Friday, 7 November 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Vile Village, Chapter 6

Look! We made it through the first week of NaNoWriMo and I still managed to get all of my Chapter-by-Chapter posts written as well! That’s actually quite a few thousand words extra I’ve done that don’t count towards my NaNo word count… If I start to run short towards the end of the week I suppose I could always rework them to make my main character a blogger.

Right then, on with Chapter Six:

What Happens?

The children are thrilled to learn that Count Olaf has been caught and are somewhat disappointed to learn that he will be punished by being burnt at the stake. A town meeting has been called but to their horror the children discover that the person who has been captured is not Count Olaf at all; it a man called Jacques. Despite their best efforts the children are overruled and Jacques is dragged away to prison ready for his execution the following morning. 

Thoughts as I read:

This chapter opens with a picture that looks like it could be taken from the illustrated adventures of Lemony Snicket. He’s mentioned being chased by villagers with torches before I think and it shows someone tied to a stake with wood piled around their feet. In the background are a bunch of people holding flaming torches so I’m thinking there’s been some sort of a witch hunt going on. We can’t see who the legs belong to, the image stops somewhere around the person’s knees. I suspect that they belong to a man, going by the style of the shoes, but who knows. We’ll have to keep reading to find out.

Although “jumping to conclusions” is an expression, rather than an activity, it is as dangerous as jumping off a cliff, jumping in front of a moving train, and jumping for joy.

I love these openings. Snicket then goes on to explain all the dangers of these activities, like the risk ‘experiencing a painful landing’, ‘experiencing a painful voyage’ or ‘experiencing a painful bump on the head’. The reason for all of this explanation? The Baudelaires jump to the conclusion that what they are being told is correct and so therefore start to celebrate the capture of Olaf.

This is where I realised I missed a very important part of the picture on the previous page. The person tied to the stake has an eye tattooed on their ankle… hmm… somehow I don’t think this is going to be Olaf. They’ve probably just nabbed some poor guy named Omar or Oswald or something.

The Elders explain that the man in question has a single eyebrow and a tattoo on his ankle and the children think that this is a fairly good indicator that the man who is out to get them is out to get them no more. They’ve even contacted the paper to let them know. Sunny joins in the celebration with “Hooray!”

This when we learn that the punishment for breaking one of the town rules is to be burned at the stake. That’s a little bit barbaric. Does this mean that if Violet is discovered with inventing supplies she could be burned at the stake? Yikes! Violet clarifies for us. In fact it’s such an important rule that it’s right up there as Rule #2! The children are understandably concerned about the ethics of burning someone at the stake, even if that person is Count Olaf.

Klaus wants them to hand Olaf over to the authorities. This is something which is going to be handled at the town meeting so they all have to pack up and head to that instead of finishing their chores. I suppose regardless of what happens, at leas they’re getting a respite from the cleaning, although the children are feeling quite understandably nervous about what is going on.

The room was in pandemonium, a phrase which here means “filled with Elders and townspeople standing around arguing.”

I love this.

Hector’s given the instruction to place Officer Luciana and Olaf on the platform. Luciana announces that as she’s the Chief of Police she’s perfectly capable to get herself onto the platform. She uses this moment of attention to crow (no pun intended) about how she’s only just in the job and has already managed to get an arrest, I don’t suppose it would be that hard to find something to arrest someone for considering all the weird and random rules in the village.

We finally get a look at the man she has arrested. He’s got a tattoo on an eye of his left ankle and he’s got the monobrow. So far so good. But he’s most definitely not Olaf. He’s shorter, heavier, he’s quite clean and tidy and he doesn’t have the same look in his eyes. Obviously this feels the children with a bit of a sinking feeling because they’re now about to watch the trial of an innocent man who could be sentenced to death. This is serious stuff for a children’s book!

The man identifies himself as Jacques, which is one of his first mistakes because he’s then in violation of Rule #920 which says no one is allowed to talk while they’re on the platform. The punishment for this? Why being burnt at the stake of course!

This the first we learn about why someone might have a tattoo of an eye in this book. It’s something to do with his job, and the solo eyebrow thing, well that can’t be helped. Jacques actually says “I work for the volunteer –” before he gets cut off an isn’t able to tell us what volunteer thing he works for. Ooh, so close to solving one of the mysteries there!

The Baudelaires can just sit back and watch someone else take the blame for being Count Olaf, after all, Jacques may have broken at least one of the rules of the village but he certainly shouldn’t be punished for being someone he isn’t. Violet gathers her courage and stands up to speak out against this injustice, once she’s on her feet Klaus and Sunny join her as well. It doesn’t go down well though, Luciana denies that she’s got it wrong and instead insists that the children have become confused upon seeing Olaf again.

Just like that the children are overruled, because very few adults in this series of books are actually capable of listening to children, let alone acting on any information that they might be able to provide. And so the Council makes their ruling, the first of which is to order Hector to take the Baudelaires home and put them to bed. They also decide that Not-Olaf will be punished for being Olaf but that it’s a bit late in the day for a bonfire so it’ll have to wait until the following morning.

We also get a little bit more information about Jacques. He’s obviously connected to the Baudelaires somehow. He knew their parents, though he’s cut off before he can tell them anything more about them. Luciana stops him from saying any more, though Sunny objects to this with “Pipit!” meaning “Wait!” and just like that Jacques is dragged away to jail to await his execution the following morning.

Hector leads the Baudelaires home and the general mood in the group is one of thorough depression. Considering how happy they were at the beginning of this chapter, they are definitely not feeling that way now.

That’s a bit of a depressing end to the week isn’t it. We’ll have some more Harry Potter review tomorrow, hopefully that’ll cheer us all up, though it’s the last part of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire… it’s not got the most happy ending either. Sorry about that.

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