Friday, 8 August 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Wide Window, Chapter 9

I’ve been frantically reading this book to get far enough ahead in order to schedule all my posts while I’m away. If you’re reading this, then yay! I’ve been successful. If not, well, you won’t be seeing this message so I don’t suppose I have too much to worry about.

What Happens?

The children discover that the Fickle Ferry is closed so are forced to make use of Captain Sham’s Sailboat Rentals to get across the lake. The rental shack is occupied by a member of Olaf’s troupe who has the keys to the rental boats, Sunny sneaks in to get them, but despite her care the Baudelaires are caught and it’s a struggle to get away.

Thoughts as I read:

We open this chapter with a nice big image of Josephine’s house bouncing down the side of the cliff on it’s final (and first, presumably) journey into Lake Lachrymose. You can see the Wide Window looking all wide with its shattered glass along with a couple of birds flying by, one of whom looks a little bit bemused by the whole scene.

It’s been a while since I properly gushed over an opening paragraph in this series, so here goes:

The United States Postal Service has a motto. The motto is: “Neither rain nor sleet not driving snow shall halt the delivery of the mails.” All this means is that even when the weather is nasty and your mailperson wants to stay inside and enjoy a cup of cocoa, he or she has to bundle up and go outside and deliver your mail anyway. The United States Postal Service does not think that icy storms should interfere with its duties.

My experience with the UK Postal Service has been rather different to this motto, it seems more like if the moon is in the right quarter and everyone’s in the mood for it, then they’ll deliver your mail. But anyway, I do like this opening paragraph and I like that it makes me think of Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal with the motto above that post office.

Basically the whole point of this opening paragraph is to explain that rather like CalMac ferries, if the weather is bad the boats won’t run, so there’s no way the Baudelaire orphans will be able to take the Fickle Ferry across the lake. This is especially bad news for the Baudelaires because Captain Sham/Count Olaf will almost certainly be looking for them now.

What follows reminds me of We’re Going On A Bear Hunt (you know, ‘we can’t go over it, we can’t go under it, we’ll have to go through it! Lather, rinse, repeat). Violet establishes that they can’t swim across the lake and Sunny’s contribution of “Entro!” means “And we don’t have enough time to walk around the lake, either.” Luckily Klaus thinks of something; Captain Sham’s Sailboat Rentals which kind of means going to their captor and asking him for help to escape.

Unluckily for them this is a bad plan for a number of reasons. There’s the obvious, of course, as well as the fact that this will involve trying to rent a boat in the middle of a hurricane and there is someone in the shack who is probably not Olaf, but probably someone just as bad for the Baudelaires.

The gate to the shack is locked up and so they appear to be closed. I’m guessing because whether you’re running a legitimate sailboat rental operation or not, a hurricane is never going to be the best for business. But the shack is occupied by someone, someone who they can’t tell whether they are a man or a woman, someone who is clearly one of Count Olaf’s henchmen, er… women… er… people.

Violet has to inform Klaus just who they’re dealing with which leads to a conversation between the two older Baudelaires about which of the Olaf cronies are scariest. Sunny rightly interrupts this discussion with “Vass!” meaning “Let’s discuss this at another time.”

This most recent turn of events mean that rather than hiring a boat through honest means, though they don’t have any money so I’m not sure what they were going to pay with, they are going to have to steal their boat. Snicket justifies this by explaining that in certain circumstances it is in fact okay to steal:

Stealing is not excusable if, for instance, you are in a museum and you decide that a certain painting would look better in your house, and you simply grab the painting and take it there. But if you were very, very hungry, and you had no way of obtaining money, it might be excusable to grab the painting, take it to your house, and eat it.

While Violet and Klaus are trying to work out how to go about pinching their boat, Sunny disappears. By the time they realise where she has gone she’s inside the shack, getting the keys and returning to her brother and sister. Unfortunately just as they are reunited, the guardian of the shack is woken by thunder and spots both the missing keys and the wet marks from where Sunny left rain water as she crawled.

As Klaus tries to work out which key they need to get through the gate to the boats, Violet tries to distract the large person who is neither male nor female by asking the way to Damocles Dock. This, obviously, doesn’t work and Sunny and Violet are grabbed and no amount of struggling will free them. As the person holding them heads for Klaus he manages to find the right key and opens the gate, only to be caught by the person to pick Klaus up with their mouth. This sets all three Baudelaires yelling “Put me down!” well, except for Sunny who yells “Poda rish!” which means much the same sort of thing.

I love the way that the way the person walks is described: gumsh, gumsh, gumsh, gumsh. It’s the perfect way to describe that squelchy, walking through the rain in wet shoes sort of sound. Until skittle-wat which is the sound of the person stepping on the atlas that the children left on the dock. They fall over and the Baudelaires are able to get away and head for a sailboat, apparently grabbing the atlas on the way past and they try to make their way to the cave.

Check back later today for another Chapter-by-Chapter review, Chapter Ten next!

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