In the second half of the thirteenth chapter of Making Money, Moist deals with some final threads, Mr. Bent accepts his new life, and Cosmo believes. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of ableism with regards to mental illness.
Y’all, I really, really loved this book, perhaps even more than Going Postal. LET US TALK ABOUT THE REASONS WHY.
Moist and the Moral Choice
Moist’s growth over the course of his two books (thus far!) is so satisfying to me. One thing that this book continued to address was the fact that he’s not automatically a “good” character just for making a few right choices. He is learning to think of others as much as he’s still reading people and using charm and manipulation to get what he wants. But that struggle is part of a lifelong thing rather than an instantaneous change, and I find that so fulfilling! Even in this final section, there’s still an open acknowledgment that Moist needs to keep himself occupied and entertained or he’ll revert to his risky behavior again. He is a constant work in progress, you know? And that’s what it means to be a good person! We always have to work at it.
Even then, the book is so honest about who Moist is. There’s that part where Drumknott and Vetinari discuss Moist and say:
“And very confident in himself, I think.”
“I would say so.”
“He took a pie for you, sir.”
“A tactical thinker at speed, then.”
“Bearing in mind his own future was riding on the pie as well.”
It’s such a telling exchange because yes, it would be easy to assume from an outsider’s perspective that Moist was loyal to Vetinari, and hence, that’s why he took the pie for him. But we knew from the narration that Moist was calculating the right response, and we know that he thinks like this all the time. What situations can benefit him the most? At the same time, that doesn’t make him a terrible person, nor is it bad that he’s doing things that sort of coincidentally benefit others. He’s also fallen in love! That alone is a huge development, as it was previously impossible for him to ever enter into a relationship that’s even close to what he has with Adora Belle. The whole scene with Cribbins reveals just how much he cares about her. He reads the situation to turn Cribbins’s stolen teeth against him because he has to save Adora Belle. Would he have done that years ago? Well, again, I don’t think he would have even been in a relationship PERIOD back when he was Spangler.The point being: Moist is complicated. He’s learning new ways of looking at the world. But I feel he’s undeniably moving towards being a better person, and I’m happy to see what he’s going to do next.
I’m hoping that the hint given to us here—and it feels less like a hint and more like a direct confirmation, given what happened at the end of Going Postal—is what Moist will be tackling next. I don’t know how many Moist von Lipwig books are left, but if the next one is about reforming the tax system? I am IN. I think it’s a topic ripe for discussion, and I’m curious where Pratchett lands in terms of what policies he thinks works and which ones don’t. Well, he actually details one of the policies he probably disagrees with here:
“Not a man with a flexible cast of mind, I feel. A little at sea in the modern world. Holding someone upside down over a bucket and giving them a good shaking is not the way forward. I won’t blame him when he decides to take an honorable and well-earned retirement.”
So, Ankh-Morpork’s tax system is in dire need of updating. Each of the Moist books have been about this sort of progress, and I love the idea that we’re watching the city be yanked into the present like this. THIS EXCITES ME. So… will the vault full of gold play a part in the next book as well?
Mr. Bent’s Return
I am just so happy with where Mr. Bent ends up in this book. That image of him entering the bank in his normal suit but WITH a red nose is so powerful. Because for the first time in his life, he’s not afraid to be his whole self. That sort of metaphor is, unsurprisingly, deeply meaningful to me, as I know the pain and difficulty of feeling like you must hide parts of who you are from the world. Again, I don’t think the metaphor fits neatly over real-world implications, but that’s okay. It works on a level that makes me happy to see Mr. Bent be happy himself. He’s getting married! He has someone alongside him who not only understands him, but is there to support him on his journey. And when Mr. Bent addresses the bank, it’s from a place of honesty: about himself, about his mistakes, and about the future of all of it. Mr. Bent has returned to the bank, and it is a very glorious thing indeed.
Oh, Igor. He wants so badly to have a master that fits the role he is used to. But Hubert was always an odd one, and in their last scene together, a plot thread is finally resolved. The Glooper is reversed and instead responds to the city rather than affecting the city, with one exception: Hubert wants to give Moist a gift for treating them with such kindness. It is such a nice gesture, but I love the comic timing of it all. Once again, Hubert does something that has far-reaching ramifications that he doesn’t really have to deal with. I agree with Igor here. Perhaps it is time for Hubert to get out just a little bit.
Cosmo versus Mr. Bent
Okay, so I wanted to save my thoughts on the use of mental illness of these two characters until the end because I needed to see what Pratchett was doing. I don’t think it’s a stretch at all to say that they’re intentionally written with certain illnesses in mind. Cosmo’s delusion and Mr. Bent’s history of trauma aren’t a subtext here; they are openly discussed and referenced, even if Pratchett doesn’t use specific terms or anything. I loved the way that Mr. Bent works as someone coping with PTSD and/or trauma, and it’s certainly one of the reasons I was so drawn to him. But this thing can be so subjective to people because those of us in this community have such different experiences.
On the surface, it’s easier to discuss these two characters in this context knowing that they are not lone characters in the book. Meaning: if Cosmo was the only character with a mental illness in Making Money, I would have probably felt a lot more negatively about his depiction. And that’s something we’ve all discussed countless times over the years of Mark Reads! When there is only one character from a specific marginalized group, it becomes more glaring if they’re written with negative associations in mind.
Cosmo is not a sympathetic character, and his delusion, coupled with his extreme privilege of wealth, made him easy to hate. And I certainly hated him because of that part, not because of his unhealthy obsession with Vetinari. That distinction feels key: Is he unsympathetic because of a mental illness or because of other factors? And what of the reveal at the end, that there’s an entire ward in the hospital of men who believe they are Vetinari, and that the staff maintains this fantasy to keep these people in line? That feels more like a joke than a realistic solution, and it came off more as Pratchett’s attempt to be clever than any sort of realistic commentary. But I also have no personal stake in this, as it’s not my experience with mental illness. Plus, I don’t want to ignore that there is a long, long, LONG history of antagonistic characters who are mentally ill, and thus it’s important that we talk about where Cosmo falls in this. So I’m curious what other people think of it, too!
I wanted to save this for the end, but: y’all, this book made me so happy. I loved the writing—quite a few sentences destroyed me—and I loved the story. I loved how this book felt so chaotically pure throughout, that as I tried to anticipate what would happen next, Pratchett would careen things wildly in a new direction. It made this feel alive, breathing, thriving. I’ve come to truly enjoy Moist and Adora Belle and Gladys and the increased presence of Vetinari, who felt more personal this time around. And Mr. Bent!!! Mr. Bent, who hooked me so early on and who truly was one of my favorite secondary characters in these thirty-six (!!!!) Discworld books I’ve read. (Give or take.)
But there’s something Pratchett could not have possibly intended for this book that made me love it. If you’ll recall, my personal history in Hollywood affected my deep, abiding love for Moving Pictures. This time around, it was the fact that Making Money gave me such joy that made it such an important book for me. My personal life has been unfortunately chaotic and upsetting, as I went through a really intense break-up about two and a half months ago. I moved to a new place, am basically professionally couch-surfing for the next few months, and have struggled to keep up with comments due to anxiety and depression. (But I’m getting better!!!) Reading this book every week just made me happy. Every time I sat down to read it, I knew that I could depend on it to make me laugh and gasp at all the twists. Is it the deepest, most politically savvy book in the series? Maybe not, but it was the perfect book for me during this time. I needed this, and I know that affected my perception of it all. So: thank you for joining me as I read this. The dependability of this book and this community has helped me through an incredibly rough time, and I’m so thankful for it.
Onwards to The Science of Discworld III!
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