Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Bad Beginning, Chapter 12

Ooh, we’re nearly at the end of the first book. I’m quite proud of myself for sticking with this and now that the first book is nearly out of the way I’m looking forward to making my way through the others. I’m also looking to the future and thinking about the series of books that I think I’m going to tackle later on, once I complete the Series of Unfortunate Events books.

What Happens?

The children wait backstage until Olaf has them hustled into their costumes. Justice Strauss is revealed to have the genuine wedding ceremony to read during the play, in order to make it ‘realistic’. Violet and Klaus try to convince her to change things around a little but she declines. When they are almost ready to go onstage Mr Poe shows up to wish the children good luck but Olaf shows up before they can tell him what’s going on.

Thoughts as I read:

Chapter Twelve’s picture shows a leg peaking out from behind a curtain. Before you get excited, it’s not a particularly nice leg. It evidently belongs to Count Olaf because at the end of the leg is a bare ankle with an eye tattooed on it (fifty-two). While the leg is the thing you are supposed to be looking at, I think that the shading on the curtain is fantastic.

Violet and Klaus are waiting backstage, still in their night things, watching the preparations for the show to begin. On the one hand they’re feeling slightly doomed, on the other hand they’re quite interested in what is going on around them. If Count Olaf was a different sort of person, i.e. a nice one, they might have had a positive experience with him, perhaps getting involved in his theatre work.

There’s a lot of activity going on around them, people are carrying things, moving things, Olaf is practicing his lines. Despite being interested, the children wish they were somewhere else. It’s at this point that we discover that the play has not only started but we’re already at the end of Act 2. Count Olaf announces his displeasure at the fact that the children are not yet in their costumes.

The two white-faced women force them out of their night clothes and into their costumes. We’ll just move right on past the fact that the children have been unwillingly stripped and go straight onto the fact that their costumes aren’t very nice. Violet’s obviously in an imitation wedding dress, while Klaus is made to wear an itchy sailor suit.

Justice Strauss shows up at this point and she’s enjoying the experience. Klaus notices that she has a small book which is revealed to contain the actual wedding ceremony, the pretext for this being to make the play realistic but obviously the reader and the children know that the real reason for this is because Violet and Olaf are actually supposed to be legally married by the end of it so that Olaf can claim her fortune.

Violet seizes the opportunity to get them out of the situation and suggests that Justice Strauss muddle up the ceremony slightly, Klaus agrees with this, after all, it’s not a real wedding so it doesn’t really matter. Unfortunately Justice Strauss is determined to follow Olaf’s instructions to the letter and at that moment is called away to get her make-up put on, which greatly excites her.

Violet’s dress then gets a flowered headdress, completing her transformation into a not-so blushing bride. She and Klaus try to come up with another way to get out of the play but before they can come up with anything Act Three is announced and the children are rushed out of the dressing room.

Before they step out onto the stage, Olaf’s bald henchman reminds them that if they try anything Olaf will make use of the walkie-talkie to drop Sunny off of the tower. The children are resigned to the fact that there is nothing at all that they can do to escape now.

It’s at this moment that Mr Poe shows up, rather unexpectedly, just as the bald man is telling them ‘You’d better do exactly as planned’. Mr Poe states that he’s sure the Baudelaires will and that he’s brought his wife, Polly, to watch the show. I can’t help but think that Polly Poe is a bit of an unfortunate name (this book series is full of unfortunate events), her maiden name must have been pretty bad for Poe to seem like an acceptable alternative.

Klaus is understandably surprised to see him there. Poe meanwhile is more pleased that the children seem to have adjusted to life with their ‘new father’. Klaus tries to use this opportunity to reveal that everything is about to go terribly wrong but Olaf chooses this moment to appear behind them, brandishing his walkie-talkie. For once Mr Poe isn’t completely useless, but that’s only because he isn’t given the chance to be, Klaus wisely decides to thank Mr Poe for all his help and then watch him leave, after telling them to ‘Break a leg.’

There’s a brilliant bit where Klaus whispers to Violet that he wishes they could actually break a leg and Olaf tells them that this is a distinct possibility. He’s so evil and there’s never anyone around to hear it!

Both children are taken to their positions on the stage, separated from each other so that Klaus can only watch as Violet stands next to Olaf and the play resumes. We are told that the play is really boring and not particularly good, chosen solely for its usefulness in the fact that it features a wedding and so allows him to marry Violet relatively easily.

This whole section is told from Klaus’s point of view as he looks around the stage, at the audience and at Justice Strauss who appears to be quite nervous about her first appearance on stage. At last they actually get to the marriage vows portion of the play. First Olaf says ‘I do’ and then it’s Violet’s turn. There’s a tragic sort of moment when Klaus witnesses Violet shudder as Olaf speaks. How awful to know that in a matter of minutes your fate and that of your family will be sealed and there is no way out. I’m sure I could say something here about the horror of child brides being married unwillingly to older men around the world as well.

Violet has no choice but to say ‘I do’ as well. Klaus watches as Violet is handed the document to sign to make it official. This is it, the moment that their doom is sealed. Klaus is threatened by the bald man, as though there’s anything he might do at the moment, especially with the risk of his action harming Sunny.

Instead Klaus is just made to watch as Violet takes the pen and prepares to sign, her left hand trembles as she holds the pen and writes her name…

Do you see where this is going?

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