Monday, 15 December 2014

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Hostile Hospital, Chapter 7

We're heading over the halfway point in this book now, so true to form, things are going to start getting a little more dramatic.

Here's Chapter Seven of The Hostile Hospital.

What Happens?

No sooner have the Baudelaires examined the photo from the file, Esme Squalor shows up. She wants the file, but she's happy to take down the Baudelaires on her way to it. Esme starts knocking over filing cabinets to prevent the children from escaping, eventually leaving them with only one way out. Klaus and Sunny get out, but Violet can't fit through, so she has to tell her siblings to go on without her.

Thoughts as I read:

Looking at the picture that opens this chapter, I suspect that Esme Squalor may be back on the scene. The woman pictured down the side of the page certainly doesn't look like Olaf in drag, although admittedly she's got her hat pulled right down over her eyes so you can't tell how many eyebrows she has, and the ankle high boots don't reveal any hint of an eye tattoo. She's wearing a long fur coat and is carrying a bag in the shape of an eye so you know she's bad news. In the background are rows of filing cabinets, so I think it's safe to say that she's caught the children, the question is whether they will be able to escape in time.

Violet is understandably somewhat shocked at the discovery of the photo in the file. We also learn that her father's nickname for her was Ed as in Thomas Alva Edison, aww. Plus their mother promised Klaus the pocket dictionary she always carried with her and both parents used to sing a song called 'The Butcher Boy' when they put Sunny to bed at night. As both her older siblings express their surprise at finding the photo, Sunny says 'Neither me'. It's quite a tender little scene.

They establish that, due to the lack of wedding rings, the photo is pre-children, and then there's the worrying sentence written on it, that someone survived the fire. This means that one of the Baudelaire parents could potentially still be alive. That's quite hopeful for this series.

We don't have long to dwell on this, however. As I suspected, Esme Squalor is back:

There are many different ways of describing this person, including "Count Olaf's girlfriend," "the Baudelaire children's former guardian," "the city's sixth most important financial advisor," "a former resident of 667 Dark Avenue," and several phrases that are far too nasty to be placed in a book.

Just in case none of this gives away who we're dealing with, she outright states it for us. We then go on to get a description of the outfit which we saw two pages back. She's still keeping up with her insane ideas of fashion, the insanest of all being the sharp stiletto heels. They're actually sharp enough that with each step the heel gets stuck in the floor. I love the Baudelaires' observation that these are 'so violent and impractical'.

Esme's quite pleased to find the Baudelaires in the Library of Records, she'd only come in to destroy their file, now she can destroy them too. The children don't point out that Olaf needs one of them in order to get the Baudelaire fortune, instead they want to know how she knows about their file. Klaus also wants to know if one of their parents is still alive, which clues Esme into the fact that they seem to have read the file.

Now she thinks that the Baudelaires have the whole file, so apparently it wasn't Olaf who took the other pages. This is an interesting development. Before Esme can do anything else, the children run away. Bet Esme's regretting her fashionable shoes now!

It's Klaus who realises they're heading in the wrong direction, which prompts Sunny to say 'Egress' meaning 'Klaus is right - the exit is the other way.' Esme is blocking their one way out but she can't move quick enough to catch them. Instead she figures out a different method to catch the Baudelaires; she starts pushing the cabinets over. It's a little bit like that scene at the beginning of The Mummy as one after another all the filing cabinets topple over.

It's almost fatal:

The three children breathed a sigh of relief, having just narrowly avoided being crushed beneath files on congruent triangles, coniferous trees, conjugated verbs, and two hundred other topics.

We get an illustration here which fills the whole page, showing Violet almost being flattened by the filing cabinets. What really interests me in this picture is the bits of paper flying around her. There's a map of Lake Lachrymose, a sheet of paper with 'Deadly Snakes' written on it, a share for Mulchtuary Money Management, and also a Wanted poster which appears to be showing a picture of Count Olaf. It's good fun looking at all the little details in these pictures.

The children are trying to find the way to 'E as in Exit' by travelling via 'F as in Falling Filing Cabinets', 'G as in Go the Other Way!' and 'H as in How in the World Are We Going to Escape?' Unfortunately as all this is going on they're being driven further across the Library away from the way out until they eventually reach the chute where the sheets of paper enter the library.

So their only way out is up the chute. Sunny's not sure this will work and says so ('Prapil'). She actually fits in quite easily, it's a squeeze but Klaus manages it too. Violet on the other hand isn't so lucky. There's no way she can get in. It's quite an emotional moment as she tells her younger brother and sister to take page thirteen and go on without her, while she looks out for another way to escape. Sunny sums up my reaction quite effectively: "No!"

Violet's all set to start inventing something, but she's without her hair ribbon since they used it to make the fake keys for Hal. Then a cabinet blocks the chute so Klaus and Sunny can't see her any more. She tells them that she's okay, but Esme's not far behind her and the younger Baudelaires have to crawl up the chute and return to the unfinished wing of the hospital to await their sister's return.

And they don't even know if she'll make it out alive.

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