[Re-Read] A Clash of Kings – Sansa III


Summary:

a-clash-of-kings

Sandor escorts Sansa to see Joffrey, who is angry because of Robb. Joffrey is in the lower bailey shooting animals with his crossbow. He is guarded by Ser Boros and Ser Meryn. Others in attendance include Lord Gyles, Ser Horas, Ser Hobber, Ser Lancel, and Dontos. Joffrey informs Sansa that Robb fell upon Ser Stafford’s army in the night and destroyed it. She is there to pay for his crimes. Joffrey orders her beaten. Dontos tries to save her by hitting her with a melon for the amusement of the court, but Joffrey is not placated. He has Ser Boros hit her. After several blows, Sandor says they have done enough, but Joffrey orders her stripped naked to continue the beating. At that moment, Tyrion arrives with Bronn and Timett and puts a stop to it. Sandor gives Sansa his white cloak to cover herself. After lecturing Joffrey, Tyrion has Sansa taken to the Tower of the Hand where she is bathed. Maester Frenken then gives her a salve for her bruises and a draught to help her sleep.

Sansa wakes up that night and tries to leave, but Chella, who is guarding the door, does not let her. A serving girl brings food and drink. Soon after, Tyrion arrives. He explains what happened. Robb and his army fell upon Ser Stafford’s host at the village of Oxcross, three days ride from Casterly Rock. His men cut the horse lines and Grey Wind went among them to drive them mad. Many knights were trampled in their tents and the sellswords broke and ran. Ser Stafford was killed by Lord Rickard. Also among those reported slain were Ser Rupert Brax, Ser Lymond Vikary, Lord Roland Crakehall, and Lord Antario Jast. Martyn Lannister was among the captured. How Robb bypassed the Golden Tooth remains a mystery. Tyrion speaks to her kindly and informs her that he means to see she never weds Joffrey, but Sansa does not trust him. He offers to let her stay in the Tower of the Hand, but she declines because she is afraid she will not be able to meet Dontos anymore and escape.

Source

Commentary:

Joffrey’s abuse of Sansa continues as Tyrion shows Sansa that not all Lannisters are evil though understandably she isn’t buying any of it. There isn’t a great deal to talk about in this chapter plot-wise so let’ take a second to talk about the characters and where their heads are at in this point of the story. I think more than Sansa or Tyrion, it is Joffrey who interests me particularly based on a few details that I had either missed or totally forgotten.

A yellow cat was dying on the ground, mewling piteously, a crossbow quarrel through its ribs.

Joffrey has a thing for killing cats. As a child, he killed a pregnant cat to see what was inside and Robert whacked him something proper but that clearly didn’t really fix anything (shocking, I know).Cruelty to animals is considered a fairly strong indication of sociopathic behaviour, stemming from a lack of empathy and an inclination towards sadism. The quote above tells me that Joffrey didn’t just want to kill the cat, he wanted to hurt the cat – it’s dying but it’s not dead. Even among people who hunt as a hobby, something that I personally am against, it’s considered poor form to prolong the animal’s suffering and honestly, I don’t know anyone in the real world that wouldn’t be at least a little disturbed by someone drawing out an animal’s (or anything else’s, for that matter) suffering because they get some sort of pleasure from it. I’m don’t think I’m reading too much into Joffrey’s actions here either – the implications are fairly clear and totally substantiated by all his other actions. He enjoys creating fear and inflicting pain and having power over others and these are all trademark indicators of sociopathic behaviour.

“Dog, hit her.”

Now, moving away from Joffrey for a second (don’t worry, we’ll be back), let’s look at Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane. I think it’s pretty clearly established that he sees a little of his poor dead sister in Sansa and that definitely would satisfactorily explain his reluctance but at the same time that reluctance is conflicting with a direct order with his King. While I certainly think that it’s interesting that Sandor doesn’t move to hit Sansa despite being given a direct command from Joffrey, I think it’s just as interesting, if not more so, that Joffrey doesn’t insist that Sandor obey him. I mean, it’s plausible that Joffrey just forgot that he had just ordered Sandor to hit Sansa, but I think that’s far too convenient – I would rather suspect that Joffrey realized that antagonizing the Hound has no short term benefits at all. The issue is, that if Joffrey were the kind of character to realize and understand something that nuanced, then he wouldn’t be Joffrey at all. I don’t really know how to resolve this situation, but I hope someone else has a better read of the character of the Hound.

Joffrey did not so much as snigger.

I don’t know about you guys, but to me the above basically suggests that Joffrey’s focus was so much on Sansa’s suffering that he totally blanked out of all of Dontos’ super lame attempts at making him smile. More than anything it feels like Joffrey is drunk on power – now that he is undisputedly the head honcho, he wants that power over others, he wants to fear him and hang on to his every word. I probably don’t need to say this, but that itself is an extremely strong indication that he is a sociopath.

“No doubt she will. And why wait? Joffrey, shall we send for your mother?”

Based on Joffrey’s reaction here, I think it’s fair to say that he does not want Cersei around. I don’t actually know what to make of this, to be frank. On one hand, it would indicate that he has some sense of shame but him having that very sense of shame would be at odds with my interpretation of a psychopath. I guess the best I can do, given both my non-existent psychoanalytical skills and the contextual evidence is to label him as someone on a particularly warped power trip. He is drunk on power and has been since he was a child; he has absolute power in his eyes and so he can’t logically crave any more but what he demand is increasingly more extreme displays of this power. Lopping off heads, generating fear and demanding (as opposed to earning) respect are Joffrey’s methods of assuring himself that he is still the king.

“Fear is better than love, Mother says.”

Is it any wonder that Joffrey ended up so fucked up? There are reasons why Cersei tells him this, and several of those reasons involve Tywin but it also because Cersei has seen how awful popular kings (Robert Baratheon) can be and how very effective terrifying leaders can be (Tywin Lannister). I think a big part of it comes from how she has always felt like no one took her seriously; if people feared her they would almost have no choice but to take her seriously. This isn’t the best point in the story to handle Cersei’s many issues, so let’s shelve the discussion for now.

Knights are sworn to defend the weak, protect women, and fight for the right, but none of them did a thing. Only Ser Dontos had tried to help, and he was no longer a knight, no more than the Imp was, nor the Hound . . . the Hound hated knights . . . I hate them too, Sansa thought.

It’s good that Sansa finally realizes this though it is really a shame that it takes so traumatic and event to finally make her understand the realities of the world. Normally, I would say something like ‘she’s lucky that she didn’t learn it under worse circumstances’, but I can’t imagine many worse circumstances than being brutally beaten and stripped in front of the entire court.

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