Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Vile Village, Chapter 4

Man, the chapters in this book are long. We’re onto Chapter 4 and we’re just coming up for page 70. I remember the days when page 70 was about halfway through the book!

What Happens?

The children try to work out whether or not Hector is a good guy or one of Olaf’s henchmen. Deciding he is on their side, they explain to him their suspicions about Isadora being the author of the couplet. They are unable to climb the tree in the night but Hector lets them sit up all night to watch it. In the morning they make an interesting discovery.

Thoughts as I read:

Just in case you were wondering what the scrap of paper with the rhyming couplet on looked like, this chapter opens up with a picture of it wrapped around a feather from a crow. Actually the feather might be a quill, it looks kind of pointy at the end as though it might have been used to write it. Interesting.

The first paragraph does a good job of conveying how speechless the children are, and how they’re trying to work out what is going on. It basically repeats how they look from Hector to the paper and back again, multiple times. Hector realises just how shocked the children are and takes them inside.

As the Baudelaires are left alone for a minute they read over the couplet again and establish that it is definitely from Isadora. Violet recognises the handwriting (which is a fairly good clue) and Sunny, being a bit of a forensic linguist says “Blake!” (which makes me smile and reminds me I have a bit of William Blake poetry on my Kindle) meaning “And the poem is written in Isadora’s distinct literary style!” She also asks “Peng?” later in the conversation, wondering how Hector got the scrap of paper in the first place.

And this makes the children suspicious. Perhaps Hector is involved in the kidnapping. They’ve gotten so used to not being able to trust the adults they are placed with that they automatically seem to default to ‘out to get us’. They try to work out whether or not Hector is one of Olaf’s henchpeople; Klaus points out that they can’t always recognise them. I think I can count on one hand the number of times they’ve recognised them! Sunny agrees “Wyrb” meaning “That’s true.”

They rejoin Hector in the kitchen (Sunny says “Kay!” when they’re invited through, no translation needed). Snicket goes off on a bit of a ramble about how it is impossible to know whether or not someone can be trusted, giving examples in his own life of times when trusting a person has backfired on him:

I myself fell in love with a wonderful woman who was so charming and intelligent that I trusted that she would be my bride, but there was no way of knowing for sure, and all too soon circumstances changed and she ended up marrying someone else, all because of something she read in The Daily Punctilio.

Clearly The Daily Punctilio is to blame for a lot of problems in this world!

What this amounts to in the end is that the children are reassured by some of the things that Hector does and they decide that he can’t possibly be holding the Quagmires hostage. So they reveal their suspicions that Isadora wrote the couplet he showed them. Hector is sceptical at first but the children point out some of the clues, like the mention of the sapphires.

Apparently the best course of action at this point would be to call Mr Poe however this is not possible for two reasons; firstly there are not phones in V.F.D., those coming under heading of mechanical devices that are banned; and secondly, Mr Poe is completely useless and so probably wouldn’t be much help in this situation anyway. Regardless, they’d have to ask the Elders for permission to use a phone.

So Violet tries to establish a bit more information about where the paper came from. Hector’s got nothing to hide; it was under the tree before he started his chores that morning. This provokes a bit of a mystery as Isadora couldn’t have strolled up without being noticed. Hector is so trustworthy that he even offers to let the children search the premises to check he’s not got a Quagmire or two hidden around the property.

Klaus wonders if she might be hidden in the tree and just like that the Baudelaires are getting ready to scale the tree (Sunny even joins in with “Gerhit!”) Hector’s not so keen on this idea, however, the tree is sort of covered in birds and it’s getting dark so he does have a fair point. Violet does momentarily try to come up with an invention to help them out but Hector quashes this plan because the birds aren’t going to want to be disturbed.

This isn’t want the children want to hear. Klaus is upset at the thought of having to wait to rescue Isadora, after all, last time they had to wait the Quagmires were spirited away from them. “Ollawmove!” Sunny adds, meaning “Olaf could move them at any time!” Hector offers a compromise; they can’t go up the tree, but they can sit outside underneath it while they eat to make sure that nothing goes up or down.

The children latch onto this suggestion with Violet saying that they can take turns to sleep so that there is someone watching the tree at all times. Hector, proving that he is more like Uncle Monty than I guessed, lets them, warning he’ll probably fall asleep but he won’t stop them if that’s what they want to do. By not arguing with them there’s a bit of a reverse psychology thing going on and the Baudelaires realise that stopping up all night maybe isn’t the best plan (I find this ironic considering that I’m staying up half the night in order to start writing my NaNovel at bang on midnight!)

The children get ready to have tea, accepting that it’s not possible to climb up the tree, when Sunny says “Contraire!” meaning “I can think of something else we can do – hold me up to the window latch!” Then she shouts “Bark!” out the window at the tree. This means “If you’re up there, Quagmires, just hang on, and we’ll get you out first thing in the morning.” Why does Sunny say ‘bark’? Because she’s ‘barking’ up the wrong tree of course. That’s a bit of a brick joke, isn’t it?

So they sit up, watching the tree and the surrounding area, all night. Eventually all the bird fly away to roost in the village and that’s when the children find something new.

It’s another scroll!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Let me know what you think. :-)