Friday, 24 April 2015

#Chapter-by-Chapter: The End, Chapter 14

Visiting through the A to Z Challenge? Today’s post went up at 8am and you can view it here.

Now I bet you thought we we would be finished with The End when we reached the end of Chapter Thirteen. Especially considering how long it was. Surely it was long enough to cover everything that still needed to be tied up in the story? Well, it clearly wasn’t because there’s a whole bunch of pages left at the end of the this book and Snicket still has stuff to tell us.

Things ended in the last chapter with Olaf dying, followed shortly afterwards by Kit after she delivered a baby girl, who the Baudelaires have taken responsibility for raising.

What Happens?

A year on from Chapter Thirteen, the Baudelaires and their infant ward make the decision to finally leave the island.

Thoughts as I read:

I like how this chapter is treated as a book in its own right. We’ve got a title page which says ‘BOOK THE LAST’ in the same way that all of the other books have stated which book number it is, and CHAPTER FOURTEEN is written in the same way as the book title would usually be printed. This is followed by a list of all the other books in the series (this time including The End which wasn’t included in the list at the beginning of this book) and another title page with a picture of the Baudelaires on it.

I feel like I should also draw attention to the copyright information page, which is lacking the usual copyright information but instead has:

Ô Mort, vieux capitaine, il est temps! levons l’ancre!Ce pays nous ennuie, ô Mort! Appareillons!Si le ciel est la mer sont noirs comme de l’encre,Nos coeurs que tu connais sont remplis de rayons!

Which is (aptly) from a poem by Charles Baudelaire. I spent about ten minutes puzzling my way through the first line (something about death, a captain, it being time and lifting an anchor) before I googled it and got a translation:

Oh death, old captain, the time has come! Let’s raise the anchor!
This country bores us, oh death! Let’s get under way!
If the sky and the sea are as black as ink,
Our hearts, that you know well, are filled with sunbeams!

It’s quite fitting for a story in the Series of Unfortunate Events, isn’t it? Also, yay at me getting the gist of the first line without looking anything up!

There’s a wiggly star shape under the poem as well. I’m not sure if that’s worth mentioning or not.

Then we’ve got a new dedication:

For Beatrice -
We are like boats passing in the night -
particularly you.

I’m not sure if that’s very deep and profound or if it means something and I just don’t get it.

And so to the actual chapter, which shows us the final entry by the Baudelaire parents in the book A Series of Unfortunate Events. It mentions the fact that they’re being kicked off the island and are leaving on a boat one of them built. It also records that a girl will be named Violet and a boy Lemony. Given the mention in the last chapter about naming babies after people who have died I wonder if this means the Snickets and Baudelaires are related somewhere along the line.

Immediately after this Violet voices wonder at who this Lemony she might have been named after could have been. Klaus points out that this is just another one of many things that their parents never told them about, since they never heard about a man called Lemony from their parents.

It’s really weird to see Sunny speaking in full and normal sentences. We were told earlier that the baby is nearly a year old so Sunny’s what, four? by now. Now it’s Kit’s baby who is speaking in random sounds and words; during this conversation she says ‘Abelard’.

And now Violet suggests that perhaps the time has come for them to get off the island, despite the treachery of the world, because that’s obviously what their parents decided was best for them. I think their parents really just decided it was best to raise their children somewhere that Ishmael wasn’t. At this the baby says ‘Checkrio?’ which again isn’t translated.

The Baudelaires have been keep their young charge safe but they’ve told her about the dangers of the wider world though they’ve kept some things back, probably in much the same way as their parents did for them. There is also the question of what they would find if they left the island.

We learn some snippets from the things that have washed up there. The world still has bad people in it but there still seem to be some volunteers around. It is pointed out that this information is coming from The Daily Punctilio so may not be wholly accurate.

If they do leave, they don’t have long to make plans for it as the coastal shelf is due to flood soon. They all discuss the important things they would need to take with them, as well as some things that maybe aren’t so essential, like the baby’s suggestion of ‘cake’.

There’s also the question of whether or not they should take the island’s record, A Series of Unfortunate Events. In the end they decide not to because it might be useful to someone else who comes along. I can see why this is a sensible plan, but by the same token, I’d kind of want to take it away with me. Then again, I’d probably not decide to leave on the spur of the moment the way they seem to be doing.

So we get a glimpse of the children preparing to leave and of Violet patching up the old boat, taking off the sign that says ‘COUNT OLAF’ on it. There’s something significant about the name of the boat here, we don’t get to see exactly what the original name of the boat is just yet though.

“Are we ready to immerse ourselves in the world?” Violet asked.
“I just hope we don’t immerse ourselves in the sea,” Klaus said, with a small smile.
“Me too,” Sunny said, and smiled back at her brother.

Aww, I like this. They seem so much happier than they have been in pretty much any of the books before now. That’s good.

Snicket reveals that he’s not entirely sure what happened to the Baudelaires after they left the island, whether they rejoined V.F.D. or if they did something else, but he knows just a little bit more about what happened next.

The children climb aboard the boat, with the baby (who greeted them by saying ‘Vi! Kla! Sun!’ aww). And that’s when we learn the final two answers that we’re ever going to get in this series; the baby’s name and the name of the boat. They’re one and the same, Beatrice. Which also means that this is probably the boat that the Baudelaire parents escaped from the island on, and that means that Mrs Baudelaire was Beatrice and was probably the person who Lemony Snicket has been pining for all the way through this series. I say probably because with this series of books I don’t think we’ll ever know anything with any certainty.

Perhaps this last word was the baby’s first secret, joining the secrets the Baudelaires were keeping from the baby, and all the other secrets immersed in the world. Perhaps it is better not to know precisely what was meant by this word, as some things are better left in the great unknown. There are some words, of course, that are better left unsaid – but not, I believe, the word uttered by my niece, a word which here means that the story is over.Beatrice.

And that’s about as close as we’re going to get to a happy ending in this series of books.

Hope you’ve enjoyed them.

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