Monday, 6 October 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Ersatz Elevator, Chapter 6

Another week and we’ve got another run at The Ersatz Elevator. Things are getting more worrying for the children.

What Happens?

The Baudelaires are left in the apartment for the day while the Squalors go out so they decide to mount a search for Olaf. After establishing that he's not in the apartment, they head downstairs listening at the doors on each floor to try and see if Olaf is inside. At the lobby they are told that they can't return to their apartment as Gunther is yet to come down and the doorman refuses to go against his instructions from the night before. While they are sitting there, waiting for the Squalors to return home Klaus realises that there is one place they haven't checked...

Thoughts as I read:

This chapter opens with a trail of breadcrumbs, which lead back to a pair of hands and a piece of bread. I’m guessing this is the Baudelaires technique for finding their way around the apartment. I was going to suggest string myself, but perhaps this is more fitting. After all, they are orphans, it’s a little bit more like Hansel and Gretel.

Morning is one of the best times for thinking. When one has just woken up, but hasn’t yet gotten out of bed, it is a perfect time to look up at the ceiling, consider one’s life, and wonder what the future will hold.

We’re informed that as he’s writing this Snicket has been wondering if he will be able to escape from his current situation. The Baudelaires, on the other hand, haven’t been able to sleep and they are worrying about what is going is going on; Violet wants to know what Olaf’s current plan is, Klaus wants to know how Gunther disappeared, and Sunny wants to figure out how the Baudelaires can all get together to discuss the situation without the Squalors hearing them.

Sunny takes charge of the last question and rounds up her siblings with a “Tageb” which apparently means “Good morning”. Violet decides that although she doesn’t have any tools for her inventing, she hopes to think better if she sits at the bench and ties up her hair as though she was able to invent. Then they run through what they actually know. They realise that Olaf wants to get his hands on the Baudelaire fortune. Sunny asks “Klofy” which means “Of course. But how?”

Klaus has figured out that it must be to do with the In Auction. Violet is horrified and worries that perhaps Olaf wants to auction them off. That actually sounds like just the sort of thing that Olaf would try to do. When Klaus does point out that it’s against the law, I can’t help but think that this probably wouldn’t bother Olaf, after all, he didn’t have any problem with trying to marry Violet against her will.

Sunny raises a worry of her own, “Nolano?” meaning “Do you think the Squalors are working together with Gunther?”. Her siblings reassure her that this is unlikely, after all, they’re very well off and Jerome is quite nice, he doesn’t seem the type. I don’t think they should consider the Squalors as a combined unit, Esme is really something else.

Jerome shows up just as the Baudelaires are discussing what Olaf has planned this time. He, meaning Jerome not Olaf, has made them breakfast and I find myself having a sudden flashback to reading the Sookie Stackhouse books because Esme's away to a meeting with the King of Arizona. I think these books must be set in a kind of alternate America, hence the strange clothes and bizarre mix of technology. It's a little like the His Dark Materials trilogy, you get little hints of the world but not enough to answer all your questions!

With Esme out of the way Jerome is free to get the children's pinstriped suits altered so they actually fit them. Sunny is delighted by this and says "That's very considerate of you" except she's Sunny Baudelaire so it comes out as "Knilliu!" Although Esme's not gone yet, she's stopping by to inform everyone that the new in drink is parsley soda so Jerome must drop everything to go and stock up, leaving the children to their own devices for the day.

As far as Sunny's concerned there's only one way to spend the day now: "Vinfrey" which is not a near-neighbour of Gallifrey, nope, it means they should figure out what Gunther/Olaf is up to. Sunny's quite the little chatterbox in this chapter because a mere moment later she's reminding her siblings "Koundix" meaning "But he can't be in the penthouse. Esme saw him leave."

The Baudelaires are understandably concerned (or in Sunny's case "Ecrif!") at the prospect of being left alone in a building which still contains a Count Olaf. All the same, they need to get to the bottom of his latest plot to help rescue the Quagmires so they need to figure out a way to find their way around the penthouse without getting lost.

Luckily Sunny has the solution! "Hansel!" which needs no translation at all, though apparently it does for her siblings. Violet thinks this means they should draw a map, until Sunny follows it up with "Gretel!" I love it when Sunny's sayings are like this, it's very clever. Sunny's so modest too, when Violet and Klaus tell her it's a good idea she says "Blized" meaning "It's nothing."

So they use the toast crumbs to mark the rooms they've checked. I can't help but think their legal guardians will be somewhat unimpressed to come home to find crumbs all over the floor of their fancy expensive home.

But there's no Olaf to be found, which on the one hand is reassuring because who wants to be stuck in an apartment with Count Olaf? On the other hand, it's worrying because it doesn't shed any more light on where he's got to. It dawns on Violet that perhaps he's in one of the other apartments in the building, maybe being rented out by one of his henchmen (or women). Sunny suggests "Co" meaning "Or maybe Gunther managed to trick one of the other residents of 667 Dark Avenue into letting him into their apartment, and then he tied them up and is sitting there hiding in the kitchen." Which is hilarious for the length of the sentence relative to the length of the word she actually said.

And so it's time for a new plan. The Baudelaires are going to go and listen at the doors of the other apartments to see if they can hear Olaf in any of them. "Lorigo!" says Sunny, meaning "What are we waiting for? Let's go!" But before they actually do go, they need provisions for the journey, such as "Snack!" as suggested by the littlest Baudelaire.

I feel like most of this review is just me talking about Sunny's speech, but that's because she just doesn't shut up here. When they're all ready to go eavesdropping Sunny announces "Philavem" meaning "Let's get started" and then they head off to listen at the doors of the other inhabitants of 667 Dark Avenue.

Obviously none of the people they hear or see could possibly be Gunther/Olaf but the children still feel the need to justify their reasons for this. For example, they hear someone announcing they're going to have a shower at which Sunny says "Mineak" meaning "Gunther would never take a shower. He's filthy." After listening at every door in the building the children are still none the wiser about where Olaf has disappeared off to.

"That was exhausting," Violet said, sitting down on the bottom step and passing around the bottle of water. "Exhausting and fruitless!"
"Grape!" Sunny said.
"No, no, Sunny," Violet said. "I didn't mean we didn't have any fruit..."

Hehe, I love little exchanges like this one.

The only thing that the Baudelaires have learnt is that the correct number of floors in the building is sixty-six. I wonder if this will be useful to know later on.

And it's still left a lot of room for doubt regarding the Olaf situation. What's to say they didn't miss him in the penthouse? Or didn't hear him in the apartments (or "Bishuy" as Sunny puts it)? Or that he didn't actually leave and the doorman just didn't realise?

They decide to ask the doorman, seeing as he's right there gluing starfish to the walls which creates another problem. As he insists that Gunther has not yet left, and they're not allowed into the penthouse until he returns, the doorman simply cannot allow them to leave the lobby. They'll just have to hang around the lobby until Gunther shows up. This does beg the question, just when does the doorman sleep? He's apparently been watching and waiting since the previous day!

Klaus does actually raise the question and is told the doorman drinks a lot of coffee. He also then helpfully tells them that sometimes the solution to your problems is right under your nose. I wonder if the Baudelaires have thought to check there then...

As Klaus sits there, studying the elevator doors, he realises that yes, the answer might actually be right under his nose after all.

Any bets where Olaf has been hiding?

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