Monday, 10 November 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Vile Village, Chapter 7

Taking a break from crazy extreme novel writing to read a chapter of The Vile Village. We’re roughly halfway through the book now though judging from the wedge of pages still to come, there’s quite a lot of action still to cover.

What Happens?

The children try to figure out how they can help save Jacques and figure out where the Quagmires are being held. Eventually they decide to separate to put their talents to better use; so Sunny prepares to spend the night under Nevermore Tree to try and spy who is leaving the couplets; Klaus heads for the library to research the rules that they might be able to use against the villages; while Violet gets to work on the self-sustaining hot air balloon which will be needed for their inevitable escape.

Thoughts as I read:

This chapter gives us a picture of what I’m going to guest is Nevermore Tree. Sunny is sitting beneath it, gnawing on a stick and is surrounded by feathers. Up in the tree are a couple of crows who are looking down at the smallest Baudelaire, could they be Duncan and Isadora? Probably not.

The opening paragraph is way too long for me to quote in full here, but I do enjoy it. Snicket gives us examples of places where it is unpleasant to be, which includes such gems as ‘in a supermarket filled with vicious long-distance runners’ and ‘lost in a forest that is slowly filling up with water’. These would made some awesome creative writing prompts really because there are definitely stories to be told in there. The worst of these places, we are told, is to be ‘in a quandary’ and as you’ve probably worked out, this is where the Baudelaires are right now.

Obviously with such a sweeping opening as this we need to sort of narrow in on these things that are causing a dilemma for the children; they know the Quagmires must be somewhere close but don’t know exactly where or how to find them and there’s a man with Olaf’s tattoo who knows things about the Baudelaire parents. They need to find the Quagmires and save Jacques life. Sunny sums it up best when she says “Quandary?” meaning “What in the world can we do about it?”

Hector hasn’t been much help when it’s come to standing up to the Council of Elders and he’s continuing to be very little help even now. His main priority right now is dinner. He started out so well, didn’t he? He was interested in the children and willing to help them spend time on the things that interested them, and now when they need him he’s letting them down again. Just like almost every other adult they’ve encountered in the last six books really.

As it turns out, however, the meal does prove to be useful because as the children are eating they each plan how they can resolve this tangled web of problems they’re currently faced with. Sunny announces “Plan!” and then “Merganser!” which is translated as meaning that she wants to spend the night under the tree in the hope that whoever is delivering the couplets will miss someone who is so small when they make their next delivery.

Hector is concerned that this will be quite the frightening experience for one so young but she replies “Therill” which I think means that she finds it a ‘thrilling’ idea but which as translated as “It won’t be any more frightening than the time I climbed up an elevator shaft with my teeth.” I think that Sunny is probably the character who is going through the most growth in these books, she’s getting to be quite the adventurous little baby.

Klaus meanwhile is going to research the rules of V.F.D. in the secret library in the hopes of finding out how to stop Jacques from being burnt at the stake. Meanwhile Violet is convinced that there’s only one way for all this trouble to befall them in this place: Olaf must be back in the area. Sunny’s response to this is much the same as my own “Grebe!” meaning “As usual!”

Violet’s main fear is that everyone will soon think that Olaf has been burnt at the stake, which will work out quite well for him since he isn’t actually the one being burnt at the stake. Therefore everyone will think he is dead and will be able to go on with his nefarious deeds without having to worry about being caught. I’m sure there’s some rule in V.F.D. about not arresting dead people or something.

There’s also the risk of rescuing Jacques and the Quagmires because this will be a sure fire way for Olaf to come after the Baudelaires, as he’s done pretty much every time they’ve thwarted his plans since they first met. “Poe!” Sunny says, referring to the man’s complete inability to help look after them when Olaf is involved. So Violet is going to work her magic on the self-sustaining hot air mobile home Hector has been trying to invent so that they will have a means of escape when the whole plan unfolds.

Hector actually intends to launch the hot air balloon home and then never return to earth again, which is a wee bit drastic for the children and they’re not too sure about the whole ‘never return to earth again’ aspect of Hector’s plan. In the end they decide to cross that bridge when they get to it and instead deal with all the other things that have to happen before they can head for the stratosphere or wherever it will be that their mail would be addressed to. “Albico!” Sunny says which means “And let’s solve the mystery of V.F.D. that the Quagmires told us about!”

So soon Sunny is deposited at the foot of Nevermore Tree and everyone else goes to the barn to work on their research and inventing. This actually makes for quite an enjoyable night for the Baudelaires because they’re all finally getting a chance to do the things that interest them; even Sunny has found some nice chewable sticks beneath the tree.

And that’s where we’ll leave them all… until tomorrow afternoon.

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