Mark Reads ‘Wintersmith’: Chapter 5, Part II

In the second half of the fifth chapter of Wintersmith, Tiffany and Miss Treason say goodbye. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

Trigger Warning: For extensive talk of death

You know, I don’t know what I was expecting. There was no reason why this wouldn’t actually happen, and yet perhaps that is why I clung to the notion, ever so briefly, that Miss Treason had lied about her death in order to give the people of her steading a good story. But that’s not the case. Oh, she gave them one hell of an exit, but she was always going to die, and she did so entirely on her own terms. 

This is a funny and gorgeous exploration of death, and I really should not have expected anything else from Pratchett. Miss Treason approaches the morning of her death as if it is nothing more than another item on her to-do list, which is disturbing to Tiffany. Tiffany already doesn’t like dealing with death as a whole, so this experience ends up being really surreal for her. I mean, who asks for a ham sandwich to bring with them into the afterlife? WHO DOES THAT. Well, Miss Treason does. It’s also important to note that while this is happening, the Wintersmith makes another attempt to get Tiffany’s attention. Yet even that can’t derail Miss Treason:

“It’s not funny, Miss Treason! What shall I do?”

“I don’t know. If possible, be yourself.”

And that’s it. She doesn’t give Tiffany any answers aside from this. Truthfully, Tiffany is going to have to solve this herself, and it’s not like Miss Treason ever thought that Tiffany should fix this the easy way. There’s no easy way in life, not in any meaningful way. I feel like that’s part of the way in which Miss Treason dies. She silent bids goodbye to the mouse she used; she is honest about her own long life in a rather brilliant moment with Tiffany; and then she gives her people one final show. Right until the very end, Miss Treason was committed to who she was and what role she played in her community. Y’all, her steading came out to say goodbye! I WAS NOT READY FOR THIS. Even if she was terrifying and intimidating, they ultimately understood what she had done for them. (This makes me even more nervous about Annagramma. How is she ever going to do this same job for them???) 

And so, in a dramatic procession to her grave (which she had the Feegles pre-dig!!!), Miss Treason helps the people of her steading one last time. Seriously, right up to her death, she’s giving people information and resolving disputes, and mid-sentence, she “dies.” Well, she makes it seem like she died right after giving a pretty brutal threat to haunt someone, which is possibly one of the most badass things I’ve ever seen. I want to do that! COULD YOU IMAGINE THE SHEER POWER OF SUCH A MOVE. 

Even if it is all for show—an attempt to preserve her “Boffo” forever—this was not a fakeout. (I thought it was for like a full minute.) Pratchett promised this, and then the reckoning comes. At one hundred and eleven years old, Miss Treason, arguing with Death about jam and pickles, departs our world. That’s it. She’s really gone. It’s still fascinating to me where this is happening into the story because it feels so very early. How will this death influence Tiffany? How is it going to affect her struggle with the Wintersmith? I don’t know! But there’s an incredible message at the end of this: Death is normal. Perhaps the most normal thing in our whole existence. There is nothing wrong with being sad about it, and Tiffany is indeed sad about the passing of Miss Treason. How could she not be? This woman affected her life in a relatively short period of time. But, as Pratchett puts it:

Then she went and milked the goats, because someone had to do that, too.

Life moves on, with or without you. And that’s something Tiffany knows because she’s seen death before. She knows that she’s got to move on to the rest of her own and to the duties she must tend to. Because who’s gonna do them?

This actually happened. We’re only five chapters into this, too. What the hell is waiting for me in the rest of this book?

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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