Mark Reads ‘Wintersmith’: Chapter 8

In the eighth chapter of Wintersmith, Tiffany makes an agreement and then receives her Thingy. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 

Oh, y’all, this book just keeps surprising me. What the hell is this going to become? That’s one of my favorite questions to ask about a story, particularly one that has taken so many interesting turns. And I can’t ignore that this book opened with an ending, telling me where this was all heading, and it did not undermine the pacing or the excitement. SO LET’S TALK ABOUT THIS.

A Framework

Annagramma coming back to Tiffany to ask for help? Not all that surprising. And I know I’d wondered about that: How much of what Tiffany told her would actually stick? I feel like this chapter answers that: not a whole lot. There’s some awareness here, enough that Annagramma knew to come ask Tiffany. That means she was aware that Tiffany knew how this was supposed to go, even if she wasn’t quite ready to accept that. Still, it’s hard to ignore the frustration here! Annagramma shows up, reveals she messed up multiple things, and then insults farmers and peasants in the process.

It’s at that point that this really got surprising for me. It was so easy for me to assume that Annagramma came from a certain background. She’s so arrogant and certain about the world, and she couldn’t have had any experience with the sort of things she insults. But there’s an added complication and meaning to the fact that Annagramma’s father works for a farmer and that her family is a lot poorer than I previously thought. (Which does make me wonder how Annagramma has been able to afford all the magical stuff she’s purchased. Where is that money coming from?) There’s an element of self-hatred, or at least personal shame, that’s at work here. She doesn’t want to come from that background, and so she masks it with her behavior. She leads everyone to believe that she’s more well-off than she is, that she comes from a different culture and tradition. NO WONDER SHE IS SO RELUCTANT TO ASK FOR HELP. Look what she had to reveal in order to truly get assistance from Tiffany! 

Yet even in this, Pratchett gives us an important moment of self-reflection from Tiffany, too. Because as easy as it is for Tiffany to criticize Annagramma and Granny Weatherwax, there’s still a part of this that directly addresses her own problems:

You’re supposed to be able to deal with it, sheep girl! Why take it on if you couldn’t do it?

Everyone needs help at some point in their lives. Everyone will most likely bite off more than they could chew. And Tiffany “took on” the Dance, didn’t she? Shouldn’t she be able to deal with it? Or deal with Annagramma either? So, as I suspected earlier, Tiffany agrees to help because she knows that in the end, the people of Annagramma’s steading will get hurt. She has to help because she knows it is wrong to allow this to happen without getting involved. And I do respect that line of thinking: this situation is not fair. Tiffany has enough to deal with on her own! Why should she be the one to help someone else with this mess?

Well, because the mess is more complicated than that, and it’s even more unfair that people should suffer because of it. We see that logic applied as Tiffany goes to all her fellow young witches and asks them to assist. Can they really sit by and let this happen if they have the means to help out? Look, I get anyone’s reluctance to want to help Annagramma! This chapter is full of VERY LEGITIMATE reasons to not want anything to do with her! She is mean and arrogant and sarcastic and she makes people feel awful about themselves and DO I NEED TO GO ON.

But they all chose to help. AND I WANT TO SEE THOSE SCENES. These girls are basically going to re-educate Annagramma! And if they’re successful, how much will Annagramma change???

A Summer Lady

The shift in this chapter from the Annagramma plot back to the Wintersmith felt jarring, but it was only an initial thing. There was no scene break here, so why did Tiffany suddenly feel compelled to call on the Wintersmith? Well, it’s because of how Tiffany has reacted to Annagramma. She accepts that there is jealousy at work here, that there’s a reason why someone could be envious of her. I read that as a confidence booster. She’s dealt with so much through the years, so hell yeah, she’s amazing! And thus, when she calls on the Wintersmith, it’s with a combination of the advice she was given by Nanny Ogg and Anoia: hope but firm. Rejection but not. And in treating the Wintersmith this way, she gets him to stop with the frosty messages, the iceberg likenesses, and the Wintersmith agrees to only snowflakes. (There’s the tiny bit of hope.) Unfortunately, there’s still the whole turning into a man business, which I remain 100% unprepared for. (I’M SCARED.) 

However, it is also in this scene when the actual Summer Lady reaches out to Tiffany, and that interaction is… not so great? Tiffany pushes her away and in response, the Summer Lady sends the Cornucopia. At least, that’s what I’m assuming the order of events is. 

And that’s about as much as I understand this? I feel like that’s intentional! Tiffany, Nanny Ogg, Granny, the Feegles, You, and the Reader are all on the same page: WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS. Is it the item that Tiffany is supposed to use to bring about Spring? Why does she need it now? Does she not, but the Summer Lady sent it just to mess with Tiffany? Where the hell does the inside of that Cornucopia go? Is it just an endless space that produces an endless amount of things to consume? The only thing I can theorize is that it’s part of the story. Chaffinch’s Mythology gives us a part of that story, but what I mean is that Tiffany has a part to play. There’s a brilliant bit at the start of the chapter about the importance of stories, but I’m still interested in how much Tiffany will stick to that. Is she going to continue to subvert the story or accept what she is “supposed” to do? 

WHAT ARE THEY GONNA DO WITH ALL THOSE CHICKENS???

Animated GIF of a field of geese. The camera pans to the left and a young girl gestures at the field and says, "Look at all these chickens."

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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