Do you think Sandor Clegane secretly despised Joffrey? Or the king`s treatment of Sansa was kind of turning point for him?
Yeah, Sandor Clegane never liked Joffrey.
“The Stark boy is nothing to me,” Joffrey said. “I cannot abide the wailing of women.”
Tyrion Lannister reached up and slapped his nephew hard across the face. The boy’s cheek began to redden.
“One word,” Tyrion said, “and I will hit you again.”
“I’m going to tell Mother!” Joffrey exclaimed.
Tyrion hit him again.
- Tyrion I, AGoT
What does Sandor do about Tyrion slapping Joffrey?
“The prince will remember that, little lord,” the Hound warned him. The helm turned his laugh
into a hollow rumble.
He’s exactly the sort of sworn sword you want - the sort that thinks someone slapping his charge is hilarious. He knows exactly what sort of person Joffrey is, and so he can advise Sansa about Joffrey’s desires.
Ser Meryn and Ser Arys followed him out, but Sandor Clegane lingered long enough to yank
her roughly to her feet. “Save yourself some pain, girl, and give him what he wants.”
“What… what does he want? Please, tell me.”
“He wants you to smile and smell sweet and be his lady love,” the Hound rasped. “He wants to
hear you recite all your pretty little words the way the septa taught you. He wants you to love
him… and fear him.”
- Sansa VI, AGoT
But note the “save yourself some pain” aspect of his advice. This is good advice in the situation, but it’s not the only thing that someone can do. Sansa refuses to only preserve herself and save herself some pain, but risks herself to stick up for Ser Dontos, Tommen, and the unnamed beggar woman during the bread riots.
Watching her, Sandor starts to see that defying evil is possible and that not everyone is awful. If not everyone is awful, that means that Joffrey’s service isn’t the only option. Her courage gives him courage - ultimately, the courage to leave.
A Dog’s Tears: Why Sandor Crying Matters to his Character
Before I continue, I will not begrudge anyone reading this for disliking Sandor or being lukewarm to him. To me, I can definitely understand the antipathy towards him, if not be a supporter of it.
I love Sandor Clegane’s character so much. I love a great deal of characters from ASoIaF, from Aeron to Cersei to Stannis to Brienne to Sansa, but, of course, they all have their unique charm and this loyal dog is no exception. This guy is such an important part of the ‘what makes a true knight’ dialogue, the ‘idealism vs cynicism’ dialogue and tone in ASoIaF that it’s really hard not to get invested in him, especially if you’re a Sansa fan.
I could talk about how he’s a non-knight who still tries to embody the virtues of knighthood (like loyalty and service) even though he disparages the office itself or about he’s a disappointed idealist who armors himself in cynicism to protect himself or how he doesn’t have the typical body frame of the ‘bullied little brother’ character (being big and strong) or how he’s a burn survivor and it’s not ‘cute’ or romanticized one bit, it’s still painful for him.
No, I’m going to talk about how he cries. At least four times in the series so far. Because it’s surprisingly crucial to his character and how we see him.
I’ll confess: I didn’t like him for the first half of A Game of Thrones and I’m thinking that was Martin’s intention. He’s by the side of Joffrey, who we decisively don’t like one bit, he’s telling off Tyrion for slapping Joffrey (though, yeah, Tyrion wasn’t being smart here) and he’s killed a child we know is innocent of attacking Joffrey.
That child-killing asshole! That’s it, you’ve crossed a line, San-
[The Hound’s eyes seemed to glitter through the steel of that hideous dog’s-head helm.]
”[…] The old man made marvelous toys. I don’t remember what I got, but it was Gregor’s gift I wanted. A wooden knight, all painted up, every joint pegged separate and fixed with strings, so you could make him fight.[…]”
Eh? I-what-bwu… sh-shit.
It hit me then that Sandor was just another Mycah. Someone who wanted to be a knight, only to get hit hard by reality. When his eyes glitter, it’s not him taking some weird shine to murder, it’s him tearing up at killing another idealistic boy who wanted to be a knight and being complicit in upholding a terrible system that hurt him and supported his tormentor.
Sure, he might have thought, and had good reason, to think Mycah did attack Joffrey, but that’s not the point. It still wouldn’t make the killing of a child itself any easier. It’d just legalize it in Westeros’ eyes, which does nothing for his soul. Crying here reveals his complicated feelings towards his part in the system and rereading it helps us see the beginning of him as more than a Lannister sworn shield.
Then the Battle of Blackwater happens. This is a rather important battle for quite a few characters’ future character development (Sansa, Tyrion, Davos, Stannis), but with Sandor…
When he goes to Sansa, he’s not in a great mental state. He fights for the Lannisters, gets scared of the fire, probably seeing his trauma relived again (”
Only a man who’s been burned knows what hell is truly like.”) and has been emasculated by Tyrion.
It’s not sexy, it’s not charming, the way his despair and trauma shows itself, shoving a knife at Sansa’s throat and demanding a song from her. I’m absolutely sure he meant well, but… yeah, I’d call bullshit on anyone who’d say Sansa should have taken her chances to escape with him. This is not a stable dog.
And yet… while having a knife at Sansa’s throat, he hears her sing about wanting his wrath soothed (God, I love Sansa so much). He feels her fingers cup his cheek.
And it breaks him.
And he cries.
It just shows more what a complex person he is, the person he is beyond his sword. Throughout all the horrors the Battle of the Blackwater shows to him, it’s the fact that, despite all the bark, despite all the blunt criticism he gives her, despite how much he makes threats to her, Sansa still has it in her heart to care for him, to treat him far better than he feel he deserves, that makes him cry.
Because that’s what matters most to Sandor, not the emasculation or wanting to be seen as a warrior. It’s the fact that he feels he doesn’t deserve her kindness, given what he’s just done. Sansa’s kindness is a precious thing and he feels he’s unworthy of it. It’s a storm of confusion, self-loathing and mixed-up emotions that revels in the complexity that ASoIaF just dives into.
Then he cries at the trial by combat and wow, it’s a doozy. One of the brilliant duel scenes of A Storm of Swords and it’s a stunning trial for Sandor and his fear of fire. He had to fight amid his trauma with Beric’s blazing sword and then he burns.
[“Please,” Sandor Clegane rasped, cradling his arm. “I’m burned. Help me. Someone. Help me.” He was crying. “Please."
Arya looked at him in astonishment. He’s crying like a little baby, she thought.]
This makes his trauma so visceral.He breaks down. No, Arya, not a little baby, he’s turning back into that little boy that’s actually reliving his burning from Gregor. The sensation of fire eating through his flesh. He was never allowed to process his burning, his childhood trauma, in a healthy way, thanks to his father silencing the event and his tormentor being rewarded with the institution Sandor revered for being a thug.
Here, it’s laid out in stark detail, the effect of never being able to grow up from that: the sight of a grown man crying like a little boy. It’s all rooted in deep trauma and a loss of idealism his brother tried to burn out of him. It’s not laugh-worthy. It’s not emasculating. No one makes fun of him. Trauma matters. Pain matters. Sandor can never forget it. It’s sad and it shows us, through Arya’s eyes, the true extent of what Gregor did to him and the scars in Sandor’s psyche.
Finally, his crying and “confession.”
Many have talked about this scene in far greater depth than I can ever reach, so I’ll just say this: this crying puts everything he’s done in King’s Landing under a different light. Along with the words, it exposes his self-loathing, his trauma, his focusing in how he failed the virtues of knighthood by letting them beat Sansa and his desire for mercy from the pain. It bears his troubled soul to Arya and, through merit of third-person limited POV, us.
And there is genuine pathos. When he cries, we cry.
Without those tears, it’s easier to reduce Sandor’s character to a stoic, gruff pragmatic “badass” who teaches the foolish damsel in distress how the real world works or a child-killing psycho who thinks killing is the best feeling (seriously, this is such a wrong interpretation of Sandor).
And that’s the thing. Lesser fantasies would go for the ‘men don’t cry’ garbage (fed via patriarchy system) with the kind of character people see Sandor as: a stoic cynical bodyguard who shouldn’t cry because he’s “badass”.
In ASoIaF? Sandor cries, and has damn good reason to. We see his backstory and see his complicated feelings towards Sansa, so we understand his tears and know why.
It reveals what he feels and cares for. Crying is not a bad thing. Not at all. It serves as good emotional catharsis. It fleshes his character so much, shining a light on the man, the tortured soul, he is.
Sandor is not a stoic. The problem is, he has lots of feelings and emotions underneath his armor of cynicism, and that’s what Martin does with showing us Sandor’s tears: he doesn’t discount Sandor’s humanity beneath the armor, instead illuminating it in great detail.
And Sandor is what helps make ASoIaF a story of humanity instead of nihilism or deconstruction. Even big, strong men like Sandor can be vulnerable and it’s beautiful, the way the narrative doesn’t judge him for it. Sandor’s a man who wants to fight for a right cause, do some good with his life, uphold the virtues of knighthood while condemning the office and protect someone worthy of his service.
I hope he finds it with Sansa. He has done bad like killing Mycah, but he’s still alive. He can still make up for it and do good with his life. The Hound is dead and Sandor Clegane can pick a new path to live. If Sandor is the knight Sansa deserves, Sansa is the lady Sandor deserves.
Dean who was now fluent in Sign language might he add had spent quite frankly the best six months of his life with you. It was like living in one massive chick flick but he loved it; since last month you’d officially (kinda-almost) moved into his room.
You were still getting used to the change in dynamics with Dean after being friends for years it was a big step to a relationship and Dean was glad for the slow pace. Everything was fantastic the pace was fitting and was helping you ease into the whole ‘relationship’ scene. Dean wasn’t your first but it was by far the best he didn’t see your lack of hearing to be a curse or a disability he treated you like an adult rather than a child.
Now that Dean was fluent in sign language made your relationship a hell of alot easier, now you didn’t have write if you needed anything, well apart from Cas but he’d been taking lessons from Sam and when he showed up one day to show you there was nothing that would stop you from hugging him.
Currently you were comfortably laid on Dean’s bed your head on his chest, watching ‘Game of Thrones’ with subtitles of course a very typical night. You giggled as Tyrion Lannister slapped Joffrey across the face. Dean smiled when he heard you giggle because you were deaf you didn’t speak so whenever you laughed it made Dean’s heart swell, What’s so funny?
Just Joffrey getting slapped across the face. You signed with a smile, I really, really don’t like him.
I know, what a little bitch.
After the episode had ended you and Dean went to the kitchen to make something to eat, there was always an upside to not having a case to work on. Watching as Dean moved around the kitchen you didn’t notice Sam enter until Dean turned to face him.
‘’I was thinking of going out to the bar for a drink or two if you wanna join?’’ He spoke and signed at the same time, you nodded at Dean. Sounds good to me.
‘’Alright, give us time to eat.’’
The bar was packed like it usually was the last time you came here you’d gotten harassed by some guy that was the same night Dean had confessed his love to you. This time you all sat at the bar sitting close to Dean as always because he was always so protective. After ordering your usual you slowly started to let yourself relax, bars never were your scene but it was a chance to spend time with the boys without all the pressure of a case.
Everything was going fine until Dean turned his head you glanced around to try and see who he was looking at but by going off the way Sam rolled his eyes it wasn’t good. A rather tall brown haired woman came flying out of nowhere and wrapped her arms around Dean, almost knocking you off the barstool if it wasn’t for Sam you would’ve fallen off.
One of Dean’s ex-girlfriends, it only lasted two weeks because she is a class A bitch.
‘’Dean! Fancy running into you here!’’ The woman stumbled clearly drunk, ‘’Y-yeah, Emma, hi.’’
‘’How long has it been? Like a year?’’
‘’Yeah, a while.’’ Dean rubbed the back of his neck he was clearly not comfortable being around this woman. ‘’Aren’t you going to introduce me?’’
‘’Emma this is (First) and my brother Sam, guys this is Emma.’’ He spoke and signed at the same time and the woman you know knew as Emma laughed, ‘’What’s all this hand waving.’’ She motioned moving her hands around, ‘’Oh it’s sign language (First) can’t hear so.’’ Dean curled his hand around your back and Emma noticed, ‘’Are you two a thing?’’
Dean smiled, ‘’Yup.’’
‘’Aww ain’t that cute.’’ Though you couldn’t hear what she was saying you could read her lips; you Dean had been helping you to develop your lip reading skills and they came in handy. Her comment seemed innocent but the hidden meaning in her body language showed cynical.
‘’Six months.’’ Emma smiled, ‘’Wow that’s a long time for you, big boy.’’ She winked which made you cringe you wanted so desperately to tell her to back off but it wasn’t like you could just open your mouth and speak, your vocal cords were practically useless.
So instead you sat back hopeless as Dean and Emma spoke; Sam noticed your change of behaviour and tried his best to keep you occupied. What are they talking about?
Nothing really, just pointless crap.
‘’So Dean, you jumped on her yet?’’ Dean choked on his beer, ‘’What? No!’’ Emma hummed, ‘’Didn’t take you long to jump on me if I recall it was the same night.’’ Sam relaid everything that she said to you and the more she spoke the more uncomfortable you became. You and Dean were going slow but not once had he indicated anything even after you told him that you were comfortable but yet here you are learning from Sam that in the short two weeks they were together they’d done more than what you and Dean had done in six months.
I want to go home.
Not the only one. Sam signed before getting of the barstool, ‘’Hey Dean, you ready we’ve got a long day of work tomorrow.’’
‘’Yeah Sammy, I’m ready. See you around Emma.’’ Dean didn’t spare a second glance and you all walked out the bar, you almost wanted to run to the impala but you were stopped when Sam turned back around and Emma was stood there with a smug smile on her face. Dean kept opening and closing his mouth looking between you and her.
What did she say? When Sam didn’t answer you shoved his shoulder, What did she say?
That Dean’s only pity dating you.
Emma walked forward until she was stood in front of you, ‘’Face it sweetheart, you know it’s true.’’ Shoulders slumping you smiled slightly before pulling back your arm and punching her in the face, she fell to the floor cradling her bloodied nose.
You turned yanking open the door to the Impala and sat in the back, the ride home was tense enough tension that you could cut the air with the knife. Back at the bunker you wasted no time in changing into your night clothes and crawling into bed.
Looking up you saw Dean his expression unreadable, You okay?
Don’t be like this sweetheart. You let out a huff, Don’t be like this? You try not being like this when you have to sit through and listen to the person you love’s ex go on about the incredible sex you used to have.
I was just as uncomfortable for me as it was for you. You rolled your eyes, were you being unreasonable? Maybe, but right now you didn’t care, Dean sat down on the bed and removing his jacket, jeans and boots before leaning back. I told you I was comfortable but yet you won’t even try.
That’s because I’ve never -
What? Slept with a deaf girl? When Dean looked away from you it was then you knew you’d hit the nail on the head. This is new to me. I need to test -
I’m not a test subject Dean, you don’t get to play around with my feelings like this.
You know what? I’m not having this argument right now. I’m tired and I’m going to bed. Goodnight.
Dean - Before you could finish signing Dean turned off the light plunging the room into darkness cutting off your only means of communication. Anger spread through your veins, this wasn’t fair he wasn’t playing fair. You threw back the covers and ran out of the room slamming the door on your way out, for the first time in what felt like ages you were sleeping alone in your room.
You locked the door pushing the chest of drawers in front of it for good measure there was no way in hell you were allowing him to do that to you. You told him on many different occasions that you hated the dark, you weren’t afraid of it but it took away the only way you could talk. Hot angry tears fell down your face, you could feel the vibrations from the banging off the door but you ignored it and got into bed, the coldness wasn’t pleasant after sharing a bed with Dean for so long but you were to tired to even complain.
‘’Dude what’s all the banging for?’’
‘’I messed up Sammy, I seriously messed up.’’ Dean ran a hand through his hair, ‘’Alright calm down, what did you do?’’
‘’I- I turned the light off.’’
‘’We were arguing and I was tired and I turned the light off.’’ Sam rubbed his face with his hands before throwing them to the side, ‘’For god sake Dean, you know -’’
‘’I know Sammy, I know.’’ He let out a breath staring at your door, ‘’I just wasn’t thinking.’’
‘’Damn right you wasn’t.’’ Sam pinched the bridge of his nose, ‘’Just leave it for tonight and talk about it in the morning.’’ Dean nodded but there was no way he was even going to get a wink of sleep.
The next morning you woke up with a killer headache from crying most of the night, it was only when you sat in alone did you realize that you’d been a little unfair with Dean. You knew it was just as hard for him as it was for you, Dean was used to sweet talking his way with girls but obviously he couldn’t do that with you. Damn it, now you were feeling guilting.
You pushed away the chest of drawers and as soon as you opened the door you were met with the tired looking face that was Dean’s. I’m sorry, I didn’t - I didn’t mean to turn the light of, I’m so fucking sorry god I’m such an ass.
Dean’s hands frantically signed words of apology you stopped him by taking his hands in yours, It’s okay, Dean. It’s okay.
No, it’s not.
I understand that it’s new to you Dean, I understand that you need to find your bearings. I just freaked out after all what Emma said.
Nice right hook though, she deserved it. You giggled, That she did, you didn’t sleep last night did you?
Not a wink.
Want to cuddle with me?
Dean Winchester does not cuddle. You rolled your eyes and smiled, Shut up and cuddle with me.
Sam had spent the full morning looking for both you and Dean he was about to give up until he opened the door to your room, finding you both in bed wrapped up in one another’s arms. He smiled to himself and snapped a photo, perfect blackmail material.