Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Slippery Slope, Chapter 6

As we learned at the end of the last chapter, this one will see a return to following Sunny’s fortunes as an unwilling member of Count Olaf’s troupe in Chapter Six of The Slippery Slope. Oh, and it's a long one. Very long!

What Happens?

Sunny does her best to prepare a nice breakfast for everyone, despite being a baby and not having any means of cooking food. When it’s all ready Olaf makes a big fuss about how none of it is cooked. They are then interrupted by a mysterious man and woman who show up to announce that they have burned down the headquarters then present Olaf and Esme with the Snicket File and cigarettes. Once they’ve disappeared into one of the tents to study the file, Sunny is expected to start preparing a fish for breakfast.

Thoughts as I read:

The image for this chapter shows a hand pulling what I’m going to guess is a tablecloth as the breakfast supplies fly everywhere. We’ve got cups of tea, a boiled egg and two slices of toast with an eye design on it. So I think it’s safe to assume that this will be Olaf’s breakfast, because who else can you think of who would request their toast with a freaky eye on.

Unsurprisingly Sunny has not really enjoyed her night spent at the top of Mount Fraught in Olaf’s casserole dish. It wasn’t particularly warm so poor Sunny’s cut her lips on her sharp teeth which have been chattering away in the cold. She’s had one of those nights where just when you’ve started to get to sleep, it’s time to get up and start getting Olaf’s breakfast.

We get a brief recap of all the places where we’ve seen Olaf’s eye tattoo before Sunny starts listen to what Olaf is saying. And he’s saying that she has to get his breakfast. Her response to this is ‘Plakna?’ meaning ‘How am I supposed to cook breakfast on the top of a freezing mountain?’ When Olaf mocks her because he doesn’t understand what she’s saying, Sunny adds ‘Translo’ which means ‘Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean that it’s nonsense.’

When Olaf still doesn’t understand this, Sunny has a revelation: ‘Sneakitawe’ meaning ‘Of course, because you don’t understand me, I can saying anything I want to you, and you’ll have no idea what I’m talking about.’ So this leads to the following interjections from Sunny as Olaf complains to her ‘Brummel’ meaning ‘In my opinion, you desperately need a bath, and your clothing is a shambles’ and ‘Busheney’ meaning ‘You’re an evil man with no concern whatsoever for other people.’

And in this way Sunny is able to happily go about her business, mocking her captor the entire time, and this makes things slightly more bearable. Until she opens the trunk and discovers that all of the food in the car has become frozen during the cold night. This is going to make getting breakfast for everyone even harder.

Meanwhile everyone is being woken up my Count Olaf and complaining about the fact that they’re being woken up. During this Esme lets slip that they’d heading to the headquarters to burn it down. This really shouldn’t surprise us since there’s been quite a few mentions of fires in Olaf’s past. The main question is why? But as we learned during the last chapter, we can’t expect to get any answers any time soon.

It doesn’t take long for them to complain about Sunny taking too long to make breakfast, after all, you would expect a baby to be able to rustle up a full breakfast from frozen produce twice as quick as an adult. ‘Unfeasi’ replies Sunny, meaning ‘To make a hot meal without any electricity, I’d need a fire, and expecting a baby to start a fire all by herself on top of a snowy mountain is cruelly impossible and impossibly cruel.’ She then says ‘Hygiene’ which means ‘Additionally, you ought to be ashamed of yourself for wearing the same outfit for weeks at a time without washing.’

Sunny’s also not thrilled about having to work with fire since the fire that destroyed her home and killed at least one, possibly both, of her parents. This triggers a memory of her mother talking to her about how to arrange a simple salad on a plate so that it looks like it’s something fancy. Coincidentally the salad recipe is the same one that Snicket gave his sister in the last chapter. Interesting. With this in mind, Sunny sets about making the breakfast look as nice as possible.

Meanwhile everyone is going about their regular morning routine:

“Hey boss,” Hugo called from the next tent. “Colette won’t share the dental floss.”
“There’s no reason to use dental floss,’ Count Olaf said, “unless you’re trying to strangle someone with a very weak neck.”

And Kevin is jealous of the hook-handed man’s hooks because having no hands is way better than being ambidextrous, what with ambidextrous being freaky and all. This sets off an argument amongst the rest of the troupe about who has it worst until Olaf breaks it up and sets a blanket over a stone to make a table.

When Sunny’s breakfast is all ready she makes sure that everything is well-presented on the stone/table. She’s made orange granita, iced coffee and bread with boysenberry jam spread in the shape of an eye. She even makes a little centrepiece out of ivy and an old jug. She announces the feast by saying ‘Caffefredde, sorbet, toast tartar’ and is pretty proud of herself. Unfortunately no one else is very impressed, not least because all of the food is cold and probably also because most of it was made by a baby nomming on the stuff to chop it up.

One of the white-faced women seems to be trying to be nice to Sunny, if it’s the same one that smiled at her earlier on. She actually likes the iced coffee and just thinks it would have been improved with a little bit of sugar. Olaf’s really annoyed though, so he rips the blanket/tablecloth off the stone and throws the food everywhere, all the while berating Sunny for not giving him a hot breakfast. He’s about ready to throw Sunny off the mountain, until Esme reminds him that if he does that they won’t get the fortune.

Then he gives the hook-handed man an instruction to go and catch some Stricken Salmon so that Sunny prepare that instead. Sunny says ‘Sakesushi’ to this, meaning ‘I don’t think you’ll enjoy salmon if it’s not cooked’ personally I imagined this to mean something along the lines of ‘you’d have to be drunk to eat raw fish’. Once again the white-faced woman seems prepared to stand up for Sunny, suggesting that perhaps someone else should do the cooking, since a baby isn’t really the best choice for culinary duties especially when there’s no fire (since apparently letting a baby play around fire is the better option than having none at all).

And then a strange voice points out that there is a fire.

Having an aura of menace is like having a pet weasel, because you rarely meet someone who has one, and when you do it makes you want to hide under the coffee table.

There are two people who have just appeared at the top of the mountain, a man and a woman, and even Count Olaf seems a bit nervous. These people are so strange and mysterious that they are only referred to as ‘the man with a beard, but no hair’ and ‘the woman with hair, but no beard’. This is an interesting development.

The woman has a deep voice while the man has a hoarse voice and they seem to be Olaf’s superiors or something. And they’re towing a big toboggan with the eye insignia on it as well. They point out that there are no snow gnats around because they can smell the smoke from the V.F.D. headquarters which these mysterious people have apparently already burned down. Sunny responds to this with ‘No!’ which means ‘I certainly hope that isn’t true, because my siblings and I hoped to read V.F.D. headquarters, solve the mysteries that surround us, and perhaps find one of our parents.’ Luckily no one up here speaks Sunny so they don’t know what she just said.

This prompts Esme to introduce Sunny to them and then complain about her poor service. The woman with hair but no beard sympathises with Esme, mentioning that she had an infant servant ‘before the schism’. Sunny doesn’t know what ‘schism’ means so we’re not going to learn any more about what this is about right now, hopefully we will before the end of the book. We do also learn that Sunny’s parents caused a lot of trouble for these two new arrivals, but they can solves all sorts of problems as long as they have fire.

So we learn about how the V.F.D. headquarters were burned down, bit by bit, though they didn’t get any of the volunteers since they’d all already left. Hopefully this means that none of the Baudelaires were there when it happened then. They they bring up the subject of burning down the carnival because of some important evidence hidden in a souvenir there, which means Olaf and the gang have to come clean about burning it down already. It’s okay then, this impresses the man and woman.

He’s rewarded with the Snicket File, all of it except page thirteen which Klaus still has. Sunny says ‘Surchmi’ which means ‘I don’t have it – my siblings do’. Olaf is aware of this but he’s also pretty sure that they’re dead. Then they give Esme a cigarette to try which is kind of random and there’s even a little comment about how they’re not good for you. It seems like a bizarre little addition for a children’s book.

Then Esme, Olaf and the two newcomers disappear into a tent to read the Snicket file, leaving everyone, including us, speculating about just who they are exactly. But there’s a more pressing question for Sunny, since hooky has just shown up with a salmon and wants to know how Sunny will prepare it.

But before the chapter ends we do gets to hear her response ‘Lox!’

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