Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Bad Beginning, Chapter 7

So far, so good! I managed to get a post up yesterday and I’m doing another one today. There’ll be a break from these posts tomorrow because I intend to keep my Wednesdays wordless but they’ll return with an afternoon post on Thursday and a double-helping on Friday.


What Happens?
The children visit Justice Strauss’s library to look at law books. She’s thrilled at the prospect of being on the stage in Olaf’s play. Violet and Klaus research inheritance law, although Violet eventually gives up believing that maybe Olaf is finally just trying to be nice to them, leaving the library to help Justice Strauss and Sunny in the garden. The hook-handed man comes along to threaten Klaus, explaining that once Olaf has the money he won’t need the children anymore. Klaus grabs a book and smuggles it out the library in the hope that something in it will help them.

Thoughts as I read:

The illustration at the start of this chapter is an arm with a hook at the end, which is spiked through a book. Firstly, I don’t think that’s a very good way to treat a book, and secondly, either Olaf’s theatre troupe has decided to switch to a performance of ‘Peter Pan’ or that’s the guy with hooks for hands paying a visit (and taking part in some petty vandalism at the same time, though I suppose if you have hooks for hands that might be one of the problems you have to deal with).

I don’t think I’ve quoted the opening line of a chapter for a bit. I love, Love, LOVE this one:

“There are many, many types of books in the world, which makes good sense, because there are many, many types of people, and everybody wants to read something different.”

It’s so true. The narrator then goes on to suggest that people who don’t like books where bad things happen to good kids should probably put this book down. I’m ignoring that suggestion.

As no one else is actually going to take this little instruction seriously, the narrator moves on to point out the one thing most people will agree on is the fact that law books are ‘very long, very dull, and very difficult to read.’ Lawyers read these books because they get paid lots of money to so, the Baudelaires on the other hand are reading them to stop Olaf from getting their money. Apparently even for those in the legal profession the money isn’t a big enough incentive, Justice Strauss reveals she doesn’t like looking at them when she sees what they’re looking at.

When asked what they’re looking at the books for Klaus and Violet explain they’re considering careers in law. I can’t help but think that’s a bad reason to look at the books, especially when they’re in the library of a woman with a career in law who could potentially use this as an opportunity to tell them all about working in the law profession. I’m willing to let it slide though, they’ve got more important things to be thinking of than excuses about why they need the books.

Justice Strauss suggests Sunny might prefer to help her outside with the gardening since the law books are a bit beyond her. Sunny responds with ‘Wipi!’ which means ‘I’d much prefer gardening to sitting around watching my siblings struggle through law books.’ At the moment most of what Sunny says has no relevance to what she actually means, but I still can’t help but wonder whether they might have some hidden dual meaning.

Conversation then turns to the upcoming play. Justice Strauss is looking forward to her chance to perform onstage, having dreamed of it since she was a little girl. She’s so caught up in the thought of being in the play that there’s no talking to her about the fact that Olaf appears to be planning something involving her. Violet and Klaus decide, with little conversation, that there is no point raising their concerns with Justice Strauss. They’ve been let down by so many adults recently that they’ve lost all faith in their ability to help them.

This bit kind of reminds me of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the bit where Harry, Hermione and Ron are looking up cases involving dangerous creatures for Hagrid and Buckbeak’s trial. Violet has found a case where a woman left all her money to a pet instead of her sons, but isn’t entirely sure of the outcome because of the words used; meanwhile Klaus found out about a naked performance of Macbeth, which he found interesting. Neither of these things helps them figure out exactly what Olaf is trying to do by getting them to perform in his play.

And now Violet is beginning to have doubts, wondering if perhaps Olaf isn’t just trying to finally be nice to them. She’s becoming quite the mixed up kid and we’re only 88 pages into the story. In this time she’s lost all faith in adults and now she’s having doubts about herself as well! She decides to give up and help Justice Strauss in the garden.

“All his life, Klaus had believed that if you read enough books you could solve any problems, but now he wasn’t so sure.”

Poor Klaus, now he’s having doubts too.

He doesn’t have long to doubt himself though. The owner of the hook hand at the beginning of the chapter has been sent to look for the children by Count Olaf. He spots what Klaus is reading and suggests that it might be best if they avoid the library until after the play, he doesn’t want him finding out anything that will cause problems for Count Olaf.

Just in case we weren’t sure that the hook-handed man is a bad guy in this book, he then threatens Klaus, pointing out that the only reason he’s still around is the fact that Olaf needs him to get his hands on the money. He then explains that once Olaf has the money, he won’t have any need for Klaus.


The hook-handed man leaves a shaken Klaus alone in the library while he goes to fetch Sunny and Violet. Luckily Klaus manages to compose himself and start looking around the library for something, anything, that might prove useful to them. At the last minute he’s able to grab a book and stuff it up his top before he is escorted out of the library. Hopefully the book he’s grabbed is one which’ll be useful and not something random like a Spanish to Russian dictionary!

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