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Granted she's not the swiftest person on the uptake
July 5, 2013 7:14 AM   Subscribe

Game of Thrones question: Without spoilers, can you tell me what Sansa thinks happened to her sister at this point in the story? (Halfway through book three/end of season three of the TV show)? What about the rest of the Starks?

I haven't read the books and am not planning to, since I think doing so would tend to ruin the show for me. But this question occurred to me today and I don't think it's ever been made quite clear on the show, and I thought maybe y'all book readers might know and being kind hearted AskMe folk, could clue me in without spoilage.

As far as I recall, when Ned is planning to confront the Queen and just before he gets arrested himself, he manages to get the Night Watch guy to promise to take Arya back to Winterfell. But does Sansa know that? Does she think her sister's back at Winterfell this whole time? Did Robb and his mom (before the Red Wedding, obv.) still think the Lannisters had her? I mean, the Lannisters know they don't have her, and are at least trying to look for her, so does Sansa know she's on the run?
posted by Diablevert to Writing & Language (25 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Robb and Katlyn both thought Arya was with Sansa in King's Landing being held by the Lannisters. Katlyn keept talking about getting her daughters back from the Lannisters.

I believe that Sansa assumes Arya ran away, she shows no indication of thinking Arya is dead but I think she has no idea where Arya is.

Like you, I have only seen the show and have no interest in reading the books until the show is over because I don't want anything to be given away, I like the show too much.
posted by magnetsphere at 7:22 AM on July 5, 2013


Sansa is pretty sure she's the only stark alive, outside Jon Snow.
posted by royalsong at 7:22 AM on July 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


royalsong: Sansa is pretty sure she's the only stark alive, outside Jon Snow.

Yeah, my understanding is that she will be of the opinion that her whole family has now been killed, once news of the Red Wedding reaches her.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:31 AM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


oop I didn't see your other questions.

Sansa knows that Arya has vanished and is presumed dead. This is also what the people in King's Landing think.

Robb and Catlyn think that Cersei has both Sansa and Arya. They have heard stories about Sansa (such as her marriage) but they haven't heard anything about Arya. With no evidence to the contrary, they hope she's still with Cersei. This is why Catlyn freed Jamie. She made him swear an oath to trade his freedom for Sansa and Arya.
posted by royalsong at 7:45 AM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sansa knows that Arya has vanished and is presumed dead. This is also what the people in King's Landing think.

But there's no particular reason for that? Just, we haven't heard anything about her, she must be dead? Seems weird. Being one of the youngest Starks and a girl she's not as valuable a chesspiece as her siblings, but you'd think she'd be worth somebody's while to ransom or use to gain favor. The Lannisters aren't at all concerned somebody has her? I mean, I guess at this particular point in the story she's not important to them, because a son of Sansa's would inherit Winterfell before her and there's no Robb and Cate around to throw a shit fit when it turns out they don't have her, but really up until the Red Wedding goes through you feel like they ought to be a little concerned about it. I thought there must be some reason given in the story for what they think happened with her that makes them unconcerned.
posted by Diablevert at 8:01 AM on July 5, 2013


I actually think Sansa's really smart, just very naïve with few tools at her disposal socially and politically. Her sections of the books have the most elegant and nuanced language, and I think her commitment to basically trying to out-polite and out-meek everyone is the best survival strategy for her at this stage in the game. From what she knows and is assuming now, being bold, honest, and brave has gotten Ned, her mother, Robb, and possibly Arya killed, and being young and defenseless has gotten Bran and Rickon tortured and then killed.
posted by spunweb at 8:01 AM on July 5, 2013 [22 favorites]


Diablevert: I thought there must be some reason given in the story for what they think happened with her that makes them unconcerned.

This may be a tiny spoiler (as I'm not sure where in the books this happens), but I want to say that at some point Cersei is told that Arya was killed by the guards who went to apprehend her, though in reality they were held off by Syrio long enough for her to escape. Perhaps that is just my interpretation though.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:13 AM on July 5, 2013


The Lannisters are definitely concerned that they lost Arya - having the three of them in King's Landing was their best bargaining chip with the North. Though after Joffrey has Ned's head chopped off their plans go to shit. I also think Sansa is pretty smart, though along with being naive she was/is a romantic idealist. Being sweet and innocent is her only armor.
posted by florencetnoa at 8:26 AM on July 5, 2013


The world that westeros is built in, it's a small wonder that Arya isn't dead. You have to remember that everyone in King's Landing thinks she's like Sansa. A helpless young girl who can't protect herself. We know she isn't, but all Cersei knows is that she's a bit of an upstart. If Sansa suddenly ran off, do you think she's survive as well as Arya has?

And the books make this clearer then the show.. but the Lannisters wouldn't have a problem paying a ransom for her. They're that rich.
posted by royalsong at 8:27 AM on July 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


But there's no particular reason for that?

Arya disappeared from public view when Syrio, her tutor, was murdered by Cersei's men, as Ned was being arrested. It's unclear how much detail Sansa knows about that, but a young girl, a political hostage, disappearing at a time of violent civil unrest, during what amounts to a coup d'etat? It's pretty safe to assume that she's dead.
posted by bonehead at 8:30 AM on July 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think the Lannisters assume Arya's dead because they haven't heard anything about her. Her only values is as a hostage or a bargaining chip, and if someone was using her as one, surely they would have approached ONE of the interested parties by now. I mean, if you have one of the Starks, you know that you can pull in some MAJOR favors from either the Starks or the Lannisters. And for the daughter of a noble to survive on her own without anyone finding out who she is? That's pretty much unimaginable to them.
posted by specialagentwebb at 8:38 AM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


but you'd think she'd be worth somebody's while to ransom or use to gain favor.

Keep reading :)

but seriously, i think everyone assumes she's lying in a shallow grave somewhere. everyone knew Arya escaped, and is just posing as some nobody peasant (which she is). but, life in westoros is pretty tough for a peasant, especially one who is young, a girl, has no money, no skills, and no friends or family. the most likely scenario is that she would be raped and killed.
posted by cupcake1337 at 8:40 AM on July 5, 2013


Being one of the youngest Starks and a girl she's not as valuable a chesspiece as her siblings, but you'd think she'd be worth somebody's while to ransom or use to gain favor.

Because she'd be valuable alive, why has she not appeared? The very fact that no one has seen her or used her as a bargaining chip is itself an argument in favor of her being dead. The few people that know she's alive can't seem to hold on to her and it's hard to get information to people who will make use of her without risk, much less with speed.

Sandor was going to ransom her, but his plans were ruined by the Red Wedding. I suppose he could have tried to ransom her to the Frey's, but when he arrived it was a pretty confusing situation. He was more likely to be killed as rewarded. Not to mention, who would vouch for Arya's identify? You can't just say "here's Arya Stark" to people who have no idea what she looks like and expect to be rewarded.

At this point in the story the only person who actually knows Arya is alive is Sandor. It's in his best interests to keep this information secret until he can get her into the hands of someone who will trade for her.

For anyone else who thinks she might be alive, what can they do? She's missing; it's not like they can print photos and ask peasants "have you seen this girl?"
posted by Green With You at 8:58 AM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know I'm going against the grain here, but in the first episode of season three, "Valar Dohaeris," Littlefinger actually tells Sansa that Arya is alive. (Remember that Littlefinger recognized Arya as Tywin's cupbearer in season two, though to be fair he hasn't seen her since then and probably isn't certain that she is still alive.)

Maybe Sansa believes Littlefinger, maybe not. At that point in the story, Sansa is overly trusting of Littlefinger and his intent to help her escape from King's Landing—part naïveté, part desperation—but as everyone else in the thread has pointed out, the logical conclusion from Sansa's view would be that Arya has died.

I haven't read the third book yet and I can't recall offhand every scene with Sansa from the third season, so I can't say for certain that Sansa believes Arya is alive. But I think it's reasonable to conclude that Littlefinger has given Sansa hope that Arya has lived despite overwhelming odds.

My understanding is that Robb and Catelyn believed the Lannisters had both Sansa and Arya, because Littlefinger told Catelyn so when he returned Ned's body to her and Robb. Also, Catelyn freed Jaime under the condition that Sansa and Arya would be returned to her.
posted by The Girl Who Ate Boston at 9:40 AM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


It worth pointing out, I think, that Arya being (presumed) dead makes Sansa, as the sole Stark heir, all the more valuable. For Sansa, Arya being dead makes Sansa safer. She's irreplaceable as a source of legitimacy for control of the North.

Were Arya to be alive somewhere as a Lannister hostage, well, then, what would it matter if one of the Stark girls died horribly? They'd have a spare.
posted by bonehead at 9:46 AM on July 5, 2013


The Girl Who Ate Boston: "I know I'm going against the grain here, but in the first episode of season three, "Valar Dohaeris," Littlefinger actually tells Sansa that Arya is alive. (Remember that Littlefinger recognized Arya as Tywin's cupbearer in season two, though to be fair he hasn't seen her since then and probably isn't certain that she is still alive.) "

I would argue that Littlefinger might not have recognized Arya as Tywin's cupbearer. I mean, this is one of the most devious men in Westeros. Do you really think he'd leave a pawn like that just lying around? As for telling Sansa that Arya is alive... well, it's Littlefinger. He lies. About pretty much everything. Especially if that lie will help get Sansa onto one of his boats.
posted by specialagentwebb at 10:18 AM on July 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just, we haven't heard anything about her, she must be dead?

She's a young girl who disappeared when her father and other family members were seized by the Lannisters.

The thinking goes like this for our noble friends of Westeros:

If she escaped that attempt to take her hostage, and is alive, a high-born girl would turn up somewhere: either she would seek refuge with another high-born family for protection or she would be recognized and seized by another house because of her political importance. That is, Arya is a piece in the game, and game pieces don't disappear for long. If another House had her, they would've used her in some way - to curry favour with House Lannister or Stark, or to position themselves somewhere in the struggle. Witness what happens to Arya once she is recognized - the Band plan to ransom her, and the Hound to use her to reconnect himself to a House (or at a minimum, ransom her).

Given the above, the fact that she hasn't been seen - hasn't even been rumoured to have been seen - and the usual fate of unprotected children, especially female children, in a land as rough as Westeros, it is assumed she must be dead.

What no one counted on was the presence of Yorick, who took her, disguised her as a boy, and joined her to the group heading for the Wall. The last place anyone of the Houses would think to look for a high born girl is in the company of the bastards, thieves, murderers, and rapists being sent to the Wall. Add in the nature of Arya's character, and she is able to escape detection long enough to effectively disappear - and when she is found, the events of the Red Wedding prevent her from being returned in full to everyone's awareness.
posted by nubs at 12:29 PM on July 5, 2013


Because she'd be valuable alive, why has she not appeared? The very fact that no one has seen her or used her as a bargaining chip is itself an argument in favor of her being dead. The few people that know she's alive can't seem to hold on to her and it's hard to get information to people who will make use of her without risk, much less with speed.

I think the actual belief of Sansa is probably that she is dead....or worse. Like, there are lots of reasons for highborn girls who disappear during civil unrest not to be found again besides being dead. They usually involve a lot of rape.

So if you wanted to think "the best" thing had happened to her, you might think that she was dead, because the alternative would be far worse. It's clear no nobles knowingly have her, anyway.
posted by corb at 3:16 PM on July 5, 2013


What no one counted on was the presence of Yorick

It's Yoren (alas ;-) ).

but you'd think she'd be worth somebody's while to ransom or use to gain favor.

As someone hinted at above, if the show follows the books on this point, the whole "Arya a political chess piece" will manifest itself in a strange and unexpected way.
posted by dhens at 3:17 PM on July 5, 2013


As someone hinted at above, if the show follows the books on this point, the whole "Arya a political chess piece" will manifest itself in a strange and unexpected way.

Yeah....Just to be 100% clear, I did not and do not want any clues as to what happens in the books, even mild ones such as the above. The Red Wedding was...well, I wouldn't say ruined, exactly, but certainly much less shocking than I think it was for many precisely because of comments like yours. I didn't know what exactly was going to happen, but I knew something would; one you know something will, what does seems like the most obvious choice.

Anyway, thanks everybody. I guess I can buy that the Lannisters think the bad penny would have turned up by now if she was going to.
posted by Diablevert at 4:26 PM on July 5, 2013


In the books, after Ned is arrested there's a scene where the Lannisters read off a long list of people they want to 'present themselves and swear loyalty to Joffrey'. Arya's name is on the list, and Sansa thinks to herself that Arya must have escaped on the boat Ned had waiting for them. At that point, she thinks Arya might be safe back in Winterfell.

I believe once Robb raises banners against the Lannisters (and particularly after Jaime is captured) they're pretty keen on keeping Arya's disappearance quiet. They want to find her, but they don't want anyone to know they're looking for her.
posted by lovecrafty at 9:16 PM on July 5, 2013


Littlefinger doesn't actually tell Sansa that Arya is alive. He tells Sansa that he saw her mother and he phrases it in such a way that it implies that he saw Arya, too. Or it can be interpreted that way. It's unclear whether he actually intended this meaning; which is to say, it's always been unclear whether he recognized Arya at Harrenhall.

However, Sansa possibly interpreted Littlefinger as saying that he'd seen Arya and therefore might then have believed that she was alive. However, now that she's learned of the Red Wedding, she will assume that Arya was killed there.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:52 PM on July 5, 2013


Well, assuming that she didn't think that Arya was at Winterfell. It's unclear whether news of what's happened at Winterfell reached King's Landing. The maester sent out the ravens when Theon's force attacked and so word did get out about that. As Walder Frey says to Roose Bolton in the last episode of the season, there was no word about what happened after that. Bolton knows because Ramsey told him. (So Bolton also knows that Brandon and Rickon weren't killed, which basically no one else knows.)

With Bolton being named Warden of the North, it seems that it's understood in the capital that Winterfell has fallen or will fall. So Sansa will think that either Arya was killed long ago, or that Arya was at Winterfell and already dead, or at Winterfell and will shortly be dead, or if she understood Littlefinger as saying that he saw Arya, then that she was with Catelyn and Rob at the Twins and is dead.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:02 AM on July 6, 2013


My apologies.
posted by dhens at 1:40 AM on July 6, 2013


Speaking as someone who has only seen the show, I always got the impression that Sansa doesn't definitively believe that Arya is dead, but lacking evidence to the contrary, this must be her assumption. Arya, of course, knows that Sansa is alive and well because the Hound has told her how he saved her from the rioters.

(As a side note, Sansa gets a lot of bad press, but I think most, if not all of it is pretty unfair. The books and show ruthlessly adhere to the saying 'be careful what you wish for'. Arya appears, on one level at least, to be thriving — out in the world on her own, travelling the country with a sword at her side and unencumbered by the stultifying obligations and expectations that come with being highborn. The practical reality, of course, is one where she's constantly one wrong word away from being identified and handed over to the Lannisters, starving to death, or worse. But it's exciting to watch her improvise her way through all this. Sansa appears superficially to be getting what she deserves, since her aspiration isn't to be a proto-feminist badass but to play house with Joffrey. But once everything goes to hell, her circumstances are even more constrained than Arya's. Wielding a sword and navigating the toxic political environment of King's Landing are two sides of the same coin, in my book.)
posted by jaffacakerhubarb at 8:04 AM on July 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


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