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In Sezon burz (the Witcher's Season of Storms), the sorcerer Pinety has this conversation with Geralt.

"Have you ever angled, Witcher? Does hunting attract you?”

“I hunt when I have an urge for a fish. I always carry a line with me.”

Pinety was silent for a long time. “A line,” he finally uttered in a strange tone. “A line, with a lead weight. With many little hooks. On which you skewer worms?”

“Yes. Why?”

“Nothing. It was a needless question.”

What is the meaning of his words?

What I took from this was how Pinety thought strange that the Witcher (who had previously avoided gruesome details of what a loose demon was doing to people, and who avoids torture and malice) didn't mind torturing and hurting lesser animals, like fish and worms. How Geralt unconsciously distinguished between creatures that should not suffer, and creatures who could be tortured and hurt at will, even if for feeding purposes.

Please pay attention to spoilers, and use spoiler tags as necessary. I have not finished the book.

  • 2
    Pinrty had a passion for angling and Geralt's way of catching fish was kinda like using a crowbar in golf ;) – Mithoron Sep 6 '18 at 0:08
  • The dialogue also serves as means to reveal that Pinety is Lytta Neyd's previous lover. She had certain ideas of what qualities that made a "real man", one was that they should have a passion for angling... (probably something to do with her Skellige roots) Later on, last time he sees Pinety, Geralt has figured out that he was Lytta's earlier lover. – Amarth Oct 8 '19 at 22:30
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Pinety tried to bond with Geralt. It didn't work.

It has nothing to do with cruelty: in Geralt times most people hunt and kill for sustenance and are not overly concerned with the suffering of their prey. The difference is in the method:

A fisherman is like a duffer in golf. They go out there and just give it a try. They use bait and whatever they can find that might work. They are trying to catch fish to eat in most cases and are not just there for the sporting part of it although that can be a factor.”

An angler uses specific equipment and practiced techniques that are designed to bring in large trophy-sized fish. Often, they don’t even keep the fish they catch. They practice catch-and-release often and rarely throw one in the cooler unless it is injured or they find it a particularly tasty type of fish. They are there particularly for the sport of it.” source

For Pintey catching fish is a sport - something requiring skills, patience and concentration, something he does for pleasure. For Geralt it is a means to catch something to eat and he doesn't care how he gets it and how "fair" it is to the fish.

Pinety was trying to share his passion with the witcher, just to find that Geralt is (at least in this case) crude and primitive. It is like if an artist tried to share his feeling about painting with a guy who occasionally whitewashes walls.

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