Mark Reads ‘Snuff’: Part 5

In the fifth part of Snuff, Vimes meets the locals. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 

Hey, y’all, WHAT IS THIS BOOK ACTUALLY ABOUT??? I don’t know??? Who does know??? All of you??? Because it’s not me! I don’t have a problem with that, of course, and this is so fun to read already. But I thought maybe we’d have more of an inkling of the greater plot by now. Is it about goblins? Something else? 

I’m guessing that these new characters and the society around The Hall is going to be integral to later developments in Snuff. It doesn’t have to be, though, as I am enjoying the chance to see more of this whole life that Sybil has largely abandoned or ignored. These are the people of this part of the Disc, and their lives—whatever side of the class divide they are on—are so deeply different to Vimes. Which is the point! This split opens with him getting metaphorically “lost,” and it’s because all the markers he recognizes from Ankh-Morpork aren’t here, at least not in the same way:

But here everything was watching him. Things darted away behind a hedge, flew up in a panic or just rustled suspiciously in the undergrowth. He was the stranger, the interloper, not wanted here. 

And so, for this split, that’s the space that Vimes occupies. He is deeply aware that he can’t fit in here; he can’t even be who he normally is because he’s on holiday. Of course, that doesn’t mean he avoids trying. The bulk of the time, he still thinks like a copper and analyzes everyone in the Goblin’s Head as a copper. It’s how he processes the world, how he categorizes people and behaviors and words, and it’s fascinating to see it spelled out so clearly here. As Pratchett writes:

And then the men lurched in, and Vimes’s mind clocked them for ready reference.

That’s exactly what the text does after this, and it’s what happened prior, too. Again, it’s all quite hilarious to me because I screamed so much on video about how Vimes should just RELAX. He’s on holiday! Stop working! Except guess who is guilty of the same thing? Guess who JUST went on a trip that was at least half vacation AND STILL WORKED? So there’s a part of me that, while I am not a “copper” and cannot imagine myself ever being like that, understands this compulsion of Vimes’s. And to his credit, he’s able to read the room expertly, enough so that he can at least briefly win over Jiminy, the publican, and the three Toms who were all outside the pub. He even discovers that Jiminy most likely was a cop at some point, too. My mind is thinking ahead, though; what if there’s a reason for all of this? I think Pratchett is setting something up here. Like I said at the start, I don’t actually know what this book is “about,” so to speak, and I’m curious. Is Vimes going to use his way of “reference” to his advantage when something inevitably goes down here? I don’t think Vimes is thinking that way; it’s just second nature to him. 

And then there’s Jethro. He has to be meaningful to something later on, but even if he isn’t, there is still a great reason for him to be here: someone catalogued Vimes by his appearance and title. And it’s interesting to me to see him on the receiving end of this! To someone who has no understanding or knowledge of Vimes’s past, he’s clearly an outsider. (Again, something the text has made super clear prior to this.) He’s also from The Hall, Jethro makes a reasonable assumption that Vimes is not just posh, but that, like many posh people have done, he has come to the pub to be very visibly posh. Which we know isn’t true! Vimes is about as far from a “posh” person who thinks he is better than the working class as possible.

And yet… he is a Duke. He married into wealth, even if it was not a sliver of a motivation or explanation for his love for Sybil. So here we have a character who, outside of Ankh-Morpork, is only read by superficial means, even if it’s understandable why he is read that way. Vimes has a challenge ahead of him, especially as he is forced into other spaces while on this holiday. What is he going to be like to the other upper class families he is inevitably going to meet? I expect a dramatic reaction to him, like the one he got from Jethro, but from the other end of the spectrum. I’m also curious to see if he’ll try to fit in. That’s how I read the whole crockett thing! Well, lemme first just say how hilarious it was to read that long section where Vimes “died” while that man explained the sport. BRILLIANCE. But the reason I bring up this notion of fitting in is that I noticed that Vimes made an effort to at least watch it and then later be able to regurgitate details to Sybil. In the midst of this, he has a very surprising “reunion” of sorts with Lord Rust, and that is what made me think about the context of Vimes amongst the super wealthy.

See, Lord Rust also judges Vimes superficially, but for entirely different reasons. He knows who Vimes is, and I got this sense that he was trying to bring him down a peg or two. Right? As if he was reminding Vimes that Sybil was the reason he was in this part of the world, that he’s not really part of this place. It doesn’t phase Vimes, of course, but how long will it be until the other aristocratic folks realize that Vimes isn’t one of them?

Mark Links Stuff

The paperback edition of my debut, ANGER IS A GIFT, is now OUT! 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.
This entry was posted in Discworld and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.