In the nineteenth and final part of Men at Arms, Carrot has an interesting conversation with the patrician, and Vimes discovers what his future will be. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
I AM A MESS.
Well, I definitely do not think about Carrot the same way I did at the start of this book. His development is simply astounding in Men at Arms, and it’s clear that he’s meant to be a parallel to the Patrician, too. Well, maybe not a parallel so much as he’s a worthy competitor. Having said that, Carrot doesn’t have interest in taking Lord Vetenari’s position, at least for the moment. He negotiates (if you can call a one-sided list of demands a “negotiation) for exactly what he wants, and it’s spellbinding.
After Cuddy’s HEARTBREAKING funeral, I had to admit that Carrot was not the background player I thought he was. There’s perhaps no one aside from Vetenari who is more aware of the machinations of Ankh-Morpork. I mean, Carrot was smart enough to bury the remnants of the gonne within Cuddy’s coffin. (Which makes me want to turn into a puddle because, as Carrot puts it, that means that Cuddy got a proper dwarf burial. STOP IT.) But his foresight extends much further into the future, and initially, we’re tricked into thinking that he confronted the Patrician for just a few trinkets. Seriously, y’all, Carrot is a genius. It must be all that reading he did!
Okay, kidding. I do think his unique memorization skill plays a part in that, but I think that there’s also a dedication to goodness within him that allows him to see the larger picture. He sets up Vetenari to think of him as nothing more than an adorable fool, and then he drops his real demand:
“But we’re going to need another because of the new arrangements.”
“I’m sorry. What new arrangements?”
Carrot unfolded a second, and rather larger, piece of paper.
“The Watch to be brought up to an establishment strength of fifty-six; the old Watch Houses at the River Gate, the Deosil Gate and the Hubwards Gate to be re-opened and manned on a twenty-four hour basis –”
So why does the Patrician accept this so readily? Why doesn’t he argue a single point of Carrot’s? I think the clue is in Carrot’s reasoning:
“It’s all for the good of the city, sir.”
Isn’t that the Patrician’s logic for most of what he does? Granted, there’s a different context for him, but the Patrician has always been interested in keeping the city running as smoothly as possible. Carrot’s expansion of the Watch is just an extension of that. Everything he suggests provides a solution to practically every issue that might come up, from the combination of the Night and Day Watch, to asking for Vimes to be Commander (!!!!!!), and finally to his rejection of a monarchy within Ankh-Morpork. It’s through this that, unbelievably (YET TOTALLY BELIEVABLY SO!) Carrot Ironfoundersson wins over the respect of Lord Vetenari. It’s an incredible thing to witness because Carrot ends up being the only character thus far to reach this point. Why else would Vetenari reveal the truth of the throne to him? Because Carrot understands the power of imagery. He understands the worth of organization. These two characters just simply get one another.
And there’s one last clue as to why that is:
“You’re a man interested in words, captain. I’d just invite you to consider something your predecessor never fully grasped.”
“Have you ever wondered where the word ‘politician’ comes from?” said the Patrician.
I did. And I looked it up.
It’s origin? The Greek word polis.
Throughout this book, Vimes’s philosophical struggle with his own identity played a large part in his involvement with the mystery the Watch tried to unravel. Was he more or less of a member of the Watch because of his impending wedding? Would he become a different person when he retired from the Watch? Would he exist trapped between those two worlds?
While I don’t see Vimes playing a role similar to this one in future books, it’s great to know that his position as Commander will combine the social requirements he was going to have with Lady Ramkin with the rigorous work required by the Watch. A knighthood, y’all! But the coolest part about Carrot’s visit to Vimes is the spectacle of it all. The letter itself is pretty damn awesome, but I most loved how Vimes quickly slipped back into his role of a Watch man without even thinking about it. It’s in his soul, and nothing comes more naturally to him. (Except bubble baths. More bubble baths in the future, please.)
Look, Gaspode will never, ever fit in. His nature precludes that. He’s not quite a dog, and he’s certainly not a human. And yet, Pratchett gives him an end here that’s… well, to paraphrase Gaspode, there could be a worse fate for him. We’ve seen worse for him. And perhaps he’ll struggle, like Angua, like Carrot, like Detritus, like Cuddy, like Samuel Vimes, with the fact that he doesn’t quite fit in with either world he lives in. But at least there’s food and love. At least there’s a home. And at least Gaspode is alive.
Gods all bless you, Men at Arms. What a spectacular book.
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