Friday, 2 January 2015

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Carnivorous Carnival, Chapter 4

I can’t believe how organised I’m being. I’m actually writing this blog post on Sunday almost a whole week ahead of when the thing is scheduled to post! Just watch how spectacularly behind I’ll be within the next fortnight, this always happens when I celebrate being organised on my blog.

If I end up being unable to post for a day or two, it’s all this blog post’s fault!

What Happens?

The Baudelaires have their first day at their new job and it does not go well. They don’t particularly enjoy having people calling them names, throwing things at them and laughing. When they finish work they decide to have a look in Madame Lulu’s tent, but before they can Count Olaf arrives back with the latest attraction for the carnival; lions.

Thoughts as I read:

At the moment my laptop’s suddenly decided it’s got urgent updates to download and so is running incredibly slowly, so that’s my main thought as I type. Ignoring that, at the bottom of the start of Chapter Four there is a crowd of people. They seem to be pointing and laughing at me trying to cajole my laptop into cooperation. I suspect that’s not actually the case, they;re probably at the carnival and are enjoying their refreshments and the show. In fact, looking at the drink cup and the cap one of them is wearing, they say ‘Caligari’. This chapter is going to tell us all about the Baudelaires first day in their new job.

Having had a bit of a rude awakening, Violet asks the hook-handed man what he was saying about the Baudelaire parents. This is obviously not the right thing to say, as it raises some suspicions about exactly how Beverly and Elliot know about the Baudelaires. Klaus thinks quickly and explains that they’ve been reading The Daily Punctilio. Good save Klaus!

Olaf and Lulu have disappeared for the day and so hooky is in charge of the House of Freaks. They’re all told to start getting ready to perform. The hook-handed man notices that some of Beverly and Elliot’s scars are blurry, once again Klaus thinks quickly and says “They blur as they heal” hehe.

After a brief discussion about how sympathetic they all feel towards the hook-handed man, the caravan crew all start getting ready for the day ahead. The Baudelaires manage to get away from the others to talk about whether or not one of their parents has actually survived. None of them really know what to think any more, after all Madame Lulu’s information seems to have been accurate up to this point. Sunny says ‘Tent’ which means something along the lines of them needing to go to the fortune-telling tent to look for themselves.

They don’t have long to whisper amongst themselves as Kevin thinks that they must be talking about how weird he is. He keeps on going on about how hard his life is with both of his equally strong hands. Oh shut up, Kevin! In fact, that’s the way that all conversations seem to go amongst the ‘freaks’, any time anything is mentioned, they each have to pipe up about how they aren’t normal and can’t do all these things like other people. Even talking about reading a paper!

At the big tent they meet the hook-handed man who has a large whip made out of tagliatelle which he is allowed to use to whip them if they don’t do what he wants. You’d not expect it to be particularly effective. Pasta tends to be sort of floppy and easy to break. I’d expect it to be sort of soggy but not exactly painful.

Some of the small crowd that’s gathered think that the hook-handed guy is one of the freaks. It’s ironic that he actually tells one of the men in the crowd that “It’s not polite to comment on other people’s appearances” but then a second later he’s telling them to go and look at the ‘freaks’ they’ve actually paid to come and see. So they each get on with their routines; Hugo’s act is putting on a coat which obviously won’t fit over the hump on his back, Violet and Klaus have to eat their piece of corn, and the others get on with demonstrating their own unique talents.

The audience are just as charming as the hook-handed man. They’re jeering and throwing things. I’d set Sunny on them personally. The Baudelaires are not enjoyed all the pointing and laughing. I can’t say I blame them. It’s one thing when you’re doing something funny or deliberately trying to get a laugh, but the people in the audience are just mean. Plus they’re experiencing flashbacks to all the horrible guardians they’ve had in the past, and all the mean things other people have done and laughed at them for. I’m surprised they don’t all snap and go postal at the crowd, then again that would probably reveal them as the murderous Baudelaires and won’t do anything to improve their reputation.

Violet is, understandably, very upset by it all. I feel so sorry for Violet, in the first books she struck me as the one most likely to take charge, but as the series has gone on her confidence has just been sapped. Sunny says ‘Kiwoon!’ (which appears to be the name of a band) meaning ‘I thought I was going to cry when all those people were calling me ‘freak’.’ Poor Sunny. This time it’s Klaus who is holding the group together and remaining optimistic. He points out that while Lulu is away, this would be their best opportunity to check out her tent.

The other inhabitants of The House of Freaks want to know why they’re so interested in the fortune telling tent, after all, as freaks there’s nothing else for them to do. Violet brightens up a little and tries to convince them otherwise. Kevin shoots them down though; an ambidextrous person’s opportunities are just as limited as those for a two-headed person. Instead they’re just supposed to settle down and enjoy their hot chocolate.

This is where we start learning about one of Sunny’s other little talents, after all, she can’t just bite stuff forever. Sunny’s added cinnamon to the hot chocolate and it’s actually improved it. I think Sunny is the one who grows the most over the course of these books, not least because she’s little more than a blob who speaks gibberish at the beginning. Now she’s walking, talking in almost recognisable words, and she’s learning to cook! She may be my favourite character.

Violet, Klaus and Sunny use the hot chocolate as an excuse to head outside under the pretence of visiting the gift caravan. At this point they hear the sound of Olaf’s car coming back, which probably means that they don’t have much time if they do want to investigate her tent. I can’t help but think ‘investigate her tent’ sounds a little like a dirty euphemism. Considering it’s Olaf, it’s entirely possible that it is.

But there’s another sound which they can hear. A roaring sound which doesn’t seem to be coming the car or Sunny (the only other thing in the vicinity which is known to roar).

We don’t learn anything else about that noise right away though, Snicket decides to digress from the tale he has been telling us with a different one called ‘The Story of Queen Debbie and her Boyfriend, Tony’. It’s in an entirely different font from the rest of the Baudelaires’ tale. The gist of it is that Debbie and Tony are having a long distance relationship when it’s Tony’s birthday, Debbie send him a myna bird but Tony wants diamonds, to prevent them from being stolen Debbie feeds the diamonds to the royal lions and sends the lions to Tony, who promptly tries to get them out with obvious consequences.

The reason Snicket has chosen to tell us this equally depressing tale (though to be fair, Tony was kind of too stupid to live), is because when Count Olaf arrives back at the carnival he’s towing a trailer containing lions (not tigers as I suspected from the front cover). The lions are not happy about this. He announces to the crowd that the lions are to be part of a new attraction.

And this does not bode well for the Baudelaires.

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