Arya Stark, A Game of Thrones
From her first POV chapter, Arya could never truly reconcile the ideals of her society with her own personal beliefs. Her belief in the importance of women, her championing a butcher’s boy against the future King, her stringent code of justice and morality, always clashing with societal constraints and expectations. Its no wonder she struggled with feelings of inadequacy. She just couldn’t fit into the mold, though she tried her best to.
#ARYA STARK #WHO KNOWS BETTER THAN TO JUDGE PEOPLE BY THEIR SOCIAL CLASS #WHO BEFRIENDS ALL TYPES OF PEOPLE ON HER JOURNEY #WHO BELIEVES IN ALL TYPES OF EQUALITY #IN HER FIRST POV CHAPTER SHE RELFECTS TWICE THAT LIFE ISN’T FAIR #WHEN IT COMES TO FEMINISM #AND HOW JON IS TREATED BECAUSE HE IS A BASTARD #she is only a child when she thinks these thoughts and that’s incredible imo (x)
I think there’s some general confusion on tumblr right now wrt what Sansa stands to inherit/make claim to— this how the situation stands afaik.
1. Sansa is not first in line to inherit Winterfell; she is not the current successor.
We know that Robb probably either moved Jon up in the line of succession or flat-out disinherited Sansa to prevent a Lannister from claiming Winterfell.
Even if you argue that the will hasn’t popped back up yet and cite Jon’s “Winterfell belongs to my sister Sansa,” line, you have to consider that Bran and Rickon are obviously both still alive so really, Winterfell belongs to one of them. (I know that a lot of us are quick to say that Bran is going to stay mostly involved with the supernatural side of events, but 1) I think it’s fairly likely that the song of ice and fire and the game of thrones will merge to some extent and 2) that still leaves Rickon. Rickon, who seems to not have an apparent purpose in this story, but whom GRRM included for a reason.)
Sansa is going to rally behind Rickon’s claim to Winterfell long before she ever tries to steal it out from under him, and I think it’s safe to say that there’s a good chance that Rickon will have some future significance. So if either Rickon or Bran pop back up (and I’m p damn sure Rickon is going to) there is just no way that Sansa is going to keep either of from claiming what is rightfully theirs. Imo the only way Sansa rules Winterfell is to either hold it temporarily for one of her brothers or as Rickon’s regent.
2. Sansa is not the Lady of Casterly Rock.
Cersei is the current Lady of Casterly Rock, whereas Sansa is a fugitive in hiding wanted for regicide. And even if Cersei’s time is almost up (because her situation isn’t necessarily looking too great) it doesn’t really matter—the Rock isn’t going to go to Sansa anyway.
Sansa’s having any sort of claim at all to CR relies on her somehow procuring a child that she could pass off as the offspring of herself and Tyrion. And then also getting that whole regicide mess cleared up. And then also somehow managing to convince the Lannisters that she should get it (lol, good luck) or somehow forcefully taking it from them. And then potentially also undergoing a personality change that would lead her to desire Casterly Rock in the first place.
3. Consider Littlefinger’s apparent plans for Sansa, and her claim to the Eyrie:
Sansa taking power here centers around an innocent child being killed off and her being married for her claim—two things which Sansa most definitely does not desire.
And am I the only one who is slightly suspicious of Littlefinger apparently spilling his guts to Sansa here? Littlefinger, who deceives at every turn and who has gotten where he is through manipulation? I agree with those who think that there’s a good chance that Littlefinger isn’t being honest with Sansa when he confesses these plans to her, and besides—do you really think LF is okay with Sansa being married off to someone other than himself? It’s either a lie or he’s planning to kill off Harry, I’m betting, and I also don’t think that he cares about Sansa getting what is “rightfully hers”. But this is speculation, because of course we don’t have a Littlefinger POV.
But as I’ve seen pointed out elsewhere: maybe consider that Harry the Heir is potentially a red herring. Littlefinger is probably telling Sansa what he thinks she wants to hear. But of course in reality, Sansa has no desire for an innocent child to be murdered, or to marry Harry—and Littlefinger himself is still a total wild card.
Thank you for breaking this down.
Arya has been made to feel inferior, worthless, and wrong for not adhering to her society’s harsh standards for women. She is unfavorably compared to the sister who is deemed more beautiful, more lady-like, more courteous, more exceptional in matters of consequence for the patriarchal culture of Westeros. As a result, Arya suffers from low self-esteem with regard to her looks, and her issues with self-esteem are deep-seated and always present. They begin in the first book where she must endure the taunt “horseface,” where she is startled that her father compares her to the beautiful Lyanna, where she is called ugly and awful, and continue on all the way to the house of black and white where she is unable to forget that she was hardly ever called pretty:
"She had never cared if she was pretty, even when she was stupid Arya Stark. Only her father had ever called her that. Him, and Jon Snow, sometimes. Her mother used to say she could be pretty if she would just wash and brush her hair and take more care with her dress, the way her sister did. To her sister and sister’s friends and all the rest, she had just been Arya Horseface." Arya, ADWD
It is all the more significant, then, that the first time she receives a compliment on her looks from someone other than Ned or Jon is in Acorn Hall, where she meets Lady Smallwood.
"I’m sorry I tore the acorn dress too. It was pretty." "Yes, child. And so are you. Be brave." Lady Smallwood to Arya, ASoS
The fact that the compliment comes from a woman- a noble woman at that, is incredibly powerful. Lady Smallwood provides confirmation to a little girl who has only ever been told that she was inadequate for someone of her station and birth. It has been instilled in Arya that she lacks the beauty, skills, womanly attributes of her older sister, plaguing Arya with self-doubt and a sense of low self-worth. Lady Smallwood’s acceptance and praise of Arya are therefore incredibly significant, profound, and rare as her words stay with Arya even after they depart:
"Lord Smallwood, she knew, remembering Acorn Hall so far away, and the lady who’d said she was pretty." Arya, ASoS
"Some of the women tried to put her in a dress and make her do needlework, but they weren’t Lady Smallwood and she was having none of it."
Arya’s interactions with Lady Smallwood are minimal but the residual effects are not. It is the first time that Arya is described as having an entirely positive and affirming relationship with a woman. She is not called horseface, she is not berated or unfavorably compared to anyone, she is not told that she must try harder to be pretty or that she looks like a boy. Arya is simply told that she is pretty. She is reminded that she has someone who wants to take care of her as she is bathed, combed, and dressed like the girl she is proud to be. It is the first time in a long while that Arya Stark is allowed the chance to embrace the beauty that is so often overlooked, ignored, and made insignificant.