Mark Reads ‘Unseen Academicals’: Part 12

In the twelfth part of Unseen Academicals, Glenda has second thoughts, and Mr. Nutt proves himself worthy in new ways. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 

Trigger Warning: For brief discussion of poverty and food issues

This book continues to surprise me. I thought it was gonna be about sports and football and not much else. YEAH. NOT AT ALL. And the twisting journey of this book has addressed so many interesting and entertaining things that I also did not expect. The fashion industry! Being the crab in the bucket! Trauma! Redemption! And I don’t say this because I think the football parts are boring or uninteresting, because they’re not. It’s just that there’s such a lovely variation in the stories being told here, which I have grown to love about a lot of the later Discworld books. Anyway, let’s chat!

Second Thoughts

Oh, I just adored how both Juliet and Glenda reconsidered their most recent experience and their behavior. It’s through this that we come to see just how close the two of them are. I mean, it’s not like I didn’t know that, but we’ve mostly seen this through Glenda’s eyes. She’s like a mother figure to Juliet, and we see that behavior manifest over and over again. At the opening of this split, she imparts the importance of sticking with the Night Kitchen job. It’s certain. Dependable. Good, hard work. It makes you worthy. And obviously, I can’t ignore the parallels to what Nutt believes! Glenda isn’t sure that being a fashion model makes you worthy at all; it’s not a “real” job. But is that fair? Is that an accurate look at what this means to Juliet? 

Look, I was pretty shocked when Juliet told Glenda that she was going to stay at the Night Kitchen. On a craft level, I love it when characters defy their archetypes. Up to this point, Glenda’s perception of Juliet has made her seem one specific way: she’s not that smart, she’s “vulnerable,” and she’s prone to daydreaming. Do you expect an emotional monologue about friendship and job security from someone like that? But that’s what she does, and it proves that she’s been paying attention this whole time. I did enjoy that immediately, Glenda was like, “Oh, shit, have I gotten this wrong?” Juliet has such a responsible response to this, but I can’t shake Madame’s last words: Glenda is about to start thinking. Is she going to change her mind about all of this? Is she going to relent and help Juliet explore this side of her? AH, I don’t know! I feel like it would be a good way to counter the toxic financial environment that Juliet mentions here, too. She’d have her own money and not lose it to her father and her father’s friends. Right? Oh, I genuinely don’t know where this is going to go!

Mr. Nutt’s Worth

I don’t know if it’s just me, but Mr. Nutt seems to be getting a tad more confident and assertive. Just a bit! I mean, he’s always willing to defend his friends, and I was not surprised at how quick he was to protect Trev from Andy’s attempt on his life. Which… holy shit, Andy is just demonstrably the worst, isn’t he? He was going to kill Trev. And for what? Pride? Ego? Because he knew he’d get away with it? So yeah, I was real pleased with Nutt nearly crushing Andy’s hand. I knew Nutt was ridiculously strong, so that didn’t necessarily surprise me. But it’s the scenes in Glang’s shop and afterwards that felt more revealing to me. Again: I knew that Nutt had the ability to pick up information quickly, so him knowing Dwarfish? Totally believable and only momentarily surprising. Glang’s sort of instinctual reaction to Nutt? At this point, I’m just accepting that I’m not going to get this until it is spelled out to me. But holy shit, y’all, noticing that Trev stole one of Glang’s knives? 

You know, I’d say that this was Nutt looking out for Trev, too. It’s just that the context is different. He doesn’t want his friend to get in trouble! But I’d also argue that Nutt is obsessed with both worth and not being noticed by the wrong people. The Ladyship’s values are cemented in his mind, and theft would definitely get them noticed by the wrong people. It’s also Wrong; Nutt has a clear view of morality in his mind, and this definitely should not have happened. (Though I do want to note that Nutt does say that he understands why Trev did this.)

But truly, there’s one super important thing I need to comment on here. 

However, most men don’t look up into the astonished faces of two birdlike women who were standing, no, perching on the roof. They screeched Awk! Awk! and flew up into the darkness.

As if this wasn’t already too much to deal with, this is Mr. Nutt’s response!!!

‘Oh, those? They work for Ladyship. They are there for protection.’

‘Whose?’ said Trev.

‘Do not worry about them.’

HI, YEAH, GONNA IMMEDIATELY WORRY ABOUT THEM. I mean… they’re there to protect others from Nutt, right? I’m just accepting that this is the case, y’all. Which means I have to accept that Nutt is potentially very, very dangerous, so much so that he’s got… I don’t know what they are!!! Bird women??? Harpies? WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS BOOK. 

I did want to end on something a little more serious, if only because I related SO MUCH to Glenda’s reaction to serving at the banquet. I count myself as one of those people who, because they grew up poor and have dealt with poverty and homelessness off and on, cannot leave food on a plate. Anything put there? I will eat it all, even if I’m not hungry. (I’ve recently gotten better at taking leftovers away from restaurants, but at no point will that food ever be wasted.) So yeah, I totally get why Glenda doesn’t have the patience for serving people of higher classes. They don’t have the same issues around food! Something costing a dollar a pound is meaningless, whereas to people like Glenda, it’s inconceivable that she would put something like that on her plate and NOT eat all of it.

Anyway, I’m still unprepared and it’s all your fault.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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