Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Carnivorous Carnival, Chapter 12

Once again we’re one chapter away from the end of a Series of Unfortunate Events book. Welcome to Chapter Twelve. It's a long one, so why not get yourself a drink before we get started.

Ready? Good, here we go!

What Happens?

The Baudelaires head to Madame Lulu’s tent to see if they can find anything that will help get them away from the carnival. Unfortunately, after they’ve found a map and some food, Olaf and Esme show up to tell the children to torch the tent and then take ‘Chabo’ away with them. The children have no join but to join Olaf’s troupe and take their place, as directed, in the caravan connected to Olaf’s car. It’s only when they’re actually in the caravan and starting to move that Olaf reveals to them that he knows exactly who they are.

Thoughts as I read:

Throughout this book we’ve had little hints about how Snicket has returned to the site of the carnival everything has been destroyed by a fire. I suspect that this is going to be the chapter when this happens. My clue comes in the form of the blazing torch which is the picture for the chapter opening. It’s held by someone with a frilly sleeve so I’m going to guess that Esme will be the one to blame for this little bit of destruction.

We catch up with the Baudelaires outside Madame Lulu’s tent. Everyone else is crowded round the tent watching the violent and sloppy deaths of Lulu and the bald headed man so for now they’re relatively safe, that is provided that no one looks round and realises that they’re over there.

Violet has her priorities straight, she’s wondering where the fan belt has gotten to. Klaus is understandably annoyed at his sister. Despite her determination to feed the older Baudelaires to a bunch of hungry lions, Klaus is clearly more affected by Lulu/Olivia’s death than her. But Violet is really just trying to focus on anything rather than what has just happened and worrying that their chosen course of action might not have been the right one, considering that it’s led to the death of two people.

Klaus tries to talk Violet round, telling her that she couldn’t have finished the invention, for obvious reasons, and that it’s not her fault that Lulu died. Sunny adds ‘And bald’ as she doesn’t want to take responsibility for his death either. But it’s dawning on Violet that they helped to rile up the crowd, who were already pretty bloodthirsty to start with, into an even more bloodthirsty fever. This is very true. Klaus does make an equally valid point; Olaf started it.

None of this is making Violet any happier, they did after all make a promise to take Lulu/Olivia with them when they left. This will be somewhat tricky to do now. They’ve been trying but Violet is not satisfied that this is good enough. I think it’s all getting to be a bit too much for her. She’s suffering from a massive amount of guilt right now and I’m not sure that anything Klaus does or says is going to make her feel any better. There are so many things that they still don’t know and still haven’t figured out and we only have four more books to get to the bottom of it all! I can understand why she is worrying.

Klaus is determined that they shouldn’t give up. He is a researcher after all, that means that there’s one good way to get to the bottom of things. And what was there in the tent that might be able to help them? Sunny says ‘Ghede!’ meaning ‘I almost forgot about the archival library!’ It’s okay Sunny, I forgot about it too.

Madame Lulu was obviously planning to leave with the children since she had packed up a lot of her belongings in the tent. I’m hoping that the guilt of the children isn’t going to stop them from making off with some of the things that she’s prepared because some of those things like the map and the food will probably come in handy. Klaus sets to studying the map straight away.

I love all the place names in this series and there are a few of them in on the map. So we get Plath Pass, Richter Range, Silent Springs, Paucity Peak, the Valley of Four Drafts and Stricken Stream. Do you see which one we might end up aiming for? The children spot it straight away, with even Sunny shrieking ‘V.F.D.!’ There’s no markings there but Madame Lulu has spilled coffee there which seems to some sort of unofficial map marker. It probably has a name like the ‘veiled facial disguises’ which abbreviates to V.F.D.

The children are hesitant. They’ve come up against several other instances of V.F.D. all of which have been red herrings, what’s to say that this one isn’t as well? Besides, the Quagmire notebooks led them to believe that the first word was ‘volunteer’. Sunny says ‘Winnow?’ meaning ‘But where else could the headquarters be? There’s no other marking on the map.’ Violet does point out the fact that is is supposed to be a secret organisation so they’re highly unlikely to advertise where their headquarters are.

How will they ever find this out for certain? Well, the only way to find out is to go there. This has its own problems as they don’t currently have any transport to get to the Mortmain Mountains. Violet’s starting to get over the shock of what has happened though, she’s starting to think of something else that she might be able to invent. Violet and Klaus decide they need to separate so that one can start inventing and the other can start researching. ‘Ingredi’ says Sunny, meaning ‘Meanwhile, I’ll look through all this food and make sure we have everything we need to prepare meals.’ Which I’m pleased about, because they’re going to need to eat while they’re travelling.

It’s at this moment that Esme and Olaf show up; the former carrying a bouquet of ivy and the latter carrying a flaming torch. And they’ve found the children. They still don’t seem to be aware of who the children are which is probably a good thing for the Baudelaires. The evil duo have generously decided to allow everyone to join their crew, even though they didn’t entirely uphold their side of the bargain, they’re nice like that. They go on to reveal that their latest plan is to burn down the carnival, in fact, they’ve already started, so the children don’t have much of a choice!

The children don’t have much choice but to go along with them. And then Olaf spots the map and realises exactly what the coffee stain is there for. He learn this particular code as a small boy. Ooh, another little clue about Olaf’s past. I wonder if we’ll ever find out exactly what the deal is with him. Maybe, but now is not that time.

Instead Olaf wants to know if there is anything else of use in the tent. He’s quickly told there isn’t, as everyone holds their breath waiting to see if Olaf realises there is a massive pile of useful notes under the table. Luckily he just spots the boxes of food and then takes Chabo, aka Sunny, out with him after giving Klaus the instruction to torch the tent.

Once again, the children have no choice but to do as Olaf has told them, sparking another moral dilemma for Violet. The one thing that is keeping them going is the fact that joining Olaf’s troupe will give them the transport they need to actually get into the Mortmain Mountains. Whenever Violet suggests an alternative, Klaus quickly shoots it down. They have no alternatives.

Outside the tent the carnival is in chaos. None of the people who remain are very impressed with this turn of events. They prefer the violence when it’s happening to someone else, when they’re the ones in danger they’re a lot less impressed. It appears that Olaf has told The Daily Punctilio reporter that once again this is all down to the Baudelaires, so they’re going to cop the blame for something else that he’s responsible for.

Now the large black car Olaf drives is hitched up to a caravan which the Baudelaires are told they will be riding in, or rather the older Baudelaires will be riding in. Sunny is sitting on Esme’s lap. Poor Sunny. I think I would much rather be in a caravan than with Olaf and his gang. At least this should give them the freedom to discuss what they will do next without worrying about being overheard.

We get to see the Devil’s Tongue knot again as well as the walkie talkies that he used way back in The Marvellous Marriage. Violet is hating all of this. She feels like they’re using their skills for bad rather than for good but Klaus is determined to focus on the bigger picture and tells Violet this as they feel the caravan starting to move.

And then we get a shock. Olaf’s voice comes through the walkie talkie as he reveals some terrifying news. He’s perfectly aware that Beverly, Elliot and Chabo are in fact the three Baudelaires, which considering this information came from Madame Lulu hopefully makes Violet feel slightly less guilty about playing a part in the woman’s death. But they don’t have time to dwell on this because Olaf has Sunny and Sunny doesn’t seem very happy with this development.

Since Olaf has Sunny he doesn’t need Violet and Klaus any more, so there’s no need to keep pulling the caravan with the other Baudelaires in it.

But we don’t get to see this next bit because these books have to have thirteen chapters and we’ve had a warning that the next chapter is short so the action has to stop here to keep us turning the pages.

Tune in on Thursday to find out just what will happen to the Baudelaires next!

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