The Wee Free Men Discussion **Spoilers**

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Postby Tonyblack » Sun Sep 18, 2011 11:30 am

It shows the regard Tiffany had for her Granny that she wanted to with the statue for her, not for herself or her mother. I think you're right supersully that Tiffany has somehow used her power to win the statue, even if she wasn't aware of it. :D
"Goodness is about what you do. Not what you pray to."
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Postby raisindot » Sun Sep 18, 2011 4:25 pm

I thank Granny Aching knew exactly what it was and what it represented, even if its meaning was of a place outside her hard reality.

It really symbolized the lack of understanding and communication between them. When she won the shepherdess, Tiffany was still a girl with romantic notions and lacked the strong 'connection' to the land Granny Aching had. The shepherdness was a foreshadowing of the Queen's world--a place of unreality and aspiration, with connection to the 'real world' itself. For Tiffany to give the shepherdess to Granny Aching was about as large an insult (however unintentional) that she could give, as it represented everything that Granny wasn't nor desired to be. Granny's awkward acceptance of the statue represented her own inability to fully communicate with Tiffany.

In a sense, it represents the starting point of the innocent "sightless" girl Tiffany had been before Granny Aching died (and the story started), and its final manifestation at the end of the story represents what Tiffany has become.
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Postby swreader » Sun Sep 18, 2011 6:44 pm

Jan Van Quirm wrote:Hard to explain but I get very annoyed with characters who are too great at everything and hardly put a foot wrong, always brave, always decisive, always bloody right. That kind of thing. I didn't really like Miss Tick that much for the same reasons, but I liked her for not being too impressed with Tiffany in some respects and was a little annoyed with Granny for being so 'nice' to her. Strong characters are great but they need their little quirks and negatives to make them more balanced I think.


I agree and disagree with this characterization of Tiffany. And I also disagree JiB, that giving Granny the Shepherdess is an unintentional insult (though Tiffany worries about it for most of the book).

Tiffany is 7 years old when she goes with her Father to the fair and wins the very best prize at the hoop-la stand. I really doubt that this is any indication of "her powers as a witch" for several reasons. First, that kind of physical magic is something that has to be learned. And further, Pratchett makes a point of describing Tiffany's throw as "any old how" which suggests that she wanted the pretty prize for her Granny but wasn't (at 7 years old) thinking about the implications. It was the BEST prize, which was important to Tiffany--the prettiest and the biggest. And for Tiffany, age 7, that was what mattered. And she was still 7 when she found Granny dead, did what was necessary and went home and told them that Granny was dead, and the world had ended.

Tiffany is not always right, or unafraid in this book. She is scolded, for example, by William for acting like a spoiled child asking for sweeties instead of using her eyes and head to find the gate into Fairyland. She is frightened by a number of things in the Queen's dominion, and frightened by the fact that she has apparently saved Roland but not her brother. " She has learned so much from her Granny--and it is the recognition in the scene where she sees the light (Granny search for a lost lamb), and finds herself in the bones of the land which gives her the strength to dispose of the Queen.

I do agree that the 9 year old Tiffany seems much more certain of how to proceed and what needs to be done. She accepts responsibility for her actions better than she will in Wintersmith (at least initially). But I think that the teenage (almost 13) is perhaps the hardest stage for girls -- probably boys too. The world changes then, and what you thought you knew suddenly becomes different.

That is why, at the very end of the book, she takes the Shepherdess figurine (which she has worried about and wanted to destroy for two years) and buries it with Granny. She has learned that Granny understood and is with her still, so the figurine should be with Granny.
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Postby Doughnut Jimmy » Sun Sep 18, 2011 7:03 pm

So does Granny Aching come back in the appearence of the dresden shepherdess purely to tell Tiffany that it's ok and she wasn't insulted?

Because the fact that she "chooses" that appearance annoys me as if her workaday self isn't good enough for the spirit world?
"when the gods made sheep they must've left their brains in their other coat"
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Postby Tonyblack » Sun Sep 18, 2011 7:13 pm

It strikes me that the queen tries and nearly succeeds in playing on Tiffany's feelings of guilt and self-doubt. It's like the queen can see that as a weakness inside Tiffany.

The fact that she doesn't much like her brother and saved Roland while leaving her brother behind. And the guilt she still feels about the shepherdess. The queen attacks all that and it's not until Tiffany takes stock of things and decides who she really is and what is important to her.

That's when she gets her real power. She feels the power of the land and ultimately her Granny appears to let her know that she is happy with what Tiffany has become - her replacement in watching the borders. :)
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Sun Sep 18, 2011 8:24 pm

I agree with the symbolism of the shepherdess and certainly disagree with it being perceived as an insult by Granny Aching - that part is all in Tiffany's head when she sees how it's received by Granny.

I probably expressed it badly when I said Granny Aching didn't understand the shepherdess - of course she did, but it more bewildered her is probably putting it more accurately and again it's because her perception of herself which owes nothing to art/artfulness, whilst being spiritual almost as well as physical and instinctive. With Tiffany it's all still too rigid and deliberate most of the time.

I'm coming at this from an artistic viewpoint now and it's the knotty problem of whether true art can be taught? Most of the truly great original artists didn't consciously teach their students - they 'showed' them and what they showed isn't something that can be described because it does come from the heart and the imagination. Like anyone with some musical inclination can be shown the right notes to play a piano concerto, but only a great pianist could play it to the max and get the right emotional tone in it. That's what I meant by Granny not really 'getting' the china shepherdess in that it's somebody elses superlative and it's not necessarily someone who knew the land or sheep - it's a parody of a shepherd and to a true exponent it's unrecognisable virtually, because it's all show and no heart and so it's symbolic in the wrong way. It's like trying to compare Botticelli's Venus with the Venus of Willendorf - it can't be done but they're both art because they both encompass a spirit that's only revealed to the artist in 2 and 3D respectively. Granny Aching embodied shepherding as an art form in other words - the shepherdess is nothing to do with that except on a superficial, childish level as the best prize at a fairground, which is why it appeals to Tiffany age 7.

However - china is made from the earth too and so, in a way the material is right, it's just the shape and look of it that's wrong and perhaps this is how Tiffany's own perceptions are reconciled as she's needing to channel the earth magic in fairy land, to balance her earlier wrong associations with the shepherdess to 'make it right' for her by working out for herself that Granny didn't hate the figurine - she just had a job with accepting Tiffany's hero worshipping her perhaps? Because she was a shepherd by heart and soul and instinct which had nothing to do with artistic impressionism. And we see this as Tiffany's education progresses and she becomes progressively more instinctive and interpretive/experimental in how she learns as well as what she learns (this deciding what she'll learn, versus the learning by doing she does with the mountain witches later on).

It is all attitude with Tiffany and we're certainly agreeing about her getting less 'certain' and more instinctive about things as she grows and ages. The Tiffany of ISWM is far more 'grey' around the edges than WFM Tiffany and I like her better for that even though she's more workaholic than ever and has to learn to take help and delegate occasionally. :P
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Sep 19, 2011 5:56 am

You have two weeks to read or reread Men at Arms for the discussion starting on Monday 3rd October. :D
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Sep 26, 2011 9:37 am

You have one week to read or reread Men At Arms for the discussion starting on Monday 3rd October. :)
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Postby raisindot » Tue Oct 04, 2011 7:31 pm

I'm bumping this up, if only to show my disappointment that this great book has elicited fewer comments than Interesting Times. :P
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Re: The Wee Free Men Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby Nullus Anxietas » Sun Dec 18, 2011 9:25 pm

I don't think Tiffany was anything but a 7 year old when she won the price and was very proud she could give something so beautiful to her Granny.
I expect Granny at the time was wondering whether Tiffany saw HER that way. When later she stares at the figurine I can't help but wondering if Granny was thinking about the past and how she would have looked in a dress like that.(it being Granny probably thinking of all the reasons why the dress would be in impractical.)
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Re: The Wee Free Men Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby KamexKoopa » Sun Aug 05, 2012 5:00 pm

This is probably a minority opinion ;) but i realyyyy don't like the pictsies! I always skip/skim the bits with them. Which makes narrative a bit disjointed at times :P
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Re: The Wee Free Men Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby Dotsie » Sun Aug 05, 2012 9:18 pm

Whaaatttt?!

Blasphemer :P
What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!
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Re: The Wee Free Men Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby Who's Wee Dug » Sun Aug 05, 2012 9:33 pm

Probably struggling with dialogue which may take the fun out of it. :mrgreen:
He willnae tak' a drink! I think he's deid! , on the other hand though A Midgie in yir hand is worth twa up yir kilt.
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Re: The Wee Free Men Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby KamexKoopa » Mon Aug 06, 2012 8:06 am

Haha I don't particularly struggle, I have a lot of Scottish relatives ;)
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Re:

Postby OrangeEyebrows » Mon Aug 06, 2012 7:42 pm

Jan Van Quirm wrote:Hard to explain but I get very annoyed with characters who are too great at everything and hardly put a foot wrong, always brave, always decisive, always bloody right. That kind of thing. I didn't really like Miss Tick that much for the same reasons, but I liked her for not being too impressed with Tiffany in some respects and was a little annoyed with Granny for being so 'nice' to her. Strong characters are great but they need their little quirks and negatives to make them more balanced I think.


I'm actually 'tother way about with the Tifanny books. I liked her in Wee Free Men. Yes, she was overconfident, but she was nine years old, and she beat the Quin partly because of luck (using iron) and crucially because she was on her own land - in other words, using power that was not, precisely, hers.

By contrast, I found her irritatingly overpowered in Wintersmith and A Hat Full of Sky, in both cases defeating entities that have never been defeated before using tactics that weren't much beyond Headology 101. I Shall Wear Midnight was, for me, a return to form in that sense. Tiffany's opponent there was a recurring problem that had been dealt with before by different witches in different ways - almost a coming-of-age, a trial of competence.
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