Monday, 16 February 2015

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Slippery Slope, Chapter 10

We’re almost at the end of The Slippery Slope now, we’ll finish it this week, ready to start The Grim Grotto next week. We’ve still got over a hundred pages still to go of this book though, so let’s get on with it.

What Happens?

Violet and Quigley make their way up the frozen waterfall, stopping along the way for a brief chat and possibly some kissing, before reuniting (and meeting for the first time) Sunny at the top. Violet is all set to take Sunny back down with them, but Sunny wants to get to the bottom of some of the mysteries they’re facing and so is determined to stay a little longer to eavesdrop on the False Spring meal. Violet eventually consents and so she and Quigley leave Sunny alone again.

Thoughts as I read:

This chapter image shows two pairs of lower legs. I’m going to guess that they belong to Olaf and Esme, mainly because one is obviously male, is wearing stripy trousers and has an eye on one ankle, the other is wearing stiletto heels and has a frilly skirt. I suppose this means that we’re going to see them again in this chapter, which we kind of expected, didn’t we? After all, Violet and Quigley were heading up to the top of Mount Fraught at the end of the last chapter.

Once again we pick up where we left off, Quigley and Violet are heading off to scale the waterfall and Klaus is preparing for some ‘serious research’. For a moment Klaus wants to say something to Violet but she tells him to hold it until she gets back.

The expression “brace yourself,” as I’m sure you know, does not mean to take some metal wiring and rivets and other orthodontic materials and apply them to your own teeth in order to straighten them. The expression simply means “get ready for something that will probably be difficult,” and it was indeed very difficult to climb a frozen waterfall in the middle of a windswept valley with nothing but a candelabra and a few well-placed forks to aid the two children in their climb.

Incredibly the bent forks work and they are able to scale the slope. Quigley is quite surprised but Violet warns him not to celebrate too soon. I agree, when you’re climbing up a sheer frozen waterfall, heading towards Olaf and his crazy companions, you really don’t want to celebrate until you’re back at the bottom and well away from danger (a word which here means ‘Olaf and his crazy companions’).

As they continue to climb Violet and Quigley start discussing Isadora and her talent for writing couplets. They also marvel at the fact that so many people that they’ve been involved with seem to have known codes and had secret passageways in their houses, it seems that everyone they’ve come into contact with has been involved with the volunteers without any of the children actually being aware of it.

Once they’ve gotten a little way up the waterfall they find a ledge where they can rest and eat some carrots. I love eating raw carrots, sorry, that was a bit random. Apparently Sunny likes carrots too, I can imagine she would with those teeth. Quigley mentions something that both the Quagmire and Baudelaire fathers used to say “a good meal can cheer one up considerably” prompting both children to wonder whether this was a code for something else. Or perhaps it was just a bit of good fatherly advice.

They have a good point though, their parents kept a lot of secrets from them. Perhaps if they’d mentioned the fact that they were involved with some sort of volunteer fire fighting group which was having a battle between their members, the children might have been more prepared for all the things that are happening to them. Or not. We’ll never know.

There’s a sweet little moment here too when Violet admires the scenery and says how beautiful it is. Quigley agrees but he’s looking at Violet, not at the the surrounding landscape. Aww. I’ve actually written a story with a romance thread in it and there’s a similar moment in that. So it’s sweet, if slightly cliché.

We then move on to discuss the concept of privacy and how it has been lacking for the Baudelaires since they learned that their parents were dead. Snicket knows this so he decides to allow Quigley and Violet a little bit of privacy, so we don’t get to learn any more about what they say or do up there on that ledge. I’m guessing that there might be some smooching involved.

Despite Snicket’s decision to give them some privacy, we do still get a picture of them up there on the ledge. It’s not a very close up picture, so Quigley and Violet are very small in the centre of it as they sit perched on the edge of the ledge. It all looks very cold and chilly up there.

We pick up with them as they approach the top of the peak and Quigley marvels at the fact that they’ve been climbing all afternoon. Violet reminds him that they’ve not been climbing all afternoon which I think is a perfect clue to the fact that there was definitely some kissing involved that afternoon. Quigley then goes on to wonder what they’ll find up here and we hear the word ‘Set!’ which didn’t come from Violet. It’s obviously Sunny and she means ‘I knew you would find me!’

They have a hushed reunion as Sunny asks about Klaus and is introduced to Quigley. To Quigley Sunny says ‘Arigato’ meaning ‘I appreciate your help, Quigley’. She then goes on to explain ‘Lox’ to mean that Olaf’s had her doing the cooking, and ‘Vaccurum’ meaning that she’s been vacuuming the car blowing crumbs out of it. Eventually she adds ‘Cinderella’ meaning ‘I’ve had to do all of the chores, while being humiliated at every turn’ but Violet doesn’t have a chance to translate this for Quigley because Olaf is looking for ‘Babylaire’. Snicket criticises this nickname but I think it’s kind of cute.

The children are forced to crawl under the car to hide, giving Violet and Quigley a view of Olaf and Esme’s lower legs, like we saw at the beginning of the chapter. Meanwhile, Sunny is being given her instructions. She has to cook a False Spring dinner for tomorrow. Then Violet catches a glimpse of the lower legs belonging to the sinister man and woman. They’re having some sort of recruitment drive involving a net.

The conversation turns to something that the mysterious man and woman were searching for in the ruins of the headquarters. A sugar bowl. We don’t get to hear anymore about it though as Olaf points out that Sunny is listening so they move away. Sunny is able to say ‘Coastkleer’ which means ‘It’s safe to come out now’ to her sister and Quigley. When asked who the other two shoes belonged to Sunny replies ‘Unno Narsonist’ meaning ‘I don’t know, but they burned down V.F.D. headquarters.’

Violet and Quigley are all set to take Sunny back down the waterfall, but Sunny has other plans. She replies ‘Nogo’ meaning ‘I don’t think I ought to accompany you’ and ‘Unasanc’ which means ‘the villains have mentioned one more safe place for volunteers to gather.’ When Violet asks if Sunny knows where this safe place is she says ‘Olafile’ which obviously means that Olaf has the file which will give them this information. And Sunny has obviously decided that she is the baby to find out exactly where this place is.

Violet’s not exactly keen on her little sister’s plan and demands to know just how Sunny intends to do this. Sunny tells her sister ‘Matahari’ meaning ‘If I stay, I can spy on them and find out.’ Violet’s really unimpressed that they are making her baby sister do all the cooking and cleaning, so she’s really not liking the idea of going away and leaving her sister in the hands of Olaf, Esme and these two mysterious arsonists.

But Sunny’s already got a plan for her False Spring meal. Sunny’s so into her cooking, perhaps she’s just wanting to get one more chance to show off because she’s got all the ingredients to make ‘False spring rolls’ by which she means ‘An assortment of vegetables wrapped in spinach leaves, prepared in honour of False Spring.’ And as Sunny points out ‘Supppertunity’ meaning ‘Serving the troupe dinner will be a perfect chance to listen to their conversation.’ Which is very, very true.

Sunny really is the right person for the job. She demonstrates ‘Ga ga goo goo’ which means ‘I won’t be caught, because they think I’m only a helpless baby.’ Though they don’t think she’s that helpless as they seem to think she’s perfectly capable of cleaning and cooking… and she is.

Violet is still reluctant to leave Sunny as she doesn’t think that the Baudelaires should be separated. Obviously, this is an ironic thing to say, considering that she had to leave Klaus to get here. Sunny points this out but Violet still says that she still doesn’t want to leave her, she is just a baby after all. Sunny then goes on to say her longest sentence yet: ‘I’m not a baby’.

It’s been ten books and Sunny has grown up quite a bit in that time. She’s learnt to walk, to talk more intelligibly, and even to cook. So Sunny’s not to be referred to as a baby any more, she’s a young girl now. But all the same, it’s not really right that a young girl should be abandoned in the company of Olaf and his crew.

As they prepare to leave Violet accidentally punctures one of the car tyres with her fork (so they’re either really sharp forks or really thin tyres). No one feels particularly bad about this and it will make for a slower getaway if Olaf decides to leave.

So it’s soon time for Violet and Quigley to make a getaway while they’re still able to. But it’s not a sad parting. Everyone is feeling pretty happy, which I suspect is somewhat foolish because we’ve still got three chapters to go and a whole lot of pages and when has a Series of Unfortunate Events book ever had a happy ending?!

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