Study Guide

The Wee Free Men Setting

By Terry Pratchett

Setting

The Chalk, Fairyland

The Chalk

The Chalk refers to the land where the Achings have lived for generations and Tiffany Aching now resides. It is a rural area—the Achings are farmers—and all of the land is owned by the Baron, which means it's a pretty feudal society. In fact, everyone just lives the way that they always did there:

Most boys in the village grew up to do the same jobs as their fathers or, at least, some other job in the village where someone's father would teach them as they went along. The girls were expected to grow up to be somebody's wife. (1.123)

Despite the fact that it may be boring or repetitive, it's where Tiffany's growing up and where she has her roots. Because the Chalk means so much to her, Tiffany has the most power there, even thought the soil negatively affects other witches like Miss Tick:

"It's this wretched chalk! I can feel it already! I can do magic on honest soil, and rock is always fine, and I'm not too bad on clay, even… but chalk's neither one thing nor the other! I'm very sensitive to geology, you know." (1.103)

Other witches may have a problem doing magic around these parts, but Tiffany feels the strongest and most like herself when she's on her own land. The Chalk is the land that she is destined to protect—just as her Granny Aching did, so while it may not be the most exciting place in the world, it's where she belongs. The people and the land there need her.

Fairyland

Fairyland is an odd place that's made entirely of dreams:

"'Tis a land where dreams come true. That's the Quin's world." (5.76)

The Queen's nightmarish vision isn't made up of sugarplums and other pleasant dreams either. Instead, when they enter Fairyland they come face to face with a bleak, inhospitable landscape full of bad things that the Queen has dreamed up:

"Aye, the magic world," said Rob Anybody. "There's… bad things there."

"Monsters?" said Tiffany.

"As bad as ye can think of," said Rob Anybody. "Exactly as bad as ye can think of." (5.71-73)

Because the world is made up of dreams though, it never feels entirely real. The Queen doesn't look quite real, and even the landscape keeps changing and remains blurry at a distance:

It was like being in a painting where the artist hadn't bothered much with the things in the distance, but quickly rushed a bit of realness anywhere you were looking. (8.48)

It turns out that Fairyland is not quite real, which is why it holds less power than the real world. When Tiffany realizes this, she discovers that she has more power than the Queen because she is real and her thoughts are real—unlike the Queen's.

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