- "There certainly do seem to be a lot of people with the initials 'J.S.'"
- —Justice Strauss
J and S are initials that are repeated many times throughout A Series of Unfortunate Events.
Characters with Initials J.S.
- Jacob Snicket
- Jacques Snicket
- Jerome Squalor
- Julio Sham
- Justice Strauss
- Jacqueline Scieszka (TV series only)
Who is J.S.?
In The Grim Grotto, when Captain Widdershins tells the Baudelaire children about Jacques Snicket and how he had proved that the Royal Gardens Fire was arson, they tell the Captain that they had found a message addressed to him at the V.F.D. Headquarters . Widdershins denies that the message would be for him, because it is known among the volunteers that he is dead. In response, Sunny says, "Etartsigam!" supposedly meaning, "The initials were J.S." Reversing the letters in Sunny's utterance, one will find the word "magistrate," meaning "a civil officer or lay judge who administers the law, esp. one who conducts a court that deals with minor offenses and holds preliminary hearings for more serious ones." Thus, there is some very probable evidence here that the mysterious J.S. is Justice Strauss, but nothing is confirmed.
At the end of the book, Mr Poe tells the three children that he has been summoned to Briny Beach, only to discover the Baudelaires there, by a note signed with the initials "J.S." In a notable moment of close-mindedness, he assumes that "J.S." is the contracted form of Geraldine Julienne, the Daily Punctilio reporter who constantly writes false articles detailing the Baudelaire case. It is unknown who sent this particular note, though it seems most likely to have been either Justice Strauss or Jerome Squalor. The Baudelaires subsequently refuse to go with Mr Poe, choosing instead to enter a waiting taxi, as detailed in the Volunteer Factual Dispatch sent to them by Quigley Quagmire.
In the subsequent book, The Penultimate Peril, there seem to be multiple individuals known as J.S. at large in the hotel. Kit Snicket believes J.S. to be an imposter impersonating her brother, and gives the Baudelaires an agenda to find out who the imposter really is and why he is hiding his identity. The first J.S. mentioned is said to be a villainous male, requesting "sugar in his coffee" (a reference to the Vessel For Dissacharides). Count Olaf is known to have checked in to the Hotel Denouement, and this J.S. could be Julio Sham, an alias he previously used in The Wide Window. Esmé Squalor then mentions a mysterious individual named J.S. who is hiding in the basement of the hotel, and is apparently planning to ruin her 'cocktail party' that Thursday. Geraldine Julienne seems to know something about this particular J.S., but is cut off by Carmelita Spats before being able to reveal what she knows. It is unknown if this J.S. is synonymous to the imposter that Kit Snicket mentioned previously, or if this is a different J.S.
Klaus, while investigating the sixth floor of the hotel, then discovers that another J.S. has been directing Charles to evidence needed to find the Baudelaires. He or she has warned him that they need to be cautious, and that they may be arriving by submarine (possibly the Queequeg). Charles only seems to wish to want to know the whereabouts of the children rather than the deeper schemes of V.F.D., and no deeper information about this particular J.S. is revealed. Sunny, while investigating the third floor, comes across one of the (at that point) unidentified managers of the hotel, speaking to Hal, the former keeper at the Library of Records at Heimlich Hospital. They mention that yet another J.S. has been "watching the skies". This J.S. is confirmed to be female, and later on in the book, though not specifically confirmed, it is revealed that this particular J.S. was almost certainly Justice Strauss, who was indeed watching the skies.
After the Baudelaires are finally introduced to Dewey Denouement, he takes them out to the pond and reveals that two of their acquaintances, Justice Strauss and Jerome, have been (as previously mentioned) "watching the skies". The two relate their actions after letting the Baudelaires slip away from their care, and both are revealed to have joined V.F.D. They both mention that there seemed to have been messages addressed to J.S. everywhere they went, both believing them to be addressed to themselves, before realising that they were not the only volunteers with these initials. As a final mysterious anecdote, Justice Strauss states that there "certainly do seem to be a lot of people with the initials J.S."
- The Slippery Slope
- The Grim Grotto
- The Penultimate Peril
- Multiple mentions at the Hotel Denouement.