Mark Reads ‘Men at Arms’- Part 5

In the fifth part of Men at Arms, the Night Watch considers their future while Vimes faces his. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of suicide, sexism, racism, and xenophoba.


The Investigation

I love that, completely independent of Vimes, the Night Watch are considering… doing their jobs? It’s a weird thing to say, but because the legal system in Ankh-Morpork is so strange, that means that the “job” of the City Watch varies based on where they are, who might be committing a crime, and whether or not that crime is totally legal. In that sense, we can’t view “crime” as we do in our own world. (That being said, I think the suicide joke is a little too crass for my tastes. I get what Pratchett is poking fun at, but I have too personal a history with it, so it’s just not funny to me.) Thus, the job these people have is just as varied as the construction of crime within the city. Still, all of them know that the murder of Hammerhock is deeply disturbing because it doesn’t fit any known crime in the city. As far as they can tell, the dwarf was killed for… well, nothing at all. And it unnerves them!

“But he was just a dwarf! Pillar of the community! Spent all day making swords and axes and burial weapons and crossbows and torture implements! And then he’s in the river with a great big hole in his chest! Who’s going to do anything about it, if not us?”

Truthfully? No one at all. And I love this is happening at the same time that Vimes is probably wondering about the case, too. Well, not just that, either. It’s the four newest members of the Night Watch who express this interest. Oh my god, I would love if they held their own investigation so that they could prove to Sergeant Colon that they’re worthy of being in the Watch. Agh, I want more!

Casual Discrimination

I often find myself more hurt and betrayed by the kind of bigotry that happens from friends, nice people, folks I allow myself to trust, and that sort of ilk than from absolute strangers. A day does not pass in my life free from slurs and racism and homophobia and whatnot, but the vast majority of this comes from people I don’t know.

So what happens when it’s not from someone like this? What happens when someone who knows you drops something awful in your lap? Hell, let’s get even more specific: what if someone doesn’t know you belong to the very same minority group they’re denigrating? Sometimes, people don’t know that I’m gay, and they think they can bond with me through homophobia. (It’s straight men. IT’S ALWAYS THEM.) That’s what happens to Angua here, since it’s finally revealed that she’s a werewolf OH MY GOD. And what does Carrot say about the kind of people she lives with?

Awful things. He insinuates that a nice lady like her should live elsewhere, as if she doesn’t know how to take care of herself. He tries to speak in coded language – making references to how “odd” Mrs. Cake’s lodgings are, how the place just isn’t right – with the expectation that she’ll agree. Then he just stops being subtle:

“But… undead… I just wish they’d go back to where they came from, that’s all.”

“Most of them came from round here.”

“I just don’t like ’em. Sorry.”

Obviously, this is much more of a reference to xenophobia than anything else, but there’s still a way to expand this to other groups. The point is that Carrot doesn’t think he’s being gross; he thinks this opinion of his is reasonable. Everyone should hate the undead, right?

Oh, Carrot. I can’t wait until you know you’re wrong.

The Rich

I just… I RELATE TO VIMES SO MUCH IN HIS BRIEF APPEARANCE HERE. The very idea of having financial security is horrifying to me because I don’t know what that means. So I deeply, deeply understand what he feels here because sometimes? The rich honestly do seem like a different species to me. I CAN’T WAIT FOR THE NEXT SCENE WITH HIM IN IT. I also expect that someone has fanart of Sam in that suit and hat. I need it!


But my absolute favorite part of this whole section is the POV of Angua, who we switch to ONCE SHE TRANSFORMS!!!! And unlike the traditional werewolf narrative, Angua is not some fearsome beast devouring people for the hell of it. She’s just a dog. That’s it! And a cute one, at that. What’s so cool about this is that Pratchett spends time showing us what the experience is like for Angua, both as she does her best to hide her condition from others, and so that we get a glimpse of life as a were-dog.

I also think the very idea of a werewolf who uses her condition to help solve a crime is perfect. It’s just way too amazing for our terrible world, and now I’m just mad that I didn’t think of it first. It’s such great character building for Angua because it shows us how dedicated she is to solving this case and proving her worth. Who else is pursuing Hammerhock’s murderer at this point? Who else knows that a fearful human man was in the same building as the dwarf, and that he escaped to somewhere near Scoone and Prouts? No one. Again, Angua is ahead of everyone else. AND IT’S SO EXCITING TO ME.

Mark Links Stuff

– I will be at numerous conventions in 2016! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be seasons 1 & 2 of The 100, Death Note, and Neon Genesis Evangelion. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
- Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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