Friday, 6 March 2015

Chapter-by-Chapter: The Grim Grotto, Chapter 10

I've been so organised with my posts for this week, I'm amazed that I've managed to get all of these posts written and scheduled without any major hiccoughs (or getting distracted or bored or just plain wandering off to do other things). The biggest problem I'm having in writing this post is that I have a labrador fast asleep next to me with her head on my lap and it's making typing a little bit challenging.

But I enjoy a challenge, so I'm not letting that stop me.

Brief recap before we continue: Olaf has now got everyone on his octopus submarine, everyone except Phil and Widdershins, who knows where they are; Sunny is still trapped in the diving helmet and is clearly dying of mushroooms; Fiona has just been reunited with her hook-handed brother, Fernald. All good? Let's go on.

What Happens?

Fernald is momentarily delighted that his younger sister has decided to join Olaf's crew and intends to make the Baudelaires tell him where the sugar bowl can be found. Violet and Klaus, backed up by Fiona, are forced to reveal that they don't know and they need to return to the Queequeg in order to save Sunny. Fernald is not really moved by this, and is even less moved when Violet reveals what the newspaper clipping she carries says. But after some discussion about noble and wicked acts, and a request from Sunny, Fernald decides to take them back to the Queequeg, on one condition.

Thoughts as I read:

We open this chapter with a touching image of Fiona and Fernald's reunion. It just shows their hands, or rather Fiona's hands and Fernald's hooks. She's holding onto his hooks and I guess it's supposed to be heartwarming, or she's trying to pull them off. I think we'll go with the heartwarming option because pulling someone's hook hands off would be weird.

This chapter opens with a discussion of sadness and how it can taint everything, even happy things in life. I'm guessing that's what is happening in the brig for the Baudelaires because as happy as they are that Fiona has been reunited with her brother (even if it is the crazy hook-handed guy who is kind of obsessed with Violet, who Widdershins was prepared to arrange a marriage to for her), they're still sad that Sunny is at death's door.

Fernald's missing hands are obviously new to Fiona. I'm guessing that's one of the hazards that comes with being in the employment of someone like Count Olaf. For a moment Fernald thinks that Fiona has joined Olaf so it's with some disappointment that he learns Fiona's joined forces with the Baudelaires. Fiona is quick to point out that technically the Baudelaires joined her. To-may-to, To-mah-to.

Through all of this, Snicket still insists on referring to Fernald as the hook-handed man, but that's a bit of a mouthful (handful?) to type so I'm sticking with Fernald. Widdershins, by the way, hasn't been abducted by Olaf as far as Fernald is aware, and he's also the reason why Fernald left; he didn't like being ordered around. And yet life with Olaf is preferable to that?

"There are many good parts, as well. For instance, he has a wonderful laugh."
"A wonderful laugh is no excuse for villainous behaviour!" Fiona said.

Fernald decides it's best that they don't argue about Olaf, having just been reunited and all. Instead he plans to make the Baudelaires tell him where the sugar bowl is.

The Baudelaires opt to go for a different tactic; honesty. Thankfully Fiona is there to back them up and confirm that they really don't have a clue where the crockery could have gone. Since Fernald isn't able to beat or hook it out of them he's not sure what he's supposed to do now. Fiona suggests taking them back to the Queequeg so they can figure out how to fix Sunny.

He's reluctant to help them, since whenever the Baudelaires show up things go badly for Fernald and Olaf shouts a lot. He does look as though he might be starting to have doubts about his current job, Fiona keeps pushing him. But he's right that it's hard to work out what the right side is, since both have done great and terrible things.

Violet decides that this is the best time to reveal the newspaper article that she's been carrying around with her. The headline is 'Verifying Fernald's Defection' and it was written by Jacques Snicket:

It has now been confirmed that the fire that destroyed Anwhistle Aquatics, and took the life of famed ichnologist Gregor Anwhistle, was set by Fernald Widdershins, the son of the captain of the Queequeg submarine. The Widdershins family's participation in a recent schism has raised several questions regarding...

Regarding what, we don't know because the article is all blurry. Considering V.F.D. were supposed to be a secret organisation they get a lot of attention in The Daily Punctilio, don't they?

Fernald reveals that he isn't proud of this fire though and also points out a lot of the mistakes made in the article as evidence that not everything is quite the way that it might appear. He gives us this excellent quote:

"People aren't either wicked or noble," the hook-handed man said. "They're like chef's salads, with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict."

I like that analogy.

Fernald points out that the Baudelaires have done some wicked things in their time and draws attention to the portraits on their uniforms. Fernald's portrait is one of Edgar Guest and there's clearly no going back now, or so he thinks.

Klaus pleads with him, but in the end I think that it's Sunny's feeble 'Please' that spurs him into action. Whatever the reason, Fernald is going to take them back to the Queequeg, but he wants to go as well.

I'm sure that can be arranged.

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