Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Austere Academy, Chapter 7

I spent way too long writing my book review of The Lord of the Rings earlier on. Once I get started, I just don’t shut up. Chapter Seven of The Austere Academy is pretty long too. Sorry about that. At least tomorrow is another Wordless Wednesday, that’ll help balance things out a bit.

What Happens?

The children, minus the Quagmires, try to figure out what Olaf’s plan might be and how to escape from him. Eventually the Quagmires come up with a way to help the Baudelaires; by sneaking out to keep an eye on what goes on that evening. Out on the front lawn, Genghis/Olaf makes the children paint a track on the grass and then sets them to running around them. It’s very sinister.

Thoughts as I read:

I think the picture at the start of this chapter is going to be a bit of a clue as to what will happen here. We’ve got an arm, one which is clearly wearing a tracksuit, which is holding a tin of ‘lumo-glo’ which I’m guessing is paint. Judging by the skull and crossbones on the label, it’s probably not the sort of thing that children should be playing with. I’m guessing that Olaf is going to make the children do something difficulty and dangerous, that’s his usual MO.

The Baudelaires kind of have their minds on other things as the day progresses and they wait for the final meal of the day when they know they will have to go out to meet Genghis/Olaf and find out whatever it is he has planned for them. Klaus and Sunny are pretty distracted but Violet at least has tied up her hair, meaning that her inventive brain is doing its thing.

Things are no better at lunchtime, an event that the Quagmires do not show up for which means the Baudelaires have to eat with their fingers. I have to say that their lunchtime meal is one of my favourite things to eat with my fingers, spaghetti! I was so pleased when I reached 18 and suddenly realised that this meant I was an adult, and if I wanted to just eat a bowl of spaghetti (with or without cutlery) I could do that; no more having to come up with something to have with the spaghetti. Luckily Mr Click totally gets this and just the other week, when I was starving but didn’t know what I wanted to eat, offered to make me a big bowl of spaghetti.

Anyway, I digress.

The Baudelaires have not had as much experience at cutleryless spaghetti eating as I have, so they find this very difficult.

Luckily the Quagmires show up for the evening meal and inform them that they’ve come up with a solution to the Olaf situation. The Baudelaires don’t actually give the Quagmires a chance to explain the plan immediately though, despite time obviously being of the essence. Violet wonders if Olaf was planning to kidnap them and Klaus has tried to work out how they can get out of the situation:

“And at first I thought we should call Mr. Poe after all,” Klaus said, “and tell him what’s going on. But if Count Olaf can fool an advanced computer, he’ll surely be able to fool an average banker.”

I’m not the only one who agrees with this. Sunny does too, or at least she says “Toricia!” which means more or less the same thing.

Whatever the Quagmires have been up to, it’s resulted in them losing their drinking glass privileges so the Baudelaires share those with them, as they eat their meatloaf with the shared cutlery. I’m not sure this is entirely hygienic. What would Ofsted say, I wonder?

The plan amounts to little more than the Quagmires propping open the auditorium door in order to sneak out and watch what Genghis does. This means if Olaf tries anything, Isadora and Duncan can raise the alarm to warn everyone. This isn’t quite the plan that the Baudelaires were hoping for, and can you blame them? What’re the chances that Nero will take kindly to any sort of interruption to his grand concert. I’m sure that’ll go down really well. By the time that the Quagmires get him to understand the situation, Olaf could be miles away!

And the Quagmires’ involvement in the plan adds another layer of worry to the Baudelaires, because now they’re concerned that their friends might get hurt because of them. After all, Olaf’s killed two of their previous guardians, you can’t really blame them for worrying about their friends getting into trouble too.

All too soon the Baudelaires have to head out to the lawn to meet Genghis/Olaf who tells them that he has selected them to take part in S.O.R.E. also known as Special Orphan Running Exercises. Sunny’s response is “Ooladu!” which means “I wish you’d tell us what you’re really up to, Genghis.” but which Violet translates as “That sounds exciting.” Because it’s getting late (it is here too, definitely the evenings are so dark now) Genghis/Olaf has luminous paint to mark out a track so they can see where they are supposed to be running.

As we’re halfway through the book(ish) we get another full size picture here. This one apparently of Nero playing to the auditorium, complete with bored looking students. Right at the very back we can just make out Isadora and Duncan sneaking out of the room. They’re directly opposite Nero so hopefully they’ll make it out without being caught.

Olaf gives Klaus the brush and tells the children to paint out their track on the grass. This somewhat baffles the children:

“What do you think we’re really doing?” Violet whispered to her brother.
“I don’t know,” Klaus said. “I’ve only read three or four books on paint. I know that paint can sometimes be poisonous or cause birth defects. But Genghis isn’t making us eat the circle, and you’re not pregnant, of course, so I can’t imagine.”

I love how Klaus always has all the answers. How many people can say they’ve only read three or four books on paint? I don’t think I’ve ever even read one! I wonder if I’m missing out. Anyway, Sunny wonders if the paint is to be some kind of signal (or “Gargaba!”) so none of us are any the wiser at this point.

With the circle complete Genghis/Olaf gives his instructions. The children are to run laps. Sunny is generously given permission to crawl considering how she is incapable of running. And so this is how we leave the children, gradually losing track of the number of laps that they have completed; running round and round and round and round.

And they’re going to be doing it for a while because the next Chapter-by-Chapter review won’t be posted until Thursday!

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