Mark Reads ‘Wintersmith’: Chapter 3, Part II

In the second half of the third chapter of Wintersmith, Tiffany learns the secret of Boffo. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 

Well. WELL. So, Miss Treason knows she is like this! The second half of this chapter fascinates me because it adds a new layer to this character that was not there before. And it’s not like the concept of a Boffo is new; we’ve seen many witches and wizards represent themselves in similar ways to this. The pointy hat is a prime example. It’s just never been called a Boffo. But Miss Treason’s whole personality and reputation is predicated on countless “Boffos,” and it grants her a power within her community. She loves the drama of it all, too!

Yet it’s within this chapter that we see, for the first time in the book, the softness of Miss Treason. She absolutely exaggerates herself to the extreme, and once the Feegles are gone, she reveals just how much of herself is an act. I suppose I’m intrigued by that, too. Exactly how much of it is an act? Once she’s not angry at Tiffany anymore, she genuinely feels like a different person. Well, right up until she does that thing with her thumbnail. I COULD DO WITHOUT THAT. Even Tiffany recognizes that her “public” persona is drastically different than her “real” self:

“No, I meant, why do you want to seem so”—Tiffany hesitated and went on—“awful?”

“I have my reasons,” said Miss Treason.

I feel like the remainder of this chapter answers this question in part. The stories that Miss Treason has made up about herself and spread about her community have granted her an undeniable power. People are afraid of her; they see her as powerful; they view her as a good judge of character and morality. Indeed, Miss Treason uses the stereotypical perceptions of herself to her advantage, and that’s kind of amazing. They’re all Boffos, items purchased from a joke shop to enhance her witchiness. Which she doesn’t need! She just likes what they grant her, how they add a texture to how she’s perceived. 

So, I’m wondering: Will Tiffany start using Boffos? Will she adopt one? Or will she stick with the pointy hat? With the respect she’s gained by being great at making cheese or tending the lambs, or carrying the Aching name? Actually, let’s talk about cheese because WHAT THE HELL. I mean… Rob Anybody did warn us about Tiffany’s dream? It’s not like I should be surprised that there’s an actual cheese man (named Horace!!!) in the story, yet HERE I AM. I can’t say I have a single idea how Horace is going to fit into the greater plot because… well, he’s an angry wheel of blue cheese? What am I supposed to do with this??? IT’S SO WEIRD. Delightfully weird, I might add, and Pratchett doesn’t put random shit into his work just for the sake of it. So Horace is important! For… reasons! 

Anyway, the truly concerning thing in this chapter is the way in which Tiffany thinks about the Wintersmith. I am continuing to enjoy the fact that this book really feels like Tiffany is growing up before my eyes. Like I said before, I’m glad that she’s getting a story about her messing up and dealing with the ramifications of that, but I can also tell that this is wrapped up in her exploration of her emotions. It’s been a while since the events of The Wee Free Men, but since then, her friendship with Roland, the Baron’s son, has evolved. I see them beginning to come into their understanding of attraction and how complicated it can be to possibly start to develop feelings for someone. Is this definitively where this arc is going? No, of course not. It’s just a lot of awkwardness and silence, and I’m reading into it the possibility of something. In particular, there’s a section where Tiffany talks about feeling like she can’t have “normal” friends because how kids are now “respectful” instead of friendly. So, she and Roland have something in common, and that emotional ground between them is certainly a reason why they’re still friends. 

But I also can’t ignore the way that Tiffany seems to be developing an affinity for the Wintersmith, how willing she is to explain away things he does or says, how she interprets things as having a positive intent, etc. Like the return of the horse necklace! I get why it’s easy to see this as a positive thing, but what if it’s not? Ugh, I know I just said that I hope that Tiffany doesn’t make any more big mistakes, but she might??? Which she should be able to! There needs to be space in fiction, especially for kids and teens, to see characters mess up terribly and then deal with the fallout from it. And that seems to be what Pratchett is setting up here. Tiffany is intrigued by the Wintersmith, despite that she’s been told that the Wintersmith is one to be avoided. I hope my guess at the end of the video is right, because it supports this notion. The Wintersmith is much more interested in Tiffany than the other way around, and I’m assuming the weird thing about the snowflakes? It’s Tiffany. They look like her. 

Mark Links Stuff

The paperback edition of my debut, ANGER IS A GIFT, is now up for pre-order! It comes out on May 7, 2019. If you’d like to stay up-to-date on all announcements regarding my books, sign up for my newsletter! DO IT.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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