Friday, 17 April 2015

Chapter-by-Chapter: The End, Chapter 9

Did you miss my very interesting A to Z Challenge post about ovaries earlier today? Click here to see it.

We’re getting ever closer to the final chapters of this book. If we continue on schedule then by this time next week we’ll be getting ready to wrap things up! It’ll be weird not to be reading these books any more, but I’m all set to move onto a similar post format with Twilight.

In the last chapter the Baudelaires agreed to join forces with some of the colonists who are seeking to overthrow Ishmael, purely so that the colonists will help Kit Snicket. This means that the Baudelaires must venture into the arboretum and gather some weapons to help cause another schism. Fun times!

What Happens?

The Baudelaires reach the arboretum and find a massive library and collection of ‘stuff’. There’s a lot of it. It takes half the chapter to list it all. The Incredibly Deadly Viper leads the children to a tree and down into a secret room containing everything they could need to live comfortably. Inside this room there is a book which seems to be a diary of the island, containing an entry by a very familiar hand.

Thoughts as I read:

This chapter image is rather bizarre and I’m sure it’ll be explained through one of Snicket’s weird and rambling stories. There are four ballet dancers wielding shovels and digging a hole (whilst leaping and pirouetting). They’re in full ballet gear as well. I have no idea what this is meant to symbolise.

Snicket kicks off the chapter with a discussion of the phrase ‘in the dark’. In the first two pages the word ‘dark’ is repeated thirty-eight times as he tells us a story about ballerinas in the dark digging up a locked cabinet which we would be in the dark about. It’s quick hard to follow. This then prompts a recap of other times that the Baudelaires were in the dark, both literally and figuratively. So even though the sun has come up, they are still in the dark.

Having established the meaning of ‘in the dark’ Snicket turns his attention to the meaning of the word ‘library’. This time we’re reminded of all the different libraries the children have faced during the last twelve books. I think there’s been some mention of a library in each book. This is because when the children head into the arboretum they find a massive library in there:

Stretched out as far as the eye could see were pile of objects, heaps of items, towers of evidence, bales of materials, clusters of details, stacks of substances, hordes of pieces, arrays of articles, constellations of details, galaxies of stuff, and universes of things – an accumulation, an aggregation, a compilation, a concentration, a crowd, a herd, a flock, and a register of seemingly everything on Earth.

As if this isn’t enough to paint a picture for us, we get a whole alphabet of things that are included within the library. This page could come in handy for anyone looking for ideas during the A to Z Challenge since there are two options for each letter. Perhaps I’ll use that as my theme for next year: Things mentioned on page 196 of The End. ;-)

I do enjoy the way lists are used in this book, but they’re getting a little bit ridiculous in this chapter. It now continues onto the next page with a list of items in the arboretum and places where they might be used, things the children might have seen before and things they haven’t. And in the middle of it all is a massive apple tree.

Sunny is the first to speak, more than ten pages into the chapter, and she says ‘Words fail me’. It’s a feeling shared by her brother and sister. But they’ve not got time to stand and stare. Violet grabs a nearby ribbon which is very definitely not her style (pink with plastic daisies) but it does the trick to tie her hair up and get her inventing gears whirring. There is an awful lot she could invent with all the tools at her disposal, Klaus could learn so much from all the books, and Sunny says ‘Service a la Russe’ which is translated as ‘Even with the simplest of ingredients, I could prepare an extremely elaborate meal.’

But before they can begin getting stuck into their own hobbies, they have to find what they came for; weapons! The children are torn though, Violet doesn’t really want to start a schism while Klaus wonders if it might be a necessary evil. Violet thinks perhaps they could defeat Ishmael with peer pressure, rather than with weapons, but that brings the question of whether Ishmael even needs defeating.

Sunny says ‘Ink’, referring to the fact that the IDV is heading off in search of something. Klaus wonders if the snake has been to the island before and Sunny replies ‘Taylit’ meaning ‘Let’s follow the reptile and see where it heads.’ This prompts another list of random things that the snake heads through. Along the way they find clay covered footprints, suggesting that Ishmael has been there before them, many times.

The children find a big hollow at the base of the tree, which the snake has disappeared down, so they do the logical thing and follow it. Inside there is a bookcase along with shaving supplies and a kitchen, as well as some sort of periscope. It looks like the sort of place the children would like to hang out as there are things there that appeal to each of their hobbies and I’m guessing it’s Ishmael’s little hideout. From here he can see the storms coming, and he’s also gathered together a little library of his own which includes Klaus’s commonplace book. Sunny finds her whisk as well (the one that Friday gave her) and after sniffing it says ‘Fitters… With cinnamon.’ Ishmael is totally busted!

There’s also some sort of diary that Ishmael has been keeping, using Violet’s hair ribbon as a bookmark:

‘Yet another figure from the shadowy past has washed ashore – Kit Snicket (see page 667). Convinced the others to abandon her, and the Baudelaires, who have already rocked the boat far too much, I fear. Also managed to have Count Olaf locked in a cage. Note to self: Why won’t anyone call me Ish?’

Hehe, I can’t help but be reminded of the Lord of the Rings ‘Very Secret Diaries’.

So the children flip to page 667 to see what else Ishmael has said about Kit Snicket:

“‘Inky has learned to lasso sheep,’” Klaus read, “‘and last night’s storm washed up a postcard from Kit Snicket, addressed to Olivia Caliban. Kit, of course, is the sister of…’”

But Klaus trails off when he realises something about the handwriting, prompting Sunny to ask ‘Familia?’ because there is something familiar about the handwriting.

This is confirmed by a mysterious voice coming from the other side of the room. This entry was written by the Baudelaires’ mother.

Hopefully we’ll learn a little more this afternoon during Chapter Ten.

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