Friday, 10 April 2015

Chapter-by-Chapter: The End, Chapter 5

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As it's Friday we've got another installment in our trip alongside the Baudelaire children as they try to figure out what the hell is going on with Ishmael and the other colonists on the island. The children are torn between doing as they're told and doing what they think they should do.

And we're all wondering what's happened to Olaf as well!

What Happens?

The children settle into their uneventful but safe new lives on the island, reminiscing about what life was like before they got there. They go out scavenging after the next big storm and discover a massive stack of books all roped together with someone familiar on top. There's also someone familiar hiding behind the strange collection of books as well. This is not good news for the Baudelaires.

Thoughts as I read:

I'm not entirely sure what the picture at the bottom of Chapter Five is actually of. I think it's a big bundle of books all roped together. At first I thought it was some sort of wooden box but on closer inspection, it seems to be a massive collection of books. I would love to find that just sitting outside my house one morning. I don't think that the books on the bottom are going to be doing too well seeing as they're sitting in the sea. There are other bits of detritus floating around as well; a toaster, a beach ball and some golf clubs by the look of things. Oh and some seagulls on top of the books. And something that may be someone's foot! Looks like we're getting a new castaway.

Snicket opens the chapter by saying that we, as readers, are probably wondering if the Baudelaires drank the cordial Ishmael pretty much forced on them. This then prompts a two page long discussion of peer pressure, how it can affect you and how it can be avoided. Snicket's suggestions for avoidance are pretty typical for the author; in order to avoid peer pressure you need to be without peers, peerless as it were:

All day long, everyone in the world is succumbing to peer pressure, whether it is the pressure of their fourth grade peers to play dodge ball during recess or the pressure of their fellow circus performers to balance rubber balls on their noses, and if you try to avoid every instance of peer pressure you will end up without any peers whatsoever, and the trick is to succumb to enough pressure that you do not drive your peers away, but not so much that you end up in a situation in which you are dead or otherwise uncomfortable. This is a difficult trick, and most people never master it, and end up dead or uncomfortable at least once during their lives.

I especially love that last bit.

What this all leads to is the fact that the Baudelaires did drink the coconut codial and kept quiet about the things they were hiding from Ishmael. Despite feeling uncomfortable, they're actually feeling kind of okay because Olaf is not allowed near them and everyone seems fairly happy to accept them as they are. It seems that they can deal with the weird clothes, food and leader as long as Olaf is kept at bay.

And so we come to a time skip. It's been a while since we had one of those in these books. They've been very action-packed for the last few books.

The children are assigned jobs, so Violet works at the laundry, Klaus is in charge of keeping Ishmael's feet packed with clay, and Sunny is allowed to help with the cooking. I can't help but wonder if this is done on purpose to help keep the children apart to ensure that there's no collaboration between them. I may be reading into this too much, but perhaps he's going for the divide and conquer approach.

Sunny's the luckiest one of the three because the food doesn't take much preparation so she gets more free time than her older siblings. Probably just as well because she is the youngest and they shouldn't expect too much from someone who's only been walking for a little while, she still hasn't quite mastered talking after all!

There's another storm during this time and this sees the children hanging out in a tent together. Sunny voices her feelings 'Janiceps' which means 'I'm of two minds about living here' and her brother and sister agree. Though Klaus points out that he can't help but feel that they're being forced to do things even though Ishmael keeps on telling them they're not being forced.

All the same, Olaf isn't there, which is a good thing. Sunny adds 'Diaspora' which means 'We live in such a distant place that the battle between V.F.D. and their enemies seems very far away.' Klaus then adds that V.F.D. now stands for 'Very Flavorless Diet'. And they miss libraries.

Ishmael is really anti-books for some reason. That just highlights the fact that he's a bad guy. Bad guys don't like books. Violet feels the same way about inventions, she thinks she could make a water filtration system to give them fresh drinking water but Ishmael doesn't want that either.

Then they ask Sunny what she misses and she replies 'Fountain' and it takes a moment to establish which fountain she means. It's the one she went swimming in when she was just a few weeks old, the Fountain of Victorious Finance at the bank. The others are surprised she remembers this but it's a happy memory about the time her father tried to drown her... well, she was cranky and she started dunking her in the water to cool her down. Before long the whole family were splashing around in it.

Snicket also tells us that day Mrs Baudelaire was at the bank as part of the work of V.F.D. though the children weren't to know that. By now they're wandering along the coastal shelf after the storm in search of detritus that's been washed up.

And that's when they find the giant raft of books. The books look rather poorly but the children are distracted by the sight of a human foot hanging over the edge of the top of the pile. And that foot has an eye tattoo on the ankle. Uh oh.

But it's not Olaf and the children climb onto one another's backs to identify the mysterious foot (and person). She's got a big pregnant belly and there's only one person we've come across who is expecting; Kit Snicket. And yup, that's who it is.

Unfortunately she's not alone. From behind the pile of books appears Olaf, dressed as a woman (it a look that he's had plenty of time to perfect), with seaweed hair and a padded belly to simulate pregnancy. Looks like he's got a new plan.

And before the Baudelaires have time to come up with a counterattack, the colonists start arriving in the distance to investigate the new item on the coastal shelf.

We'll find out what happens next on Monday.

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