In the seventeenth part of Monstrous Regiment, Polly’s attempt at infiltration does not go as planned. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of cissexism, misogyny
I could see someone finding all of this hilarious and unexpected—a neat way to reverse expectations and build irony through the soldiers’ reactions to the Ins-and-Outs getting to dress as women instead of being in disguise. (Which… they’re technically doing, too? THIS IS A LOT.) At the same time, I feel like that part of the humor relies on a gender binary and a fairly upsetting notion of what it means to “pass.” Unintended, I’m sure, and in the context of this story, I get why this happens. I’m also cis, so my reading of this is superficial at best, and it’s not like there is a monolithic interpretation of this either.
There’s humor, though, in the irony, in the fact that Blouse had no problem getting into the Keep, but all these women were embarrassingly questioned. Again, on a surface level, so much of what is transpiring in Monstrous Regiment is an examination of what roles are expected of people. Jackrum refuses to disguise himself as a woman because it doesn’t fit his idea of who he is supposed to be. Then, he bristles when the women demand to know why all of Jackrum’s soldiers are called the Ins-and-Outs. Despite that all these women have already been in this war, he still sees them as delicate, as unable to handle dirty jokes, as unable to have anything to do with sex. I suspect that this is also the reason he is so brutally uncomfortable with Wazzer. Would he react the same way if he’d received that same information from a boy?
Probably not. AND LET’S TAKE A MOMENT TO TALK ABOUT THAT BECAUSE WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON WITH THE DUCHESS??? We know gods can be real, and we know that belief fuels their existence. But there’s still a strangeness to Wazzer’s belief because I no longer have any doubt that someone—maybe not the Duchess, I’ll admit—is talking to her. She is providing details that are too specific and that freak Jackrum out for this all to be a delusion or some odd mistake. So why? Why is The Duchess being so specific? What’s in Scritz and why does it upset Jackrum? What does this mean?:
“Been praying, ‘ave yer?” said Mrs. Enid kindly.
“No, just listening,” said Wazzer.
“Nuggan talks to you, does he?”
“No. Nuggan is dead, Mrs. Enid,” said Wazzer.
WHAT THE FUCK. I mean… I guess? Is that because no one actually believes in Nuggan, but they do believe in the Duchess? Oh god, I’m not right at all, am I? I CAN’T.
“Why does she cry?” she said.
“The prayers. They hurt her.”
I don’t… I DON’T KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON. But I’m utterly intrigued by this. I think it was easy to dismiss Wazzer prior to these developments. Tonker and Polly certainly did! This repressive religion feels primed to be resisted against. But what if there really is something else at work here? How does that affect the people of Borogravia if the Duchess really did want to help them, but she simply can’t?
On top of that, I still don’t really have a grasp on the directionMonstrous Regiment is going to take. I’m hoping that Polly locates Paul soon, but what about this impending invasion? Or Wazzer’s subplot involving The Duchess? How much are these part of the main story, too, but I simply can’t see how they connect? There’s a more immediate concern, of course, that I’m ignoring: exactly what are these characters going to do now that they’ve infiltrated the Keep? Where do they go next?
I have so many questions, NONE ARE BEING ANSWERED.
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