Monday, 19 January 2015

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Carnivorous Carnival, Chapter 7

We're returning to our usual schedule for these posts now. It'll kind of put us out of sequence for a few posts, but I'm sure that things will work themselves out in the next week or so. I'm sure I'll have another delay in the future which will prompt me to miss some more posts and that will help even things out. ;-)

What Happens?

Madame Lulu is actually Olivia who is just telling Olaf what he wants to hear because her motto is to always ‘give people what they want’. She knows about V.F.D. and their system of disguises; she believes that the children know more about the organisation that they do because they have adopted their method of disguising themselves. Together they make a plan to get away from Olaf and Caligari Carnival, but the children can’t be entirely sure that Olivia won’t betray them when Olaf asks her his next question.

Thoughts as I read:

At the bottom of the page there is a picture of a broken crystal ball surrounded by lots of scraps of paper. There’s a menu from Cafe Salmonella. There’s also something that says ‘SNIC’ which I’m going to assume is to do with the Snickets. I think there’s a map there as well. Oh, and one of them has a little V.F.D. eye logo like on the outside of the tent. I’m guessing we’ll learn more about all this in this chapter.

Madame Lulu wants to know what the Baudelaires are doing in the tent and why they are under the table. Surprisingly, the children stand up to Madame Lulu, instead of being frightened. They know she’s a fraud and so they’ve got something they can use against her. Madame Lulu doesn’t seem to notice this, she just keeps ranting at them for coming into her tent and breaking her crystal ball.
Sunny says ‘Fraud!’ another of her phrases that doesn’t need translation. Violet takes the lead from her sister and calls Madame Lulu out on her trickery. Go Violet!

This has a surprising effect on Madame Lulu. She starts to cry and wail about how ashamed she is of herself. The Baudelaires are a little bit like myself. When people cry around me I always feel really awkward and don’t know what I’m supposed to say or do, this is pretty much the reaction of the children. She also tells them that her name isn’t Madame Lulu at all, it’s Olivia and she isn’t even a fortune teller.

Her motto in life is a rather dodgy one ‘give people what they want’ which means she does exactly that. While she’s at the carnival people want her to be a fortune teller, so that’s what she does. She does mention Jacques Snicket coming in to ask about his brother at this point, but the Baudelaires are focussed on other things and want to know where she gets her information. It’s mostly from libraries apparently, though I don’t know how she gets it to her, considering the carnival is right in the middle of nowhere. Though she does admit to making up some of her information.

Before we can find out any more, Klaus asks whether the information about the Baudelaire parents was true or made up. Unfortunately he phrases it as ‘our parents’ which alerts Olivia to the fact that they’re speaking with their normal voices, Violet (or Beverly) is wearing a hair ribbon, and Klaus (or Elliot) has glasses on.

As Olivia has come clean, the Baudelaires decide that the time has come to do likewise, and so remove their disguises. Olivia is somewhat surprised to learn that the Baudelaires are in her tent. Meanwhile, the Baudelaires are just pleased to find someone who knows who they are and doesn’t seem to think that they are murderers. And they need to know if one of their parents is still alive.

They then have to come clean about only having one page of the Snicket file. Olivia tells the children that she’s been looking for the file herself, though her methods are somewhat questionable: “Every time I see a piece of paper blow by, I chase after it to see if it’s one of the pages.” I think she might be waiting a while to find it that way.

Olivia’s suggestion that the Baudelaire parent would be in the Mortmain Mountains was just a guess based on the knowledge that it’s the last surviving V.F.D. headquarters and that’s where they would be most likely to go. Olivia assumed that the Baudelaires would be aware of this, why shouldn’t they be? After all, they’ve got the hang of disguising themselves following the principles of V.F.D. Disguise Training:

… veiled facial disguises, with your fake scars, various finery disguises, with the clothing you wore, and voice fakery disguises, with the different voices you used.

Just in case you were wondering.

Olivia even has many of the same disguises in her own disguise kit. Curiouser and curiouser! She even has the same shirt that the children have been wearing, which makes me wonder why she didn’t suspect that this was a disguise from the moment she met them. The fact that it came from Olaf’s trunk shows that he has the same disguise kit as Olivia and presumably the other V.F.D. peoples.

The Baudelaires are still none the wiser. This makes four of us because neither am I, and I’ve read these books before! Olivia explains that V.F.D. is not merely good or bad, but that the disguise kits can be used for either good purposes or bad. She gives the example of the lions that have been brought to the carnival; her friend trained lions to smell smoke, but now they are being used to eat people.

And so we learn of the V.F.D. schism, though it doesn’t actually answer any more of our questions, of course, that’s not how these books work.

Olivia’s turned to talk of the bad things people must sometimes do, even when they don’t want to do them. So the Baudelaires remember doing bad things, like tricking Hal and Sunny says ‘Flynn’ meaning ‘And I never thought I would become a violent person, but I engaged in a sword fight with Dr. Orwell.’ Olivia points out that people often do things that they think are good. This is very true. I’m glad that the Baudelaires have met her, but I suspect that she will be just as useless as all the other adults the children have met.

This is kind of confirmed when Olivia reminds us of her motto, ‘give people what they want’. Sunny says as much ‘Dubious’ meaning that she’s not sure it’s a very good reason. Violet points out all the trouble that Olivia has caused with her fake fortunes. When Olivia says that she doesn’t know what else to, Violet suggests not helping Olaf any more. That would be the obvious place to start, wouldn’t it.

Luckily she’s got Violet there to help. They could adapt one of the carts from the rollercoaster to make into a vehicle using parts from the fortune telling gadget. The idea is to sneak out early in the morning when Olaf and the others are waiting for Madame Lulu to peer into her crystal ball. This will be tricky considering the crystal ball is not shattered to pieces on the tent floor. It’s okay though, Olivia’s got a spare.

The children are more worried about Olivia telling Olaf that they are at the carnival. Olivia agrees to keep their whereabouts a secret if they take her to V.F.D. With that settled on, they agree and ask her what V.F.D. actually stands for. For a moment it looks as though we might finally get an answer to one of those questions we’ve been looking for an answer to for what seems like forever.

But it’s not to be. Olaf chooses that moment to call on her from outside the tent. She tells him that she’s doing a secret ritual with her crystal ball so he can’t come in which seems to satisfy him. He also tells her that it’s been ten days since he last took a shower and suggests that he has no intention of taking another one any time soon. Lovely.

So Olivia doesn’t have time to answer the questions the children are asking. They’re reassured that they’ll find out the answers plenty soon enough, but we all know how these books work. They’re not going to find out anything any time soon, I’m sure. It’s all going to go horribly wrong at some point in the next few pages!

Violet agrees to let Olivia help them back into their disguises as everyone will be wondering where they have got to. ‘Proffco’ says Sunny, meaning ‘I guess so’. I think we’ve seen her say that before. It’s not long before the children are back in disguise and Olivia has slipped back into her own accent disguise. The fact that she mentions practicing it so she doesn’t forget it worries the children a little, after all, if she can forget her accent so easily what’s to stop her from forgetting her promise to the Baudelaires.

She’s back to being Madame Lulu now, she’s calling the children by their assumed names as she waves them off out of the tent. So now the Baudelaires have something else to worry about as the chapter ends; will Olivia keep her promise to them or will she betray them?

We’ll have to wait until next chapter to find out, but my money is that it will not be good for the Baudelaires.

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