In the twenty-first and penultimate part ofÂ Jingo, Lord Vetinari reveals his master plan. Intrigued? Then itâ€™s time for Mark to readÂ Discworld.Â
Trigger Warning: For discussion of transmisogyny and misogyny.
Well, I was on to something with Leshp, but I didnâ€™t quite get there. Letâ€™s discuss!
I can see what Pratchett was attempting here with Nobbyâ€™s exploration into femininity. One some level, Nobby has a better idea of what itâ€™s like to be a woman because he dressed up as one for an extended length of time. Itâ€™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 itâ€™s worth revisiting. This still fulfills the whole â€œmen in dressesâ€ comedy trope, even if Pratchettâ€™s intent in addressing misogyny is good. It felt even more glaring here because no oneÂ letsÂ Nobby feel comfortable! It would be different if Nobbyâ€™s comfort with womenâ€™s clothing were allowed to existÂ without judgment, but thatâ€™s not even the case here. The pressure for him to dress â€œcorrectlyâ€ is so strong that this happens:
He looked at their faces and waved his hands vaguely. â€œAll right, all right, Iâ€™ll put my uniform on after Iâ€™ve tidied up around the camp. Will that make you all happy?â€
How can you blame him when Colon says this?
â€œIÂ toldÂ him he could change back into his uniform, but he says he feels more comfortable like this,â€ whispered Colon to Vimes. â€œIâ€™m gettin a bit worried, to tell you the truth.â€
I canâ€™t handle this, Vimes thought. This isnâ€™t in the book of rules.
And Iâ€™ll take it a step further. When Nobby makes reference to using his sexual wiles on the Klatchian quartermaster to get food, hereâ€™s the reaction:
Vimesâ€™s kebab stopped halfway to his mouth and dripped Â lamb fat on to his legs. He saw Anguaâ€™s eyes slam open and stare in horror at the sky.
This, combined with Anguaâ€™s relief that Nobby didnâ€™t actually do anything, isnâ€™t the mostÂ positiveÂ thing in the world. Iâ€™m not gonna say itâ€™s the worst because itâ€™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? Heâ€™s standing next to a zombie and a troll. If the watch can adapt to them, then surely they can adjust to this, right?
Iâ€™m just really pleased that he carries a deflated football with him. He is too pure and too good for the universe, I swear.
I am also quite pleased that he held a burning piece of ember in his fingers solely to intimidate Lord Rust. Itâ€™s so petty and absurd, and IT WORKED.
Lord Rust is the worst, yâ€™all.
Iâ€™m continuing this train to add on that Colonâ€™s beautifully unnecessary collection of souvenirs is another of this bookâ€™s finer jokes. Because I know people who buy souvenirs as conversation starts and I DONâ€™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 itâ€™s something super essential.
It is all your fault â€“ and I am speaking to each of you right now â€“ that I had to walk into so many puns in this sectionÂ alone. Oh my god, Reg gotÂ mice. I HATE EVERYTHING, ITâ€™S TOO GOOD.
And because this is a Discworld book, I justÂ hadÂ 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. Heâ€™s exactly the kind of petty person to doÂ exactlyÂ this, you know? Itâ€™s not enough that thereâ€™s now peace between Klatch and Ankh-Morpork. No, hisÂ prideÂ is hurt, even though most people who arenâ€™t him or the aristocrats in the city really could not care about Ankh-Morporkâ€™s international reputation. Of course, Lord Rust being out of touch is sort of the point, isnâ€™t it?
Itâ€™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. Iâ€™ve seen Vimes as the kind of character who becomesÂ moreÂ ethical and moral over time, and thatâ€™s why this was so heartbreaking to read at first. It is unfathomable to him that Vetinari couldÂ possiblyÂ 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, Vetinariâ€™s arrest plays right into the manâ€™s plans, but Vimes doesnâ€™t know that. Instead, he feels like heâ€™s a pawn of Rust and the other heads of the Guilds. Why shouldnâ€™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 Iâ€™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.Â He signed away rights to an island heÂ knewÂ would sink, which completely deflated Lord Rustâ€™s problem with him. ITâ€™S SO CUNNING, Yâ€™ALL.
â€œAll 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,â€ said Lord Vetinari. â€œThe Klatchians are a proud people. I wonder what they will think?â€
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 theyâ€™ve been shamed by the foolish actions of their prince? Bravo, Lord Vetinari. BRAVO.
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