In the fourteenth and penultimate chapter of A Hat Full of Sky, Tiffany pays an important visit to a friend. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
After the experience that Tiffany went through in The Wee Free Men, I understand why she still struggles with the notion of what is real and what is not in this chapter. The events of this book almost entirely took place in Tiffany’s world, and yet, many of them felt even stranger than visiting Fairyland and defeating the Queen. Indeed, I feel like A Hat Full of Sky was far more personal for Tiffany. The hiver brought forth a doubt in Tiffany, one that caused her to blame herself for what the hiver did while inside of her body. I never blamed her as the reader, but Pratchett did a fine job explaining why she felt this way.
Throughout this book, Miss Level and Granny Weatherwax have attempted to show Tiffany the standards by which to operate as a witch. Miss Level demonstrated the routine; she detailed how busy she is; she taught Tiffany to do good in the world without the expectation to be thanked or paid for it. (Though those two things do sometimes happen, and there’s nothing wrong with accepting either of them.) She helped Tiffany realize the magic of kindness, the magic of doing the things no one else did or could do or would do, and even if Tiffany didn’t necessarily like a lot of the things she did, she understood the importance of a witch in a community.
And Granny Weatherwax taught her about stories. She taught her the power of crafting a narrative that is believed and the magic that is inherent in that. She taught her so much in the second half of this book, y’all! Which isn’t to discount how important it was that Tiffany still solved the issue of the hiver by herself. Sure, Granny may have gotten her to the Trials, but the solution was Tiffany and Tiffany alone. All Granny really did was open the door back to the world.
But this doesn’t make these characters superhuman, and while Tiffany has a framework to understand the world through, it isn’t so strict that there can’t be exceptions. One of my favorite things about this chapter is the theme that Tiffany should allow herself to be human. In one sense, I feel like that could be a reference to how hard she was on herself for the hiver’s behavior. The Wee Free Men helped set up the “darker” side of Tiffany, like the thoughts she had about her little brother, Wentworth. In this book, without the “human” side to stop her, Tiffany acts out her deepest desires and hurts other. But it’s that human part of her that made her try to right all her wrongs even if another being was in her body, forcing her to do those things. It’s the human part of Tiffany that caused her to rethink the hiver, to offer it understanding instead of fear.
And it is the human part of Tiffany that caused her to reject Granny’s little test. She refused to throw her Horse into the well because of the sentimental meaning behind. Which is a story. That horse is a story that Tiffany tells herself, and it is part of her love for the Chalk, for the land that shaped her into who she is today. It’s a link back to Granny Aching, too, and getting rid of it.. well, that would make her less human, wouldn’t it? Plus, Tiffany isn’t really in this for easy paths to power, right? At least not anymore.
This chapter presents these two witches, separated by an untold number of decades, as contemporaries. Colleagues. Friends. On a level much more similar than any other two witches in this book. Tiffany returns the gift that Granny gave her, but not because she wants to reject it; she deeply understands what an incredible gesture it is. And then she grants a gift of her own to the woman who changed her life in ways she’ll probably still be thinking about years down the line. When Tiffany does this, she gives something to Granny that passes along a similar message: I respect you, and you deserve to be respected. As Tiffany puts it so brilliantly:
“You need gravitas to carry off a cloak like that.”
“What’s gravitarse?” Said Granny Weatherwax sharply.
“Oh… dignity. Seniority. Wisdom. Those sorts of things,” said Tiffany.
Which Granny has. And inherent in that, I feel like Tiffany is admitting she has room to grow, that she’s not ready for something of that stature yet. But Granny absolutely is, at least in Tiffany’s eyes. Granny is what Tiffany aspires to be like someday. At least, that’s how I read it.
We’ll meet again, one day. We both know it. We’ll meet again, at the Witch Trials.
I could see that. Both of them, eyes locked, staring at one another across that square of space, both waiting to see who will make the first move. I’d like to think that Granny would be proud of Tiffany in that moment. Proud of her growth, proud of how clever she is, proud that Tiffany is, to her very bones, her own person. A very, very human person, that is.
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