Mark Reads ‘The Fifth Elephant’: Part 2

In the second part of The Fifth Elephant, Vimes learns more about the political future he’s about to become a part of. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

Trigger Warning: For transmisogyny

Lots to cover, LET’S GO.

Undercover

There’s a part of me that thinks this is Pratchett trying to do something a little different. Like, there’s something pure about Nobby enjoying the act of wearing clothing he’s not “supposed” to. If only that was what was occurring here! The whole bit where Angua tries to get Nobby to admit “what people call men who wear wigs and gowns” is just… terribly uncomfortable? Like, is she trying to warn him against doing it because she doesn’t want Nobby to be called names? Or is she trying to express that what Nobby’s doing while dressed as one of the Seamstresses Guild is unnatural? I don’t know; it’s not as outwardly cruel as other moments have been when Pratchett’s invoked this trope. But “not as bad” doesn’t negate the implicit meaning or the unintended harm of once again using “men in dresses” for comedy or shame. LET NOBBY WEARS WHAT MAKES HIM HAPPY, especially if it’s wigs and gowns.

The Scone of Stone

Look, I’ll admit this without shame: I get really excited when I understand British/UK references without having to look them up or getting them explained to me. I UNDERSTOOD THE WHOLE JOKE ABOUT THE STONE OF SCONE, I GET THINGS SOMETIMES. But this joke was rewarding to me beyond this aspect: it was an avenue for some of my favorite worldbuilding yet.

Dwarf identity is a complicated thing, and Pratchett reminds us of that later on in Cheery Littlebottom’s section. It’s not just gender presentation that is highly traditional. Carrot’s expository dialogue with Vimes reveals a complicated world that’s arisen ever since Ankh-Morpork started to become multi-cultural, if you will. Here, Pratchett explains how a dichotomy has grown amongst the dwarfs, split by the traditional, conservative dwarfs who want none of their cultural mainstays to be subverted or changed for any reason at any moment forever. Then there are the dwarfs who live in Ankh-Morpork, who have discovered new ways of living. It’s not just Cheery and her exploration of feminine dress and make-up. It’s what dwarfs eat in the city. Who they’re friends with. Their decision to live aboveground. To hold jobs that aren’t “traditional.”

Thus, the crowning of the Low King is a huge deal because of the schism that’s growing within the dwarf community. The next king – Rhys Rhysson – is much more “liberal” about being a dwarf than Carrot anticipated, thus leading to the unrest on the streets. If it’s this bad in Ankh-Morpork, isn’t it going to be even worse in Überwald?

Lady Margolotta

Another vampire character from Überwald?!?!?! And so soon? Well, this was a pleasant treat. I am very intrigued by her political plotting because I don’t understand it. BUT I WANT TO. However, I was most surprised that this section got me to remember the Who’s Who Among American High School Students scam that used to be very, very popular back when I was in high school. I was mistaken in the video for this part in stating that you had to pay to be in the guide; instead, you paid for the book, which was some exorbitant price. Unsurprisingly, it did not help you get admitted to college at all. GLAD I DIDN’T PAY FOR ONE.

Sybil

Well, Sybil’s section just straight fucked me up. She hasn’t played a major part in a Watch book in a while; often, she’s there for support or to affect plots in quiet ways. But Pratchett pulls back the curtain here as Vimes leaves the house to accompany Carrot to a break-in. When he does, we are treated to a portrait of a wife who knows that there’s an entire side to her husband that she doesn’t get to see. It’s rather haunting:

There was a Sam Vimes she knew, who went out and came home again, and out there was another Sam Vimes who hardly belonged to her and lived in the same world as all those men with the dreadful names…

I felt pity for her, even though I could see her not wanting any. It was like she entertained, for a brief moment, a life where Vimes gave her all of himself.

The Crime

I DON’T GET IT. At first, I thought this was an obvious crime! The Low King was to be crowned, so someone stole the replica of the Scone of Stone. Easy, right? Oh, sure, I had no idea why they’d want the replica and not the real thing, but hey, it felt like it was connected to something!

Except why would someone want to be secretive about the theft? Why the delicate touch? That doesn’t make any sense! Just steal it and go! Except… oh, I’m not even gonna try. I don’t get it at all. HERE WE GO.

Mark Links Stuff

I am now on Patreon! There are various levels of support, from $1 up to whatever you want! You’ll get to read a private blog, extra reviews, and other such rewards. I POST A LOT OF CUTE PHOTOS, OKAY. Think of it like a private Tumblr blog that only SPECIAL PEOPLE get to read.
– I have updated my list of conventions and events for the remainder of the year and much of next year.  Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches have been announced here.
– Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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