SANSA, JEYNE, AND THEON: YOU HAVE TO KNOW YOUR NAME.

It’s no secret identity is a prominent theme in ASOIAF – from “the Kingslayer!” ‘Jaime, he thought, my name is Jaime.’ to ‘Sandor Clegane is at rest/The Hound is dead.’: whether they’re alive, under a psuedonym, completely rejecting their identity – George writes about it.

An extremely deliberate contrast in Dance is the minuscule amount of agency possessed by Jeyne Poole. It doesn’t matter if Jeyne was as pretty as Sansa, she was a steward’s daughter – where Sansa is awaiting the right moment to reveal herself to the right person, Jeyne doesn’t get such a moment. It’s the end of her world: as she lies there, she thinks, this is how I die. No one is coming for Jeyne Poole. Theon was her least likely escape, and he knows it, too:

Talk like that will get you killed, or worse. That lesson he had learned as Reek. “You are the real Arya, my lady. Arya of House Stark, Lord Eddard’s daughter, heir to Winterfell.” Her name, she had to know her name. “Arya Underfoot. Your sister used to call you Arya Horseface.”

“It was me made up that name. Her face was long and horsey. Mine isn’t. I was pretty.” Tears spilled from her eyes at last. “I was never beautiful like Sansa, but they all said I was pretty. Does Lord Ramsay think I am pretty?”

I was never beautiful like Sansa, but they all said I was pretty. Jeyne’s words seemed to echo in his head, to the beat of the drums two of Abel’s other girls were pounding. Another one had pulled Little Walder Frey up onto the table to teach him how to dance. All the men were laughing. “Leave me be,” said Theon.

Sansa has spent the beginning of her politically formative years being held hostage by her identity, and it takes her losing her identity to be able to start reclaiming it. These arcs revolve – identity is very important to these three characters for very different reasons. You have to remember your name.

If Sansa is rescued again, whether by Jaime, Brienne, or Sandor, it undercuts and cheapens her ascent to becoming politically savvy.

In fact, Sansa is in a very peculiar position, indeed: she is stationed in the land that her father grew up, with the people he had fought beside, learned beside, thrived beside. People that hold an intense respect for Ned Stark. And what’s funny is, George has already written a scene, exactly like this, where a hardened woman, who has become exceedingly apt in Southron politics, calls bannermen and friends of her father to arms, requesting their support:

“And is Lady Whent a true and honest friend to my father, Lord Hoster Tully of Riverrun?“
“She is,” the man replied stoutly.

“The red stallion was ever a welcome sight in Riverrun,” she said to the trio by the fire. “My father counts Jonos Bracken among his oldest and most loyal bannermen.”

Catelyn V in AGOT is almost a perfect mirror of what we can expect of Sansa in TWOW. We have already seen Sansa practice excellent reasoning skills, and commit heraldry to memory – in fact, we’ve seen this since Sansa’s very first AGOT chapter:

Sansa knew the name, and now the courtesies that Septa Mordane had taught her over the years came back to her. “The Lord Commander of the Kingsguard,” she said, “and councillor to Robert our king and to Aerys Targaryen before him. The honor is mine, good knight. Even in the far north, the singers praise the deeds of Barristan the Bold.”

“I can answer,” Sansa said quickly, to quell her prince’s anger. She smiled at the green knight. “Your helmet bears golden antlers, my lord. The stag is the sigil of the royal House. King Robert has two brothers. By your extreme youth, you can only be Renly Baratheon, Lord of Storm’s End and councillor to the king, and so I name you.”

And she’s already catching on to Littlefinger’s schemes in AFFC:

”… Lord Nestor’s claim to the Gates will suddenly be called into question. I promise you, that is not lost on him. It was clever of you to see it. Though no more than I’d expect of mine own daughter.“”Thank you.” She felt absurdly proud for puzzling it out, but confused as well.

Her eyes widened. “He is not Lady Waynwood’s heir. He’s Robert’s heir. If Robert were to die …”

If Sansa can puzzle together Littlefinger isn’t her friend, that her father grew up in these lands, if she begins to piece all of these things together with the political aptitude we’ve already seen her demonstrate…. She’s going to shed the skin of Alayne Stone, flapping her black leather wings to the north, calling upon the men who rode with her father, who trained with him, who ate with him, ready to return to the north. (not to mention when she eventually finds out what happened to Jeyne, where the lashes and scars came from, when she hears from a certain only friend of hers who betrayed her father…)

Where Theon remembered his name finally in saving Jeyne, and where Jeyne had no choice but to forget her name, Sansa stands to use hers as a very powerful tool in going home.

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