Thursday, 14 August 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Wide Window, Chapter 13

Although you’re reading this on Thursday afternoon I’m actually writing it last Monday. Whooo! I’m a voice from the past! That is Monday during which I got virtually no sleep as I was travelling back from Gloucester, overnight by coach, after a family wedding. More about that later in the week. Suffice to say, I’m operating on very little sleep.

Mr Click stuck Gone With The Wind on the TV earlier on and I sat filling in my book journal to keep myself awake. The minute I stopped writing in it I could feel my eyes going, and my handwriting in the book journal… well let’s hope I can read it when I come back to write my book review in a few weeks time.

Anyway, on with the final chapter of The Wide Window

What happens?

Olaf makes wild claims to try and salvage his identity as Captain Sham but Mr Poe is having none of it. Eventually Olaf admits to everything and runs away, leaving Mr Poe shouting after him but making no attempt to chase him. The children are not allowed to chase after him, nor are they allowed to take a boat to rescue Josephine, so they end up sitting at the dock trying to work out what the moral of this whole situation might be.

Thoughts as I read:

The final chapter’s image is obviously of Count Olaf shedding his Captain Sham costume. The eye patch has been flung off already and we can see his bare leg, complete with the eye tattoo that Sunny revealed at the end of the last chapter. He’s disappearing behind a brick wall, so I’m going to start reading to see where he’s off to.

I love this opening paragraph on page 203, so much that I’m just going to quote it in its entirety:

Mr. Poe looked astonished. Violet looked relieved. Klaus looked assuaged, which is a fancy word for “relieved” that he had learned by reading a magazine article. Sunny looked triumphant. The person who looked like neither a man nor a woman looked disappointed. And Count Olaf – it is such a relief to call him by his true name – at first looked afraid, but in a blink of his one shiny eye, he twisted his face to make it look as astonished as Mr. Poe’s.

I’ve just realised that I don’t go out of my way to call Olaf by whatever name he has adopted in his pursuit of the Baudelaire fortune. In fact, although I call him both names, usually as in Sham/Olaf, I ignore Snicket’s attempts to disguise who Olaf really is. Sorry if that’s kind of a spoiler for anyone who hasn’t read the books. General rule of thumb with this series is basically if something’s going to go wrong for the Baudelaire’s, it’s because of Olaf.

Olaf, still adopting the persona of Sham, claims that it’s a miracle and his leg has grown back. Mr Poe points out the ridiculousness of this suggestion, leading Olaf to claim that he’s never seen the tattoo before in his life. Thankfully this doesn’t wash with Mr Poe either. I wonder if this is a sign that his attitude towards Olaf is beginning to change a little bit. Back in The Reptile Room ‘Stephano’ was coming out with all sorts of things and Poe was happily lapping it all up, willing to believe whatever he said. Now at least Mr Poe is siding firmly with the Baudelaires here.

Olaf then goes on to claim that yes, he does have a real leg, and yes it is a tattoo, but he’s obviously Captain Sham because he has a business card. And then when he’s forced to admit that yes, he is Count Olaf, the children were left to him. This isn’t going to fly either because the Baudelaires were left in the care of Captain Sham, someone who does not exist and therefore cannot become their guardian. Nice little twist there.

Just in case we’ve not remembered what happened in the previous two books, which at the moment is a little bit sketchy because I’m struggling to remember even simple things in my sleep-deprived state, so I’m slightly grateful for this. Olaf uses this as an opportunity to brag about how good his latest plan was; he’s not really making the best case for his defence here, is he? Especially as he happily admits to orchestrating Josephine’s death at the hands (teeth?) of the Lachrymose Leeches.

There’s a little clue here of things to come as well. Mr Poe lists Olaf’s crimes “fraud, murder, and the endangerment of children” and Olaf feels the need to add arson to this little list. Having been watching Criminal Minds I’m thinking along the lines of the fact that Olaf is craving attention for his crimes and wants each one to be recognised. But it’s obviously significant considering what happened to the Baudelaires’ house.

Unfortunately Mr Poe is kind of wasting time monologuing here, rather than going to get the police that he keeps telling Olaf about. So once again Mr Poe lets Olaf slips through his fingers. Olaf runs away and rather than chasing him and his henchman/woman, Mr Poe shouts at them to stop. Nice try there, but highly unlikely to work!

And so after rising to the occasion and denouncing Olaf for who he truly is, Mr Poe lets him get away. He won’t chase him himself, he won’t let the children go after them, he won’t let the children get in a boat to rescue Josephine. Meanwhile Olaf’s assistant has locked the gate behind them so there’s nothing the children or Mr Poe can do about the escaped criminals, leaving with the parting words “But don’t worry. I’ll see you soon, orphans. Very soon.” Ominous.

So the police are called and Olaf gets away. Again. Ending the story in exactly the same mood and place as it started. Snicket says he’d love to say that everything was resolved after this, but with another ten books to get through that’s never going to happen. Bizarrely Olaf escapes by train, disguised as a rabbit, to evade capture. Josephine, obviously, does not make it out of the story alive, though we were expecting that from the very last bit of The Reptile Room.

I love this little paragraph about stories with morals:

But even if they could go home it would be difficult for me to tell you what the moral of the story is. In some stories, it’s easy. The moral of “The Three Bears,” for instance, is “Never break into someone else’s house.” The moral of “Snow White” is “Never eat apples.” The moral of World War One is “Never assassinate Archduke Ferdinand.”

I lolled.

Basically the children realise that even though their guardians do not last long around them, one thing does stay consistent; each other. As long as they’re all together they can cope with whatever situation life throws at them. So as they sit there, feeling depressed about the most recent events, they thank each other for their contributions towards revealing Olaf’s true identity and locating Aunt Josephine. Even Sunny joins in with “Pilums” which is a thank you to Violet for inventing the signal on the boat and Klaus for looking up where to find Aunt Josephine.

And that’s where we leave the trio, having learned an important lesson which is bound to reassure them and come back up again in the future.

This book ends with an image of Mr Poe watching Olaf and henchperson running away. The most important part of the image is obviously the bit with the clue to the next book. In this picture it’s the sign above the departing figures which has been designed to look like a pair of eyes looking through glasses. Creepy.

And then there’s the ‘Letter to the Editor’ at the very end of the book. This one is typed and legible and mentions a place called ‘Paltryville Town Hall’. Wonder what’s going to happen there? Check back next Monday for find out!

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