Thursday, 11 December 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Hostile Hospital, Chapter 5

There’ll only be one Chapter-by-Chapter post tomorrow (in the afternoon) as I’ve just remembered that I never did a write up of Ripper Street (which we actually finished watching about six weeks ago now, oops). This actually works out quite well for getting this book finished by the end of the month.

What Happens?

The Baudelaires make themselves comfortable in the unfinished bit of the hospital and try to figure out the notes that the Quagmires left for them. They decide that the best way to get to the bottom of all these mysteries is to locate and read the Snicket file. Due to Hal’s strange filing system, and his assertion that they shouldn’t read the files, this proves difficult. Things then go from bad to worse when Babs is replaced by Olaf, now calling himself Matthias. The Baudelaires are going to have to trick Hal into giving up his keys, but the question is, how?

Thoughts as I read:

This chapter picture is one of those clever ones that kind of plays with the words of ‘Chapter Five’. This time it shows a hand holding a torch and the beam is shining onto the word like it’s being lit up in the dark. No way of knowing whose hand it is though.

The children are all confused by something, not least Sunny who says (and I have to take a moment to make sure I get this all right) ‘Pietrisycamollaviadelrechiotemexity’ which means ‘I must admit I don’t have the faintest idea of what is going on’. Apparently the last time she said it was when she was brought home from the hospital and met her brother and sister for the first time, aww. At the moment, pietrisycamollaviadelrechiotemexity either, but not for long.

It turns out that the children are trying to work out what Hal was going on about when he said ‘the Snicket files’. They’re settled down for the night in the unfinished half of the hospital; Violet’s located torches so they have light, Klaus has found dropcloths to use as blankets, and Sunny has used her teeth to make fruit salad with the fruit from Hal’s fruit bowl. I all can think to this last one is ‘eww’; they’re basically eating fruit that someone else has kind of chewed on.

The children are also wondering what the Snicket files might say about them and guessing that Hal doesn’t know anything because he doesn’t even read the files. Sunny says ‘Seerg’ meaning ‘And I was afriad to ask him any more about it.’ The children are terrified of being found out and arrested again and they’re struggling to make sense of the Quagmires’ notes.

There’s a couplet from Isadora:

In photographs, and in each public place,
Snicket rarely shows his face.

Which judging from the author photos at the back of the book are about Lemony Snicket, not Jacques.

The notes contain information which might relate to something the children already know, like a note about an apartment and a bit of a map which might link to the Squalors. Sunny adds ‘Rabave’ and shows them a bit of paper with names on it. One is Al Funcoot and the other is Ana Gram. I would expect Klaus to immediately cotton onto this but instead he and Violet debate if this was one of Olaf’s cohorts. ‘Orlando!’ says Sunny, meaning ‘Or the one who looks like neither a man nor a woman.’ Hehe, this one makes me smile, Sunny’s so smart.

As if their mood couldn’t get any worse, Klaus finds a bit of paper with just the word ‘fire’ written on it. And Snicket then launches into a discourse of how certain words can make you think of all kinds of things:

The word “Beatrice” reminds me of a volunteer organization that was swarming with corruption, and the word “midnight” reminds me that I must keep writing this chapter very quickly, or else I will probably drown.

I love how none of these random comments by Snicket are ever actually explained.

Anyway, the word fire kind of reminds us of how many suspicious fires there have been; the one that killed the Baudelaire parents, the one that killed the Quagmire parents and Quigley. Violet is convinced that the Snicket file is the answer to all their questions, like who Jacques Snicket was, what V.F.D. actually stands for, and ‘Us’ says Sunny, which means ‘And we need to know why there’s a picture of us in the file.’

So the next morning they return to the Library of Records and try to sneak a peek at the mysterious Snicket file in between their actual filing work. But when Violet and Klaus attempt to check the S (for Snicket) and F (for Fires) aisles, Hal is there and they can’t get access to them. Sunny does manage a glimpse in the B (for Baudelaires) cabinet, but it’s completely empty, she reports back to her siblings with ‘Nil’. Now that’s a wee bit suspicious in itself, don’t you think? Surely something would be filed under B, unless it’s been removed from the library…

Violet wonders aloud if they should ask the librarian, that being Hal, for help. Klaus asks if they might be allowed to read one of the files in the library. There are some rules in this place it seems, one of which is that the files are not to be taken home to be perused by three children, unless there is ‘a very important reason’. He’s about to give an example of this when a familiar voice comes over the intercom. I’ll give you three guesses at who it belongs to.

We are informed that Babs has resigned:

“She decided to pursue a career as a stuntwoman, and has begun throwing herself off buildings immediately…”

I didn’t really like Babs, what little we saw (or rather heard) of her, but still, that’s not a nice way to go.

This time around Olaf is playing the part of Matthias and he’s going to inspect everyone at Heimlich Hospital. This basically means that someone is going to come and look at the Baudelaires and we all know how that will end. And so the children begin to panic. After all, Olaf has somehow figured out where they are, and despite Sunny saying ‘Tell!’ they realise that there’s not really anyone they can tell. Everyone thinks he’s dead and that they murdered him.

Violet decides that their only hope is to find the Snicket file and if they’re lucky there will be evidence that will reveal Olaf for what he really is. It’s a bit of a steep jump really. All the same, they try to figure out how they will be able to read the files when Hal is always in the way ‘Night!’ says Sunny. Once again, the youngest Baudelaire is solving the problems for her big brother and sister.

The only flaw in this plan to sneak back in the middle of the night is that Hal locks up the room and takes the filing cabinet keys with him at the end of the day. Sunny points out ‘Deashew!’ meaning ‘And it takes me several hours to open one cabinet with my teeth!’

But as they sit there looking at the fruit (which earlier on in the chapter Hal had been unable to tell apart), a plan starts to form. They just need to make Hal think that one thing is actually another thing.

I wonder what that will be.

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