Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Ersatz Elevator, Chapter 7

If you're reading this it means that I have succeeded in being incredibly organised and getting most of my blog posts scheduled with plenty of time to spare. Yay!

What Happens?

Klaus realises that there is something unusual about the elevators in the building; there seems to be an extra one on the penthouse floor, so the children set out to investigate. They discover that behind the elevator doors is an empty shaft which seems to go down forever. Together they rig up a rope and climb down, finding something they didn't expect at the bottom.

Thoughts as I read:

Here we have a picture of an elevator. A rather ropey, old-fashioned looking elevator. Speaking of rope, one of them looks like it's about to fray. That's a bit worrying, perhaps it's for the best that it's been 'out' recently.

This chapter is another one which opens with a little bit of a lesson. See, these books are kind of educational, another good reason to check them out. This lesson is about idiosyncrasies, we're already aware of what these are for the Baudelaires seeing as they're repeated several times each book, but just for the sake of drumming these things home again we get a refresher. We also learn a little more Sunnyese: "Freijip?" means "How can you think of elevators at a time like this?"

If you remember, yesterday we left the Baudelaires sitting in the lobby as they aren't allowed back up to the apartment until Gunther comes down. The doorman is a bit of a jobsworth if you ask me! Klaus is having a bit of a daydream while his sisters discuss what they've learned, or the lack thereof.

Eventually Jerome and Esme come back to "Tretchev!" from Sunny, meaning "Welcome home!" It's useful that they're downstairs because they've got lots of crates of the in parsley soda to carry up with them. Esme is none too pleased to learn that the doorman wouldn't let the children back upstairs and we get another clue towards the doorman's identity; he's really an actor, hmm, who do we know who is an actor?

The way up the stairs is punctuated by Esme telling them all about the newest in items which includes "bright blue cereal bowls" and "billboards with photographs of weasels on them" along with grapefruits. Klaus is still in a little world of his own and so the girls continue to discretely eavesdrop at each door on the way up, just on the off chance that Olaf is inside.

Esme keeps going all the way back to the penthouse and all through dinner as well. There's just no stopping her. Well, there is, Klaus interrupts her when she starts talking about the current fashion in garbage cans. He announces that all three of them are very tired and would like to go to bed, which evidently means he's thought of something and would like to speak to his sisters in private.

Before they can get away Jerome mentions that the children have made a bit of a mess with their snacks around the apartment recently. He's spotted the crumbs. Busted!

Violet points out the fact that Klaus has been very quiet and not been paying attention to what's going on around him. Klaus uses this as an opportunity to give his sisters a vocabulary lesson at which Sunny replies "Stiblo!" meaning "We can improve our vocabulary later - tell us what's on your mind!" He then helpfully reveals that he needs to know a bit about elevators.

Violet then goes on to give us a helpful description of how elevators work which leads to Klaus explaining that he's realised there are two sets of elevator doors outside the penthouse, but every other floor only has one set. Sunny says "Yelliverc!" meaning "That second elevator is almost completely useless!" and later "Middiow?" which is apparently asking Violet what an elevator shaft is, leading to the brilliant definition "It's sort of like a hallway, except it goes up and down, instead of side to side."

Suffice to say, the children are certain the Gunther/Olaf is hiding in the elevator shaft. The best way to check this is to go and investigate what is behind the doors of the second elevator. Apparently there is no time like the present, so they'll have to sneak by the Squalors in order to get out of the apartment to check it, after all, the In Auction is tomorrow and who knows what will happen then!

Once in front of the elevator doors the children realise they need to find a way to tell them apart, after all, how do they know which is the real elevator and which is the one which is just a random set of doors. Sunny figures it out; one door has an up button and the other has a down button, if you're already at the top of the building where is up going to take you? Violet says as much, thanks Vi, I said it first!

When they press the button the children discover that there's something fishy here. "Lakry" says Sunny, meaning "There are no ropes." This is where Klaus helpfully explains the book's title for us, as I did when we started it. The elevator is ersatz. What's more, there's absolutely nothing in the shaft, except a lot of blackness. It's like standing on the edge of a deep well. As someone who is more than a little bit bothered by heights (or at least the thought of the ground getting very close, very quickly) just reading the whole page of description of the view makes me feel a little queasy.

And then Violet announced they're going to have to go down there. Crazy girl! Klaus and Sunny are both a little bit worried about this, though Sunny does say "Prollit" meaning "But not as terrifying as what Gunther will do to us, if we don't find out his plan." Klaus still isn't keen, suggesting they get the Squalors to go investigate. Really, Klaus? Do you see Esme and her precious nails volunteering for that?

Nope, they're going to go down themselves, and they need to find a rope in order to do it. So it's back to the apartment for search for rope. Snicket tells a little bit about the five burglars in the past who have specialised in rope:

All five of these burglars were caught and sent to prison, which is why scarcely any people lock up their rope for safekeeping, but to their frustration, the Baudelaires learned that their guardians didn't lock up their ropes at all, for the simple reason that they didn't have any.

Instead they've found some rope substitutes in the form of extension cords, curtain ties and neckties. Violet announced these will be tied together using a type of knot known as The Devil's Tongue. Let's hope it's a strong knot because I'm not sure I'd be willing to lower myself down a sixty-six floor elevator shaft on a few random bits of household cord.

Klaus takes a moment to marvel at the fact that normally they spend their days trying to get away from Olaf but now they've changed tact and are trying to find him instead, which then turns their thoughts to the Quagmires. This leads Sunny to say "Bangemp" which means "If it weren't for the Quagmires, we would have been in his clutches a long time ago." This is very true, of course.

Soon it's time to toss the makeshift rope down the shaft and listen to hear (I actually typed 'see' to start off with, it appears I'm starting my NaNoisms early this year) if it hits the bottom of the shaft. Sure enough, after a while of watching the cords slip away, they hear a noise as it hits something at the bottom. And after this reassuring sound, it's time to go down!

One by one they head down the shaft. I do have to question the logic of climbing down all at the same time. How can they really be sure that their 'rope' can handle the weight of three children? How much weight can your average necktie cope with? This feels like it could be an episode of Mythbusters actually, anyone want to suggest it?

The climbing down takes about as long to describe as when the children stared down in the shaft. It's ironic because all the children are able to see is darkness and the sound of the rope hitting whatever it is beneath them. At last they do reach the bottom safely and they discover that what is down there.

It's a cage and it contains Isadora and Duncan Quagmire. Hey, at least they've found them!

And this is where we'll end, wondering how the Baudelaires are going to get them out of this one.

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