on Big Deal Moments in Discworld
Guards! Guards! has one of the first Big Deal Discworld moments for me, and I’m not very good at articulating what that means.
The moment I’m thinking of is the dragon’s speech to Wonse – “we were supposed to be cruel, cunning, heartless and terrible. But…we never burned and tortured and ripped one another apart and called it morality.” That’s a passage that always makes me stop and reread it a couple of times. And it’s a small moment – it’s the only time we hear the dragon speak at all, and it’s a speech that has no bearing on the rest of the story. It could have been taken out of the book entirely and nothing would feel like it was missing. But the fact that it’s there is a Big Deal moment. The great big monstrous antagonist’s judgment of humanity is unavoidable in its accuracy.
And the Discworld series is full of moments like that. Sometimes it’s just one line, sometimes it’s a full scene, and most of the book is so full of shenanigans coming so quickly one after another that you don’t always see the Big Deal moments coming. We think of Pratchett as a humor/satire writer and yes, the books are hilarious, but in between the jokes are these Big Deal moments that casually rearrange our perspective and stick with us even after we think we’ve forgotten.
Then there are the other Big Deal Moments, that are Emotional Meteorite Strike Moments (e.g. the phrase “that is not my cow” can now instantly put me in the fetal position) but I’m having a hard enough time describing this one as it is so I’ll probably go on a tirade about those ‘round about that One Part in Feet of Clay. (You know the one.)