Question about Snuff **spoilers**

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Question about Snuff **spoilers**

Postby OrangeEyebrows » Tue Aug 07, 2012 7:58 pm

I have a question about Snuff.

The bit at the end, where they set fire to the wicker hurdles - what's that all about? Presumably there's a Wicker Man reference in there, though the specifics escape me.

Is it just a spectacle to get the attention of the crowd so they can be told the goblins are under the protection of the law? Or am I missing something incredibly obvious?
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Re: Question about Snuff **spoilers**

Postby =Tamar » Thu Aug 09, 2012 3:25 am

Gosh, I had wondered about that but couldn't figure it out. I think your guess is right: it's a wicker man reference. Also, maybe the hurdles had been used to round up goblins, though I think that wasn't specified.
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Re: Question about Snuff **spoilers**

Postby OrangeEyebrows » Thu Aug 09, 2012 8:14 pm

Gahhh, the forum ate my post.

You may be right, but I believe the barman, Jiminy, says they're left over from sheepdog trials. I still feel as though I'm missing something :? Perhaps someone will come along and enlighten us!

And what's with Stinky? Is he the spirit of Unggue, or some sort of goblin god? He *seems* to be the goblin from the story that scared Vimes as a child (Paraphrased he says something like, "You see scary goblin, I see nasty little boy"), which might also be the goblin that scared both Tiffany and Letitia in I Shall Wear Midnight...
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Re: Question about Snuff **spoilers**

Postby Tonyblack » Thu Aug 09, 2012 8:24 pm

I've only read Snuff once so far and am struggling to remember the bit. But I have a feeling that the hurdles may have been used to herd the goblins. the burning of the hurdles may have been as a sign that Sam Vimes knew what had happened and it wasn't going to happen again. :?
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Re: Question about Snuff **spoilers**

Postby swreader » Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:17 pm

Welcome to the forum, OrangeEyebrows! :)

You're not the only one who has puzzled over those blasted hurdles--which are described on page 50 of the HC hardback as "wood licker wood wicker hurdles". There is even a google entry which only leads you to the page of text. Knowing HC penchant for typographical mistakes (and since I don't know if the Transworld edition says anything different), I suspect that the "wood licker" part of this is a printers error. Wicker wood hurdles, on the other hand have a long and varied history and are still very much in use (and available for purchase) today.

The more important passage is, of course, the one before Sam burns them. When he asks the barman "how important" they are, and is told they're just used during the annual sheep's fair, and are stacked up so as not to be in the way. But, for some reason they are also regarded as something of a landmark.

In my judgement, the placement of these passages regarding the burning of the hurdles and Sybil's concert, which are interwoven, makes it quite clear that these hurdles have been used as some time in connection with the goblins. While Sybil is changing the world by awakening the awareness & conscience of the movers & shakers of Ankh-Morpork, Sam is laying down the rules for the locals. I doubt they'd have been much impressed by a harp concert. But Sam's huge bonfire, combined with his his explanation that the magistrates are being brought in for questioning, that the rule of law is to be followed, and specifically, Sam's explanation and warning that the goblins are now under his protection and the protection of the law. And, that means that the law is something that applies to everyone--rich & poor, human & goblin.

But as Vetinari says when he lectures Vimes--law cannot be applied retroactively ( no matter how wrong an action may be ) and therefore, the killing of the goblin wife was a slaughter not a murder. But things are changing thanks to the concert that Sybil has arranged. The song that Tears of the Mushroom played has caused the nations of Discworld to adopt what they call "the common law" (p.390) recognizing that goblins are sapient beings, and thus entitled to the same rights and protections as humans, dwarfs, trolls, etc.. But as Vetinari acknowledges, Sybil has far outstripped his own efforts to get something accomplished. Vetinari tells him that he (Vimes) will be remembered for this weeks work, even if the most important part was done by Sybil.
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Re: Question about Snuff **spoilers**

Postby OrangeEyebrows » Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:20 pm

I don't recall any reference to that at all, but then again I've only read it twice so far - first reading is just a glorious bath in Pratchett-scented bubbles, second reading is to pick up the actual plot stuff that I missed first time around because I was too busy being excited :lol:

After that I get a bit obsessive - falling asleep at night I rotate Pratchett audio books. They're familiar and "cozy" enough that I can fall asleep to them, but interesting enough that my brain doesn't make me get up and run edits (I'm a professional editor, and worse, an editor with OCD :doh: so I have trouble switching off my "work brain"). So I'm generally pretty precise on quotes and references, but I'm not familiar enough with Snuff yet to bring my A-game :geek:
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Re: Question about Snuff **spoilers**

Postby Tonyblack » Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:24 pm

Page 54 in the Transworld copy, Sharlene:

. . . and towards the far end was a large stack of wood like wicker hurdles, the purpose of which Vimes could not guess.
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Re: Question about Snuff **spoilers**

Postby OrangeEyebrows » Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:28 pm

Hi swreader, and thanks for the welcome!

I believe my copy just says "wicker hurdles". It may be a different edition?

Yes, I think there's some significance there, but I don't feel I've quite caught it. Perhaps I'll re-read with my editor hat on looking for references to that in particular. I *do* recall a scene in Jingo when Vetinari wanted to be taken away on a hurdle and was offered a trampoline instead :lol: , so perhaps Mr Pratchett is thinking of the definition of hurdle as in "a frame on which traitors were dragged to execution". But in that case, who is the traitor? The goblins didn't betray anyone, as far as I can see.

Just don't feel I've quite got my head around this joke yet. Perhaps I'm overthinking it.
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Re: Question about Snuff **spoilers**

Postby Tonyblack » Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:37 pm

I believe the practice of carrying people on hurdles used to be the traditional way that people condemned to death were taken to their place of execution.
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Re: Question about Snuff **spoilers**

Postby Tonyblack » Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:42 pm

Here's an account of what happened to Oliver Cromwell AFTER he had died and was buried:

350 years ago on 30 January 1661 Oliver Cromwell was executed; 2 years after his death.


Cromwell died on 3rd September 1658. His body was embalmed and lay in state from 18th October to 10th November before being interred in Westminster Abbey. After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 Parliament decreed that men who had cheated the executioner in life were not to cheat him in death.


Cromwell’s body was exhumed and transported to the Red Lion inn at Holborn. Tradition has it that Oliver’s ghost haunts the spot.


Early next morning the body was carried on a hurdle from Holborn to Tyburn where, clad in green cloth, it was gibbeted until 4 o’clock in the afternoon. When the body was taken down its head was hacked off; the executioner took eight blows to sever the neck. The trunk was consigned to a deep pit below the Tyburn gallows.


The head, stuck up on an iron-tipped oak pole, was exhibited until 1684 on the roof of Westminster Hall. Towards the end of the reign of King James II, it was blown down in a gale. The head passed from hand to hand before coming into the possession of Josiah Wilkinson and then a Canon Wilkinson.


Wilkinson left it to Cromwell’s own college, Sidney Sussex at Cambridge University.
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Re: Question about Snuff **spoilers**

Postby OrangeEyebrows » Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:43 pm

Yes, as I said in my reply to swreader, above. BUT, it was the way to carry *traitors* to their execution. Who have the goblins betrayed?

Or perhaps it's a reference to Stoneface Vimes?

I just sort of feel as though I'm not "getting" the joke/reference. I may be overthinking it - I do that.
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Re: Question about Snuff **spoilers**

Postby =Tamar » Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:00 am

Maybe the connection with the sheep fair is significant. Sheep are herded. Hurdles are used somehow at the sheep fair, maybe to haul sheep in and away again after they are sold? Maybe the hurdles were used when the goblins were loaded on the boats. The ones on the barges were tied so they couldn't walk; something had to have been used to carry them.
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