Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Vile Village, Chapter 8

You’ll be pleased to know that I’m staying very well organised. I’m well ahead of my word count and I’m still managing to get my Chapter-by-Chapter posts done as well. We’re now well over halfway through the book and everything is kicking off!


What Happens?

The Baudelaires work through the night and by morning Violet has gotten the hot air balloon ready for travel, Klaus has come up with a Rule which might help them save Jacques and Sunny has found another piece of paper with a couplet on it. The children work out that the Quagmires must be in the uptown district and intend to use mob psychology to help Jacques. However by the time they reach the Fowl Fountain it appears that they have arrived too late.

Thoughts as I read:

This chapter image just shows a crow’s feet and some feathers as well as a scrap of paper which you just know is going to have a couplet written on it. We can only see the back of the scrap of paper but it curls around so we can see two words which seem to be ‘thing’ and ‘you’. Wonder what this one will be about.

You may remember that the last chapter ended with the Baudelaires feeling somewhat hopeful about their plan to figure out exactly what was going on. We’ll see how long this feeling lasts today. The chapter begins with the birds all flying away for the day in town while Sunny is reunited with Klaus and Violet. We’re then reminded that no matter how optimistic the Baudelaires are feeling Snicket is sad because there is no happy ending to this story. We know this, we’ve gotten used to this routine by now.

It’s been a fairly successful night. Violet has figured out how to get the hot air balloon off the ground. It’s all very complicated but the gist of it is that Hector hadn’t gotten everything quite right but Violet fixed it. Sunny says ‘Ning!” which must be short for ‘Good morning’ since that’s what everyone’s saying to each other. Aside from the flaws in Hector’s device, Violet is pretty impressed. Aww, it’s quite sweet that they finally have a mentor she can look up to, it’s just a shame it’s obviously not going to last.

Klaus has also had a bit of fun reading all the rule books. He’s found that some of the rules are completely contradictory:

“Rule #19, for instance, clearly states that the only pens that are acceptable within the city limits are ones made from the feathers of crows. And yet Rule #39 clearly states that it is illegal to make anything out of crow feathers…”

I wonder how all these rules are made. Do the Elders just sit around all day coming up with barmier and barmier rules?

The rule that they’re planning to invoke is Rule #2,493 which basically means the person about to be burned at the stake is allowed to make a speech. Violet points out that last time Jacques tried this no one listened so this may not be the best plan but Klaus hasn’t finished yet. Sunny says “Towhee?” meaning “Is there a rule that clearly states that people must listen to speeches?”

There isn’t, but Klaus has also been reading up on mob psychology, as you do. Sunny’s response to this is “Wazay?” which I think is her asking if her brother is crazy but Klaus takes this to mean she’s asking what a mob is. Basically the plan is to scatter a few people through the crowd to voice their opinions and due to mob psychology the rest of the assembled crowd will start to go along with whatever they’re shouting. This did work the previous day during the council meeting. Sunny recalls this well, “Vue” meaning “Yes, I remember.”

And then it’s time for Sunny’s discovery: “Couplet!” This one says:

The first thing you read contains the clue:
An initial way to speak to you.

Which doesn’t really help them out any. It seems to be telling them to go back to the beginning again. Although having read this I think I remember something about the initial letters of the words in the couplets spelling out a word. Hmm… have to have a quick flip back through the book to look that up…

The Baudelaires, meanwhile, don’t have the advantage of having read this book series before so they have to try and work things out themselves. Violet wonders if Isadora means V.F.D. and Klaus points out that ‘first’ and ‘initial’ can mean the same thing. They decide to pull out all the other couplets to work out what this could mean. And as you look at them all lined up down the page you may notice something straight away. I suspect that Isadora is also a fan of Lewis Carroll, curiouser and curiouser indeed!

Klaus is still bemused by the reference to a beak at which Sunny responds with “Leucophrys!” which I’m guessing is the scientific name for a crow because this is translated as “I think I can explain that – the crows are delivering the couplets.” When questioned further Sunny says “Loidya!” meaning “I’m absolutely sure that nobody approached the tree all night, and at dawn the note dropped down from the branches of the tree.”

So we’ve established that the Quagmires are somehow attaching the notes to the crows who are then carrying them to the tree for the Baudelaires to find, thus showing they are in the town somewhere. “Ko!” says Sunny as she points to the poem, they’ve just figured out what a bit of the poem actually refers to. Yay! One down, seven more to go!

It’s been a while since the Baudelaires did any mutual congratulating of each other, so they have a round of that before they move on. “Hasserin” from Sunny, meaning “And without you, Klaus, we wouldn’t know how to save Jacques.” They’d better get a move on though as Jacques is due to be burnt at the stake first thing that morning. Sunny, as usual, says just what I’m thinking “Yikes!” meaning “That doesn’t give us much time”.

But first we get a nice description of Hector’s secret library:

There were bookshelves so tall you had to stand on a ladder to reach their highest shelves, and ones so short that you had to crawl on the floor to read their titles. There were books that looked too heavy to move, and books that looked too light to stay in one place, and there were books that looked so dull that the sisters could not imagine anyone reading them…

I want to go to Hector’s library. Though knowing Snicket’s reputation for what happens to libraries in these books, it’s probably destroyed shortly after the events in this book, if not before!

We also get a glimpse of the hot air balloon creation that Hector started and Violet completed. It’s likened to Violet’s brain which is quite sweet.

The Baudelaires wake Hector and tell him that they are refusing to do their chores today as they’ve established that the Quagmires are somewhere uptown and that they have to help Jacques before they can try and find them. Along the way they run into a bunch of people carrying flaming torches, though would be the people in the background of the picture a couple of chapters back then.

The Fowl Fountain is covered with birds and opposite it there are a whole bunch of villages getting ready to issue Jacques the ultimate punishment. The children spread themselves out through the crowd (Sunny says “Roger!” which we already know is her way of saying something like ‘okay’) then Klaus takes the lead reminding everyone of Rule #2,493. It’s a very good plan with only one real flaw.


Officer Luciana points out that Jacques is lying on the floor being covered with a white sheet. Snicket tells us that Jacques looks like he’s sleeping, but he isn’t. Oh dear, it’s Uncle Monty all over again.

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