfort in the Sept and the godswood, both religious traditions and beliefs that recall her parents with the latter also being a strong reminder of home itself. She never simply yearns for the place but also the company of family and the people of Winterfell in general. She is able to tap into memories of Bran while she encourages Tommen. She is able to disregard her surrogate mother Cersei’s advice because she has a different role model in Cat (something Dany can’t do with MMD or the Green Grace because these are her first real female encounters ever). She’s had a mother and younger siblings, so she can become the person Colemon and Lothor Brune seek help from in dealing with Sweetrobin. Even when Littlefinger lies to her about taking her home, she is able to rebuild Winterfell in snow and draw strength from it. She is stronger within the walls of a Winterfell she built for herself in exile. This sense of home allows Sansa to mother herself, while Dany’s lack of it plays into her frustration, depression, and arguably her need for Daario’s companionship when a part of her believes she should avoid it.

Dany’s marriage fortunes turn out fairly well despite it all (sure, there’s ample room to quibble, but not when Viserys is the starting point…). Drogo seems to genuinely care for her and she begins to develop a sense of belonging, if not “home.” The Dothraki Sea is a migrant life that seems to embody more of a sense of freedom than home. Yet Dany still lacks any real role models; her only female companions are her handmaidens who are in truth slaves. While Sansa learns about dealing with men from Septa Mordane who is an authority figure placed over her by her mother, Dany learns about men from a former whore who serves her as a slave given to her by her brother.

Dany has no equals or superiors among women and no exposure to a social hierarchy. In fact, I don’t think Dany recalls the name of a single female in her life prior to the events we see. Sansa has her mother and Septa Mordane as authority figures, and her sister is her equal other than the minor factor of a small age difference. She has Jeyne and Beth in her circle of friends, who she learns to treat as equals despite the station difference, and maids among the smallfolk who are at a lower level. Old Nan has no station of note but is respected for her age and service to the Stark family. And almost immediately, Sansa is exposed to a Queen and Princess who while in her social stratum are her superiors. A huge part of motherhood is guiding children on the path to finding a place in the world, and to do that one must first know what those places are. We see Sansa clearly exposed to and comfortable with understanding how people fit into those places, while Dany’s experience is limited to being a slave and a free person with slave-owner authority over others and little if anything in between.

We see the results of this repeatedly throughout the series. Despite being in a position of extraordinary weakness in King’s Landing, Sansa is able to engage those around her. Tyrion is impressed by how well she navigates social functions, and her skills in this regard play into the Tyrell women finding her a desirable asset for their House even if less than benevolent in their motivations—a role they’ll reject Cersei for. We see Sansa dance at her own miserable wedding and socially engage those around her.

Dany is in a position of power in Meereen, but does very little socializing even at public events. It isn’t that Dany fails to personally win over political players so much as that she doesn’t know that she should be going through certain motions to even try. We don’t ever see Dany dance at a celebration, or make others feel at ease with little compliments, or even just chat. A great deal of the flat portrayal of the Meereenese is Dany’s failure to gossip, to learn there is a Lancel-like sick son she ought to inquire after or even discover that two families have a feud like the Brackens and Blackwoods. Sansa is fully armored, the garb of Westeros, in courtesy while Dany only thinks to put on floppy ears—a token facsimile of being Meereenese. Part of the maternal social role is to know, as Cat described it, the hearts and hearths issues of other families, and Sansa is fully engaged in this respect, but Dany isn’t because she’s never even seen another woman in a social environment.

Has Dany ever even held a baby? I can’t think of where she has or would have. Sansa has her younger siblings with her mother’s example to begin to learn how to be a mother. Arya used to come up with names for the smallfolk’s children, and while Sansa frowned on her sister’s fondness for associating below her station, newborns in a community like Winterfell are celebrated, so Sansa likely had the opportunity to coo over each newborn and also got to witness the mothering practices of all the families in Winterfell. We see this difference in background play out in their stories.

Barristan trains knights for Dany; he has 27 boys he thinks of as “his orphans,” yet Dany has never come to see them train or practice. These orphans have entered the service of the one they call “Mother,” but Dany isn’t aware of how to offer motherly encouragement to them like Sansa is—or even aware that she should.

Princess Myrcella nodded a shy greeting at the sound of Sansa’s name, but plump little Prince Tommen jumped up eagerly. “Sansa, did you hear? I’m to ride in the tourney today. Mother said I could.” Tommen was all of eight. He reminded her of her own little brother, Bran. They were of an age. Bran was back at Winterfell, a cripple, yet safe.

Sansa would have given anything to be with him. “I fear for the life of your foeman,” she told Tommen solemnly.

Tommen gave a shout of joy and ran off to be readied, his chubby little legs pumping hard. “Luck,” Sansa called to him.

Sansa found herself possessed of a queer giddy courage. “You should go with her,” she told the king. “Your brother might be hurt.”

Joffrey shrugged. “What if he is?”

“You should help him up and tell him how well he rode.” Sansa could not seem to stop herself.

“He got knocked off his horse and fell in the dirt,” the king pointed out. “That’s not riding well.”

The result is this contrast between the very personal motherly attention Sansa gives Tommen with this distant maternal archetype of a woman that inspired these orphans’ calling, but who doesn’t even know their names.

There’s also the dynamic with other women. The closest thing Dany has to an equal or a friend is Missandei. When they have one of their most personal talks, Missandei tells Dany about her home, and Dany offers to get a ship to send her back, but Missandei prefers to stay. Dany offered the best thing she knew how based on her experience, she wanted to give the closest thing she knew to her own house in Braavos memory; but it is fairly clear that Missandei has moved well beyond her old home and needs to build a new one, to find her place in the world much like Dany’s own struggle. Even though Dany is fairly consumed with her own future husband, she never thinks to try and provide for Missandei in this regard, something that comes as second nature to Sansa.

Of course, Jeyne had been in love with Lord Beric ever since she had first glimpsed him in the lists. Sansa thought she was being silly; Jeyne was only a steward’s daughter, after all, and no matter how much she mooned after him, Lord Beric would never look at someone so far beneath him, even if she hadn’t been half his age.

We see it again with Lothor Brune and Mya Stone. Sansa notices he always smiles when he speaks of Mya, and then wonders what Mya thinks of him. She assesses him and concludes that he’d be a good match for her as a person and for their mutual stations; and wonders if Mya could do better and thinks if her father had acknowledged her that she could, but as an unacknowledged bastard Brune is a good choice so long as Mya is content with the match.


Brune would be a good match for a bastard girl like Mya Stone, she thought. It might be different if her father had acknowledged her, but he never did. And Maddy says that she’s no maid either.

Without a stable family background and role models, Dany doesn’t know how to do this or even that she should be doing this maternal role. She doesn’t think to take Missandei to watch one of Selmy’s training sessions to see if any future knights and Missandei exchange smiles. She doesn’t think of making matches for Irri or Jhiqui when they’re going through their “it is known” spat over who Rakharo likes more. Missandei’s choice to not go home is a choice to build a new home elsewhere, and Dany empathizes and identifies with her, but despite her own inner desires to find love never thinks to embrace that facet of the matriarchal role and find a match for her.

There is also an interesting contrast in their relationships with “old women.” Dany tried to be maternal with Mirri Maz Duur and was rejected and betrayed. She is trying to be a mother to the Green Grace’s city, and finds another hostile reception if not the very Harpy that plagues her. In the first, Dany advocated Dothraki marrying the Lamb women, and in the second Dany herself is going to marry a Ghiscari. These older women do not see or identify with Dany as a maternal figure or welcome her maternal influence into their realms. In Sansa’s case, though both Cersei and Olenna’s intentions toward her were less than benevolent, both of these older women sought Sansa out not just as a marriage for their House but the favorite son/grandson and heir as well. They want Sansa as the matriarch of their next generation.

So while Dany’s arc touches on almost every maternal theme in a literary sense (and quite powerfully, I would add), Dany herself struggles as a mother largely because she has nothing even close to a role model, and is so ill-prepared by her prior life for the task. She approaches motherhood from the deficits fate and experience have imposed upon her. She wants to protect “her children” from her own negative experiences, but is unaware of how to nurture them, to treat them as family or create a home for them.

It takes the counsel of another woman for her to think of her own political marriage, but she never considers offering a Brown Ben Plumm or others lordships to start families of their own with a series of marriages to unify her divided people. Her first marriage was a sale of chattel to buy a home for her brother at the cost of her exile, and not the unification of two Houses. She’s willing chattel in her second to buy a paper peace, but the transactional and sacrificial nature are much the same. Sansa’s betrothal was for the good of the family including Lysa, Sweetrobin, and Edmure. It is the maternal Cat that makes this point, not Ned, and later again we see a maternal recommendation that Robb and Arya marry to help save Ned. These marriages are shared sacrifices to protect the family and all recommended by the matriarch. Dany’s past experience leads her to believe her children ought to be protected from such marriages to the scant extent she thinks about her responsibility to arrange marriages at all.

Dany’s rebirthed an extinct species to become the mother of dragons and is an icon of motherhood for the oppressed of a continent, but struggles to mother herself and those most dear to her. By the end of Dance with Dragons, we see her embracing Fire and Blood over planting trees, which is not surprising considering Viserys and Khal Drogo are her two primary role models in life. Her experiences in Meereen do make her more of a veteran which somewhat diminishes the vital nature of role models, and it seems likely that she’ll have additional advisors when she heads to Westeros. Yet in her immediate future she still seems to lack a “crone” figure, which may be cause for concern. She’ll need to embrace that Fire and Blood when she lands in Westeros, but she’ll still need to make alliances which do require an element of planting trees or at least seeds. Westeros needs a maternal figure like a Cat who is willing to let old grudges and a Jaime go if the realm is ever going to have peace.

As Brashcandy’s essay points out, Sansa seems to be the one most likely to fill that peacemaker role. We see her leadership when Cersei leaves during the Blackwater, and a willingness to pray for Tyrion despite her misery in the marriage. Pragmatically, she’s one of the few characters with a personal relationship with virtually every faction and probably the only one with a positive personal relationship to each faction. Her personality is a significant factor, but without the skill sets of her courtesy armor and Cat as a role model she couldn’t have survived to this point with so many potential allies among the North’s enemies. We’ve seen Sansa’s tendency to gauge marriage prospects since Game of Thrones, and continue to see it on her trip down from the Eyrie with Mya Stone and Lothor Brune. She seems inclined to find the best possible happiness within the restrictions of her station. We’ve seen how Robb’s first inclination was to consider assaulting the Twins rather than paying the toll; and he was also unwilling to trade Jaime for Sansa and Karstark preferred revenge for his sons’ deaths to getting his last son back. In both these cases, it was Cat who sought a peaceful alternative and Cat who preferred to let injustice stand so that her family might live. If Sansa parallels Cat’s path in this peacemaker regard, she may succeed in persuading other matriarchs and reach an accord that Catelyn could not with Cersei.


Gentle Mother, font of mercy,

save our sons from war, we pray,

stay the swords and stay the arrows,

let them know a better day.

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Ragnorak; an excellent post that I feel is a very accurate comparison that also provides a strong explanation for what has happened with the fiasco that is Meereen for Dany and the journey Sansa has made. I will definitely be returning to this tomorrow when I can quote the relevant parts to add my own thoughts. Excellent post!

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Glad I checked this thread again , seriously some amazing essays the last couple of pages milady and brash. Thanks again for these threads.

Happy to know you're enjoying this iteration Mark :) The appreciation from boarders has always been a welcome incentive.

The Mother role model and its impact on character development: The case of Daenerys and Sansa

Rag, this is a wonderful essay, and as DanStanFanMan noted above, it helps to clarify the central dilemmas and directions in Sansa and Dany's arcs. I made the point in my essay that the guiding theme in Sansa's growth into a player (peacemaker) has been that of maternal empowerment, and we could certainly make a similar case for Dany. Despite their betrothals being geared towards opposite and seemingly incompatible "ends" - war vs. peace - they both start out as vulnerable and powerless within these situations, and have to learn to resist their oppressors and achieve some power for themselves. This power is afforded by becoming a mother: Dany "gives birth" to the dragons, and Sansa performs a mother's duty in KL, acquiring a measure of agency via this role, even as she's still a captive of the Lannisters, which foreshadows the dynamic and subversive mothering she will undertake in the Vale. But a really crucial difference which your essay highlights is the value of maternal role models, even negative ones that can serve as a warning to the young protagonists. Sansa has her fair share of these in women like Cersei and Lysa, but Dany doesn't even have that, and if the Green Grace is the Harpy as the popular theory goes, then they remain concealed, and all the more deadly and destructive. Sansa has her own archetypal motherhood moment when she sings the mother's hymn during the Blackwater battle, but it's still very much a personal scene, defined by her close relationship with Sandor, and marked by an actual personal touch when she caresses his face. This supports your analysis of how that "personal touch" is missing from Dany's interaction with her people, and what we see in Meereen is her entrapment within the archetypal role that is by nature politically inspiring, but personally unfulfilling.

Great focus on the importance of marriages too; if Lothor and Mya are instrumental in helping Sansa against LF, then it does provide us with another constructive example in the current timeline of the series (is the only other one Alys/Sigorn?) of an "arranged" marriage/relationship that is undertaken with consideration for the parties concerned and can also be politically expedient. Dany's two marriages have been of the sacrificial type so far, and I wonder if we can see the failure of potential alliances with Aegon and Quentyn as symbolic of the wider institutional failure when it comes to creating these relationship networks you noted*(and I say this as someone extremely sympathetic to why Dany did not accept Quentyn's proposal). But what we see particular with Dany and Sansa is the conflict between love and duty that takes place within these arrangements. The whole question of duty is framed slightly different for Sansa than the dragon queen, but it all boils down to the same thing: putting one's feelings aside for the greater good - whether it's in fostering peace in Meereen or "making peace" with a jailor husband.

My desire is to see Sansa and Dany find a way to work together to create peace in Westeros. Their respective experiences have shown that a peace worth keeping is one that does not trample the liberties of others, and responds with creative solutions to systemic problems.

* There is a parallel here in the failure of the Willas/Sansa match, but when we consider the Tyrells' agenda, it may have been a blessing in disguise for Sansa and helps her to appreciate how she is valued for her claim, not herself. Seeing as Aegon is most likely Faegon, it gives me hope that Dany and Sansa have not exhausted the possibility of fulfilling relationships in the narrative.

I should also add that Rag's essay completes the motherhood project! I hope everyone found it informative and enjoyable.

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The Mother role model and its impact on character development: The case of Daenerys and Sansa

Coincidentally, the same reasons you stated for arranging Sansa's betrothal (family responsibility to his children, friendship and fraternity with Robert, the responsibility to a surrogate father in Jon) also ended it, as these were largely the motivations which lead Ned to confront Cersei.

I think what is important to note here is that "home" to Dany is synonymous with a sense of being loved, cared for and a stable environment; this is what she associates the House with the Red Door with, and in particular Darry who treated her very affectionately. This parallels with Sansa who, when in her later situation at King's Landing, constantly yearns for home even when she learns that it has been sacked and burned; Sansa too wants that sense of stability, love and affection her friends and family provided at Winterfell. I will also bring up here Dany's realisation that comfort comes at a price mirrors Sansa's arc too, as she realises the consequences of her innocence and naivety when she first loses Lady, and then later loses her father too. These two consequences of her innocence, and particularly the latter, make her realise that everything comes at a price - the death of Lady bought the continued "affection" of her betrothed, and the death of her father bought her own freedom and continued her betrothal (although I will add here that neither of these two prices were something she had intended to pay). From the end of Game of Thrones, we see that Sansa has become more wary and understands that everything has its' price, as Dany knows from her very first chapter due to the initial betrayal of the servants in Braavos.

Another very relevant point. With no maternal role model, and no training in social etiquette and nobility niceties, Dany is unable to gain the political friendships that Sansa seems to forge so easily with the Tyrell women and other members of Court at King's Landing, such as Tanda Stokesworth (who engages with her repeatedly throughout her captivity in KL) and even member's of the Lannister family - a family she hates but is still successful in winning over with her courtesies. Dany, has no training in this, and so it appears that, should she ever seize King's Landing and the Iron Throne, she will not be successful in navigating the social circles there, and so will undoubtedly be subjected to backstabbing and betrayals. What would be required is the intervention of someone to teach her this, and I have a thought on this that I will address later in this post.

I am going to take the attention away from the novel here and refer to Bowlby's theory of the Internal Working Model in Psychology, in which our childhood, and the attachment types we make in childhood, form a template for all our future experiences and relationships. While this is a fantasy novel we are dealing with, the IWM is, I believe, relevant when discussing both Sansa's and Dany's arcs, due to the clear influence their childhood's have had throughout the novel.

An excellent last point, and I have seen the idea thrown around these boards that if/when Dany arrives in Westeros, it will be in the Vale. Sansa is conveniently placed there to become the maternal influence in Dany's life when she lands in Westeros, and despite Dany's strong feelings about the "Usurpers Dogs" at the moment, I believe that with a new paternal figure in Ser Barristan, who respected Eddard Stark, and potentially Tyrion, who, regardless of what other flaws he may have is not foolish and has shown to be very skilled with the politics of "the game" Dany can overcome this, and therefore Sansa is a natural maternal figure for her to meet in WoW or DoS. Sansa, as already seen with Mya and others, attaches well to girls of her own age, and there is not a great age gap between these two girls. This makes is even more likely that she will act as the maternal role model for Dany in future, as she has acted towards others in the past

Sorry for the weird way this is posted, I cant seem to get it to work properly

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Sorry for the weird way this is posted, I cant seem to get it to work properly

I agree that Jorah becomes a source of male guidance, but I think he is more a counselor than a role model. I'd have to ponder it more but I suspect it would be informative to follow that path and look at Dany's willingness to incorporate counsel that is outside her own "role model" experience. In general I'm inclined to view it as a positive thing, even more so should Dany be surrounded by a multitude of counselors.

I like your observation of Dany trying to end the conflict between Irri and Jhiqui.

I think what is important to note here is that "home" to Dany is synonymous with a sense of being loved, cared for and a stable environment; this is what she associates the House with the Red Door with, and in particular Darry who treated her very affectionately. This parallels with Sansa who, when in her later situation at King's Landing, constantly yearns for home even when she learns that it has been sacked and burned; Sansa too wants that sense of stability, love and affection her friends and family provided at Winterfell. I will also bring up here Dany's realisation that comfort comes at a price mirrors Sansa's arc too, as she realises the consequences of her innocence and naivety when she first loses Lady, and then later loses her father too. These two consequences of her innocence, and particularly the latter, make her realise that everything comes at a price - the death of Lady bought the continued "affection" of her betrothed, and the death of her father bought her own freedom and continued her betrothal (although I will add here that neither of these two prices were something she had intended to pay). From the end of Game of Thrones, we see that Sansa has become more wary and understands that everything has its' price, as Dany knows from her very first chapter due to the initial betrayal of the servants in Braavos.

While I generally agree with that, Sansa doesn't really embrace it as a universal truth. There are lots of people who are offering her comfort at a price, those people after her claim, but she clings to the idea that she can be loved for herself. Sansa experienced that as a reality in her family life while Dany only ever got a vague hint of it from Darry. House Stark seems a place where "doing the right thing" for its own sake indifferent to the price is hard to avoid. Even Jon Snow is Ned doing the right thing despite the negative price he pays with Cat. Ned built a sept in Winterfell to make Cat feel more at home and brought a Septa to help raise Sansa and Arya and incorporated her into the home life of his family in Winterfell despite his own worship of the old gods. She's seen love in spite of conflict, compromise, and a man provide comfort to his wife for no price. In short Sansa has role models which provide an anchor or ballast against her experiences that Dany lacks as she struggles with the grip of frustration and despair in Meereen. Sansa building Snow Winterfell compared to Dany's "you are the blood of the dragon, you can make a hat" offers a nice contrast of the two falling back on their pasts.

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What Littlefinger wants is for Sansa to be complicit in her own exploitation, and the child at risk here is Sweetrobin, not Harry's bastards. The issue of Harry's faithfulness isn't as relevant for Sansa as it was for her aunt Lyanna, because any acceptance of the marriage would be contributing to SR's death in LF's planned scheme. Hence, your fearing for her ethical standards because of Harry's manipulation is a bit misplaced.

You're making some assumptions about what I wrote, so let me clear it up:

- There is not just one factor in Sansa's consideration of her life and situation, but several acting on her personality at the same time. Of course Sweetrobin's fate is a big factor in Sansa's consideration of LF's plans for her. However, it is not the only consideration, and whether she fully realizes he is at risk of being murdered is still not known (much less her potential role in assisting or excusing it). What LF said could (should) be construed by readers as an indication that LF intends Sweetrobin to die prematurely, but his actual statement to Sansa retains some ambiguity; it could be interpreted by Sansa to mean that a sickly child is simply not capable of surviving winter in any case (which Sansa, a northerner, may consider normal).

- Nothing I wrote indicates Sansa would consider Harry's bastards are in danger, merely that they would be neglected and sad, like many bastards are. We have spoken many times in this forum about Sansa's empathy for others, so it is credible that she might mix some twinges of guilt / concern for them into her thought process. After all, she now has a different perspective on bastards than she used to.

- Thus far, Sansa has lied on occasion to further her ends, but these have been small lies, and generally innocent or "kindly meant". Where they were not "kindly meant", when she has been at her most deceptive thus far in the story, it has been when her survival was at stake. But often in ASOIAF we see characters go through a moral progression, for better sometimes but also for worse (Example: Arya and her use of killing, where the kills she has made seem less and less motivated by necessity). With Sansa, we have not yet seen her become someone who uses clear manipulation for her own gain in "the game" - not yet being an important distinction here. If the Harry plan goes ahead, if she is a willing participant, this could by necessity involve a step down to a lower level of ethics. However, it should be expected that Littlefinger's long term plan is one which involves lowering her moral safeguards and being (unwittingly) complicit in her own manipulation / exploitation. The two things are not mutually exclusive if Littlefinger is involved. As such, if she decides to go through with marrying Harry for reasons that basically false and for his claim, this would new (and darker) moral territory for her. Not saying this is likely, but it would be a red flag if it did take place.

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Going off-topic for a moment on account of the special occasion...



It's been a productive year in the PtP and I am proud of what we've achieved as a group, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for accompanying us in this endeavour of learning and discovery, and I wish all of you fellow Sansa (and Sandor) fans as well as the rest of the fandom a very merry Christmas with your loved ones, and may the Old Gods and the New smile on you now and ever.

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You're making some assumptions about what I wrote, so let me clear it up:

- There is not just one factor in Sansa's consideration of her life and situation, but several acting on her personality at the same time. Of course Sweetrobin's fate is a big factor in Sansa's consideration of LF's plans for her. However, it is not the only consideration, and whether she fully realizes he is at risk of being murdered is still not known (much less her potential role in assisting or excusing it). What LF said could (should) be construed by readers as an indication that LF intends Sweetrobin to die prematurely, but his actual statement to Sansa retains some ambiguity; it could be interpreted by Sansa to mean that a sickly child is simply not capable of surviving winter in any case (which Sansa, a northerner, may consider normal).

- Nothing I wrote indicates Sansa would consider Harry's bastards are in danger, merely that they would be neglected and sad, like many bastards are. We have spoken many times in this forum about Sansa's empathy for others, so it is credible that she might mix some twinges of guilt / concern for them into her thought process. After all, she now has a different perspective on bastards than she used to.

Yes, there can indeed be more than one factor under consideration for Sansa, and I certainly did not claim any differently. What I am arguing is that SR's health and safety remains the most pressing one, along with her own wariness about another marriage that undermines her agency, the kind of person Harry will turn out to be, Littlefinger's perviness, etc etc. What I started out disputing, and what I am still disputing is your original claim that thinking about Harry's bastards being "neglected and sad" would be a factor in her refusing the marriage to Harry the Heir. It was never a question of whether she could sympathise with them or not, but a response to what you said here:

She may refuse the scheme because somewhere out there there is another Jon Snow or Mya Stone, and out of compassion she may feel Harry may need to acknowledge them, not run to a new life with her.

It is possible for men to father bastards, marry another woman, and still look out for those bastards. With Sansa's appreciation of the social realities of class structure in Westeros, this is something she would understand very well, and also that it's not possible for Harry to marry these common girls (Mya/Mychel). The fact that he may have taken advantage of his position and good looks, and how this fits into an analysis of his character on the whole could definitely apply, but right now it doesn't matter if Harry was the sweetest guy with the biggest heart in the entire planetos- the marriage to him is simply untenable for reasons I've already outlined.

- Thus far, Sansa has lied on occasion to further her ends, but these have been small lies, and generally innocent or "kindly meant". Where they were not "kindly meant", when she has been at her most deceptive thus far in the story, it has been when her survival was at stake. But often in ASOIAF we see characters go through a moral progression, for better sometimes but also for worse (Example: Arya and her use of killing, where the kills she has made seem less and less motivated by necessity). With Sansa, we have not yet seen her become someone who uses clear manipulation for her own gain in "the game" - not

yet being an important distinction here. If the Harry plan goes ahead, if she is a willing participant, this could by necessity involve a step down to a lower level of ethics. However, it should be expected that Littlefinger's long term plan is one which involves lowering her moral safeguards and being (unwittingly) complicit in her own manipulation / exploitation. The two things are not mutually exclusive if Littlefinger is involved. As such, if she decides to go through with marrying Harry for reasons that basically false and for his claim, this would new (and darker) moral territory for her. Not saying this is likely, but it would be a red flag if it did take place.

If Sansa was a willing participant in the Harry the heir plot then it would raise a red flag for her entire characterization up to this point, not simply ethical concerns. I will once again reiterate that the potential "new and darker moral territory" for Sansa does not begin with Harry if it is even centred on him at all. Under the plot LF outlined, Harry is the beloved Young Falcon who will head the Vale when SR dies, and lead the assault to retake Winterfell with the Vale's armies supposedly. LF may be setting him up as an eventual pawn, but right now he's looking like a victor, and the outright pretense of her being Alayne Stone would only last until the wedding day.

Sansa may very well have to manipulate Harry, but not as LF envisions. Nevertheless, she will have hard decisions to make in the next book, but those don't necessarily have to involve becoming darker.

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The Mother role model and its impact on character development: The case of Daenerys and Sansa

Motherhood in fantasy is usually an archetypal thing rarely explored through an actual maternal character. There are reasons for this: mothers are supposed to be protective and sheltering figures, and all that mothering, when properly done, tends to protect our protagonists from things like incentive moments. It is easier to address the idea through a magical Mother Goddess figure or the protagonist’s internal memories than to construct a plot that can somehow reconcile a positive mother figure with the prerequisite failure to protect her child protagonist from the plot. Martin uses his complex realism and rich cast of multi-generational characters to explore both mothers on the page and the impact mothers have as role models.

Cat is probably the most involved and complex treatment of a mother on the page. We get the boy-king going off to war with his mother still telling him what to wear and what to say, and we see it through her eyes, not his. We see a mother struggle with the balance of protecting and letting go. And since Cat is a POV character, she also offers us the best insight into a maternal role model for Sansa with whom we also have the benefit of her perspective. Sansa has had all the benefits of a noble upbringing, a stable home and family, younger siblings to practice the maternal role with, and a mother to model herself after.

In contrast to Sansa we have Dany who has absolutely no female role models, positive or negative, in her life at all. Martin throws this girl with no maternal role model into the maternal role herself: Dany evolves into Mhysa, an archetypal mother who ends up acting as the external iconic maternal figure for the oppressed of Essos, in a way much like motherhood typically serves as an internal influence for the motherless protagonist. Her evolution into that role offers a good contrast with Sansa. Both girls are about the same age, both experience a sense of captivity and yearn for freedom, and both have compassionate inclinations that conspire with their circumstances to lead them to a maternal role. And they have somewhat similar, though inverted, starting points over the first book with the primary difference being role models.

Dany starts off defined by her technical role as younger sister, but in reality is closer to a mix between daughter and chattel; and her betrothal is one of commerce whose purpose is to start a war. Sansa’s betrothal is political as well, but it has its roots in the genuine affection between Robert and Ned and is one designed to preserve a peace. Ned agrees in large part out of a sense of family responsibility; there is the protection of Cat’s sister and her son, and a familial duty to the foster father and brother (family beyond blood) who filled the roles of his biological father and brother who were killed, ironically, by Dany’s father. Sansa’s betrothal is therefore rooted in the maternal aspects of duty and sacrifice to protect the family, which is the very thing that ought to have stopped Dany’s betrothal.

Mothers are the cornerstone of our sense of “home.” Sansa has had a stable home, a place to call her own, and the journey her betrothal launches is met with a sense of adventure. Dany has been migrant since her distant memory of the house in Braavos; which is the closest thing she has to a sense of home and it is something she feels was prematurely stripped from her. She meets her betrothal’s journey with a sense of dread, and her isolation is demonstrated by her being the only woman at her betrothal and her not even having a common language to speak with anyone at her own wedding. In contrast, Sansa has Jeyne and Beth to gossip with when she learns the news, and her father and brothers, who are so protectively concerned for her welfare she doesn’t feel the need to even ponder her own potential safety.

The theme of home will recur for both Sansa and Dany. Dany continually yearns for the house in Braavos, that was never her home and the only things she truly draws from it are a vague sense of having been safe and loved by Darry. It is a thing she seeks to recreate, but has no blueprint in her experience to do so. In truth, it was much the same place as Illyrio’s manse—a place where luxury and comfort came at a price. Perhaps on some level Dany understands this, since she knows that they had to leave because the servants stole the gold and her reticence in accepting Illyrio’s hospitality is concern over the price. She embraces her freedom on the Dothraki Sea, yet doesn’t embrace it as a home.

*snip*

Yes, there is a very big contrast between them.

Sansa's sense of home is much more tangible. She has been a hostage, but not an exile. She approached betrothal with enthusiasm, because being a wife and mother was much more a role she had envisioned for herself (though obviously it turned out badly). As well, she obviously had the true example of womanhood / motherhood available to her, to show her what being a woman was really like.

In Dany's case, she was an exile, so her sense of home is basically non-existent. Her memories of the house with the red door are typical early childhood memories, but largely stripped of the context in which they took place. Truthfully, she has been homeless & stateless - just as likely to be killed anywhere she went as welcomed. More to the point, she has had no true example of motherhood to draw from. In fact, no true example of parenthood at all - Viserys was no true father figure (though much like her actual father, it would seem), and Ser Darry was always a sort of uncle or even servant figure, not bearing true authority over her. Everything she knows about her family and homeland was taught to her by Viserys, who is biased (to say the least) and who spent most of his own life as an exiled child too. Her experience of being a wife and then expectant mother was suddenly dropped upon her; even if she started to welcome it, it was not something she had dreamt of in preparation. Irri, Jhiqi, and Doreah are women, but not mothers, and they comprise just another part of her drifting in exile.

Thanks to Viserys, Dany has some sense of her father, but one thing I have always found odd about Dany is that she does not give any thought to her own mother. Motherhood is a sort of biological destiny since she is female; "mother" is what her followers call her; and "mother of dragons" is what she calls herself. Yet for all this, she seems to identify entirely as King Aerys' successor, not that of Queen Rhaella. It is bizarre - she has no memory of either parent, yet for all her dwelling on her own (biological) ability to be a mother, she does not seem curious about her own. It is not like she feels shame about her, but rather feels nothing at all. The biological urge is there, but the example is absent.

This to me indicates one big difference between Sansa's and Dany's conception of womanhood: Sansa may have dreamed of being a queen, but being a wife and mother was the core of her dream; Dany longs for the biological side of it too, but her experience as exiled royalty has drilled it into her to give primacy to the role of being queen. Sansa's sense of wistful homesickness is literally of her home, of a family life. Dany is not so much homesick as longing for a place where she can be safe and assume her rightful role (which way explain why she was trapped in the Meereen situation so easily).

Arya Stark may be closer to Dany in this respect, since Arya's experienced being a refugee, forced to stay a step ahead of danger as she drifts from location to location without any prospect of home. She too finds a sort of surrogate home in Braavos, only in the House of Black and White. Braavos seems to be this sort of place - a city for runaways, orphans, and exiles. As well, Arya seems to share one other thing with Dany: having had no real female friends. Sansa had friends in Winterfell, but both Arya and Dany seem to consort with more unusual (and short-term) associates.

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Thanks to Viserys, Dany has some sense of her father, but one thing I have always found odd about Dany is that she does not give any thought to her own mother. Motherhood is a sort of biological destiny since she is female; "mother" is what her followers call her; and "mother of dragons" is what she calls herself. Yet for all this, she seems to identify entirely as King Aerys' successor, not that of Queen Rhaella. It is bizarre - she has no memory of either parent, yet for all her dwelling on her own (biological) ability to be a mother, she does not seem curious about her own. It is not like she feels shame about her, but rather feels nothing at all. The biological urge is there, but the example is absent.

She asked Barristan about her parents' marriage - whether it was for love - and later (when she was about to marry Hizdahr while wanting Daario) she asked him if her parents had loved other people.

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