Doughnut Jimmy wrote:The evolution of death is even more marked if you consider his portrayal in COM/LF where he is vindictive and maybe even evil - he kills some flying insects because Rincewind's escape from death annoys him and he seems to want to pursue Rincewind rather than regarding him as a curiosity as he does later.
You're absolutely right, of course. Tony mentioned that to me also--but somehow I forget him in those books (they seem so jumbled in comparison to the later ones).
One obvious reason DEATH is not acting on his proper role is that Pratchett needs to let Susan grow and develop, and it's easier without having him present. But DEATH seems genuinely (if somewhat humorously) trying all the standard remedies to forget a lost love--joining the Klatchian Foreign Legion, drinking everything in the bar, being thrown in the river, and finally joining the canting crew of invisibles.
Pratchett never tells us exactly what drives him to this state. But certainly there is a hint in the drunken rant in the bar. I'm inclined to think that the key to DEATH'S depression/job frustration is hinted at in this passage:
YOU SEE STUFF LOOMING UP LIKE ICEBERG THINGS AHEAD BUT YOU MUSTN'T DO ANYTHING ABOUT ITBECAUSE--BECAUSE--BECAUSEITSALAW, CAN'T BREAK THE LAW. 'SCOTABEALAW.
Ironically, DEATH has become partially human (since Reaper Man
). And his fiery crash and "death" on the motorcycle is as rebellious as Susan's outraged call for him--"What's the good of being Death if you have to obey idiot rules all the time?"
I'm inclined to think that this rebellious activity, which essentially negates everything that has happened in the book--including Albert's broken life-timer, is a bit of a cop out on Pratchett's part--a sort of "And then I woke up and it was all a dream." But I think he lays the foundation for the actions of DEATH as Hogfather and in Thief of Time here. The rules matter, but there are ways to get around them and Susan (who is part human) is the key to that.
Terry has transformed DEATH from a figure of fear to something rather different. I think that's an interesting concept, don't you think Jimmy?