In the ninth part of Snuff, help. This was too much. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
Trigger Warning: For kidnapping of children
EVERYTHING HAPPENED AT ONCE, WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO NOW
I wasn’t ready for this. I WASN’T READY FOR THIS. You can literally watch me on video read the word “goblin” and see my brain take like ten second to catch up with what is actually happening in the text. I thought that this was going to be an examination of what it’s like to be a country policeman, and… well, it is! I don’t want to ignore that element of the scene that opens this split. Vimes is struggling with someone who has an experience with being a policeman for drastically less time than him, that deals with crimes far less intense, but who is coming from a line of men who have done it before. So Feeney exists in a fascinating space, one that doesn’t feel like, say, Jiminy. And yet it’s Feeney who Vimes is able to get through to, not the older, retired policeman who Vimes shares more similarities with. Of course, Vimes achieves a lot of this through sheer force of will, inspired not just by his own frustration over getting arrested, but by…
The door to the lockup clanged open as Chief Constable Upshot skidded around to the rear of the squat little building. Something yelped and squealed and then Vimes, sitting peacefully inside, suddenly had goblins on his lap. In fact, it was only one goblin, but one goblin is more than sufficient at close quarters.
So, this species we’ve been hearing about but who has thus far been off the page (with the exception of Mr. Nutt) was a huge part of the mystery. One of them had had a claw removed or cut from their body, but that’s it. So, my anticipation here was that Pratchett would continue to keep their presence in the country a secret. Something horrible was happening here, and it was why Vimes was “sent” here. (I use that term loosely to describe Vetinari’s influence over this.) But I flat-out did not expect for a goblin themselves to come rushing into the narrative, to be able to speak, and to ask Vimes for help with “just ice.” It is such a bold move in terms of crafting this plot, y’all, and immediately, this story just got a MASSIVE bolt of energy. We know for certain that there are goblins in the Shires. We know that something horrible is happening to them and that they need help. And now we know that Chief Constable Upshot knows what is going on, too!
That detail is very important to this story, or at least I’m predicting it will be. Given what we learn in the following scene, I feel like Pratchett is building a story about complicity. What have the people here allowed to happen? What did they turn away from, even if they knew it was wrong? Even on a singular level, look at all the shit Upshot does to justify his disinterest and disgust in Stinky the goblin!!! He says goblins “can give you horrible diseases,” he associates them with stealing, he believes a local bishop who sees them as horrible, offensive creations, and he doesn’t even care that someone is definitely abusing them. So bravo on Vimes for just… flat-out refusing to be arrested? He does this and tells Stinky to lead the way. JUST LIKE THAT. Someone came asking for help, and the first thing that Vimes did was listen. How long have the goblins needed that???
The way Makepeace’s POV is written does make me think that Pratchett was deliberately writing about the notion of complicity, of what we allow in our society through inaction, ignorance, a combination of those things, or even malice. On a logistical front, this scene confirms that the magistrates ordered the arrest of Sam Vimes because he had sniffed too close to the truth. Is Jethro dead? I don’t know. I suspect he is, or at the very least, the magistrates found a way to keep him out of the picture until Vimes is gone. But Makepeace’s narration is not one of active participation, at least not in the sense of how the other magistrates are part of this conspiracy. Indeed, much of his thoughts towards the others are antagonistic; he disagrees with them, he finds them morally repugnant, and in the end, he doesn’t want any part of this. But even then, I wouldn’t say he’s a hero. He’s someone who learned “not to protest” and to stay quiet in the background, all while some truly monstrous shit was going on. His silence was acceptance, was tolerance, was permission. Whatever Gravid did, he convinced all the magistrates to agree to it, and it must benefit them, because they are quite desperate to believe that what they’re doing is legal. So yeah, it did feel significant that Makepeace finally vocalized an uncomfortable truth: Why haven’t any of them asked themselves if what they did was right?
For the most part, the magistrates are a collection of the worst of the aristocracy, too, the kind of person you assume a super wealthy person is. They’re predators and massive capitalists and gross and messy. Which does make me feel some type of way about how the only openly not-straight person in a while—Miss Pickings—is in this group. I don’t think Pratchett is intending to say anything about that, but I worry about the association of the two issues. Anyway, my point is that Pratchett does nothing here to exonerate anyone. Every time these magistrates try to defend themselves or cast themselves in a positive light, Makepeace is there to internally and (sometimes) externally point out how gross and hypocritical they are. And then there’s this:
“…and of course there was the… incident, a few years ago. Not good, that. Not good. Not good when little babies of any sort are taken away from mothers. Not good at all. And you all know it and it worries you, and well it should.”
That feels like the answer. Did Gravid actually steal goblin babies away? For what possible purpose??? Is this what Stinky was asking justice for from Vimes? HOW MANY TIME HAS STINKY ASKED UPSHOT FOR HELP BUT HE REFUSED??? Is that what Makepeace is referring to when he says “smuggling”? Or did they use the goblins for smuggling???
HELP ME, THIS IS SO VERY, VERY MUCH.
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