“No, not Lady, Lady didn’t bite anybody, she’s good…”
She was the smallest of the litter, the prettiest, the most gentle and trusting.
– A Game of Thrones
It still baffles me that people can read/watch Lady’s death and blame it on Sansa, because the symbolism here is not very subtle. Lady is symbolic for Sansa herself. (And no, I don’t mean this the way some people have speculated, that Lady’s death means Sansa will die or that she’s not a Stark, etc etc.)
Both are innocents who suffer because of the cruelty of others. Like Lady, Sansa has always done what she’s told, she wants to be seen as good. She likes pretty things and is often regarded as the least of the Starks. She cultivates a gentle nature and she’s naive and trusting, and it’s this trust in Joffrey, this desire for things to be simple and good and nice, that hurts her in the end as well as Arya. And that is not her fault. If you’re upset over the death of an innocent animal (which is rightfully upsetting) but blame Sansa for it, then you are missing the point.
The first quote, said by Sansa herself, actually tells you a lot about Sansa’s mindset at the beginning of the series. She can’t understand why Lady is being punished for something that she wasn’t a part of. Later, she will struggle to understand why other people want to hurt her, because she’s a child who’s been told that the world is good and just. However, Sansa quickly learns that the people who are supposed to protect her are the ones who will hurt her the most, and that is one of the tragedies at the heart of the books’ deconstruction of chivalric values.
The other quote, from Ned’s POV, is about the irony of Lady, a ferocious direwolf who nonetheless is gentle, nonthreatening, and trusting. The direwolf is the symbol of House Stark, and embodies the Stark traits of survival in harsh conditions. Like Lady the direwolf, Sansa is a girl who might seem like an anomaly growing up in the harsh North. However, that doesn’t mean that she isn’t really a Stark or that she needs to grow up. Lady’s death is not about how Sansa should be punished for her innocence, it’s about how something rare that should have been preserved was taken away from her far too early.
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