SPOILERS Captain Carrot Character Discussion

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Tonyblack

Super Moderator
City Watch
Jul 25, 2008
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#1
A timely reminder that this and all the other character discussions, are ongoing. There is no date to end them and please feel free to jump in whenever. I will also remind you that these discussions are completely open as far as spoilers are concerned. If you haven't read all the books, you might want to avoid these pages until you have.

This week we are, hopefully going to have a discussion about Captain Carrot - his background, upbringing, meteoric rise in the Watch and where Terry was planning to take him as a character in the books. I have long stated that Carrot is not one of my favourite characters, and I'll get into that during the discussion.

But what do you all think?
 

RathDarkblade

Moderator
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Mar 24, 2015
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#2
To be honest, I don't know what to think about Carrot. I know that some here have viewed him as Terry's early watch-hero in G!G! and MAA, but he never struck me that way. I always viewed Vimes as the hero, and Carrot as second fiddle at best.

I know that in MAA, he and Angua form the basis of their later "friendship" (ahem courtship), but this never made him the hero for me, even in MAA. Yes, Vimes was going to retire because he was getting married, but so what? :) I knew that Vimes wouldn't stay retired for long, because:

a) He was the anti-hero of G!G! (like Batman is the anti-hero of his eponymous comic books/films/whatever), and no author throws away a good anti-hero; and
b) see a). ;)

But although Carrot was never the hero, for me, he was a perfectly good second banana.* He was truly good, trustworthy, strong, etc. etc. - all the things, in fact, that the Elucidated Brotherhood of the Ebon Night didn't want in a king (or rather, the Grand Master didn't; there's no way to know if the Brotherhood did or didn't. Lumps of charcoal seldom have much to say on monarchy). ;)

The problem with Carrot in G!G! was that he was too perfect - or rather, that he succeeded in spite of his weaknesses (i.e. his recklessness and ingenuousness). Yes, Vimes also succeeds in the end in spite of his weaknesses (i.e. his "dark side" and addiction to liquor), but Carrot succeeds right away in everything he does, and that's not good for character development.

A character ought to face conflicts, which Carrot does, and he ought to face setbacks - which Carrot almost never does. It's the setbacks that teach a character the most and allow him to react to them, because they create a dilemma the character has to face, and thus make a decision.

These setbacks, dilemmas and decisions help the character to grow and develop, but Carrot almost never develops - it's not until "The Fifth Elephant" when we see how much he cares about Angua, when he resigns his commission and sets out after her. But this decision goes against Carrot's philosophy that we've in the past four books: "Personal is not the same thing as important". Now it's suddenly VERY important. So what's changed? It's never explained, which is very frustrating.

Don't get me wrong: Carrot's simplicity and honesty make him a very funny character. His bravery in the face of danger is endearing. His readiness to face overwhelming odds is inspiring. But his basic philosophy simply doesn't change - until TFE, when he suddenly does change because Angua's gone to Uberwald. Why should he chase her? Because she's gone to Uberwald? Perhaps his personal desires are important after all. But then, at the end of the book, he changes back when he says that, by putting his personal desires ahead of his duty to the watch and to A-M, he's failed.

And the ending is puzzling: after he's chased away Colon and Nobby to get the rest of the watchmen again, he and Angua seem to have a "moment". "Wolves never look back," he whispers. Does that mean that, in spite of everything, he has changed - and wants to be as devoted to her as he is to the City?

Yet by the time we see them next, in NW and TLH, their relationship is almost not mentioned. I think that, in MR, it's mentioned that they're in a stable relationship; how it got that way, though, is never explained. I think we all need to use our imaginations.

So, yes. Carrot: the problematic, frustrating man-child of the Watch who never grows up? Or the endearing, funny, inspiring bloke, who keeps his duty strictly before his eyes, in the best traditions of the Victorian age?

You decide.

__________________________
* kids, if you don't know what that is, ask your dad. He'll fill you in.
 
Oct 1, 2009
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#3
The Carrot of GG is much different than the Carrot of MAA. In GG, Carrot is extremely naive, and does any number of stupid things (like arresting the head of the Thieves' Guild). He's mainly there to remind VImes of why guards are there in the first place--to enforce the Laws, however they may have been forgotten. But Carrot is still second banana to Vimes in that book.

Carrot peaks in MAA. He's essentially the protagonist (Vimes has a much smaller role and really only doesn't becomes Vimes-like until the end). He puts the pieces together. And, in the end, we see the first glintings of Carrot's manipulative and ambitious nature when he convinces Vetinari to promote Vimes to Commander (and him to Captain) in exchange for giving up his "claim" to the empty royal throne. At this point, Pterry had to make a decision--who would be the future main protagonist of Watch stories? For most of MAA it looked like Carrot was the future Watch King. But Pterry wisely changed his mind in later.

FOC is the first book where Vimes fully exercises his full powers as a copper and a rebel against the rich and powerful. Carrot still carries half of the investigative workload, and his understanding of the innate sentience of golems reflects further development, but he still can be dim at times.

Jingo is the first book where we begin to see Pterry's demotion of Carrot. If Carrot was a boyish innocent in GG, in Jingo he's essentially a combination of Lawrence of Arabia and the worst cariacature of scoutmasters. He does almost nothing to "solve" the crime, and his main purpose is to show how he's able to make friends with just about everyone. He's a leader without a cause. With such a cartoonish depiction, there's no future for him.

The Fifth Elephant is where Carrot meets his end as a meaningful and admirable character. His decision to pursue Angua back to Uberwald makes absolutely no sense and makes a rather pathetic stalker who in one fell swoop rejects everything he once stood for. Other than using his brute strength in a couple of fights (where it wasn't really needed), he contributes nothing to solving the "crimes" and, through most of it, creates more problems (particularly for Angua) than he solves. What some may call character development I think more of as character debasement. Yes, he has more nuances here (including his own personal acknowledgement that he can be a bastard at times--especially at the end, where he forced Nobby and Colon and correct his own mistakes). But, other than that, he's worthless. So much so that he's the only member of the Watch party that travels to Uberwald who doesn't get to meet the king--he doesn't deserve the honor.

By Thud! Carrot's demotion is completed. His scenes are pure forensics, and could have been carried out by Angua and Sally on their own. He's the only core Watch member who doesn't get to travel to Koom Valley at the end--a stunning shun for a man who considers himself to be a dwarf at heart.

It's clear that by this time Pterry was no longer interested in Carrot. He played no meaningful part in either Snuff! or Raising Steam (wouldn't you think Vimes would have wanted Carrot's muscle on the train carrying the king back to Uberwald?). And I think the Watch books were better for demoting him.
 

=Tamar

Sergeant
May 20, 2012
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#4
In Jingo, Carrot isn't just a scout leader/Lawrence of Arabia clone. He's also showing off his power. Before it was almost unconscious. Now he does it deliberately. (Right now I'm not sure which book it is in which Carrot begins to use overt double-speak, in which his apparently innocent statements can be taken with an entirely different meaning. I believe it's before Feet of Clay; I think that's the one where Vimes thinks a comment about 'that was a Carrot statement'.)
 
Oct 1, 2009
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#5
I agree that the Carrot of Jingo was showing off his "kingly" qualities (he had done this far more subtly in previous boos). One of my favorites scene in the book is when 71-Hour Ali sees Carrot preventing a bloodbath of some sort, and says to Vimes something like, "This man is a king--and he reports to you?"

That, in a nutshell, pretty much defines Carrot's role from Jingo forward. In MAA and FOC at least, he was very involved in figuring out "whodunnit" and it was his and Vimes's joint work that solved the crimes. In Jingo, he's really little more than Vimes' muscle. He's great at motivating others to do what he wants, but he leaves all the important sleuthing work to Vimes.
 

Tonyblack

Super Moderator
City Watch
Jul 25, 2008
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#6
I'd agree with most that has been said so far. The character we saw in G!G! and for part of MAA was one that was so literally minded that Terry even went as far as giving a backstory to why dwarfs are like that. That character could have gone on in much that way and been a fine member of the team. But there's almost an uncomfortable (for me) switch that happens during MAA when he suddenly loses that literal mindedness and becomes much more cunning. The simple boy who wouldn't tell a lie, now starts bending the truth, almost to breaking point.

I know something that used to bother Charlene was the way he dismissed any worry about his girlfriend going off on her own in Jingo, to then drop everything - all his responsibilities, to go after her in TFE. She had made it pretty damn clear that she didn't want to be followed, but he went after her anyway - based it seems partly on jealously once Gaspode had identified Gavin's scent. And talking of which, he practically forces Gaspode to go along and doesn't seem particularly concerned at Gaspode's apparent death. It's no wonder Gaspode has the sense to go underground when he gets back to the city.

The relationship between Carrot and Angua seems more like master and faithful dog, than loving partners. Sure they love each other, or maybe devoted to each other, might be a better term.
 

=Tamar

Sergeant
May 20, 2012
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#7
It's the end of TFE that finishes destroying Carrot's old image. He threatens Colon and Nobby with his sword, strongly implying if not outright claiming that they, and all the Watchmen who had quit, had taken an oath to serve him. Not only does the oath not mean that, it's not an oath to serve for life - they had every right to quit the job. If I recall correctly, Nobby joined the Watch at a time when they didn't even bother to administer the oath. Carrot reinstituted that practice, but Nobby and Colon predate that. They certainly never took an oath to serve Carrot.

At the end, Carrot also has the absolute gall to claim to Angua that he knows how wolves behave. He didn't know anything at all about wolves before the events of TFE, and he still doesn't really - if it hadn't been for Gavin and Angua, he would have died.

Minty's parents knew what they were doing when they complained about him.
 
Oct 1, 2009
4,083
32
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Boston, MA USA
#8
Yes, the Carrot's "innocent/duty-bound/kingly" image is put to an end in TFE.

The thing is, after TFE, Pterry never does anything to turn him into something new. In the remaining Watch books he's little more than an incredibly competent crime scene investigator and polite interviewer and occasional cross-cultural mediator (his role as liaison in Thud!).
 

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