Friday, 14 November 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Vile Village, Chapter 10

We're almost at the end of the book now, just a few chapters left to go. We finished last chapter with the Baudelaires being thrown in prison, a new one even for them, let's see how they're all going to get out of this.

What Happens?

The Baudelaires start trying to come up with a way to escape from the cell. At first they just end up squabbling but once they realise this isn't getting there they decide to try thinking a little more rationally. Klaus also realises that today is his thirteenth birthday, which makes him quite sad. Violet then manages to come up with a way to break out and a brief visit from Hector gives them another couplet. Suddenly Klaus can't help but smile.

Thoughts as I read:

This chapter picture is fairly simple just showing us the contents of the Baudelaire prison cell is. Basically, no a whole lot. It's a table with a loaf of bread and a jug. The jug appears to be decorated with flying crows. Or maybe they're just squiggly lines, but considering the inhabitants of V.F.D. they're the former.

Entertaining a notion, like entertaining a baby cousin or entertaining a pack of hyenas, is a dangerous thing to refuse to do.

This is obviously true because Mr Snicket says it is.

The Baudelaires are point blank refusing to decide which of them should get to escape. They are however struggling to think of other options. Mr Poe is raised as an option and then swiftly dismissed. So escape is the only option, at which point Sunny says "Frulk!" which must mean something along the lines of "but we're in a prison cell!"

Violet immediately starts pulling up her hair in her ribbon, which has got to be a good sign, Her brother and sister start trying to offer helpful suggestions for things she might invent, like a lock pick or "Boiklio?" which means "Do you think you could make some more welding torches, to melt the bars? You made some excellent ones when we lived with the Squalors."

Rather than telling the others to shut up because she's trying to think of a way to save their skins, Violet humours them and points out ways in which these suggestions won't work. Neither will letting Sunny crawl out the window as everyone thinks that she's a murderer and so will be unlikely to help.

"Rats," she said.
Klaus jumped slightly. "Where?" he said.

Hehe. Obviously she's using the term 'rats' as an expression of frustration, not to say there are ratties in the cell. Then again, it's not a very nice place so it wouldn't surprise me if there were. The frustration is due to the bench we saw at the beginning being a solid lump of wood so Violet has nearly no tools to work with, like screws or nails.

And with the frustration comes the tendency to turn on each other. So Violet demands that Klaus come up with a solution. He points out that the bench could be used to make a ramp, like the Egyptians used to make the pyramids. This is very true, however, as Violet points out, this isn't very helpful given their situation. This descends into general bickering between the two of them about whose fault this whole thing is.

"Stop!" says Sunny which is fairly self-explanatory. Luckily this snaps her older siblings out of their spat and they apologise to each other. They start wondering why Jacques had a tattoo on his ankle and weather he worked with Olaf and wishing he was still alive so they could ask him. "Pereg" says Sunny, meaning "And if only the Quagmires were here, they could solve the other mystery - the meaning of the real V.F.D."

And so we come to the subject of deus ex machina, which Klaus has to define for his sisters; they need something helpful right at the last minute. Considering the situation that they're in, this would be a really good time for a deus ex machina to show up, though when has anything ever gone right for these children?

At that moment there is an unexpected knock at the door. It is not help though, it's Luciana with some bread and water for them, as per Rule #141. This is also the point where I learn that I was right, the squiggly lines on the jug are flying crows.

Just when things can't get any more depressing for the Baudelaires, it does. Klaus has just realised it's his thirteenth birthday. Everyone has forgotten about it, though to be fair they have had other things on their minds. When I turned thirteen my friends kind of forgot about it too though it wasn't too bad because I wasn't locked in prison at the time. The bread reminded Klaus of the bread pudding that was served at his last birthday. Apparently it wasn't very tasty as Sunny says "Vom". He'd been promised a much better meal for his thirteenth birthday and that's not happened at all. Sunny tries to console him with "Chift".

And so they have a good old cry, and who can blame them really? Then Violet offers him anything he wants in the whole cell. Klaus asks for a deux ex machina and then Violet tries cleaning the wall to try and figure out how to escape. And it turns out that Klaus has got exactly what he asked for though he's momentarily confused and tells Violet that no, Luciana didn't bring them a deux ex machina, she brought water, to which Sunny adds "Brioche!" meaning "And bread!"

But Violet's not listening, she's got a plan at last. They need the bench for a ramp after all and they're going to use it to get the water onto the wall in just the right spot, meanwhile the bread will be used as a sponge so they can reuse their water. Why are they doing this? Klaus is just as puzzled so Violet explains that this will enable them to loosen the bricks, after all, water is one of the most powerful forces in the world.

Sunny does point out that when it comes to waves washing away cliffs "Donax!" meaning "But that takes years and years, and if we don't escape, we'll be burned at the stake tomorrow afternoon." And so they have to get to work on it straight away. What follows is a page explaining just how this process works and by the following page the mortar is actually showing signs of wear. "Grespo" says Sunny, meaning "Quite a bit of the mortar has actually begun to wear away."

While they continue they start talking poetry, specifically that written by Isadora. This is one of those frustrating bits where you know the answer but the characters in the story do not. Just to drive this point home the couplets are repeated again and the answer is right there under our noses, but alas, not under those of the Baudelaires.

As the day wears on the Baudelaires are still none the wiser about the message Isadora has been trying to send them when they are distracted by Hector. He's not actually able to help them get out so Sunny asks "Dala?" meaning "did you tell the Council of Elders that we were with you the night Jacques was murdered, so we couldn't have committed the crime?" But no, everyone knows Jacques can't speak in front of the Elders. He still plans to help though, he's going to get ready to leave in the self-sustaining hot air balloon that afternoon, just in case they escape and need a fast getaway.

Oh and he delivers another couplet, which is probably the most useful thing he does in this scene.

And suddenly Klaus looks very happy. He's just read the couplet something about it has made him smile.

What is it that he's smiling about?

Well, we'll have to wait until next week to find out!

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