I had intended to touch upon this in my actual review of Chapter 16, but it slipped my mind when I actually sat down to write the review. In case anyone needs further evidence in support of my claim that the direwolf’s slaughter had almost no effect on the characters, I found a quote by the author about just that while making sure I hadn’t misremembered anything.
So what’s George R. R. Martin got to say about it, exactly?
During an interview with a high-school student, George R. R. Martin said of the direwolf’s effect on Sansa’s character “development,”
She lost hers, so it kind of leaves her a little adrift.
“A little adrift”? I think having your father kill your dog like that would leave someone a little adrift in the same way as your older brother massacring your entire family and then using his Mangekyō Sharingan to torture you for an eternity in the space of one second would leave a person “a little adrift!” I think the proper description would be “completely messed up in the head”! But I suppose you have to be British or Japanese to have your character development make even the smallest degree of sense, at least if this fine example of American writing is anything to go on!
The Astounding “Disappearing Keloid”!
You might think that this a deliberate understatement on Martin’s part in the same way as someone might remark that “Caligula was a wee bit mental,” but the fact is that we never see Sansa as being left any worse than a little adrift. A trauma such as she suffered would certainly leave a normal person emotionally scarred for life, and I don’t mean the sort of tiny, almost invisible scars everyone has on their dominant hand—I mean the Prince Zuko-type scars that disfigure the whole left side of your face.
Sansa’s Quick Recovery
Sansa, however, remains the same unpleasant and stereotypically self-centered teenage girl as she was before Lady was killed. If you don’t believe me, here’s the bit that immediately follows the description of the splendour of the tourney…
“It is better than the songs,” she whispered when they found the places that her father had promised her, among the high lords and ladies. Sansa was dressed beautifully that day, in a green gown that brought out the auburn of her hair, and she knew they were looking at her and smiling.
May I just remind everyone that her father quite recently slaughtered her pet wolf! And this is what’s on her mind at this point—hot guys and the pretty dress she’s wearing! Had Sansa been a soldier fighting for her life in the World War I trenches, I could understand if she were to suppress all these emotions and then suddenly start showing signs of PTSD after the war, but she’s got a cushy life with plenty of time to sit down and ruminate on all the horrors of her life. This is a trend that continues throughout the series; the characters just move from one scene to the next without really reacting.
Some Wounds Go Too Deep
George R. R. Martin doesn’t seem to grasp what is among the most important rules of storytelling. Characters like Prince Zuko, Boromir, Uchiha Sasuke, and virtually every other character in their respective stories are deeply affected by their traumatic experiences. Yes, even in Naruto; for all that show’s faults, I can at least say this much in its favour. This is not the case in Game of Thrones, and I can’t be invested in a story if the characters themselves don’t care about anything!