Monday, 11 August 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Wide Window, Chapter 11

Well, I’m back home now and getting back into a normal routine after a ridiculously long overnight bus journey. More about that another day, for now it’s Chapter 11.

What Happens?

They set sail across the lake, right into the midst of the Lachrymose Leeches’ territory. The leeches attack the boat and put a crack in the bottom of it. As the attack becomes more sustained the boat becomes more and more badly damaged to the point that the Baudelaires realise that it is sinking. They have to try and signal for help. Violet devises a way of making a noise and tried to make a light to attract attention. Eventually she succeeds, although the person they attract is someone they would rather not see.

Thoughts as I read:

If you’ve been wondering what Lachrymose Leeches look like, the chapter image for this chapter reveals them in all their spectacular toothy glory. I’ve been picturing them as looking like your regular sluggish sort of leeches but these are quite evil looking. There are eight in total on this page and they’ve got massive teeth, slitted eyes and frilly bits. They are obviously in black and white but I imagine that those frills are red and the leeches themselves are more beigey coloured than the blackish/brown of real leeches. It’s funny how black and white images can conjure up colours in your mind even when they’re not there in real life.

Josephine and the Baudelaires are now back out on the lake and heading for Damocles Dock. Everything so far has gone quite well so it’s only a matter of time before something goes horribly wrong. Josephine is predicting awful things happening every few minutes, as she is wont to do, but then they enter the territory of the Lachrymose Leeches. This shouldn’t be a problem but Josephine has eaten recently and this is a big no no when Lachrymose Leeches are in the vicinity. Obviously she didn’t think to mention this until they were out on the water approaching their territory. I know that speed was of the essence, but you’d think she would’ve said something to let them know that they’d need to wait for an hour or so.

I’m really not sympathetic to Josephine at all, am I? I can’t help it. The woman is infuriating me.

Klaus is hopeful that the leeches will have moved away and won’t attack them if they’re in the boat but just mentioning them seems to summon them up. They start nibbling at the boat but so far they’re safe, but for how long? Especially when you consider the fact that Josephine is freaking out somewhat.

Frustration is an interesting emotional state, because it tends to bring out the worst in whoever is frustrated. Frustrated babies tend to throw food and make a mess. Frustrated citizens tend to execute kinds and queens and make a democracy. And frustrated moths tend to bang up against lightbulbs and make light fixtures all dusty.

Hehe, I like that. This is brought up because the leeches are getting frustrated and so they start to move off. This is not a good thing, it turns out that they’re just giving them a run up. The leeches might be blind and mostly made of teeth, but they’re pretty smart. In order to eat the people in the boat, the people in the boat need to be in the water, so they need to get the people out of the boat and into the water.

This is scary, especially when Sunny says “Yadec!” which means “Look at the crack in the boat that the leeches have made!” They need to move faster but there’s no wind. Josephine is so lucky that I’m not in the boat because her immediate response to this is to beg not to be thrown overboard. I would totally toss her overboard, but I suspect that this is because I’m reading this after not having much sleep and staying up way too late so she just irritates me a lot. I’m being way too harsh on her, I’m sure.

Meanwhile, the leeches are actually getting into the boat now. One actually fastens onto Klaus’s shoe and Violet manages to get it out the boat. Things are obviously getting pretty serious now. With virtually every paragraph the crack widens, more water comes in and the leeches become more and more of a problem. Sunny is given the task of bailing out the boat because sinking now appears to be becoming a real possibility; she jumps to it with “Mofee!” meaning “I certainly will.”

They even manage to get Aunt Josephine to help with the rowing, thankfully she’s not scared of oars or blisters or sweating. Unfortunately the leeches tactics are improving. They’ve divided in two and are really going for the boat now, as well as the oars. Basically they’re screwed. They’re in the proverbial boat and will be without a paddle if they keep dipping them into the water for the leeches to gnaw on.

Their last hope is to signal for help. Violet takes out her ribbon and it looks as though they might just be saved. Violet’s not one to let them down with her inventions. This is why Snicket went to the trouble to detail all the bits and pieces in the boat when they pinched it. Somehow Violet needs to use these supplies to make something to make a bright light and a loud sound.

Violet takes the bucket from Sunny, who is somewhat surprised as she says “Bero?” which means “Are you crazy?” because at the moment the bucket is the only thing keeping the boat from filling up with water. Violet then climbs up the mast to make the bucket into a kind of bell at the top of the mast. That’s the loud sound part of the signal sorted then.

For the rest of the plan Violet is using part of the sail and she wants Josephine’s hairnet. Any change in my feeling towards Josephine swings right back round again because Josephine argues this point. She needs her hairnet to keep her hair straight and she’s scared of having hair in her face. As someone who regularly has to travel by boat to get to civilisation, I’ve thought about these things way too much, if someone asks you for something you have about your person on a sinking boat, you give them that something, regardless of what it is and its function at that immediate moment.

Violet is driven to do what I would probably do. She rips the hairnet from Josephine’s head. If it was me I think by this point I might be tempted to accidentally shove her overboard in the process, so I think Violet shows great restraint at this point. Luckily with the hairnet Violet is able to complete her second part of the signal which is essentially a big bundle of cloth attached to the end of an oar with a hairnet. It’s crude, but if it works, who’s to criticise?

This weird hairnet/sail/oar bundle is then rubbed up and down against the side of the boat. This is to create friction and so set the thing on fire, which would be the bright light portion of the signal. Klaus worries about the wisdom of creating a fire on a sinking ship. Unfortunately this is not destined to succeed. The wood is too wet to create a spark and Violet is crushed.

Sunny tries to reassure her sister with “Tintet” which means “Don’t cry. You tried your best.” and I swear if Josephine had criticised Sunny here I might have just screamed with frustration. Violet still manages to be a bit of a genius even while she’s crying with frustration. Something about ‘scientific principles of convergence and refraction of light’ which I know nothing about but which is obviously going to save their lives now.

Even Snicket doesn’t bother going into too much detail about exactly what these principles involve but there is an interesting story here about her father’s cousin, who, as a boy, had used a magnifying glass to focus sunlight on ants to set fire to them. A relative who is decidedly unpleasant… That would be Count Olaf then. In which case, surely the Baudelaire parents could’ve written into their will that on no condition were the children to end up with him?!

But this remembrance triggers something for Violet and she takes the lens out the spyglass and uses the moonlight to set the hairnet/sail/oar bundle alight. Everyone is amazed by this and reacts accordingly, with Sunny shrieking “Fonti!” Violet makes an attempt to explain how it happened but I don’t suppose that anyone really cares.

The signal is an immediate success although in probably the worst way possible. Someone’s attention is attracted to the plight of the little boat slowly sinking, but that someone is not someone they really wanted to see. It’s Sham/Olaf so they’re probably all doomed anyway.

Phew! That was a really long chapter. I’m exhausted just from typing all that out. Now I’m off to bed!

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