Going Postal Discussion *Spoilers*

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Re: Going Postal Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby DreadfulKata » Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:57 pm

I love Going Postal, I'm one of the it's-in-my-top-ten camp. Even top five.

Re. the debate about how people felt about Moist's character - there's a difference between liking and enjoying a character. I thoroughly enjoy the character (in GP, not MM which I broadly disliked) and am very happy to spend this book following his story and hearing his thinking.

It doesn't mean I'm blind to that fact that he begins, and remains, essentially a bastard. Circumstance (via Vetinari) push him into a situation where his considerable skills can be used to benefit the city, and consequently Moist begins to change his attitude a bit. But his basic personality is still deeply flawed. Lord V sets a thief to catch a thief (or sets a spring-loaded pit etc etc....) by putting Moist on the case. Only someone with a grifter's nature could take on Gilt. Moist is the man for the job, and the job benefits everyone. But that doesn't make Moist a nice person. It's Moist's awareness of this that makes him sympathetic to me.

And I enjoy watching him be clever, for the same reason I enjoy a good heist or spy movie. It's fun to watch him outwit everyone.

Terry was also clever in the dynamic with the villain. There's books where it's good versus evil and the main character opposes everything that the villain stands for. But I've always enjoyed a story where the villain represents the worse side of the hero's nature. Someone the hero is able to look at and define themselves by not being. I think that's the major prompt to righteousness for Moist in GP, more that Lord V's machinations or wanting to convince Adora or anything. It's wanting to not be Reacher Gilt. The film kind of missed this point and didn't draw any comparisons between Moist and Reacher, I think to its detrement. For Moist to be heroic, he has to be confronting the version of himself that is villainous and working out what makes him different from that person.
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Re: Going Postal Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby raisindot » Wed Jan 16, 2013 9:24 pm

You've totally hit the nail on the head, DK. The whole point of Moist is that he's a villain who can reform himself without necessarily having to change who he is. As long as he can apply his grifting talents to fool people legitimately, he's fine. It's when he feels that he has to totally give up his criminal nature (as at the beginning of Making Money) that he feels threatened--something Vetinari fully understands, which is why he choose Moist to reform the banking system in MM.
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Re: Going Postal Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby Kat » Thu Jun 13, 2013 3:14 pm

My first Discworld novel. :)

I almost didn't read it, as I wasn't certain I wanted to read a book with a con artist as the main character, but I'm glad I did, since it began my Discworld obsession. :)

Moist definitely isn't my favorite Discworld character, but he isn't my least favorite either. I do think he changed somewhat for the better, but I also think he is still basically a con man at the end.

The slowness of the post office made me laugh- the post office where I live has a rather bad reputation, and is known to either lose mail or take forever to send it. My school (only fifteen minutes from me) sent me a letter, and it took a week to arrive. So, I could certainly relate to that part.
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Re: Going Postal Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby =Tamar » Sat Jun 15, 2013 2:44 am

Kat wrote:Moist definitely isn't my favorite Discworld character, but he isn't my least favorite either. I do think he changed somewhat for the better, but I also think he is still basically a con man at the end.

I see him as an adrenaline addict. If he can find something sufficiently risky and involving to do that doesn't involve being a con man, he'll be able to give it up. Maybe he'll invent a new form of politics or something (trying not to speculate too specifically). Last year Sir Terry said Vetinari has to be extra harsh with Moist because it's very hard to motivate Moist to reform. The idea is that eventually it'll work. I have some hopes for Raising Steam to be the third Moist book.
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Re: Going Postal Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby alicenanjing » Mon Jun 17, 2013 12:22 pm

Adrenaline addict, that's exactly it! That, and an aversion to seeing himself as a goody-goody. I picture him as someone who sees the world as a place where ypur neighbor will swindle you if he can, and so you must swindle him first; and a place where people's greed is only exceeded by their ignorance, so you must outwit them in a sort of preemptive self-defense.
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Re: Going Postal Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby Tonyblack » Mon Jun 17, 2013 12:47 pm

Moist seems to thrive on getting himself into situations where his skill and quick thinking allow him to escape. Thinking on his feet would be a good description. He sees this as a sort of game more than dishonest. I think that by thinking this way, he manages to avoid feeling any guilt. This is why it hits him so hard when he realises that his "fun" has actually caused people grief.
"Goodness is about what you do. Not what you pray to."
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Re: Going Postal Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby raisindot » Tue Jun 18, 2013 1:54 pm

[Minor spoilers]

I think Moist embodies Pterry's approach to protagonist development. If you think about it, almost none of his main protagonists and supporting characters are truly "good." Vimes is in many ways an anti-democratic authoritarian who is well aware of the dangers of authoritarianism and his own inner brutal nature. Granny Weatherwax rests on the 'edge' between good and evil and is not a particularly "likeable" character (in the way that Nanny Ogg is). Vetinari is both tyrant and democrat, protector of liberty and stifler of disorder, promoter of mercantilism and underminer of corporate corruption. William DeWorde is a fierce protector of what he calls "the truth" and exposer of aristocratic conspiracies, yet still a member of that artistocracy and compromises his principles to protect his family's reputation.

I think Pterry's least compelling characters are those who have no moral complexity. Nutt, for example, isn't particularly interesting because he's has no moral ambiguity whatsoever--being an orc isn't a moral flaw. Carrot was largely a cardboard lampoon of the old-style kings until he got an edge in The Fifth Elephant.

Moist is pretty much the extreme case of Pterry's moral ambiguity. Moist also symbolizes the "new" Ankh Morpork; a city where entrepreneurs from the working classes with questionable backgrounds (i.e. Harry King, CMOT Dibbler) are replacing the moribund guilds and aristocrats as the economic movers and shakers of the city.
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Re: Going Postal Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby =Tamar » Tue Jun 18, 2013 9:14 pm

[spoilers for Unseen Academicals are now major]

raisindot wrote: Granny Weatherwax rests on the 'edge' between good and evil and is not a particularly "likeable" character (in the way that Nanny Ogg is).

Not to derail the discussion, but I don't find Nanny Ogg especially likeable. She's exactly like the aristocrats in that she has never bothered to learn the names of the women who clean her house, and she rules them by fear. She also doesn't care that at least one of her sons is a thief.
(snipped stuff I agree with)
raisindot wrote: I think Pterry's least compelling characters are those who have no moral complexity. Nutt, for example, isn't particularly interesting because he's has no moral ambiguity whatsoever--being an orc isn't a moral flaw.

Being one isn't, but Nutt is in the unusual position of having been rescued from an abusive situation and educated. If he had then not managed to control his more damaging urges, he would have had a moral flaw. Aside from generalized abuse, Nutt wasn't conditioned the way the battle orcs were.

raisindot wrote:Carrot was largely a cardboard lampoon of the old-style kings until he got an edge in The Fifth Elephant.

Carrot began to develop a personal edge in Men at Arms, when he was about sixteen. In the Fifth Elephant he is not quite twenty-one and begins to show his true colors, but that discussion deserves its own thread.

raisindot wrote:Moist is pretty much the extreme case of Pterry's moral ambiguity. Moist also symbolizes the "new" Ankh Morpork; a city where entrepreneurs from the working classes with questionable backgrounds (i.e. Harry King, CMOT Dibbler) are replacing the moribund guilds and aristocrats as the economic movers and shakers of the city.

Yes, A-M is still in its early 19th century period, with robber barons unrestrained except by each other. I think CMOT is more ambiguous than Moist; Moist does feel some remorse when the human effects of his crimes are made clear to him. CMOT never quite understands the potential harm done by his unfit food and his general role as an archetypal sleazy merchant.
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Re: Going Postal Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby Kat » Wed Jun 26, 2013 2:52 pm

alicenanjing wrote:Adrenaline addict, that's exactly it! That, and an aversion to seeing himself as a goody-goody. I picture him as someone who sees the world as a place where ypur neighbor will swindle you if he can, and so you must swindle him first; and a place where people's greed is only exceeded by their ignorance, so you must outwit them in a sort of preemptive self-defense.


Agree. That's the way he came across to me, as an adrenaline addict, and also as someone who (in his opinion at least) is conning people out of self- defense. It's been a while since I read the novel, so I could be mistaken, but I remember him claiming several times that he never hurt anyone, and never conned anyone who didn't deserve it.
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Re: Going Postal Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby Tonyblack » Wed Jun 26, 2013 3:01 pm

Yes, he's justified his crime to himself at least.
"Goodness is about what you do. Not what you pray to."
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Re: Going Postal Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby =Tamar » Thu Jun 27, 2013 12:59 am

Tonyblack wrote:Yes, he's justified his crime to himself at least.

That was early in the novel, before he found out that he had hurt someone he knew.
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Re: Going Postal Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby Tonyblack » Thu Jun 27, 2013 5:10 am

=Tamar wrote:
Tonyblack wrote:Yes, he's justified his crime to himself at least.

That was early in the novel, before he found out that he had hurt someone he knew.

Yes - this is one of the major themes of the book: his growth as a decent human being using his criminal skills for good.
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Re: Going Postal Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby =Tamar » Thu Jun 27, 2013 8:47 pm

Tonyblack wrote:
=Tamar wrote:That was early in the novel, before he found out that he had hurt someone he knew.

Yes - this is one of the major themes of the book: his growth as a decent human being using his criminal skills for good.

The progression is fairly direct. First he is upset to realize that he has hurt someone he cares about, then he wants to provide some form of recompense, then he wants to prevent potential losses by people who have come to trust him. He also goes from being the sort of person who would want to learn Gilt's methods to wanting to prove he isn't exactly like Gilt. Without going back to scour the books again, I'm not quite certain that Moist has gotten to the point where he wants to prevent harm even to people he doesn't know, but I think he has, because of his motivation (in MM) for leading Cosmo into the sunlight.
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Re: Going Postal Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby raisindot » Mon Jul 01, 2013 1:38 pm

=Tamar wrote:The progression is fairly direct. First he is upset to realize that he has hurt someone he cares about, then he wants to provide some form of recompense, then he wants to prevent potential losses by people who have come to trust him. He also goes from being the sort of person who would want to learn Gilt's methods to wanting to prove he isn't exactly like Gilt. Without going back to scour the books again, I'm not quite certain that Moist has gotten to the point where he wants to prevent harm even to people he doesn't know, but I think he has, because of his motivation (in MM) for leading Cosmo into the sunlight.


I think the key scene in Moist's transformation is the restaurant scene where he meets Gilt for the first time. Until that point, he's mostly playing the grifter's role in a legitimate setting, and his one-upmanship games with Gilt are more about ego than morality. But when he looks into Gilt's eye and see that Gilt has achieved his mastery of the game by abandoning any sense of morality (which Moist hasn't done; he doesn't fleece the poor), he realizes that becoming someone like Gilt is a path he can't no longer take--there's too much 'good' in him to succeed. He's not adverse to using Gilt's methods; he simply no longer is willing to do this solely for the joy of the game. Remember that this scene occurs before he learns that his actions resulted in Adorable's firing; he's already embarked on a new path; the fire at the post office, Grout's maiming, and his learning of Adorabelle's trigger the emotions of anger, guilt and righteous revenge that lead him to his final actions.
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Re: Going Postal Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby Tonyblack » Mon Jul 01, 2013 2:03 pm

He sees the Dark Side in Gilt. ;)
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