Friday, 20 June 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Bad Beginning, Chapter 10

As I mentioned earlier, this is the second posting today of my Chapter-by-Chapter reviews. I’ll be taking a break from posting them over the weekend and returning with an afternoon posting on Monday next week. By this time next week we’ll be all done with the first book in the Series of Unfortunate Events.

What Happens?
That night Violet spends all her time working on an invention to save Sunny. She develops a grappling hook so she can climb to the top of the tower where Sunny is held. Although this plan is successfully executed she gets a nasty surprise when she reaches the room where Sunny is imprisoned.

Thoughts as I read:

The picture at the beginning of this chapter is a bit of spoiler, though maybe you wouldn’t identify it as one on a first read. It’s a sketch of a wonky sort of grappling hook on a rope which is all knotted together. Considering in the last chapter Sunny was being held hostage at the top of a tower, I think it’s safe to say this is likely to be connected.

The two children are clearly depressed at the abduction of their sister, they hardly speak to each other all day, at a time when they need each other most of all.

Violet asked to take Sunny her curtain bedding but is not allowed. While Violet had wanted to do this to offer her sister some comfort it does show the sort of people we’re dealing with. Not only will they happily put a baby in a cage, they won’t even allow her any kind of bedding, this makes it worse somehow. Luckily for Sunny, he sister wasn’t really expecting to be allowed to go and see her sister, but the visit was intended to allow her to ‘case the joint’.

Violet doesn’t have a lot to work with when it comes to making an invention to rescue Sunny. She’s only able to use the items she has in the room that the Baudelaires’ have been sharing. Remember the rocks which the children had been given to play with? Well in the absence of a hammer and any other tools, Violet uses these to modify the curtain rail into the hooked implement that we saw at the beginning of the chapter. The rope for it is made of all the hideous clothes Mrs Poe had bought for the children, Violet knots it together using a knot called ‘The Devil’s Tongue’ – I’m not sure if the name of the knot is important but I’m making a note of it.

As she works Violet remembers something her parents told her, when Sunny was born, about how as the oldest child it is her responsibility to look after her younger siblings. As I’ve mentioned before, Violet has developed some complicated emotional issues, right now she’s blaming herself for Klaus’s bruise and Sunny’s current predicament. It’s not like it’s her fault that they’ve ended up in the care of an awful guardian, but she’s still blaming herself and determined to get them out of the situation. At one point either the narration or Violet recognises that she’s not to blame, but that doesn’t stop the guilt that she feels. I suspect she’ll be in need of a lot of therapy when all this is over.

The book finally identifies the item from the beginning of the chapter as a grappling hook (yay, and I didn’t even read ahead)! Her plan is outlined as follows: she will use the grappling hook to rescue her sister, the hook will latch onto something at the top of the tower and then the rope can be climbed to reach Sunny. It’ll be around a 30 foot climb on a rope made out of old shirts, relying on the strength of a hook fashioned from an old curtain rail, I’m impressed with Violet’s inventing skills but I’m not sure I’d trust it to climb up a tower.

Like Klaus, Violet doesn’t tell her sibling about the plan because she’s concerned about giving him false hope. I really think these two should talk to each other about things more. I realise when they do talk to each other they often end up talking each other out of taking a particular course of action, like telling Justice Strauss about what is going on with them. But surely this is something they should share. What if Klaus wakes up and Violet is gone too?!

Violet realises that the plan is not totally foolproof when she gets outside and starts putting it into practice. Obviously when she throws the hook up the tower it makes a loud noise and fails to hook anything, several times, and so Violet worries that someone will hear and find her there. Despite her fears of being caught she keeps going, throwing and clanging and throwing again until it eventually catches on something and sticks. Luckily for Violet the thing seems to hold and she is able to climb up the tower.

At this point I started wondering what was about to go wrong. Despite reading the series before (more than once) I can’t always remember what is going to come next. This was one of those moments. I knew that there were more events still to come in the books but I didn’t have a clue what was going to happen over the page before the chapter ended, but I knew it wasn’t going to be good.

I was right. Violet reaches the top, climbing thirty feet of rope made out of old shirts to reach the top of a tower making her something of a hero for this five foot two woman who is scared of heights. At last she is level with Sunny, but everything goes wrong. The thing that the hook at hooked onto was none other than the hook-handed man, onto one of his hooks in fact, and now he’s waiting for her at the top of the tower, reaching out his other hook towards her…

Everything is really heating up now for the finale of the book and I’m glad that I’m increasing the frequency of these posts (and as a result the frequency of my actual chapter reading sessions). As I said above, although I remember some parts, I don’t remember everything so it’ll be interesting to see if the next bit plays out in exactly the same way as I think I remember it.

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