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WOSSNAME -- FEBRUARY 2005 -- PART 5 OF 5 (continued)

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  • JSCHAUM111@aol.com
    WOSSNAME -- FEBRUARY 2005 -- PART 5 OF 5 (continued) ... oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo 13) SIMILARITIES: VIMES vs. PEEL: Part II How
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 28, 2005
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      WOSSNAME -- FEBRUARY 2005 -- PART 5 OF 5 (continued)


      How Terry Pratchett Created Vimes and The Watch
      -- Parallels with Sir Robert Peel and the Metropolitan
      Police Force

      by Lucy Smith


      Sergeant Colon is a stereotypical "overweight, plodding,
      un-ambitious copper", who mistakenly believes that he is
      knowledgeable in every area of life. Pratchett illustrates this
      by his use of Vimes' personal thoughts and opinions as a
      narrative structure. This gives an insight into Colon's
      personality from the perspective of a work colleague and
      friend, and shows the reader Colon's lack of knowledge.
      When coupled with Colon's acute failure to recognise his
      own ignorance, Pratchett creates many opportunities for
      scenes of comedy. Vimes' narrative train of thought is used
      to recount an incident of Colon displaying his ignorance, when
      he has commented on the meaning of the Watch motto.
      "It translated - according to Sergeant Colon, who had served
      in foreign parts and considered himself an expert on languages -
      as "to Protect and to Serve."". This approach is used by
      Pratchett to outline to the reader the character's illusion of
      self-importance. The technique also highlights to the reader,
      the concept that Colon considers himself to be the definitive
      knowledge on everything, and refuses to admit when he doubts
      the accuracy of his information.

      Another example of how Pratchett defines Colon's character
      is in the way Vimes' narrative train of thought describes Colon's
      relationship with his wife. "Sergeant Colon,...Now there was a
      man who liked the dark. Sergeant Colon owed thirty years of
      happy marriage to the fact that Mrs Colon worked all day and
      Sergeant Colon worked all night." This description of the way
      in which Colon's marriage is believed to have survived, shows
      the low esteem the Watch members hold for themselves and
      each other.

      Pratchett's depiction of Nobby clearly defines the way The Watch
      is made up of, what Pratchett refers to as the so-called "dregs of
      society", or the outcasts. "...well, anyone like Nobby had
      unlimited reasons for not wishing to be seen by other people."
      Pratchett shows the reader here, that the members of the Night
      Watch are perceived as unemployable by respectable society.
      It is in this way that Pratchett informs the reader indirectly that
      the position of Watchman is seen as a poor career choice, and
      possibly as a way of hiding from the real world and the problems
      encountered within it.

      In contrast to these characters is Carrot, who was raised by dwarfs
      and appears somewhat ignorant of the ways of city life. Pratchett
      uses this innocence to illustrate to the reader the many problems
      in the city. For instance when Carrot first joins the Watch, he follows
      the book of laws as strictly as he can, not realising the main policing
      of the city is done by the various guilds. Pratchett uses the contrast
      between Carrot and Nobby to show the reader how different Carrot's
      ideal of the Watch, and the reality of it really are. Pratchett uses the
      third person narrative to describe a scene which occurs when Nobby
      and Carrot are paired together on patrol, and enter the Drum, a
      disreputable tavern. "If you are in charge, he intoned, then it is my
      duty to inform you that you are under arrest...The silence that
      followed held a rare quality of breathless anticipation as the
      assembled company waited to see what would happen next."
      This passage highlights the rarity of the enforcement of the laws
      by the Watch, and the surprise this action generates.

      Pratchett uses the success of the Watch after the joining of Carrot,
      as a method of raising the profile of the Watch. Consequently the
      controversy it produces is also increased. Indeed it is illustrated by
      Pratchett in the novel "Men At Arms", by using Carrot's letter
      home to his family as a narrative recap on the position of the Watch
      in society. While at the same time, Pratchett highlights Carrot's
      supposed innocence in his childish use of language and punctuation.
      "Dearest Mume and Dad, Well here is another fine turnup for the Books,
      for I have been made Corporal!! ...This is all because we have got
      new recruits because the Patrician who, as I have formerly vouchsafed
      is the ruler of the city, has agreed the Watch must reflect the ethnic
      makeup of the City__" This effectively enlightens the reader to the
      concept that the Watch's profile and status has been raised, and to
      an extent that it is now recognised as a functional part of the city.
      Therefore is now regarded as important enough to warrant it being
      cross-culturally representative.

      Indeed as Pratchett progresses the Watch and increases its numbers
      he shows it becoming more highly regarded by society as a whole,
      and even looked upon with respect from some sections of society.
      Pratchett illustrates this perfectly in "Night Watch" by again using
      Vimes' personal thoughts as a form of narration. "A file, he had to
      refer to a damn file. But there were so many coppers these days...
      But in truth Stronginthearm was just a decent dwarf who had been
      paid to be a copper. He'd joined up because, these days, joining the
      Watch was quite a good choice of career." This effectively compares
      the way things are in the Watch in present times to the way things
      were in the beginning. This clearly shows the reader just how much
      things have progressed, and how the status of the Watch as a
      profession, and as a functional part of society, has changed. The
      language Pratchett chooses for Vimes to use is an effective
      method of conveying to the reader the disappointment or regret
      felt by Vimes, at not all his men personally.

      Parallels Between Vimes' Character and Sir Robert Peel.

      Beginning with the initial parallel that I noticed between Vimes
      and Peel, it is relevant to add that many of the participants in
      my questionnaire also noticed this similarity. The main
      significant parallel here appears to be that Watchmen who
      train in Ankh-Morpork, are known to the rest of the Disc as
      "Sammies". This is in the same way as policemen trained by
      the Metropolitan Police Force, which was founded by Peel,
      were initially known as "Peelers" or "Bobbies". This fact was
      only noticed by those who had some prior historical knowledge
      of the way in which the police were formed. This alludes to the
      conclusion that Pratchett may have used this parallel as a type
      of "in joke", to provide a comical comparison between Vimes
      and Peel, to those readers who possessed this insight.

      Another parallel that was perceived by some who I consulted
      was the possible similarity between the names "Peel" and "Keel".
      Many thought this was a comical reference or tribute on the
      part of Pratchett himself, to the achievements of Peel and his
      police force. During my correspondence with the author however,
      I learnt that this reference was actually, as far as he was aware,
      coincidental. Pratchett said in his email, "The John Keel name
      wasn't a deliberate reference, but feel free to assume that it was
      done subconsciously." Another possibility that I have been
      considering as a link between these names, relates to an old folk
      song about hunting. The name of the man mentioned in this song
      is "John Peel", and he is a hunter. This tenuously links to the role
      of a policeman through the concept that a policeman is hunting
      but for criminals not game. This could lead on to the name
      John Keel, through a weak association between hunting and
      law enforcement. This could explain the resemblance in a more
      in-depth way, than purely through the similarity of the sound.
      Although this is open to many different interpretations, which
      are dependant on reader knowledge. This information actually
      contradicts my initial hypothesis in this study, which leads me to
      refer to the contrasts that are also apparent between Vimes and
      Peel so as to maintain the neutral perspective of this investigation.

      Among the many contrasts between Vimes and Peel are the
      greatly differing social backgrounds of the two. Vimes is
      portrayed as being from a lower working class background,
      and as growing up in a poor home.

      Pratchett illustrates this clearly in "Night Watch" by using
      Vimes' memories of his childhood as a narrative tool. "You might
      not have much, but you could have Standards...There might be
      nothing behind the front door worth stealing but at least the doorstep
      could be clean enough to eat your dinner off, if you could have afforded
      dinner." Yet in contrast Peel came from an upper class background,
      his father a "wealthy cotton manufacturer and a member of
      parliament for Tamworth. Robert was trained as a child to become
      a future politician."

      As I learned in my research, and again in my correspondence
      with Pratchett, my assumptions on the parallels between Vimes
      and Peel did not run as deep as I first thought. In Pratchett's email
      to me on the subject he stated, "The single similarity, I think,
      lies in the fact that Vimes raises the profile and status of the Watch
      to the extent that coppers trained in Ankh-Morpork are nicknamed
      "Sammies", just as British policemen were "Peelers"." This seems
      to be the only real similarity between the two. However there are
      other parallels between the Metropolitan Police Force and The
      Watch, and the subsequent development of them both.
      (continued next month)
      If you did not get all 5 parts, write: jschaum111@...
      Copyright (c) 2005 by Klatchian Foreign Legion

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