Thursday, 16 April 2015

Chapter-by-Chapter: The End, Chapter 8

Here in search of today’s A to Z Challenge post? Click here to see it.

We’re fast approaching the end of The End! During Chapter Seven we saw the Baudelaires debating whether to let Olaf out of the birdcage because he has a plan to help them all off the coastal shelf. Unfortunately Olaf’s plan seems to involve threatening everyone with the Medusoid Mycelium which is decidedly ignoble. When we left them, the children had taken some time to themselves to try to figure out the best course of action.

What Happens?

Kit regains consciousness and the children learn that things on the island were once quite different. Two of the islanders show up and make the Baudelaires an offer, to help them overthrow Ishmael and in return they will help Kit to a safe place and give her medical assistance. Despite Kit’s protestations, the children decide they have no choice and so agree to go to the arboretum in search of weapons.

Thoughts as I read:

I have no idea what this picture is actually of. I’m guessing it’s taking place on the island because there are two people in silhouette who seem to be up to their ankles in water. It’s night and there’s a full moon but it’s still too dark for the two people to see properly as they’re having to use a torch. Perhaps one of them is Violet and she’s invented it, or perhaps this is a glimpse of the ‘other Baudelaires’ who have wound up on the island in the past. I guess we’ll have to read on to find out.

Thinking about something is like picking up a stone when taking a walk, either while skipping rocks on the beach, for example, or looking for a way to shatter the glass doors of a museum. When you think about something, it adds a bit of weight to your walk, and as you think about more and more things until you are liable to feel heavier and heavier, until you are so burdened you cannot take any further steps, and can only sit and stare at the gentle movements of the ocean waves or security guards, thinking too hard about too many things to do anything else.

Snicket mentions this because this is exactly how the Baudelaires are feeling. They are pretty much paralysed by indecision. I kind of know how they feel, though generally when I get that feeling it’s about random things like whether I want a mug of hot chocolate or tea. I’m not usually too bad about making the big decisions. Then again, I’ve never had to make a decision about whether or not to free Count Olaf and join with him.

Luckily they are interrupted by Kit Snicket’s voice, which is just as well because if she hadn’t spoken she probably would have just carried on lying up there for another day or two! Kit is surprised to hear the voices of the Baudelaires and Sunny says ‘Anais’ meaning ‘In the flesh’ to confirm that it is them. Kit also wants to know where they are, so Violet has to explain that they’re on a coastal shelf since it never occurred to any of them to ask what the name of the mysterious island is. They might as well have just stuck with calling it Olaf-Land then.

It appears that the Baudelaires don’t want to give away too much to Kit just yet. They don’t tell her that they’ve been abandoned, they don’t tell her that the colonists have rejected them and they don’t let her know that the shelf is due to flood soon and they’ll probably all be drowned unless they find a way off it. This information is enough to give Kit an idea of where she is:

“Have you been here before?” Violet asked.
“No,” Kit said, “but I’ve heard about this place. My associates have told me stories of its mechanical wonders, its enormous library, and the gourmet meals the islands prepare. Why, the day before I met you, Baudelaires, I shared Turkish coffee with an associate who was saying that he’d never had better Oysters Rockefeller than during his time on the island. You must be having a wonderful time here.”

Clearly things have changed slightly since the last time anyone paid the island a visit, that or the Baudelaires have washed up on a different remote island. The children say as much and Kit mentions a schism occurring on the island, mentioning the name of someone called Thursday. It seems that if there’s one thing we can learn from these books it’s that people will fall out over any number of weird and wonderful things.

So now it’s time for the Baudelaires to come clean with Kit about some things. She saw the smoke from the hotel and knew that it wasn’t safe to go there, then she asks if Dewey got away with them. Rather than telling her ‘Dewey’s dead and we kind of killed him’ because they’re not sure she would be able to take that, they distract her by telling her that Olaf is with them. Sunny adds ‘Viper’ which Kit is pleased about, apparently the Incredibly Deadly Viper is called Ink, that’s a good name for the snake.

It’s about this point that Kit starts coughing slightly. Anyone who has ever watched a bit of TV or a handful of films knows that this is a sure sign that someone is dying. The first sign of any incurable disease is always a pathetic little cough. Kit is also unable to get down off the book raft because of her injured feet. She was on the submarine and the telegram device fell on them. She’s really not having a good time of it right now.

And now we get to learn who that was in the picture at the beginning of the chapter. In the distance there is a speck of light and some figures in robes. It’s Erewhon (which I’ve just realised is not the same as Erehwon) and Finn and they’ve brought food. Their one request is not to tell Ishmael, since they already keep so many secrets from one another, one more shouldn’t hurt. They’ve all been secretly teaching one another how to do things without Ishmael having any idea of it.

Kit is pleased to hear that Miranda Caliban is on the island, since she was good friends with Mr Caliban (who she is unaware is dead). This is very confusing because Mr Caliban was the person she shared the Turkish coffee with before she met the Baudelaires. Sunny says ‘Enigmorama’ which Klaus translates as ‘it seems that this island has plenty of secrets’. She can say that again!

And there are more secrets to come as the colonists turn off the flashlight so they can’t be seen by anyone. Then Snicket goes off on a tangent about Cimmerians who operated in the dark and therefore earned a reputation for being sneaky, which is a reputation earned by anyone else who goes about in the dark doing secret things.

The reason for this secrecy is that the colonists are planning a mutiny. They’ve finally reached the end of their tether with Ishmael and are planning to overthrow him as he’s ‘the root of the trouble’. Sunny’s not familiar with this term and says ‘Tuber?’ hee. The islanders don’t want to leave so on Decision Day they will make him get on the outrigger and leave with any of his supporters.

It’s the beginning of yet another schism!

And Finn and Erewhon figure that the Baudelaires will be on their side since Ishmael ordered them to be abandoned. But the children have only been on the island for a few days and they don’t know what happened to change things from the way they were before to how they are now. So they admit that they’re not sure which side they should be on. Perhaps Ishmael was justified in the way he took over the island and perhaps he deserves a chance to relinquish some of his control over the other colonists.

This is not what Finn and Erewhon wanted to hear so they attempt to bargain with the Baudelaires, promising to get Kit somewhere safe if the Baudelaires join the side planning to oust Ishmael. If they don’t, well, that’s up to them, but the coastal shelf will flood soon…

It’s not much of a choice really, is it?

All the same, the Baudelaires just want everything to be okay for them and Kit, so they agree and are given orders to infiltrate the arboretum to get weapons. It’s not going to be a peaceful takeover then. Kit immediately protests about the Baudelaires getting involved in these nefarious plots on her behalf. She’s still completely unaware of all the nefarious things they’ve had to do up until this point. Getting weapons to help other people take over an island is small fry compared to things they’ve done like shooting a man and burning down a hotel full of people.

Kit’s not in any position to argue with the children and so they go, leaving her on the book raft. With them goes Ink and a whole host of worries about the islanders discovering the Olaf has the Medusoid Mycelium in the diving helmet.

I think things will get worse before they get better.

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