Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Miserable Mill, Chapter 7

This is another fairly short chapter, though admittedly, slightly longer than the last one. We'll be over halfway through this book by the end of this chapter and will be looking it wrap it up completely by this time next week!

What Happens?

The next morning is no better for the Baudelaires as Klaus has no memory of what happened to him the previous day. He also jumps to attention when he is given any kind of command, something which really alarms his sisters. On the factory floor Klaus is given the responsibility for running the stamping machine which ends badly when it stamps Phil's leg instead of the boards. Flacutono then breaks Klaus's glasses again leading to all three Baudelaires needing to go visit Dr. Orwell.

Thoughts as I read:

This chapter picture is a lovely detailed picture of some boots and socks. I love the cross-hatching on those shoes because it reminds me of my art classes when I was fourteen. We did cross-hatch shading and I did a brilliant picture of my school shoe (I used to sit in each art class with one shoe on and the other on the table to sketch), it was so good that they displayed it at a school art shoe. I was so proud of it. The socks also look knitted to me, they've either got a sort of chevron pattern or they're knitted. I'm going to go with knitted because I'm still working on my knitted socks at the moment.

If you have ever had a miserable experience, then you have probably had it said to you that you would feel better in the morning. This, of course, is utter nonsense, because a miserable experience remains a miserable experience even on the loveliest of mornings.

So, so true. Snicket goes on to list ways that the morning might be just as bad as the day before, like just getting wart cream for your birthday or being surrounded by man-eating crocodiles. And so it is for the Baudelaires. Worse in fact for them because not only are they woken by Flacutono banging his pots and pans, but Klaus is still really not himself.

Klaus can't really remember what happened to him the previous day and he seems compelled to do whatever he is told. When the foreman orders him to get out of bed and start working he does just that. Hmm... maybe something happened to him while he was at the eye doctor, y'think? Whatever it is, he's not really in control anymore, he didn't even stop to put on his shoes!

The Baudelaire girls call after Klaus, or in Sunny's case she says "Grummle?" Phil is, as usual, not much help, when they raise their concerns with him. He's more focused on the fact that they're going to move on to 'stamping' the lumber today. Before they can do that however, they have to finish 'tying' which doesn't leave them any time to actually talk to Klaus, not that they're likely to get much sense out of him at the moment.

Violet and Sunny beg (or say "Eshan!") Klaus to speak. He's totally out of it by now, he doesn't eat his lunchtime piece of gum, instead he just sits there in silence. When lunch is over Flacutono orders Klaus to work the stamping machine, which you really have to question the logic of. For one, he's a child; two he's never used the stamping machine before and you'd expect him to have to go through some sort of training before he could be trusted with a complicated piece of heavy machinery; three he's blatantly out of it. You have to question Flacutono's thinking here.

Remember how I mentioned in some of the previous books that Violet has developed a bit of a guilt complex about her ability (or lack thereof) to protect her siblings. This all seems to stem from her parents' telling her that as the eldest Baudelaire she's responsible for looking after her brother and sister. This was probably quite a light-hearted and well-intentioned sort of message at the time, intended to make sure she didn't let her brother stick his fingers in an electric socket, or her sister eat rat poison. Now she's the eldest Baudelaire orphan she's taken it to heart and blames herself anytime something goes wrong, like Count Olaf trying to hurt them and steal their money.

What this boils down to is that Violet feels like Klaus's strange behaviour is somehow her fault and therefore she's got to figure it out and make everything better. Good luck with that Violet.

Flacutono doesn't actually tell the children what stamping actually involves. Again, this shows us what a bad foreman he is. On a dangerous factory floor surely you need to make sure that everyone knows what they're doing. I imagine Lucky Smells Lumbermill has one of those signs up that says "XX Days Since Our Last Accident" and I bet it never gets into double figures!

For those who are curious, the stamping is basically stamping a bit notice down onto the boards which says "Lucky Smells Lumbermill". The children are responsible for blowing on the ink to dry it, which really doesn't sound very practical. I get a bit light-headed from blowing up more than about three balloons in a row so I'd probably pass out if I had to do that!

Meanwhile Phil continues trying to reassure the girls that Klaus is okay and that stamping is the best part of the lumbermill process. Sunny replies with "Wiro" which means "That's true, but I'm still worried about Klaus." Phil obviously doesn't understand Sunny but before they have time to discuss this further there's a loud crash and Phil collapses to the floor having had his leg stamped instead of the boards.

Phil, ever the optimist, is relieved that it's not is right leg and asks everything to help him up onto his unbroken leg so he can continue his work. Violet points out that perhaps a better thing to do would be to go to hospital, a few of his colleagues agree and offer him their coupons for 50% off a cast at the Ahab Memorial Hospital. Meanwhile Flacutono is freaking out. Is he squeamish? No. Is he concerned about the mill's accident records? No. Is he annoyed about the cost of the damaged machinery? Oh yes!

When someone asks what 'inordinate' means Klaus snaps out of his funk and suddenly starts defining it. Despite the serious situation, this brings Violet and Sunny and inordinate amount of joy as it shows that they've got their brother back. Klaus is looking around as though he's not been aware of what's been going on. He has no idea what's just happened to Phil and he doesn't know why he's not got any shoes on.

Flacutono is more than willing to fill Klaus in, however, telling him that the damaged machine is all his fault. Violet tries to point out why this is unfair, citing Klaus's lack of knowledge of the workings of the machine as evidence. Flacutono decides to pull the same trick as the previous day, tripping Klaus and causing his brand new glasses to break.

Despite Violet's request for supplies to fix them herself, Flacutono tells them that no, Klaus is going to have to go to see Dr Orwell again. Violet obviously feels a bit uncomfortable with this suggestion, though I get the impression that she can't really put her finger on why exactly she doesn't want Klaus to go back there. Desperately looking for a way to prevent them all from being separated again, she suggests that all three of them go together. Sunny cries "Derix!" meaning "If we can't prevent him from going to Dr. Orwell, at least we can go with him!" so I guess she's feeling the same way about things as Violet.

Strangely enough, Flacutono doesn't object to this at all. In fact he positively welcomes the idea and agrees to let them all go together. This is clearly not a good thing!

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