In the fourteenth part of Maskerade, the Ghost is unmasked. I think??? If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
I keep going over this in my mind, and it hurts to think about. How can Walter be confirmed as the Ghost but also not be the Ghost? As Nanny got closer to Mrs. Plinge and the truth, I was so ready for the big reveal of the Ghost’s identity, only to be met with this:
A door opened somewhere. A lanky figure in a black suit and a ridiculous beret crossed the foyer and went up the stairs. At the top, they saw it turn in the direction of the Boxes and disappear.
Well, that’s definitely Walter, isn’t it? For a brief moment, a theory danced in my mind: maybe someone else was pretending to be Walter to make it seem like he was the Ghost. But from Nanny’s conversation with Mrs. Plinge, it seemed like all but a direct confirmation that Walter was the Ghost. Mr.s Plinge certainly spoke of her son in those terms, defending him as a “good boy” instead of denying that he was the masked lover of the opera.
But then he walked into Box Eight, and Granny caught him and I couldn’t ignore it any more. Walter Plinge was the Ghost. Yet there are still so many little details here that don’t make sense, which is why I’m guessing that both Nanny and Granny believe that there’s something else going on here. For instance: Walter’s odd walk has been a key descriptive part of his character. Now, I can’t doubt how nimble and acrobatic Walter is, so I have to rectify these two realities. Why does Walter have such distinct identities? Does donning the mask allow him a confidence that he otherwise doesn’t? We must acknowledge that to date, he is the only character to ever withstand the Granny Stare and IMMEDIATELY DASH AWAY FROM IT.
What power does that mask have?
It’s got to be confidence. Pratchett writes Walter as the Ghost with certainty and flair. The boy finds exactly what he needs when he needs it. He’s able to climb over the boxes, across the lip of the balcony, jump into the chandelier, and make it up to the roof all while Greebo, of all people, is in close pursuit. He outruns Greebo, y’all! That’s talent, and it seems so utterly like the Walter Plinge we’ve seen throughout Maskerade.
The chaos that all this causes is BEAUTIFUL. Just gorgeous! The Librarian adds his own soundtrack; Mrs. Lawsy is finally entertained by the opera; Mr. Salzella is holding part of a skull??? But one of the most fascinating things the Pratchett accomplishes here is the passing of gossip and the creation of a narrative. There’s shock initially as the cast and crew hear news of Walter Plinge’s duplicity. But look how easily they believe it. Look how quickly they pick apart Walter’s oddness in order to make him fit the story that he’s the Ghost. But it’s not that simple, obviously. Walter is the Ghost… right?
Sort of. After reading through Granny’s scene with Walter, I’m not convinced that this is the whole story. She grills him in her own way while sending Greebo off to act like he’s the Ghost. (Which he fits all too well.) This bit was key for me:
“You mean he really did do the mur–?”
“What do you think?” said Granny.
“Well, if it comes to it, I think he didn’t,” said Nanny. “Can I have a word in your ear, Esme? I don’t reckon I should say this in front of young Walter.”
The witches bent their heads together. There was a brief whispered conversation.
“Everything is simple when you know the answer,” said Granny.
If these two believe Walter didn’t commit the murders, then I believe them. Which means someone else did.
Which means there are two people who are the Ghost, AND I HAD NOT CONSIDERED THAT UNTIL I TYPED THAT QUOTE OUT, OH MY GOD. THERE ARE TWO OF THEM. But why??? And who???
This book is destroying me.
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