Feet of Clay Discussion **Spoilers**

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Postby Dotsie » Sat Jun 11, 2011 9:18 am

It's not rare. It might be used in literature to imply someone who isn't very cool - Neville is the same. So I don't think the two characters are related in any way, it's just coincidence.
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Sat Jun 11, 2011 9:45 am

Also co-incidence for sure, but Longbottom is a place that gives its name to the Hobbits fave smoking baccy in Middle Earth - Longbottom Leaf grown by the first major Leaf magnate 'Old Toby' Tobold Hornblower (which probably isn't a co-incidence at all :twisted: ) :lol:
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Postby Penfold » Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:28 pm

And we all know Tolkien ripped off both Sir Terry and J. K. Rowling don't we? :twisted:

On another thread, someone (sorry can't remember who) mentioned Sir Terry's lack of a Gay Rights movement in Ankh Morpork when we have all the pressure groups campaigning for equality or rights of some sort (Dwarfs and heightism, Undead Rights (Reg Shoe in earlier books), etc.). What I was wondering (as a hetrosexual male) was whether Cheery 'coming out' as a female in any way a comparison to a gay male 'coming out' in a male orientated occupation and the reactions of their colleagues? Was this Sir Terry's way of attempting to write about these issues and were carried on later in Unseen Academicals? It just seems strange to me that Sir Terry would tackle most issues of human nature in his works but would neglect this aspect, especially when there was talk of 'outing' in the press around this time (if memory serves me right). Image
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Sat Jun 11, 2011 7:27 pm

I think Terry's mentioned in several books that there's no 'racism' as such on Discworld because there's species-ism instead - on the basis that there's more than one way to be sentient on Discworld so humans are just one of several 'gangs' that all vie for top ranking as a species maybe and so you default to what's closest to your own body shape and/or social level? On the social side of things Trolls aren't too clever at sea level and the other sentients take advantage, but at altitude and colder climes they're dominant and top of the heap whilst humans huddle around the fire shivering and avoid going out.

If you turn it around with the Dwarves then they actually had no gender equality axe to grind at all because they were all the same (except when it came time to make little dwarves). The whole 'masculine' slant is more to do with how dwarves are in their natural habitat where strength and stamina counts and so looking 'pretty' and liking fancy clothes and hairstyles aren't such a priority in limited lighting and dirty conditions and just make extra work that isn't 'cost effective' in terms of time and effort when there's gold to be mined. :P They didn't need to function as male or female in other words, just as miners, and so it wasn't a problem until they began to move out of Copperhead and Uberwald and into more urban conditions where other cultures did have a demarcation for gender and their traditional lifestyles weren't so overwhelmingly imperative? What I found interesting about Cheery's one she-dwarf campaign for the right to declare her gender was the reaction she had from other female dwarves in the Watch - they were there already and most were immediately interested in what she was doing and it was really only Carrot who saw anything really 'wrong' - one of the male dwarves was certainly liking what she was doing too wasn't he? :lol: In all the books Cheery appears in it's only the ultra conservative dwarves from the mountains who have any real problem with how she is so I guess the message is that it's nurture that's the fly in the ointment when it comes to sexual prejudices (or religious ones in Small Gods especially) and nature finds a way to assert itself, so with dwarves they go the other way from an essentially genderless society to a more human interpretation of affairs which is more 'honest' from a certain perspective and lets a girl be a girl if she wants to be. :D

Similar thing with Ruby and Detritus when they get it together and she wants 'pretty oooo-grah' like the other Holy Wood ladies even though she doesn't have any use for it at all and the whole Avon Lady thing in UA with Glenda... :lol:
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Postby swreader » Sun Jun 12, 2011 11:47 pm

ChristianBecker, don't feel intimidated by the length of the discussion. You brought up some good, and pretty much different, points about the book--i.e. points no one else had mentioned so effectively!

It seems to me that in this book, Terry (as he loves to do) reminds us of other writers, styles of novels, and even specific individuals. But none of these shape the book's construction and raison de etre as much, I think, as does his exposure of the cruelty, stupidity, and mindlessness of xenophobia. Xenophobia, traditionally defined as fear of strangers, includes racism, specism and to some degree sexism. It can even be seen as an underlying element in religious persecution. And it is used by all sorts to justify the actions or crimes committed against those who are not a part of one's own small group. Oddly enough, it frequently allows the oppressed to accept their treatment by those in power as just and right when it is clearly morally wrong.

Vimes and Carrot guide the plot, though apparently investigating different "crimes." And although Carrot expresses some of Terry's strongest positive attitudes in his belief in the life and need for protection of the golems, Terry also uses him to delineate his absolute blindness as to the sexism in his upbringing and his current attitudes. (Terry will go on to expand on that theme in Monstrous Regiment.)

Vimes, like his famous ancestor, does not believe in "nobility" as it appears in AM. There is no real difference automatically and irretrievably given to nobility. Sybil is (as she is portrayed) an especial fine woman and not all that concerned with the more ludicrous aspects of nobility (as portrayed by TP). But the common people are not noble or superior, either. Vimes has a job to do as a Watchman--to maintain the peace of the city. And thus he has a responsibility for discovering who is poisoning Vetinari and how because they are disturbing the peace of the society.

It takes Vimes quite a time to figure out how the poisoning is being accomplished (longer than it took Vetinari). Carrot, for all his understanding of golems, seems determinedly blind about this aspect of the crime being committed.

The two threads come together, finally, when Vimes takes the literally re-born Dorfl (leaving Carrot and Detritus asleep or unconscious) to arrest Dragon who has stage-managed the plot against Vetinari. Dorful no longer has or needs words in the head. As he says before his rebirth "WORDS IN THE HEART CANNOT BE TAKEN." And as a self-aware and rational alive being, he is a perfect Watchman.
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Jun 13, 2011 6:20 am

Some really good points have been made in this discussion so far. They have certainly given me food for thought about the book and I'm seeing it in a somewhat different light to the last time I read it. :)

There is a theme in this book that Terry explores again in Unseen Academicals - the 'crab bucket'. I won't go into details of the story in that book as some people may not have read it yet. But in FoC we come across various groups who seem to have slotted themselves into their lives and never questioned whether they could do anything different.

At most they have some vague hope that somebody will come along (a king maybe) and make their lives better. It doesn't seem to occur to them that they have the power to change their own destiny.

So dwarfs continue to act as males, Cockbill Street folk continue to live on the poverty line and golems continue to be mindless drudges. The message seems to be that it's no good waiting for someone to make your life better - if you want change then you need to do it yourself.

Yes, Cheery's 'flaunting' of her femininity causes others to be disapproving, and yes, Dorfl being in command of himself causes people to worry, but they are changing stagnated thinking.

Sam Vimes himself is proof that the Cockbill Street frame of mind can be broken. His visit back there is initially nostalgic, but I feel he is sadly disappointed to find that not only has the street not changed, but the people living there are still the same.
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Postby raisindot » Mon Jun 13, 2011 11:41 am

Tonyblack wrote:There is a theme in this book that Terry explores again in Unseen Academicals - the 'crab bucket'. I won't go into details of the story in that book as some people may not have read it yet. But in FoC we come across various groups who seem to have slotted themselves into their lives and never questioned whether they could do anything different.


I agree, Tony, but it's even more than that. It's not just the groups that have slotted themselves--it's others who have slotted them into their roles in society. The aristocrats and the powerful have slotted the poor of Cockbill Street to be poor forever. The merchants have slotted the golems to be mindless automatons. Humans have slotted trolls to be club-dragging, dim-witted morons and dwarves to be sneaky bottom-feeders. The kingpin of this kind of thinking is Dragon, who uses his power over the aristocracy to shape his version of what reality should be.

The rules of narrative causality have always been a theme of the DW books, and it's that theme--that the 'stories' that govern reality require lifeforms to assume these rules--that keep people 'in their place.' In FOC we begin to see these narrative conventions unravel. The destruction of Dragon's cherished lineage books is the ultimate symbol of the breakdown of the old rules and points the way toward the new, more innovative, more entrepreneurial and more egalitarian AM will become in future books.
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Postby ChristianBecker » Mon Jun 13, 2011 12:46 pm

raisindot wrote:I agree, Tony, but it's even more than that. It's not just the groups that have slotted themselves--it's others who have slotted them into their roles in society. The aristocrats and the powerful have slotted the poor of Cockbill Street to be poor forever. The merchants have slotted the golems to be mindless automatons. Humans have slotted trolls to be club-dragging, dim-witted morons and dwarves to be sneaky bottom-feeders. The kingpin of this kind of thinking is Dragon, who uses his power over the aristocracy to shape his version of what reality should be.


I agree on that. On the one hand there are the "slotters", the rich and the powerful, who give others their roles.
Then there are the "slottees" who, once having been given their roles (of course the nobility was also given a role; but they're in the role of the powerful so obviously don't want to change anything respectively try to consolidate or even extend their position of power), remain in these roles, possibly hoping (Quote from Hogfather: "But jam tomorrow, that'll keep them going forever.") that something will change for the better, but actually not doing anything.
I think this might be the reason why so many people have this "Kings, what a good idea" thing Terry lets Vimes consider in FoC. Because under a good King™ live would be better, people wish for a king. A king is all powerful and can act as he likes, not having to care for what the guilds, the other nobs and whoever else holds power say. A King could do something to make life better for those people.
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Jun 13, 2011 12:52 pm

Exactly, Christian! :D This is not just about exploitation, it's also about people who allow themselves to be exploited - they see it as their position in life and do nothing to change it.
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Postby swreader » Thu Jun 16, 2011 1:36 am

Sam Vimes has always been "his own man," not just "Vetinari's terrier." What is significantly different in this book when he absolutely refuses to obey Vetinari's command to destroy Dorfl is that he is more clearly aware of what he's doing and why he's doing it.

In his first appearance, Vimes not only tells the Patrician to "Shut up" (twice), but with little conscious understanding, he saves his life by striking Wonse's sword (which breaks). Vetinari has tried to manipulate him--with some limited success in Guards! Guards! but the conscious refusal to carry out an order occurs for the first time at the end of this book.

Sam believes, though he articulates it more fully in later books,rthat his job as a Watchman is to maintain the King's peace (or more accurately the City's peace). Nonetheless, even though Vetinari significantly fails to recognize it's right to exist, and orders Vimes to destroy it "in order to keep the peace" Vimes refuses to comply. He has thought about the charge that golems are "an abomination," and dismissed it forcefully. He has decided to make Dorfl a Watchman, because "Haven't you heard, sir? Golems do all the mucky jobs." Vimes places moral right above political expediency.

I think that the significance of this growing moral awareness in Vimes is part of TP's gradual development of the character. He may not be as innately brilliant as Vetinari, but he is intelligent and conscientious. He will do what he believes to be the "right", i.e. moral thing no matter how much pressure or inducement to do otherwise is offered to him.

Would that we had such political leaders in the real world today.
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Postby poohcarrot » Thu Jun 16, 2011 3:31 am

swreader wrote:He will do what he believes to be the "right", i.e. moral thing no matter how much pressure or inducement to do otherwise is offered to him.


The main reason being that he is stinking rich. He can't be bribed.

If he weren't rich, who knows? :P
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Postby swreader » Thu Jun 16, 2011 5:11 am

poohcarrot wrote:
swreader wrote:He will do what he believes to be the "right", i.e. moral thing no matter how much pressure or inducement to do otherwise is offered to him.


The main reason being that he is stinking rich. He can't be bribed.

If he weren't rich, who knows? :P


Do you honestly believe, Pooh, that Vimes could be bribed even if he weren't "stinking rich"??? Or are you, as usual, being your cynical, obnoxious self? :P

Carrot in this book, on the other hand. shows signs of the beginnings of Terry getting (like the rest of us) bored with this oddly unbelievable character. Carrot indeed believes that the Golems are not machines but a form of life. But, as Angua notes, he believes it because Vimes put the words in his head.But, as we come to realize more and more, Carrot is incredibly blind and imperceptive about almost any species except dwarfs.
And while he tries to think well of all types--female dwarfs who reveal their gender are horrifying.
Last edited by swreader on Thu Jun 16, 2011 7:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Tonyblack » Thu Jun 16, 2011 5:55 am

No way could Vimes be bribed. It's fairly clear in this book that he finds his wealth and title somewhat embarrassing. In many ways he's as strongly moral as Carrot - he believes in what he's doing and the power of the Watch.

In many ways I think that the main reason he became an alcoholic was because the Watch had become so powerless. But even in Guards! Guards! he believes in doing what is right.

If he was able to be bribed, then he wouldn't be so useful to Vetinari.
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Postby poohcarrot » Thu Jun 16, 2011 6:57 am

So are you both saying that;

a) Vimes has never been bribed?

b) He never allows the other Watch personnel to accept bribes?

c) He has never broken the law and not been held accountable?

PS I don't think my comment was obnoxious in the slightest. Cynical, maybe. :?
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Postby Dotsie » Thu Jun 16, 2011 7:11 am

Vimes was definitely bribable (?), as we saw in Night Watch. But, his decision to give up the booze and be a real policeman came with the dragon incident. I don't think he would have taken a bribe after that even if he didn't marry Sybil. But, the watch has been a joke for years by this point, so possibly there's been no need for anyone to try to bribe him for ages.
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