Mark Reads ‘Jingo’: Part 21

In the twenty-first and penultimate part of Jingo, Lord Vetinari reveals his master plan. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld

Trigger Warning: For discussion of transmisogyny and misogyny.

Well, I was on to something with Leshp, but I didn’t quite get there. Let’s discuss!

Nobby

I can see what Pratchett was attempting here with Nobby’s exploration into femininity. One some level, Nobby has a better idea of what it’s like to be a woman because he dressed up as one for an extended length of time. It’s a very surface-level, superficial tale, though, because there are just so many weird implications of it that are left completely unexplored. I brought one aspect of this up earlier, and I think it’s worth revisiting. This still fulfills the whole “men in dresses” comedy trope, even if Pratchett’s intent in addressing misogyny is good. It felt even more glaring here because no one lets Nobby feel comfortable! It would be different if Nobby’s comfort with women’s clothing were allowed to exist without judgment, but that’s not even the case here. The pressure for him to dress “correctly” is so strong that this happens:

He looked at their faces and waved his hands vaguely. “All right, all right, I’ll put my uniform on after I’ve tidied up around the camp. Will that make you all happy?”

How can you blame him when Colon says this?

“I told him he could change back into his uniform, but he says he feels more comfortable like this,” whispered Colon to Vimes. “I’m gettin a bit worried, to tell you the truth.”

I can’t handle this, Vimes thought. This isn’t in the book of rules.

And I’ll take it a step further. When Nobby makes reference to using his sexual wiles on the Klatchian quartermaster to get food, here’s the reaction:

Vimes’s kebab stopped halfway to his mouth and dripped  lamb fat on to his legs. He saw Angua’s eyes slam open and stare in horror at the sky.

This, combined with Angua’s relief that Nobby didn’t actually do anything, isn’t the most positive thing in the world. I’m not gonna say it’s the worst because it’s obviously not, but it was a disappointing moment because it felt like it made a point about misogyny at the expense of queer folks. Why is it such a problem that Nobby wants to wear a dress of be more feminine? He’s standing next to a zombie and a troll. If the watch can adapt to them, then surely they can adjust to this, right?

Carrot

I’m just really pleased that he carries a deflated football with him. He is too pure and too good for the universe, I swear.

Vimes

I am also quite pleased that he held a burning piece of ember in his fingers solely to intimidate Lord Rust. It’s so petty and absurd, and IT WORKED.

Lord Rust is the worst, y’all.

Colon

I’m continuing this train to add on that Colon’s beautifully unnecessary collection of souvenirs is another of this book’s finer jokes. Because I know people who buy souvenirs as conversation starts and I DON’T GET IT. Of course, I travel differently than a lot of people because I rarely, if ever, buy anything to take back home unless it’s something super essential.

Your Fault

It is all your fault – and I am speaking to each of you right now – that I had to walk into so many puns in this section alone. Oh my god, Reg got mice. I HATE EVERYTHING, IT’S TOO GOOD.

Arrest

And because this is a Discworld book, I just had to have the rug pulled out from under me at least once more. I realize now that I should have expected Lord Rust to be serious about taking Vetinari down. He’s exactly the kind of petty person to do exactly this, you know? It’s not enough that there’s now peace between Klatch and Ankh-Morpork. No, his pride is hurt, even though most people who aren’t him or the aristocrats in the city really could not care about Ankh-Morpork’s international reputation. Of course, Lord Rust being out of touch is sort of the point, isn’t it?

It’s precisely what Vetinari uses against him, but more on that in a bit, especially since I wanted to talk about how torn Vimes is on his duty. I’ve seen Vimes as the kind of character who becomes more ethical and moral over time, and that’s why this was so heartbreaking to read at first. It is unfathomable to him that Vetinari could possibly be treasonous. But I recalled that conversation Vimes had had with Ahmed about masters. And in this case, Vimes has a crushing realization: he cannot suddenly decide someone is incapable of being arrested. Granted, Vetinari’s arrest plays right into the man’s plans, but Vimes doesn’t know that. Instead, he feels like he’s a pawn of Rust and the other heads of the Guilds. Why shouldn’t he feel that way? These people want to get rid of Vetinari so they can rule themselves, not because they feel a moral imperative to do what is right.

Yet I’m still blown away by how well-designed this all was. I (wrongly) figured that the peace agreement would be signed on the way back to Ankh-Morpork; I did not factor in the delay that Vetinari specifically created. He signed away rights to an island he knew would sink, which completely deflated Lord Rust’s problem with him. IT’S SO CUNNING, Y’ALL.

“All I know, my lord, is that Prince Cadram has, at a politically dangerous time for him, given up a huge military advantage in exchange for an island which seems to have sunk under the sea,” said Lord Vetinari. “The Klatchians are a proud people. I wonder what they will think?”

HE SERIOUSLY CONSIDERED EVERY ANGLE. This act would embarrass Cadram, who will most likely be removed from power, and now Ahmed gets what he wants, too. And how can they engage Ankh-Morpork in war if they’ve been shamed by the foolish actions of their prince? Bravo, Lord Vetinari. BRAVO.

Mark Links Stuff

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since ’09.

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