Thursday, 5 February 2015

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Slippery Slope, Chapter 3

In the last chapter of The Slippery Slope, Violet and Klaus stumbled upon the last person they expected to see halfway up a mountain. Let’s see what happens next.

What Happens?

We switch to Sunny’s point of view for this chapter and learn a little more about Olaf’s plans and life as part of his troupe as Sunny travels up the mountain with them. They plan to use her as a servant so when they arrive she is ordered to put together the tents and bring everyone snacks. There’s no chance of her escaping and Olaf is perfectly aware of this, but Sunny does realise something about their location that gives her a little ray of hope.

Thoughts as I read:

This chapter, like a couple of chapters in the last book, features a tent in the opening picture. Like the chapters in the last book, this tent has an eye logo on the front, so should I say the V.F.D. insignia. Unlike the chapter pictures in the last book, this tent it being put up by a tiny baby. Down on the left hand side, what I thought at first glance was a fish, is actually Sunny Baudelaire. I’m guessing that means we’ll be catching up with Sunny in this chapter.

Snicket informs us that it’s been hard to research Sunny’s journey up the mountain, hence the relative silence about her experiences so far. In order to illustrate Sunny’s time with Olaf, Snicket tells us the story of Cinderella, except in Sunny’s case there was no fairy godmother, pretty dress, party with a prince, a marriage and a happily ever after. In short, Sunny is just a slave.

Olaf was unhappy that Sunny kept crying and Esme couldn’t understand why, after all she kept pinching her but it didn’t make her stop. Can’t think why. Olaf decides to threaten Sunny and funnily enough, that works. Presumably because Sunny knew that Olaf would have no problems with hurting a baby.

It is always tedious when someone says that if you don’t stop crying, they will give you something to cry about, because if you are crying then you already have something to cry about, and so there is no reason for them to give you anything additional to cry about, thank you very much.

This is very true.

Sunny’s got plenty to be crying about. Snicket lists all the things that Sunny has to worry about which are rushing through her mind. She’s even tried saying ‘No pinch’ to get Esme stop but Esme doesn’t speak Sunny, even when Sunny is basically speaking English. This prompts the hook-handed man to moan that kidnapped children just aren’t any fun. Olaf’s a bit put out by this, after all, they went to all that work with the Quagmires and didn’t manage to get any of their fortune either.

But he’s confident now. After all, he’s got rid of Violet and Klaus, now they’ve got Sunny, they just have to find the headquarters so that they can destroy the files that they have there. This is all useful information for Sunny, who is taking in everything that is said so that she can pass it on to her older siblings when she is reunited with them. She doesn’t get to learn exactly what V.F.D. stands for, but she does find out that Olaf was once a member of the mysterious organisation. Now he sees himself as ‘an individual practitioner’.

When asked what this means Esme says ‘It means a life of crime’ to which Sunny replies ‘Wrong def’, this means ‘An individual practitioner means someone who works alone, instead of with a group, and it has nothing to do with a life of crime’. But no one knows what she is saying, which presumably makes her miss her siblings even more.

Olaf is heading towards Mount Fraught where they are going to camp. Sounds like a fabulous place to visit, especially as something called False Spring is on its way. Apparently that will make it warmer. I’m sure it’ll be lovely. Besides they won’t have to put up the tent themselves, that’s what they’ve got Sunny for.

It’s not so bad compared to some of the other dastardly things Olaf has done to her. Like dangling her out a window in a cage. I think that’s probably worse. Then again, I’m not sure I’d trust a baby to put up a tent.

Meanwhile Olaf’s henchpeople are given the newbies the low down on what it’s like working for Olaf. There’s a lot of waiting around and it’s dangerous and sometimes it’s a bit boring. Things start getting a bit philosophical as they discuss the fact that this is all for the ‘greater good’. The greater good being money in this case. That and personal satisfaction. Your definition of ‘the greater good’ may vary.

At last they arrive at their campsite and Sunny is ordered to start putting together the tents and bring everyone refreshments. I’m sure I would struggle to put a tent together. No reasonable person would ever ask an infant to do that, which explains why Olaf and the gang are ordering Sunny to do it.

Sunny does consider just walking away from them all. But she’s a smart cookie and knows that there isn’t really anywhere she can go and even if she does she’s just a little baby. It’s unlikely that she would be able to survive on her own. All the same, she goes right to the edge of the peak and peers over. And spots something. I thought this was going to be something really interesting, like a sign that her siblings are coming to find her or that the Quagmires are here or something. It’s not, it’s the source of the Stricken Stream and it’s all icy and frozen. I think frozen waterfalls look very pretty but Sunny doesn’t have time to dwell it because she’s soon being summoned by Olaf.

There’s some debate about which tent Sunny will sleep in. Olaf and Esme will obviously have one tent and the henchpeople will have another, but no one wants Sunny in their tent. It’s okay thought, Olaf has every eventuality covered. Sunny’s sleeping in the boot of the car in a casserole dish. Cosy.
Olaf’s being kind of caring in his own special way, obviously if something happens to Sunny then he won’t get any money, so he’s made sure she’ll be able to breathe and she’ll be protected from snow gnats. Sunny says ‘Nonat’ which means ‘I didn’t notice any such insects outside’ that’s probably because they’re all off chomping on your brother and sister! No one’s listening to her though, which she should probably get used to while she’s staying with these people.

Olaf knows she won’t try to escape since they can see from miles up here so they’ll see if she gets away and they’ll see if anyone comes for her. This prompts Sunny to exclaim ‘Eureka’ meaning ‘I’ve just realised something’. I wonder what she has realised. Whatever it is we don’t get to find out until Olaf and the gang leave Sunny to start assembling the tent.

It is quite often frustrating to arrange all of the cloth and the poles so that a tent works correctly, which is why I have always preferred to stay in hotels or rented castles, which also have the added attractions of solid walls and maid service.

Mr Snicket, I like your style.

Sunny’s no stranger to hard labour, so she does quite well putting the tents together, even using her teeth to dig in the frozen ground. Reading this sentence is like nails down a blackboard to me, since Tara likes to scrape her teeth over icy puddles and it sounds horrible when she hits the ground beneath.

But Sunny is feeling a bit happier in the knowledge that they are visible at the top of Mount Fraught, because that means Violet and Klaus will be able to see her. Unfortunately this will mean that Olaf will be able to see them, which he probably won’t take to too kindly.

But let’s just focus on the positive for now, shall we?

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