In the fifteenth part of Men at Arms, Angua’s detour leads her to a new part of Ankh-Morpork, and the Citizen’s Watch grows. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
The Dogs’ Guild
THERE’S A DOGS’ GUILD. Y’all, you know what the best feature of this whole part of the story is? The Patrician didn’t set it up. As far as I can tell, this guild popped into existence entirely on its own. But that’s fascinating because, as Angua points out, the dogs of Ankh-Morpork are so anthropomorphized that they are basically humans. They aren’t anything like the wolves they aspire to be. Thus, they fall right into the same sort of organization and artificial hierarchy that we see of humanity. Which is both hilarious and upsetting when you think about it. Is that our true nature? Is this what we do?
I’d argue that it’s not always that way, and if you examine the scenes with Carrot and the Citizen’s Watch, it’s a direct contradiction of the idea that people are inherently terrible, violent, and unable to work with one another unless they subscribe to a vicious system of organization. Am I overthinking this? YOU BET YOUR ASS I AM. It is what I do, and it is so deliciously fun, because then you get all these theories and meta nonsense that you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. It’s all Pratchett’s fault, though, because who else would have come up with anti-human dog liberation??? God, I love every fucking thing about this, and the more I think about it, the funnier it gets. Do they have boycotts? Protests? Do they kinkshame dogs for enjoying humans? THEY TOTALLY DO, except “kinkshame” turns into “ritual execution,” which is horrifying. Oh my god, DOGS FIGHTING FOR INDEPENDENCE BY DUMPING THEIR DOG FOOD IN THE ANKH RIVER. It’s only a matter of time before I start writing an alternate history version of Hamilton starring dogs, and now I’ve said too much. I’m moving on.
The Citizen’s Watch
I do think that there’s some serious analysis to be made of the way in which Carrot exploits prejudice-based competitiveness in order to diffuse the near-riots in Ankh-Morpork. Carrot refuses to lie, and he refuses to believe in an outcome that isn’t best for all parties involved. Normally, a perpetual optimist of this sort is either written as a parody or they come off as an unrealistic mess. And yet, Carrot ends up being the most cunningly pragmatic character in this entire struggle. When he sees the crowd is eager to turn on Coalface, he puts Coalface into the Watch. When Coalface wants to be free of jail and the Watch, Carrot reminds the troll that there are at least a hundred dwarfs ready to attack him. He allows his fellow Acting-Constables to add as many trolls or dwarfs for “parity” so that neither side is perceived as the favorite and it further diffuses the situation.
He’s brilliant. Absolutely brilliant, y’all.
And yet, I don’t feel like this section advances the search for whomever has replaced Edward. The Watch is now entirely up to speed. Upon combining all the information that they have, they know that Edward killed Beano, used Beano’s room and make-up to steal the gonne and successfully escape, and then was killed my a mysterious third person. They don’t know that this third person appears to have continued Edward’s work, which makes no sense to me. (I’m basing this conclusion on the fact that the gonne “talks” to the murderer in an earlier scene, so I’m assuming that the person is just continuing what Edward started.)
I imagine that this part of Men at Arms is merely setting up the next step, and I don’t know what that step is.
As much as the whole prejudice plot has been barreling forward in really satisfying ways, Pratchett shows us that these people are still struggling with the fact that the Watch (and Ankh-Morpork as a whole) are rapidly changing. There’s a scene in this section where Colon deflects Silas Cumberbatch’s own bias through wordplay:
“Ain’t no dwarfs or trolls or humans in the Watch, see,” said Colon. “Just Watchmen, see? That’s what Corporal Carrot says.”
Whether Colon believes that or not isn’t explored here, but it’s neat to note that he doesn’t disagree with the sentiment as he may have earlier in this book. He’s deliberately refusing to separate the members of the Watch based on species because, in the end, their unity as Watchmen is what’s most important. It’s a very Carrot thing to say, is it not?
Except that even with Carrot’s open acceptance of trolls and dwarfs, he still cannot get over his extreme dislike of the undead. A vampire volunteers for the watch, but Carrot rejects him, even after Colon – of all people! – defends the vampire’s feeding habits as “not a problem.” Colon is willing to understand a vampire and destroy the misconceptions about them! Carrot, however, refuses to examine his own bigoted view of these people, despite that he has a werewolf working for him. Hell, Angua even tries to point out that the Patrician wanted better representation on the Watch, which should include the undead, but Gaspode interrupts the conversation. I admit that it’s a little frustrating that this very necessary talk is interrupted by the apparent sexual union of Carrot and Angua, but that’s only because I just have a personal pet peeve with important talks being ruined by sex. YOU CAN BLAME THIS SOLELY ON FIFTY SHADES OF GREY AND NOTHING ELSE.
So, will Carrot’s opinions of the undead change? Or does knowing one and sleeping with Angua not un-do that?
The original text contains use of the words “mad,” “insane,” and “crazy.”
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