Monday, 3 November 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Vile Village, Chapter 3

These are some pretty long chapters in this book, well, I guess it’s to be expected considering how much longer than the previous ones it is. I’m determined not to fall behind these posts during November (like I kind of did when I was heading off to Edinburgh, thanks in part to my dying of Mr Click’s man flu). That said, I’m not making any promises, so enjoy them while I’m still ahead of myself. So let’s get stuck in to Chapter Three:

What Happens?

The children walk through the village with Hector and learn about some of the bizarre rules that have been implemented by the Council of Elders. They also learn just what V.F.D. stands for and tell Hector about everything they have been through since the deaths of their parents. Hector also learns about the Quagmires and then reveals something strange; a slip of paper containing a rhyming couplet.

Thoughts as I read:

I love the picture at the beginning of this chapter. It shows a house with a massive tree behind it. It’s like those photos of the big plants taking over old ruins in the jungle. Except this house is very much still standing. There is a big root creeping round the side of the house and I wouldn’t want to be in the house if the tree was about to fall over. Can’t say it’d be a great place to live, considering there branches are full of birds. I suppose it would be good for fertilising the garden but might make the roof a bit messy.

Hector’s really impressed at the sight of the birds all flying away. I suppose when you’re a handyman in a town as crazy as V.F.D. little things like a bunch of birds flying into a tree are going to impress you more than they might normal people. Then again, Hector’s not all bad, he’s doing them chicken enchiladas for tea. That’s one of my favourite things, we quite often have Mexican on a Saturday and I look forward to it each week.

As they head for their new home Hector explains the definition of the phrase ‘as the crow flies’ which has a rather more literal meaning in this village. That tree we saw on the first page is Nevermore Tree and the house belongs to Hector. I imagine that will make it a rather noisy and messy place to live.

The children are more interested in learning just what V.F.D. stands for, which makes sense, if I moved to a place with a random acronym for a name I’d want to know what it stood for. Before Hector can give them a proper explanation however he is distracted by explaining what a group of crows is called; it’s a murder for anyone who might be planning on appearing on Pointless in the future. Sunny is the one to ask the question: “Sturo?”

“‘Murder’ is the word for a group of crows, like a flock of geese or a herd of cows or a convention of orthodontists…”

I love this.

Anyway the founders of the village were fascinated by the birds and so named the place The Village of Fowl Devotees. It’s a bit of a disappointing secret, especially as it’s not really a secret at all and the children are the only ones who don’t know the meaning. Violet is forced to explain that the Quagmires led them to believe that there was some secret surrounding something with the initials V.F.D.

This then leads on to a discussion about the errors in the paper The Daily Punctilio as Hector believes that Count Omar is after the children and therefore Count Olaf must be some relation of his. Luckily, unlike most of the children’s guardians up to this point, Hector actually wants them to fill him in on exactly what has happened to them. Could it be that they’ve found someone just a little bit like Uncle Monty?

We then get another two pages which recap everything that we’ve learned so far in the last six books, just in case we haven’t been paying attention. We’re reminded of the saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ because the children find it quite therapeutic to get all these terrible, traumatic events in their past out in the open with an adult who actually wants to listen to them. Sunny says “Kyun” to finish up which means “And that’s why we chose this town, in the hopes of finding the secret of V.F.D., rescuing the Quagmire triplets, and defeating Count Olaf once and for all.”

Hector is quite sympathetic but he’s the one who has to break it to the Baudelaires that there’s nothing special about the name V.F.D. because things have been as they are there for over three hundred years, with the exception of the Fowl Fountain. Hmm, I’m guessing that’ll come into play in the future then.

Sunny’s disappointed to hear this, asking “Pojik?” meaning “Do you mean we’ve come here for nothing?” The Baudelaires are concerned about being forced to give up their search for the Quagmires, but Hector won’t hear of this. He’s determined to help them in between his handymanning and their chores, though there’s always the risk of being caught by the Council of Elders.

And so we come back to the weird rules in the village, like number 67 “no citizen is allowed to build or use any mechanical devices.” This is definitely going to cramp Violet’s style. It’s really lucky that they’ve been placed with Hector though. He’s got all the inventing materials that he was told to remove from the village and he’s been doing a little inventing himself. His current project is a mobile home in the shape of a hot air balloon. Sunny’s not sure what one of these is and says so, “Neebdes?” meaning “Could you explain that a bit more?”

So he does. He basically plans to fly away in it and he’s made it completely self-sufficient so he doesn’t ever need to land. Or at least he would if he could just work out a few kinks. At least now he’s got Violet they’ll probably be able work something out with it.

Next up it’s Klaus’s turn to get some bad news. Rule 108 is “the V.F.D. library cannot contain any books that break any of the other rules.” This means that the stock is somewhat limited. Any guesses what Hector did when he was told to remove all of the rule breaking books? He’s got his very own secret library. I wouldn’t mind having one of those.

Sunny reassures Hector “Azzator!” meaning “Don’t worry – your secret is safe with us!” before she is asked what she likes to do. Her response is pretty self explanatory: “Bite!”. Violet and Klaus aren’t the only ones to get bad news (and good news) on the way to their new home.

“Rule #4,561 clearly states that citizens are not allowed to use their mouths for recreation. If the Council of Elders knew that you liked to bite things for your own enjoyment, I can’t imagine what they’d do. I’m sure we can find you some things to bite, but you’ll have to do it in secret.”

I love how their rules just get more and more bizarre and I can’t help but wonder what might have happened to prompt these being actual rules.

And then we arrive at Hector’s house which consists of a house, a barn and a massive tree. It’s taller and wider than the properties near it and it’s full of crows. The children are pretty impressed by the sight, while Sunny observes “Ogufod!” which means “What a lot of crows!”

Considering he’s a handyman, Hector’s got a pretty nice house. The children have the choice of rooms and there’s even room for the Quagmires, should they turn up. The conversation moves in the direction of Duncan and Isadora, touching briefly on poetry before stopping on the rhyming couplets that she writes. At this moment Hector produces a scrap of paper which contains the lines:

For sapphires we are held in here.
Only you can end our fear.

Hmm, that sounds like one of Isadora’s, doesn’t it?

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