Mark Reads ‘Snuff’: Part 24

In the twenty-fourth part of Snuff, Vimes and Sybil set something huge in motion. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

Trigger Warning: For repeated mentions of slavery.

LET’S DO THIS.

Changing Mores

I am stoked that Pratchett is addressing the various ways in which people’s minds change over an issue. The beginning of this split shows us that Corporal Nobbs is a bit smitten with someone new, which is a break from his longstanding unrequited crush on Verity Pushpram. Now, I don’t think true acceptance can ever be boiled down to simple attraction, and there are complicated things that are intermixed within this issue. There’s hypervisibility and there’s fetishization, and Pratchett isn’t addressing either, but I don’t know that they have a place in this story, either. He goes for something simpler but effective: Nobbs is falling for someone he previously didn’t even consider a person. And for some people, that’s literally how they begin to challenge their own preconceived notions about a group. If this was a story about Nobbs and Shine of the Rainbow, I think I’d want a deeper exploration of what it means for two people to date or be romantic with one another when one of them holds way more societal power over the other. 

For now, though, I get what this was: yet another sign of changing social mores. I highly doubt that Nobbs will be the last human to find a goblin attractive. 

Also:

“There’s a troll and a dwarf in Lobbin Clout that have set up home together, so I’ve heard.”

YES. WHERE IS THIS BOOK. Please tell me someone in this fandom wrote fanfic about the two of them.

Changing Times

I’m fascinated by the pacing of this book, because there’s a lot happening in these recent splits that I’d expect at the very end of a Discworld book. So many tiny things are being resolved, and yet? The major story arc itself has not been resolved, and Pratchett is clearly building us up to that resolution. But this isn’t a complaint; I think it’s damn refreshing that even the structure of Discworld books could be different this far along in the series. It serves the story, too, because Pratchett is trying to show the reader that times are changing on a macro and a micro level.

Take Jethro, for example. Not once throughout this book did I think, “If Jethro survived, he’s going to become a copper.” NOT ONCE. And yet, as soon as Vimes came upon him as the newest member of the Shires’s Watch (assuming that this will eventually become a Watch), it made sense. It’s a good outlet for someone like Jethro, and in its own way, he’s qualified for it. What better person to try to right wrongs than someone who was treated so terribly because he tried to be a good person? I love that confirmation, too, because it contrasts so much with the men at the pub. Jethro defiantly stood up for the goblins at time when they needed someone to and at a time when no one else did. (Except probably Miss Beedle.) He knew the stakes, he knew the risks, and he did it anyway. He also suffered immensely for it, and that didn’t deter him from believing in the goblins one bit. 

The men at the pub, however, saw themselves as individuals, but not in the same way Jethro did. Jethro knew he was alone, but one person trying to stop a terrible evil is better than nothing. The other people of the Shires? They saw themselves as useless in the face of those with power. They didn’t consider banding together and utilizing the power of organizing to stop what was happening. In fact, they did nothing. They watched as goblins were stolen from their home and shipped off to somewhere far away, never to return. As Vimes put it:

“You could have done something. You could have done anything. You could have done everything. But you didn’t, and I’m not sure but that in your shoes I might not have done anything, either.”

That last part felt honest. Look, Vimes thought goblins were pests for most of his life. It’s only very recently that he changed, you know? Thankfully, he did do something, but would the Vimes we met in Guards! Guards! have behaved as the Sam Vimes of this time?

A Holiday

It’s not lost on me that I have wished many a fictional character would just get to go on vacation, and here we are! An extended sequence in which Vimes has fun??? In which he enjoys himself??? In which he lets nice things happen to him and his family??? Granted, the whole thing is technically a trap for Stratford, and in hindsight, I can see all the little and big things Vimes and Willikins did to ensure that Stratford was caught in the event he got onboard. I really did think that this would be the scene where their last stand would happen, and I ended up being right. Which is a miracle! Except the context of it all was a complete surprise to me. Oh, it was deliciously and poetically perfect, y’all. Willikins and Vimes faked the drinking; they put Sybil and Young Sam into a different room; and they both waited for Stratford to make a horrifying and disturbing decision to go after Vimes’s son before revealing that they actually had everything in their control. 

At the time, it was shocking, but thinking back on it, I’m not surprised that Stratford was willing to turn King’s evidence when it came down to it. He’s a coward, isn’t he? He may delight in committing murder, but he is also quite invested in being alive and free, and both those things were suddenly at risk! He’s a self-serving villain, and he thought it would bode well to confess to Vimes, but VIMES DOESN’T CARE. True, Vetinari might offer Stratford the kind of hanging that Moist von Lipwig got, but something tells me that Stratford doesn’t have anything that Vetinari can use. He just seems awful all the way ‘round, you know?

Anyway: VIMES AND HIS SON HAD A NICE DAY OUT AT THE ZOO AND IT WAS PERFECT AND THEN THEY WENT TO A FUN-FAIR and nice things can happen??? Who knew?

The Opera House

As you’ll see on video, I had a theory as to what the messages sent via clacks were about: Sybil was going to help the world to “change its mind” by insisting that these nations give goblins rights. That seemed to be the most logical conclusion. Amidst this, Vimes is still pondering whether or not he did the right thing over the course of this book, and I’m hoping that Sybil is right: that the end result is going to justify some of Vimes’s more controversial means. He’s certainly been more violent towards people here, but the stakes… well, that’s the whole point of this, isn’t it? Was it fine for him to threaten people or knock out Ten Gallons in pursuit of the right thing? When is it okay for him to employ violence, and when is it not? I am happy these questions are being asked, and my gut reaction is that Vimes will always think about the ramifications of what he’s done. Which is a good thing! If he’s conscious of the weight of his actions, if he’s trying to be aware of what he does, he’s less likely to make a monumental mistake. 

Which leads me to the Opera House in Ankh-Morpork. Okay, so… Sybil invited the leaders there? For… a symposium? A big announcement? Was I right about my guess or am I just completely in the wrong here??? I NEED TO KNOW.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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