Guards! Guards! Discussion Group *Spoilers*

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Postby swreader » Wed Jul 29, 2009 5:40 am

As we are nearing the end of the official time for discussing G!G!, I thought there were a couple of points to throw out (having re-read what is really quite a fascinating discussion).

It seems to me that in some respects, Vimes and Vetinari are (in spite of the apparent difference in the characters at the beginning) really very much alike. Vimes, when we first meet him is lying in the gutter in front of the Watch house talking to himself about his love of the city. And it is the city (not the much later in the series mentioned woman) that he is in love with. Straightening out his ramblings, what he says is

The city is a woman who has strung you along and let you fall in love with her, then kicked you in the teeth! She's a bitch! And just as you begin to hate her and get her out of your heart/mind, she opens her great rotten heart to you. And you never know where you are with her. Only thing you were sure of, you couldn't let her go. Because she was yours, all you had.

Vimes and Vetinari both live for the city, and at this point are only dimly aware of each other. Vimes has seen (we know from later books) the horrors of prior Patricians, and I think we can fairly infer that he dreamed of making a difference, of making Anh-Morpork a great, wonderful city. But meanwhile, Vetinari has also decided to make AM a great wonderful city and his method of doing that has all but destroyed Vimes's occupation.

But neither man can function to save the city without the other. Vetinari seems to have been totally oblivious to Wonse's jealous plans to overthrow him. And that is one of Vetinari's failings. He has chosen to make himself so disconnected from humanity, for which he has little use, that in order to make the city work, he leaves himself open to someone like Wonse. And while it is true that Vetinari could have gotten out of the dungeon, he doesn't leave his safe post until the last minute.

Thus, in a peculiar way, it is the Watch (assisted by Lady Sybil and Errol) who save the city. In their own inept way, they attempt to protect and serve. And had Wonse survived, Ank-Morpork could not have continued to exist.

Vimes embraces humanity--he sees within himself the darkness that he sees in society, and that he keeps under control partially by drunkenness. But he also sees the things that are wrong in the city, but is powerless to do anything about them, and so he drinks to ease his pain--the pain of being all too human.

Vetinari doesn't want to be king any more than Vimes does--or even than Carrot does. And that peculiar moment where Vimes thinks about the trousers of time is the point when Vetinari (who recognizes the sword, and the implications of it) gives it back to Carrot without any formal recognition.

Vimes's preferred weapon (that he uses to save Lady Sybil) is not the sword of a king, but the cleaver. He doesn't like horses or all the trappings of (or most of the) nobility. But at the end Vimes recognizes the similarity between his view of the city and his view of Sybil who in some senses represents the city. Vetinari keeps the trappings of royalty (as have prior Patricians) but he acts using the power of his status as a member of the nobility to institute the kinds of reforms that have made the city a safer, more prosperous place. He makes the city run--but he does not want to be King.

At the end of the book, Pratchett neatly ties things off. And, as Tony mentioned-- perhaps he leaves things open. I think he knew he was going on with the series, but perhaps not. "Perhaps the magic would last. Perhaps it wouldn't. But then what does?"
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Postby Tonyblack » Wed Jul 29, 2009 8:46 am

First off - there isn't an 'official' end to these discussions as far as I'm concerned. People can go on posting as long as they have something to say. :)

I agree that there are similarities between Vimes and Vetinari in that they both care deeply about the city and, in their own way, will do whatever they can to protect it.

It's not easy to see what Vetinari gets out of this. He doesn't appear to be fabulously wealthy and he certainly doesn't live the high life. He seems to be despised by most of the people in the city and he actually seems to relish that. And as you point out, Sharlene; he's not perfect. He seems to treat the city like his own personal chess game where he's the Grand Master and he's planned his moves far in advance - but sometimes he gets it wrong. He doesn't seem to have seen what Wonse was planning and although he's prepared himself if he gets locked up, his preparations aren't perfect. Ok he's trained the rats to help him, but they don't do a very good job.

And why does Vimes love the city so much? It's not done him many favours over the years. As Captain of the Night Watch he's also a despised character by the people. He seems to drink because of what has become of him without doing anything about it until the events of this book. Unlike Vetinari, he's more of a loose cannon. He acts instinctively without the careful planning of Vetinari and it sometimes goes wrong. But, as I said they both act for the good of the city. :)

Now I'll shut up and give someone else a chance to comment. :lol:
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Postby Batty » Wed Jul 29, 2009 11:28 am

"And why does Vimes love the city so much? It's not done him many favours over the years"
I think the answer to that, is that the Watch and the city is all he has.
The Watch is his 'family' and the city his home. Every single cobblestone and every single street and alleyway is familiar to him and is what makes him feel like that he belongs there.

I love the characters of Vimes and Vetinari, and how they react and interact with each other.
Can you imagine how Vimes would react if Vetinari ever saved his life and he had to live with the fact that he owed the Patrician something?
Vimes has saved Vetinari's life because he had to - it is his job to save lives, but Vetinari doesn't need to lift a finger if he doesn't want to.
I would love Terry to write a storyline along those lines to see where it leads to.
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Postby Tonyblack » Wed Jul 29, 2009 12:41 pm

Batty wrote:Can you imagine how Vimes would react if Vetinari ever saved his life and he had to live with the fact that he owed the Patrician something?


Without going into it as it's another book - Vetinari does save Vimes' life. :wink:
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Postby Batty » Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:20 pm

No, if it's the book that I think you mean, then he doesn't! He saves 'Keel'.
At the time that he does so, neither Vimes nor Vetinari really know each other and the situation in AM has not developed to the point that they are playing mental chess games.
I think for Vetinari to save Vimes in the present time, would lead to an angry and resentful Sir Samuel and a highly amused Patrician.

If you mean another time, then can you please refresh my memory?
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Postby Tonyblack » Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:27 pm

Ok - I'll give you that one. :P :lol:
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Postby Batty » Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:43 pm

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Postby Trish » Thu Jul 30, 2009 1:22 am

Sharlene nailed it.

Simply, Vimes sees the "little people" as people.
Vetinari sees them as inhabitants of his beloved city.


Love? Why does love have to make sense? When has love ever made sense?

Who says "love" must be romantic? Why can't you love /cherish an ideal or a philosophy?


Vimes is loyal to the place where he grew up and even though he sees its pimples, he loves AM for what it could be while accepting what it is. Railing and drunkenly, yes, but accepting.

Vetinari is loyal to AM, yet squeezes those pimples. Vetinari puts up with the what-is while planning for the what-it-will-be.
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Postby swreader » Thu Jul 30, 2009 2:07 am

Batty, Vetinari does save Vimes's life--over and over again, starting with this book, and continuing. We see ithe first indication of the relationship or partnership of the two at the end of this book. Vetinari was apparently powerless to stop Wonse and the dragon--so he sits in the dungeon until Vimes joins him, is pulled out and set on the course that results in saving Sybil and the City. And much as it embarrasses Vimes the Patrician insists that they be formally recognized as "heroes" by the City. And this is the beginning of saving Vimes's life.

Without getting too specific, Vetinari continues to save Vimes's life and sanity by giving him more and more responsibility for the city in the subsequent Watch books. Vetinari still underestimates Vimes, but then Vimes underestimates him. But both of them (polis and politician) are Men of the City.

And Trish nailed it--love (almost by definition) doesn't make sense--but it is perhaps the strongest force in the world. And love is not simply romantic (as she says) . English is poverty-stricken when it comes to defining types or differences in love. But philosophically the three most common definitions of love are:

Eros is the desire that makes every being long for other beings and for the true, essential being in order to overcome loneliness, seclusion, anxiety, and error. This is generally what we mean by "romantic love.

Philia is friendship in the largest sense, the personal love which chooses and selects on the basis of personal affinity, a kind of love that cannot be commanded; it either exists or it doesn't.

Caritas, on the other hand, is a love than can be commanded. It is love for the ultimate meaning and destiny of the other being or ideas or countries ... charity, helping, saving, fulfilling love; it is a caring for the creative forces of life as they express themselves in other beings, ideas or groups of people (such as one's country or city).

I would suggest that Caritas is what both men feel for the City, and that over time, the relationship of the two develops into Philia.
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Postby Batty » Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:48 am

swreader, thank you for your input but I disagree with you.
Vetinari may well have given Vimes more purpose to live, but he hasn't saved Vimes from physical danger. Therefore he hasn't saved Vimes life in the sense that I was talking about.

This is the beauty of TP's books. It allows people to debate different perspectives! :)
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Postby poohbcarrot » Thu Jul 30, 2009 12:57 pm

Batty wrote:This is the beauty of TP's books. It allows people to debate different perspectives! :)


You wait till the "Maurice" discussion starts. :twisted:
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Postby Batty » Thu Jul 30, 2009 3:23 pm

poohbcarrot wrote:
Batty wrote:This is the beauty of TP's books. It allows people to debate different perspectives! :)


You wait till the "Maurice" discussion starts. :twisted:

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Postby swreader » Thu Jul 30, 2009 11:16 pm

Batty wrote:I think for Vetinari to save Vimes in the present time, would lead to an angry and resentful Sir Samuel and a highly amused Patrician.

As you said, Batty, reading Pratchett leads to sprightly discussions. By your comment, did you mean Vimes in G!G! (where he is not Sir Samuel) - or were you referring to him generally? In any case, I'm curious why you think Vimes would be angry and resentful if Vetinari were to save his life physically?

And incidentally, I would respond to your statement in rejecting my theory that "he hasn't saved Vimes from physical danger. Therefore he hasn't saved Vimes life in the sense that I was talking about," with a pure quibble. :)

It seems to me that without Vetinari's continued & growing recognition of Vimes abilities (which leads to Vimes's continuing promotion and more responsibility) even Sybil's best efforts might not have been enough to save Vimes's life from the alcoholism and deep depression he suffers from at the beginning of this book.
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Fri Jul 31, 2009 7:00 am

This is possibly the last day I'll be contributing much to the book debate (majorly) so before the next one comes along, I don't see how any one thing or person 'saves' Sam - it's a fusion of people and events that gives him purpose and determination and perhaps the Lady too has her eyes on him

As a sometime, mostly former alky and depressive there is never rock bottom as such - not an absolute one anyway because there's always the possiblity of another on the horizon or around the next corner and by the same token rock bottom doesn't happen because of one single factor. No matter what else happens it is YOU who decides you're going to be rescued, that makes you decide that you're going to kick off from this particular rock bottom and head for the surface and the light - again.

So Sam is 'saved' by everything and everyone after the latest element of this particular nadir that culminates in Gaskin's death. Vetinari is sigificant as possibly providing the first discernible 'moment' of cognition when he turns up and declares that the dragon footprints belong the spurious 'wading bird' which really ticks Sam off as it is indeed an insult to the intelligence and then off he goes following the famous copper's hunch. And then that significant 'moment' is further galvanised by each little step and every single person he meets who fuel his own wish to 'give a damn' about what's going to happen - in a way the thing that really does save him is the Dragon herself :wink:
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Postby Batty » Fri Jul 31, 2009 11:47 am

swreader wrote As you said, Batty, reading Pratchett leads to sprightly discussions. By your comment, did you mean Vimes in G!G! (where he is not Sir Samuel) - or were you referring to him generally? In any case, I'm curious why you think Vimes would be angry and resentful if Vetinari were to save his life physically?

I would like a storyline depicting Vimes as he is now. I believe that Vimes doesn't actually like the Patrician, but does have a begrudging respect for him.
For someone like Vetinari who is a tyrant, to actually make AM work irritates Vimes. If I can find the passage that refers to his irritation then I'll post it.
Therefore, for a tyrant to save his life would not make him grateful but resentful that he should be grateful! Can you image Sybil's reaction to Vetinari for saving Vimes? She would no doubt consider him to be a hero, heap bounteous amounts of praise on him and invite Vetinari to tea - which would further annoy Vimes as he has to sit through the encounter with gritted teeth.

It seems to me that without Vetinari's continued & growing recognition of Vimes abilities (which leads to Vimes's continuing promotion and more responsibility) even Sybil's best efforts might not have been enough to save Vimes's life from the alcoholism and deep depression he suffers from at the beginning of this book.

I believe that Vimes has the strength of character to almost reach rock bottom and then become so angry with himself for his failing that he would climb back up and save himself.
Now, with Sybil and his son to look after, he has every reason to stay sober. He could not bear to see the look of failure reflected in his sons eyes.
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