Friday, 11 July 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Reptile Room, Chapter 9

Don't forget to check back this afternoon for the last Chapter-by-Chapter post of the week. Next week we'll be finishing up with this book and getting ready to move on to The Wide Window which is the third book in the series.

What Happens?

The children return to the Reptile Room to try and find some evidence that proves Stephano isn't who he says he is and that Olaf murdered Monty. Violet sneaks up to Stephano's room to look for clues there but is unsuccessful. When Mr Poe reveals to the children that Stephano will be driving them into town but Violet has spotted the luggage and an idea has started to form.

Thoughts as I read:

This chapter begins with an image of what I'm presuming is one of the very deadly snakes which is housed in the Reptile Room. It's fashioned itself into a noose, so I'm guessing it kills its victims by hanging them. We'll call it the Executioner Snake unless the text tells us otherwise.

Now that Monty is dead, the Reptile Room feels totally different to the children:

What happens in a certain place can stain your feelings for that location, just as ink can stain a white sheet. You can wash it, and wash it, and still never forget what has transpired, a word which here means "happened and made everybody sad."

I know that feeling, there are certain places that I feel totally differently about now because of things that have happened there.

Klaus hesitates, not wanting to go into the room. I can see where he's coming from. The last time they went in there they found their guardian murdered. That's going to put him off. Violet persuades him that they have to go in because they have to find a way to prove Monty was murdered and that Stephano is really Olaf. She points out that they need to prove both of these things to Mr Poe, that's going to take some work, knowing what Mr Poe is like.

The children's approach to solving the crime is similar to that of the media when it comes to proving guilt. They know what the desired outcome is, they just need to find a way to make that desired outcome occur. The difference here is that the children know that they're right, Olaf's reputation preceeds him, for everyone except Mr Poe of course.

Klaus is still thinking about the 'what ifs' of the situation. If only they could've figured out what Olaf's plan was earlier, they could have saved Monty's life. This is probably true, but considering the fact that Monty wasn't really prepared to listen to what they had to say, Olaf was threatening them and Mr Poe isn't very helpful, it's really not likely they would've been able to change anything. But that's not going to help them feel any better.

The problem is, where to begin researching to find out what Olaf did? Violet suggests that Klaus should read all the books that mention the Mamba du Mal but as Klaus points out, this could take days and that's time that they don't have. But Klaus has the easy job. Violet's venturing into Olaf/Stephano's room to find some clues.

Sunny is given the instruction to bite anyone trying to get into the room. She responds with ''Ackroid!'' which we're told means ''Roger!'' I had to consult Google to learn that The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is a book by Agatha Christie. Sunny is a very well-read baby!

I like that there are little comments on the cliches which the text uses, such as ''meanwhile, back at the ranch''. They would stick out in the text anyway, but rather than just hope the reader doesn't notice, the reader's attention is drawn to it. It's quite clever. Anyway, we get a whole paragraph about what this phrase actually means.

Violet takes advantage of the discussion going on in the kitchen to listen in to what is being said. She sets up an alibi for what she's doing in case she is caught at the door and is then able to find out what is being said.
And what are they talking about? They're still trying to work out how to transport everyone into town. There's mention of Sunny sitting on Monty's lap which probably isn't such a good idea considering he's deceased. While they're still trying to negotiate this, Mr Poe brings up the issue of the children's luggage and that sets the whole thing off again.

Upstairs, Violet heads into the room occupied by the person known to Monty as Stephano. If we needed more proof that Stephano is really Olaf, the bedroom should give us all the evidence that we need. It's in a real state. Unmade bed? Check. Crumbs and hair everywhere? Check. Empty wine bottles? Check. Curtains covered in snot? Check. He's not even been there that long and he's wrecked the place. Lovely.

None of this is quite what Violet is looking for though. So she's forced to head downstairs to look for evidence elsewhere. Once she gets back to the kitchen door we hear that someone has seriously suggested Monty driving. You don't need to be a genius to figure out that this isn't really a viable option. Olaf is still pushing to take the children in his car himself and things are getting drastic now, Mr Poe is actually agreeing with him.

All hope now rests on Klaus and his ability to have found something in one of the books he's managed to read in this short space of time. And he seems pretty pleased with himself. He's found a section of text about the Mamba du Mal which is full of complicated words but when he looked them up he established that this particular snake squeezes its victim when it bites them. Evidence of this was obviously lacking on Monty's body.

Like an episode of CSI nearing the 48-minute mark, the Klaus reveals exactly what Olaf did; he simply injected Monty with the contents of one of the vials of poison to make it look like the snake did it. Violet is shocked, as is Sunny who shrieks ''Okipi!''

Klaus's mention of Stephano's suitcase triggers something for Violet but Mr Poe interrupts. Klaus starts trying to explain that he thinks Stephano was responsible for Monty's death and also that he has been reading about snakes but Mr Poe doesn't want to listen. Once again the children of being denied a chance to explain what is going on from their perspective. This kind of frustrates me because he's already made this mistake once and he should really know better, but he just seems to have the attitude that he knows more than they do because they're just children. If things don't fit into his nice and tidy bankers outlook on life, then he dismisses them. As if things aren't bad enough, the children have been told that they're to travel to town with Stephano.

Klaus wonders why Violet didn't want Mr Poe to know what he's found out in the book. But Violet obviously has a plan because she's giving her brother instructions to keep the adults in the Reptile Room when they came back in. Klaus's first thought upon being told to create a distraction is the Trojan War and he worries that he doesn't have time to build a giant wooden horse. This reminds me of the bit in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone when Hermione's first response when told they need a fire is to panic that they don't have any wood.

The chapter closes with the children looking at the pile of suitcases. Violet is clearly seeing something different to her younger siblings but just what she is thinking off neither they, nor us, will find out until the next chapter, and we're going to have to wait until later today for that!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Let me know what you think. :-)