Mark Reads ‘The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents’: Chapter 8, Part I

In the first half of the eighth chapter of The Amazing Maurice, Maurice has second thoughts. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld

YESSSSS, THE GROWTH OF MAURICE’S CONSCIENCE, THIS IS GREAT. I mean, it’s happening alongside that other voice, which I didn’t even comment on last time, but I SHOULD HAVE BECAUSE WHAT THE HELL IS THAT THING? Why did it say Maurice’s voice was wrong? I assume now that it was a reference to him being Changed, but how would this thing even know that? And why is it living in that horrible place full of rats and suffering??? Because I recall that Maurice thought that something or someone was hiding among the boxes in that room, and it can read their minds? ALL OF THEM, FOR THE RECORD. I made the same mistake as Maurice and assumed that this was only happening to him. Why would anyone else experience it??? That made no sense, right?

WRONG. SO WRONG. And of course, this is just what I needed on top of everything else: another mystery. That being said, I feel like I maybe do have enough to put this together. The whole “rat coursing” thing would absolutely explain why the rat catchers are hoarding rats. The more of them that they have, the more fights they can stage and the more intense those fights might be. Admittedly, this is a complicated means of achieving that, and the whole theft of food bit is mystifying and enraging. They’re starving people so they can gamble on rats, y’all. They’ve artificially created a situation where the people of Bad Blintz have to LITERALLY RATION THEIR FOOD. And for what? A monopoly on rats? It’s just so CRUEL.

So Maurice’s attempts at either self-interest or neutrality struck me as cruel as well, and I loved that the book framed the text in a similar manner. Granted, I totally understood his instantaneous need to GET THE FUCK OUT OF THAT ROOM. It’s not lost on me, though, that upon escaping, Maurice is covered in filth. It felt metaphorical as well as literal. If he was going to choose to save himself, he was going to get a little dirty along the way. And one he coincidentally runs into Darktan, Peaches, and Dangerous Beans, they don’t let him off the hook, either. (Well, poor little Dangerous Beans can only see the good in Maurice and doesn’t seem to notice that Maurice was trying to escape.) Darktan is subtly sarcastic at first, as was Peaches, and then OH LORD, DOES HE EVER LET IT RIP.

“I don’t care a ferret’s shrlt for humans!” snapped Darktan. “But those rat catchers took Hamnpork off in a cage! You saw that room, cat! You saw the rats crammed in cages! It’s the rat catchers who are stealing the food! Sardines says there’s sacks and sacks of of food!”

Maurice does not come to his sense of his own accord. He has to be shamed into considering others. It’s a necessary part of the story, though, because as I said earlier, Maurice’s inaction is offensive to the rats. After all, isn’t it Maurice’s fault they even came to Bad Blintz? They all wanted to quit, to explore what it means to be part of a Clan  on an island separate from humans and keekees. Yet Maurice pressured them into one more con, and LOOK WHAT HAPPENED. Maurice ignored all the red flags, and he pushed them to keep on keepin’ on, and NOW EVERYTHING IS A NIGHTMARE. So, Maurice’s uncaring, disinterested nature really doesn’t work for the rats anymore, does it? There’s no money to be made here, no fears to exploit. The rat catchers have Hamnpork and WHO KNOWS HOW MANY OTHERS.

As if this wasn’t upsetting enough, Dangerous Beans’s epiphany about the Changed rats was WAY TOO MUCH FOR ME. How does Pratchett keep giving me emotions about rats??? I did not wake up today expecting this, but HERE WE ARE, FRIENDS. Oh my god, when it came right down to it, that Voice and the fear turned all the rats into rats. They weren’t able to transcend their programming, so to speak, even if they’re so very different every other time. It’s a similar struggle to Hamnpork and Maurice, who are both fighting against their natures. Y’all… I never realized until now how similar Hamnpork and Maurice are. HELP, IT’S TOO REAL.

But this whole book is. It’s way more real than I expected for a parody of a fairy tale. That’s why life is so complicated: because of thinking. Because of that voice in our heads that tells us what to do or what not to do. Because we live in a world with other people who are just as complicated as we are, and because the first step we need to take in making this a livable place is to accept that other people live here, too. A little empathy can go a long way, and Maurice continues to struggle with that emotion, given that he’s never experienced it until he ate Additives the rat, who’d already been Changed. This is his life now, and life is hard.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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