Friday, 1 August 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Wide Window, Chapter 4

Now that I’ve got back on track with my posting I’ll be able to post an extra Chapter-by-Chapter review this afternoon. Don’t forget to check back later.

What Happens?

Josephine refuses to believe that Captain Sham is Count Olaf because he has a business card and therefore must be who he says he is. He calls her on the telephone to chat her up and the children are sent to their room to think about what Olaf might be planning. They are disturbed later by the sound of shattering glass. The Wide Window is broken, Josephine is gone and all that she has left behind is an apparent suicide note, handing over guardianship of the Baudelaires to Captain Sham.

Thoughts as I read:

This chapter has a picture of an old-fashioned telephone, you know the kind with a spirally cord (which tangles up when you stretch it too far) and a dial so it takes ten minutes to dial a number. Josephine mentioned being nervous of using the telephone and I have to admit, this one’s cord looks a wee bit frayed. I don’t think this sort of phone plugs into the mains though so I’m not sure that you could actually get a shock from it.

The children are feeling understandably miserable at the though that Olaf has found his way back to them again. Doubly so because Josephine seems to think that Sham is ‘charming’. She even wants him to come round for dinner. I imagine that if she did they would very soon find things happening like the cooker catching fire and door handles exploding!

Josephine gets annoyed at the children for even suggesting that Sham might be Olaf. When Klaus tries to question her she comes out with the brilliant:

“I will thank you not to be impertinent,” Aunt Josephine said, using a word which here means “pointing out that I’m wrong, which annoys me.”

Apparently the fact that Sham has a business card with the name ‘Captain Sham’ on it is proof that he is exactly who he says he is. Snicket points out that a business card is proof of nothing, suggesting various things that an assortment of people could have printed on a card to show that they are not who they say they are. This ends with: Just because something is typed – whether it is typed on a business card or typed in a newspaper or book – this does not mean that it is true. Except this book is obviously not included in this, is it?

The telephone rings unexpectedly which momentarily flummoxes Aunt Josephine. Sunny says “Minka!” meaning “Answer it, of course!” It always really annoys me when people spend ages looking at the Caller ID on a phone trying to work out who is phoning, instead of just answering it to find out the easy way.

Josephine hesitates to answer the phone because she might get electrocuted so Violet gets it, only to find that Count Olaf is the one at the other end of the line. Violet pretends that the person on the phone was looking for the Hopalong Dancing School and hangs up on him, much to the appreciation of Josephine who manages to summon up enough courage to answer it herself this time.

Olaf has called back and we don’t get to hear exactly what’s being said, but he’s basically chatting up Josephine. That much is clear. She starts calling him Julio before dismissing the children to their room where they try to figure out what Olaf is playing at this time. Klaus wonders whether he actually let the leeches eat his leg, Sunny responds with “Choin!” which we’re told means “That seems a little drastic, even for Count Olaf.” Yeah, I can’t imagine that he’d go that far; a disguise is one thing but maiming himself is entirely another.

A little later in the conversation, while the children discuss how trusting Monty and Josephine are despite their warnings, Sunny comes out with “Ober!” meaning “Although we still didn’t save Uncle Monty.” Poor kids, if people would only listen to them and be slightly less incompetent about catching Olaf they wouldn’t be in this situation right now.

They speculate about how Olaf is going to get rid of them now. Ah, I’ve been wondering when we’d get this repetition again. Violet thinks he’ll take them out in a boat to drown them, Klaus thinks he’s going to push the house off the mountain and blame it on the hurricane, while Sunny says “Haftu!” suggesting “Maybe he wants to put the Lachrymose Leeches in our beds.”

And so they try to think about what they could do to get out of the situation. As always the prospect of calling Mr Poe comes up. As always they establish that this is unlikely to work as Mr Poe never listens to them. Sunny’s feeling quite verbose in this chapter because during this conversation we get “Poch!” meaning “You mean Julio.” and then “Doma” which isn’t defined beyond being an agreement with Violet’s suggestion that they stay on the look out.

And that’s about all they’re able to do at the moment. None of them are able to think up a better plan. As with their last two encounters with Count Olaf, when he first shows up there’s not a whole lot that they can do until he makes it clear what his plan is actually going to be, then they have to act really quickly to try and come up with a way out. By my reckoning they’ve got about another six chapters because they can start to plan properly. Snicket knows this as well because he goes right on to point out that sometimes the best plans aren’t realised until it’s too late to implement them. Quite simply the story of the Baudelaires’ lives!

Stuck in their bedroom isn’t really the best place to keep a watch, as evidenced by the loud crash they hear a few hours later. Sunny gets another line “Vestu!” which isn’t even defined because the children are heading out of the bedroom in order to figure out just what caused the breaking glass sound.

A good guess would probably be Aunt Josephine, as she’s nowhere to be found in the house. All that they find, attached to the door of the library is a note, reading as follows:

Violet, Klaus, and Sunny -
By the time you read this note, my life will be at it’s end. My heart is cold as Ike and I find life inbearable. I know your children may not understand the sad life of a dowadger, or what would have leaded me to this desperate akt, but please know that I am much happier this way. As my last will and testament, I leave you three in the care of Captain Sham, a kind and honorable men. Please think of me kindly even though I’d done this terrible thing.
- Your Aunt Josephine

And yeah, I didn’t make those mistakes. Josephine did. These books really aren’t like other children’s books are they? I can’t think of any other children’s books which include suicide notes from children’s guardians. Just saying. Also, how likely is it that this suicide note would actually be taken as her last will and testament, could she really be described as in sound mind? Then again, with Mr Poe in charge of their affairs, he probably would take it as legally binding and would happily hand them over to Captain Sham!

We finally get to the bottom of the sound of shattering glass. It was the Wide Window in the library. So it’s looking like that’s where Aunt Josephine went and things are not going at all well for the children now.

Check back later this afternoon for the next chapter.

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