Thursday, 28 August 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Miserable Mill, Chapter 8

This is a pretty short chapter today so we should get through it quite quickly. Tomorrow we’ve got a double-helping so don’t forget to check back for that as well.

What Happens?

Violet suggests that they run away but Klaus points out that they would be unable to protect themselves against Count Olaf as he needs new glasses and Sunny is just a baby. Klaus figures out that the reason he was acting so strangely was because he was hypnotised. They have no choice but to head to Dr. Orwell’s office but once inside she doesn’t seem too scary. She takes Klaus away to make his glasses and directs the girls to the waiting room, where they quickly realise that all is not as it seems with the receptionist, Shirley.

Thoughts as I read:

The image for this chapter is a closer look at something we saw at the end of the last book. It’s a sign, shaped like a pair of glasses complete with eyes. The name on the sign reads ‘Dr. Georgina Orwell’ which gives us another little literary name play. I’m sure I remembered there being a lot more literary references on my last reread so I’m wondering if I’ve either overlooked some of the ones that have cropped up so far, or if they are more tightly condensed into the later books than I recall.

The one good thing about the recent events is that it has allowed all three Baudelaires to escape, momentarily, from Lucky Smells Lumbermill. Violet’s thinking much the same way as I am right now. She suggests that they could run away, especially given their newfound knowledge of the lumbermill industry, though I hate to say it, I doubt that any other lumbermill would operate in quite the way the Lucky Smells does!

Klaus questions how they would protect themselves against Count Olaf. Violet points at that they’ve done just fine so far, though Klaus again shoots her down by pointing out that one of them is a baby and the other one can’t see very well at the moment. He does have a valid point. It would all end up resting on Violet’s shoulders, as she already seems to think it does. Klaus thinks things will be best if they get him some new glasses and then see what happens.

Violet tries to get Klaus to remember what happened when he went to Dr Orwell’s but all he remembers is telling Charles he didn’t want to go. Sunny says “Ha!” to this, which means “Ha!” Is this a sign that Sunny is starting to speak the same sort of language as everyone else? We’ll have to wait to find out because Violet pushes Klaus to remember.

All Klaus knows is that he was unaware of anything until he came to at the lumbermill after injuring Phil. Then he says the magic words “It’s as if I were hypnotized”. Violet is a little bit sceptical but Klaus insists that it explains everything and details what he read in Encyclopedia Hypnotica the previous year. There’s a story about an Egyptian king who did chicken impressions when someone said “Ramses!” and a Chinese merchant who played the violin when someone said “Mao!” and:

“A man who lived in England in the nineteen twenties was hypnotized. All the hypnotist had to do was shout ‘Bloomsbury!’ and he suddenly became a brilliant writer, even though he couldn’t read.”

Sunny responds to this heartwarming tale with “Mazée!” which means “We don’t have time to hear all these stories, Klaus!” Out of curiosity I googled ‘Mazée’ to see what it means. It’s a place in Belgium, just in case you were wondering.

Unfortunately he doesn’t remember anything about how to avoid being hypnotised, he was more interesting in the funny stories so apparently skipped over the less interesting bits. And that’s why I don’t count a book as being read until I’ve actually read it all!

The Baudelaires turn their attention back to the big eye-shaped building. I love this line: To Klaus, of course, Dr. Orwell’s office just looked like a big blur, but to his sisters it looked like trouble. Klaus then vows never to skip the boring parts of a book again. I used to have a two chapter rule where if something was boring then if I wasn’t enjoying it by the second chapter I would just give up with it. Now I have a rule that if I’ve started it then I must finish it. Quite often I do change my mind about otherwise boring books, though I’ve still never actually gone back to try rereading The Great Gatsby.

Lemony Snicket interrupts the story here for a moment, as Klaus is walking towards the building, to ask Where is Count Olaf? He then goes on to answer the question as well, Very nearby. Considering the fact that Snicket has waited until now to raise this question and bring up the answer we can only assume that Olaf is inside the very building the children are headed towards.

Inside the eye-shaped office is a tall woman wearing a badge that says Dr. Orwell. She’s got blonde hair which is pulled back into a bun, wears big black boots and carries a cane with a red jewel on top. She does not appear to the Count Olaf in disguise. She is also surprised that Klaus has broken his glasses again already. Violet and Sunny are also surprised as they were expecting her to be Olaf in disguise. Not only that, she invites them all in, promises it won’t take too long to make up Klaus’s glasses and tells them they can eat the cookies made by her receptionist, Shirley.

Violet gets straight to the point and asks if her brother is going to get hypnotised but Dr Orwell reassures her that sort of thing only happens in scary films. So the children head into the building.

She does say something slightly strange as they walk down a corridor covered in medical certificates. After asking the girls if they read a lot she asks if they know the meaning of the phrase ‘You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar’. Sunny responds with “Tuzmo” meaning “I don’t believe so”. Violet’s none the wiser so Orwell explains that it means that if you behave nicely you’re more likely to get what you want than acting badly. She then tells them all will become clear soon and sends the girls into the waiting room.

The waiting room looks like just about any other waiting room in any other place. There’s seating, a table, a selection of old magazines, and a receptionist. But the receptionist is not like any other receptionist in any other place. Despite the nameplate which reads ‘Shirley’ the receptionist is definitely not a Shirley. They are wearing a receptionisty sort of outfit in brown and beige, pale lipstick and a blonde wig. But they also have a pair of shiny eyes which are more well known as belonging to a certain Count Olaf.

And now the children are in trouble.

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