In the fourth part of Thud!, Vimes interviews a new recruit, then learns some horrible news. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
Oh, no. No, this is bad. This is gonna be SO bad.
Vimes… tried? He did! And when it came down to it, he couldn’t deny Sally the opportunity to become a member of the Watch. Which isn’t to say that he didn’t dislike the entire process, as it’s clear that Vimes figured there were a number of easy ways to trip up Sally. And I imagine this interview would have gone differently if it hadn’t started as it did:
“You don’t have to be frightened,” said Sally. “If it’s any help, I don’t like this any more than you do.”
Oh, Vimes did not like having the truth spilled so graciously before him. She’s not wrong; like Angua, she’d be able to sense/smell this, and Vimes CLEARLY resented this. The interview itself was about as uncomfortable as I expected it to be, too. You’ve got two people who don’t particularly enjoy talking to one another here, and Vimes is trying his hardest to assert himself, too. And in his words, you can still see an insidious logic at work.
For example: at one point, Vimes brings up the “fine traditions of the Watch.” And while it is a response to Vetinari’s quote in the Times, it’s still a very subtle attempt by Vimes to let Sally know that she probably doesn’t and won’t fit in. I wouldn’t say it’s exactly the same thing, but I’m reminded of the phenomenon you often see in hiring practices in terms of “culture.” I saw it happen (and experienced it, too!) when I was trying to get a job in San Francisco years and years ago. It’s such a weird thing to be told that you have the qualifications for a job, but the hiring manager is convinced you’re not a good fit for the “culture” at a job. I suspected then that this was a safe way to weed out people like me. I know plenty of other people of color, queer folks, and women (and many combinations of those) who have similar stories. I don’t know a single white man who has been told this during the hiring or interview process. So, is Vimes trying to filter Sally out of this? Well, as much as he can without outright denying her, I suppose. He may not even be doing it subconsciously, despite that he’s been very open about his dislike of vampires. But as I said before, how can he actually deny her a job in the Watch? She wants to be there, and she’s got some skills that would make her a good cop. Don’t they need them? (Though I have a slight counterpoint to the notion that people “need” to see cops during times of conflict. I get why Vimes says this, but I’d argue that for many people, increased policing has the exact opposite effect.)
You know what’s satisfying? Every time Fred Colon says something shitty, Nobby casually disproves it or challenges it, and then Colon gets flustered. Take this exchange:
“All this scrapping over something that happened thousands of years ago! I don’t know why they don’t get back to where they came from if they want to do that!”
“Most of ‘em come from here now,” observed Nobby.
Fred grunted his disdain for a mere fact of geography.
Nobby has been doing this a lot in this book. I AM ENJOYING IT. There’s a beauty in watching this unfold, and it also allows Pratchett to counter some of these toxic thoughts and remarks right there on the page.
Y’all, this was basically handed to me, and yet I didn’t put two and two together. At this point, I bet a lot of dwarfs have been hurt by trolls in this conflict, but what would make the dwarfs react more dramatically than they ever had before? Well, if one of their beloved deep-down trolls was murdered… yeah, that’ll do it. So, we’ve got a re-occurrence of the same cultural issues we saw in The Fifth Elephant, for example, though it’s cropped up in other books. The deep-down dwarfs are more conservative in many respects, but Hamcrusher was more extreme than a lot of what we’ve seen. That worries me; what’s the reaction going to be like among the dwarfs?
As it stands, we know that they’re trying to keep the murder a secret from the humans, which only pisses off Vimes even more. And when Vimes is angry, sometimes he says things he wish he didn’t say, like he does here when he makes that comment about how deep the law extends in Ankh-Morpork. He’s about to meet people who don’t believe he has the authority to help them. How do you approach a situation like that? I’m hoping that Vimes has earned some respect from the dwarfs for his past actions, but bringing Detritus along with him? Yeah, that’s a bit provocative.
(And I can’t wait to see what happens.)
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