Mark Reads ‘Jingo’: Part 10

In the tenth part of Jingo, Vimes determines his next move while the Watch adjusts to a strange world. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld

Trigger Warning: For extensive talk of racism/xenophobia, anti-immigration sentiment.

Damn, this book packs some punches, y’all.

Life in the Army

It’s amazing to me how much depth is revealed in this satire/criticism just throughs small conversations. And look, I’m just going to say it, because I feel like I’ve been dancing around this for the past nine reviews: I can barely understand how the same person who wrote Interesting Times wrote this. Obviously, I know that’s the case, so I wonder what happened in the interim. Lots of research? Did people talk to him? Regardless, all I have to go on is the text, and there’s a fantastic understanding of the uncomfortable realities SO MANY THINGS in this section alone.

Let’s start with Colon, who looks upon his time in the military with nostalgia. And I wasn’t sure if he actually saw any time in a battlefield or if he just fought pheasants and marched around. But he did see action, and… well, it’s disturbing. His whole bit about how it was easier being in the military was unnerving because you can see how easily he allowed himself to be tricked into thinking the world was a binary, a dichotomy between good guys and enemies. There’s a joke made about military law, and OH LORD, IS IT EVER UNCOMFORTABLE. Colon speaks of being in the heat of the moment and torturing the enemy, but note that he rejects the very notion that he ever tortured anyone. He reframes it in terms of momentary revenge. But is that really what it is? This reminded me of the stories that my father told of being in Vietnam. He’d often branch off to some skirmish or fight that his battalion got in, and he would tell us of some horrific thing one of his fellow soldiers did, and if any of us said anything critical of it, he would get mad and tell us that we had to be there, that life in war means all the rules are different.

Are they different?

Sir Samuel Vimes, Knight

There’s an oddness in this section that’s entirely due to the fact that Vimes is not the Commander. The members of the Watch drift about their day with the idea in mind that they’re supposed to keep patrolling, but what is the Watch without Vimes?

Pratchett answers that in other parts, but he also answers another question: What is Vimes without the Watch? He is very restless. Vimes as a civilian is just WEIRD, you know? So I found it perfectly fitting that Vimes lasts about half a day in this position before he begins to plot a method to get back at Lord Rust for what he’s done. Well, okay, it’s not just that by any means. But taking down Lord Rust and stopping an imminent war is certainly at the top of this list.

Did anyone else feel that there was slight bit of respect in how Vetinari communicated his clue to Vimes? That’s probably strange, but he assumed that Vimes was smart enough to figure out what a blank letter would mean. It’s like… a roundabout, backhanded compliment.

Samuel Vimes, the knight. WHAT CAN HE DO???? I can’t remember a specific duty or responsibility from past books, either. I NEED MORE.

The Goriffs

And then Pratchett veers Jingo into one of the most uncomfortable places yet: the exodus of Klatchians from Ankh-Morpork. Sure, you could argue that this wasn’t forced, that any of them could have stayed, but at what cost? When your business is nearly firebombed, when mobs form outside of your house, ready to execute you, why would you stay? Official policy in Ankh-Morpork under Lord Rust is explicitly anti-Klatchian; why would anyone be surprised that they’re all leaving? It’s depressing, y’all, and we’ve seen this shit happen over and over in the history of most of our countries. I’ve seen it on a national scale. I’ve seen it happen from state-to-state. (California got a ton of Latinx/Hispanic citizens from Arizona after Joe Arpaio took over.) I’ve seen it happen in neighborhoods as they’re gentrified. And honestly, there is a great deal in common between what happens here and gentrification, and I watched it happen in Oakland as the white residents moved in and began to call the police on their neighbors.

Anyway, I’m eager to see what comes of Angua going undercover. I still don’t see how 71-Hour Ahmed is responsible for all this, despite that all the evidence firmly points in his direction. CAN WE GET A LONG NARRATIVE POV FROM ANGUA AGAIN. I love those!

Not Like When We Were Kids

Ah, nostalgia, how easily you lie to us.

Pratchett does a clever thing here. As Colon and Nobby speak openly about how the world was once better, they both point out the inherent discrepancies and contradictions in their own logic. Remember the days when no one had to lock their doors? (Oh, it’s because people kept stealing the locks.) Remember when we could punish Klatchian’s by hanging their decapitated heads about? (Wait, don’t we commit crimes, too?) Their food is funny! (Except when we make it ourselves and ostensibly make it worse.)

In practically every racial or cultural stereotype, you can find a reason why it persists, and it’s almost always because there’s an interest in denigrating another group, in putting them down, in lifting one’s own culture up above theirs. Sergeant Colon literally does that when he starts talking about how white is the best color, how it’s a state of mind, how it represents hard work “for an honest day’s pay” and “washing regular.” Which Nobby quickly contradicts when he points out that the Goriffs work more than a normal day. But apparently that doesn’t count, right?

Anyway, I applaud Pratchett for ending this part with another plot twist I was not ready for. WHAT DOES LORD VETINARI HAVE PLANNED FOR NOBBS AND COLON??? Why have Leonard kidnap them??? Oh gods, I need the next section NOW.

Mark Links Stuff

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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