And she seems to arouse misgivings and rancor in others, because it seems she could chose to be other than she is. But my guess is, she's right: she can't.
I don't mean to imply that there's no such thing as pragmatic conformation and I certainly
don't mean to imply that conforming is always and everywhere some sort of offense against one's true nature. That's simplistic and reductive.
But I do think that there's a continuum in non-pathological human personalities spanning choice
on one axis and conforming
on the other axis. People whose "natures", whatever those are, are more the result of their own choices have much more range of movement with regard to where they want to be along the conforming<->non-conforming continuum. But people whose natures are more determined, less amenable to their own choices, have little range of movement about where they want to be on that continuum. Some people can't help but conform very deeply. And other people can't help but non-conform, also very deeply. Most are more in the middle, on both axes.
Arya's nature is both determined and non-conforming, I think. She really has little choice but to be who she is. I don't think she can even imagine being someone different than who she is. Conforming really isn't even conceivable to her in a way. Some people are like this. Whether it's truly inherent or the product of a bunch of environmental influences, or both, is beside the point. The point, in my opinion, is that we oughtn't make value judgments about people based upon our own individual experience of our ability to make choices about who we are and how we conform. If it's easy for me, that doesn't mean it's easy for you. And if it's hard for me, that doesn't mean it's hard for you. And, more to the point, if it seems essentially right
to me, that doesn't mean that it's essentially right for you; and if it seems essentially wrong
to me, that doesn't mean that it's essentially wrong for you.
I think that people make unnecessary and hasty value judgements about this eternal tension between individuality and social conformance. Some people are strongly inclined to make conformance a virtue, inherently (not merely pragmatically). And other people are strongly inclined to make individualism a virtue, inherently (not merely pragmatically). But it seems to me that the virtues and vices of each exist only contextually; and, also--and perhaps more importantly--the assumption that each individual is in complete control over how they evaluate this implicit contest and that they can choose which side to embrace...well, that's an unwarranted assumption.
Not only is it not clear that one is better than the other for every person, but it's not even clear that every person would be able to choose it were they able to unambiguously decide.
And then lets put this in the context of an expected conformance that many, perhaps (hopefully!) most, of us would agree is objectively unjust. Should a slave be expected to conform to the social expectation of conformance to slavery? But not only that, should a slave be expected to non
-conform to the social expectation of slavery? This is a good example of why personal narratives truly do matter, why they should be taken seriously. In the context of feminism, it took some time for it to start privileging the narratives of individual women rather than the narratives of theorists about how women "are" and "should" behave.
So I think we should be sympathetic to Arya, both because we have seen indications that conformance isn't really an option for her and because she's non-conforming to an unjust social structure. But also we should be sympathetic to Sansa. Is it Sansa's "responsibility", even to herself, to non-conform to the same unjust social structure that Arya is fighting? No, it's not. I don't know that Sansa could
choose to be non-conforming but, even if she could, I don't think we can condemn her because she does not.