Friday, 1 August 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Wide Window, Chapter 5

This is the last chapter of The Wide Window to be posted this week. All being well internet connection-wise next week, I’ll continue posting weekday afternoons (except Wednesday) next week with the usual double helping on Friday.

What Happens?

Klaus identifies a number of grammatical errors in Aunt Josephine’s suicide note and wonders what they could mean, he and Violet then have a brief argument before coming to the conclusion that Olaf must’ve written the note. Violet calls Mr Poe on the telephone and he shows up early in the morning, the minute they see him all three children burst into tears. Then Snicket drops the bombshell that Aunt Josephine is not yet dead.

Thoughts as I read:

This chapter image is a Venus flytrap, or some sort of similar plant. It’s got spiky bits and it’s in a pot. I’m not sure what it’s got to do with the events so far, so we can only assume that the link between the story and spiky insect eating plants will be made clear later in this chapter. There’s a fly/insect to the left of the chapter title too. I’m not sure if that’s important either.

Coincidentally, this chapter begins with a repeat of the letter the children found in the last chapter. Over the page we discover that Klaus has been reading it aloud and it’s upsetting Violet. As before when tragedy has struck the cracks appear briefly in their relationship and she snaps at her brother who has realised that there is something not quite right about Josephine’s suicide note.

That something would be a series of grammatical and spelling errors which Klaus proceeds to point out, leading to this exchange:

“It doesn’t say unbearable, with a U. It says inbearable, with an I.”
You are being unbearable, with a U,” Violet cried.
you are being stupid, with an S,” Klaus snapped.

Luckily Sunny manages to snap them out of it by shrieking “Aget!” which means “Please stop fighting!” And after the apologies they start to wonder what is going to become of them. Mr Poe will be back in the morning, so it would appear that they just have to survive until then. Although they know how useless Mr Poe is so they don’t hold out much hope for him actually being of use this time around. Can’t really blame them, can you?

Ah, and here’s a reference to the Venus flytrap which explains the picture at the beginning of the chapter. Basically the Baudelaires feel like a fly in a Venus flytrap, I’m paraphrasing here but it takes roughly a paragraph to come to the same conclusion.

Klaus suggests destroying the note so that Mr Poe won’t be able to hand them over to Captain Sham/Olaf but Violet has already called him and mentioned the note. So Klaus suggests rewriting it and just omitting the bit which is likely to cause them all this trouble:

“Aha!” Sunny shrieked. This word was a favourite of Sunny’s, and unlike most of her words, it needed no translation. What Sunny meant was “Aha!”, an expression of discovery.

I like that Sunny seems to be becoming more of a character in this book. In the first book she was a baby who bit things and in the second she was a baby who bit things and became friends with a snake; this time she actually has more than one word per chapter and I like the way that it’s developing her into more of a person.

At this Violet realises that Olaf must have written the letter instead of Josephine, which explains the awful spelling and grammar, after all he couldn’t use the right version of ‘its/it’s’ on his fake business card. Sunny also contributes “Leep!” to the discussion, suggesting that Josephine didn’t jump out of the window and instead “Captain Sham threw Aunt Josephine out the window and then wrote this note to hide his crime.”

You do have to wonder if that is indeed what happened why, when left in the house with the three children having successfully disposed of their Aunt, Olaf didn’t simply make off with the children, rather than leaving them in their room alone. Makes you wonder just what Olaf’s plan is, doesn’t it?

Mr Poe chooses this moment to arrive and something strange happens when the children open the door to find him standing there. They all, quite unexpectedly, burst into tears: Tears are curious things, for like earthquakes or puppet shows they can occur at any time, without any warning and without any good reason. Despite that, I’d say the Baudelaires have a perfectly good reason to be crying right now. They’ve just lost their second guardian in a week, Olaf is still after them and seems determined to remove any trace of happiness from their lives, he’s virtually unstoppable because nobody believes them when he does show up, and their only hope of salvation comes in the form of Mr Poe who has been proven to be totally unreliable on no less than two occasions in the past. Yeah, I’d cry too.

Mr Poe isn’t very good at comforting the children and Snicket wishes he could go back and offer some comfort as well. He wishes he could do this because Aunt Josephine is not in fact dead. Well, not yet anyway.

But we’re going to have to wait until next Monday to find out exactly what’s happened to Aunt Josephine. Don’t you love a good cliffhanger!

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