Thursday, 1 January 2015

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Carnivorous Carnival, Chapter 3

As I said earlier, Happy New Year. I can’t believe that I’m writing my first blog posts of another year, it hardly feels like any time since I set up my blog, but it’s been a good few years now!

This afternoon we’re onto Chapter Three of The Carnivorous Carnival.

What Happens?

Madame Lulu interviews the disguised Baudelaires, who are now calling themselve Beverley, Elliot and Chabo the Wolf Baby. After watching Beverly and Elliot trying to eat corn and seeing how violent Chabo is, they’re hired. They are shown to the caravan where they are to live and meet their new colleagues, Hugo, Kevin and Colette. The next morning they learn just what Olaf has asked the crystal ball and what its shocking answer is.

Thoughts as I read:

We’ve got a charming little picture of the sign at the entrance to ‘The House of Freaks’ at the beginning of this chapter. It’s got a three-eyed girl in the centre with the words ‘Welcome to the House of Freaks’ above and below it. The Os in ‘welcome’ and ‘to’ have got little eyes in them as well. Perhaps I should’ve started counting eyes in this book again, I have a feeling we’ll be seeing plenty of them!

Snicket opens this chapter with a discourse of job interviews. Personally I’ve never really minded them, although I do find them nerve-wracking, but then again I’ve only had a few and none seem quite so involved as the one Snicket describes:

I once had a very difficult job interview in which I had not only to explain that I could hit an olive with a bow and arrow, memorize up to three pages of poetry, and determine if there was poison mixed into cheese fondue without tasting it, but I had to demonstrate all these things as well.

The Baudelaires are currently experiencing an equally difficult job interview. They’re pretending to be other people and are surrounded by all their enemies. There’s a moment when Olaf mentions that the children look familiar but Lulu brushes him off and gets down to business.

Violet introduces herself and Klaus as Beverly and Elliot and they expound on how difficult life is when you have two heads. Before long Olaf is making the children eat corn on the cob so that everyone assembled in the room can laugh at them eating. It’s a bit awkward as they only have one hand each to hold it. Everyone finds this very amusing, including the hook-handed man who Violet and Klaus observe will probably have just as much difficulty eating corn cobs as they have.

All the same, the job interview is going quite well. Everyone is very amused by the children eating their corn and Olaf is forecasting great success for Lulu’s carnival. Attention is soon directed on Sunny as they speculate about whether or not she is a ‘living scarf’. Sunny responds to this with ‘Chabo!’ which means ‘I know this is humiliating, but at least our disguises are working!’ instead Violet explains that the furry thing is Chabo the Wolf Baby, the unholy product of a female hunter who had a liaison with a wolf. That’s it folks, bestiality in a children’s book! Even the hook-handed man is shocked by this!

When they catch sight of Sunny’s sharp teeth Klaus takes the opportunity to explain that Chabo’s not totally tamed. Violence is a great sell for the carnival so Madame Lulu hires them both on the spot.

And so the children are led out to the caravan where all of the other freaks live. The other freaks consists of Hugo, Colette and Kevin. Klaus raises the question of how much they’ll be paid, instead the children are just supposed to be grateful that someone is willing to employ them considering they look the way they do. Talk then moves on to Count Olaf as Lulu tells the children how wonderful he is, not mentioning that he appears to have acquired a new girlfriend.

Soon we arrive at the caravan with the sign on it that we saw at the beginning of the chapter and we get to meet the Baudelaires’ new roommates. The first person we meet is Hugo, who has a hunchback and is unhappy at Madame Lulu waking him up. He takes the children inside where they find that the caravan is very neat and tidy with a little kitchen and some potted plants. It’s not a mansion but it looks cosy enough. Instead of bedrooms there are hammocks for sleeping in.

And then we meet the other inhabitants of the caravan. There is Kevin who is also annoyed at being woken up, he was having a dream where he wasn’t freakishly ambidextrous. The other person is Colette and Sunny immediately says ‘Renuf!’ meaning ‘I don’t see anything freakish about you either, but even if I did I wouldn’t laugh at you because it wouldn’t be polite.’ Colette explains that that she is a contortionist and then demonstrates how she can tie herself in knots. This motley crew maybe explains why the House of Freaks isn’t particularly successful, they’re not particularly freakish either.

Colette is ashamed of her freaky talents but when Klaus suggests that she just doesn’t do it Colette points out that as she is in the House of Freaks she has to do these freaky things, otherwise no one would come to see her at all! Klaus doesn’t go on to point out the obvious, namely that she could leave because I’m guessing that wouldn’t be an option either. All the same, she’s hopeful that a miracle might soon occur to make things better.

Miracles are like meatballs, because nobody can exactly agree what they are made of, where they come from, or how often they should appear.

Can’t argue with that!

Despite the above truism, the Baudelaires are focusing on the miracle that is the possibility of one of their parents surviving the fire that started all these unfortunate events. And that sustains the children all through the long uncomfortable night in the caravan.

If you remember, Olaf is allowed to ask one question of the crystal ball when the sun comes up, so as the sun comes up the children wonder if he’s asked it yet, and what the answer might have been. The children soon learn as the hook-handed man starts banging on the door to waken everyone inside.

Apparently the crystal ball has revealed that one of the Baudelaire parents is still alive. And the gift caravan has nearly run out of souvenirs.

This is very big news indeed!

And the information about the Baudelaires is dramatic too.

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