|The Vile Village|
|Number in Series||
Book the Seventh
71 Black Crow Feathers and one long roll of a scroll
Top: Baudelaire children
Hector's Secret Library
Klaus is seen picking up notes of the Quagmire's and Violet and Sunny are in the background, a magazine labeled "Last Chance".
|Letter to the Editor||
The Vile Village is the seventh book in A Series of Unfortunate Events, published in May 2002. After escaping Olaf once again, the Baudelaire orphans are taken into the care of a whole village, only to find lots of rules and chores, evil seniors, and Count Olaf and his evil girlfriend lurking nearby.
This book is considered to be the "plot twist" of the series, because the Baudelaires can no longer call on Mr. Poe for assistance after the events of this book, and they themselves are deemed "criminals". Also, after this point the Baudelaires are not assigned any legal guardians.
The book begins when the Baudelaires are in Mr. Poe's office, looking at The Daily Punctilio (a newspaper full of lies about the Quagmires and Count Olaf).Mr. Poe gives a brochure to the Baudelaires because a new program allows an entire village to serve as guardian. The children naturally choose V.F.D. as they recognise the acronym which Duncan and Isadora Quagmire had previously discovered is part of a terrible secret somehow related to Count Olaf.
The children depart for the unknown V.F.D. by a bus. Unfortunately, the stop for V.F.D. is several miles ahead, so the children have to walk a long way, until they reach the city, which is covered in crows. They enter the town hall and meet the Council of Elders, who proclaim that they will do all the chores for the entire village. Beginning tomorrow, they are responsible for anything that anyone asks them to do. They also meet Officer Luciana, the new head of police who is in fact Esmé Squalor in disguise. The children then are sent to live with Hector, the handyman who will feed them, clothe them, and make sure they do all the chores like cleaning the new Fowl Fountain, and he is also responsible for teaching them all of the rules of V.F.D, so they won't do any more terrible things. He is a kind man who loves Mexican food and is afraid of the Counsil of Elders. They also learn that the crows stay downtown in the morning, uptown at afternoon, and at Nevermore Tree at night.
The Baudelaires learn that V.F.D. stands for the Village of Fowl Devotees. The Baudelaires get their first perspective on Hector's house, the barn, and the Nevermore Tree. Hector shows the Baudelaires the following couplet, which he says was found at the base of Nevermore Tree.
- For sapphires we are held in here, / Only you can end our fear.
The Baudelaires begin to trust Hector. They discuss the Quagmires and consider the fact that they might be somehow sending them pleas for help in those poems. They also discover a new poem, though the tree is kept under surveillance the whole night.
The Baudelaires do the chores, while thinking about the latest poem that dropped.
- Until dawn comes we cannot speak, / No words can come from this sad beak.
They think really hard until one of the members of the Council of Elders comes and reports that Count Olaf has been captured. They are to report immediately to the Town Hall. The Baudelaires discover that it is not Count Olaf who has been captured, but instead, a man named Jacques - a man who has one eyebrow and a tattoo of an eye on his ankle. Though the children insist that he is innocent, no one listens to the Baudelaires. The next day he is to be burned at stake.
That night the Baudelaires construct a plan. Sunny keeps watch at Nevermore Tree to see where the poems are coming from. Klaus reads up on the rules of V.F.D. and sees if a rule can get Jacques out of trouble. And Violet helps construct the hot-air balloon device, for it will be a useful escape device if Count Olaf comes after them.
Violet goes through the machine, Sunny discovers that the crows are delivering the poems, and Klaus discovers that a rule allows the accused to make a speech explaining himself. He also finds out that mob psychology can make people demand Jacques' freedom. If a few people say something, mob psychology can make everyone demand the same thing. Sunny also discovers a poem that night:
- The first thing you read contains the clue, / An initial way to speak to you.
When the children run to the uptown jail where Jacques is being held, they learn he has been murdered. Detective Dupin (the detective investigating the crime) walks out and it is revealed that he is Count Olaf in disguise. Detective Dupin accuses the Baudelaires of murdering Count Olaf. He claims that he has Violet's hair ribbon, Klaus's glasses and Sunny's teeth mark is on the body. The children are quickly locked up inside the Deluxe Cell and told by Count Olaf that one of them will make a great escape before the burning and he gives them a choice of who wants to live.
Klaus realizes that it is his 13th birthday. At that time Officer Lucianna comes in and brings them water and bread. Violet, after some hard thinking thinks up a way to escape. Violet explains that the bricks of the wall can be made soft. By tilting the bench and pouring the water onto the bread, the bread will act like a sponge. They squeeze the bread at the top of the tilted bench, and it runs down the bench, runs down the wall and into the bread placed at the bottom. They do this all night and into the morning. Hector comes and tells them that if they break out, he has the hot-air balloon ready. He also gives them the daily couplet:
- Inside these letters the eye will see, / Nearby are your friends and V.F.D.
They break free of the jail using a battering ram that is really a wooden bench, and reread the poems.
- For sapphires we are held in here.
- Only you can end our fear.
- Until dawn comes we cannot speak.
- No words can come from this sad beak.
- The first thing you read contains the clue.
- An initial way to speak to you.
- Inside these letters the eye will see.
- Nearby are your friends and V.F.D.
They figure out that sapphires refer to the Quagmires. They know that they are uptown, since it says they cannot speak until dawn, as the crows stay uptown at morning. And finally they figure out that the initial way to speak to them is not V.F.D., but the first letter in each verse. It spells out FOUNTAIN. They rush over to Fowl Fountain and manage to open the beak, revealing the damp Quagmires.
At this point they must run to Hector's. The Quagmires explain that Count Olaf locked them in the tower of his house. Then he had his associates build the fountain. The Quagmires tied the couplet to the crows feet every morning. They try to tell the Baudelaires that the man who died - Jacques Snicket - is the brother of Lemony Snicket, but people see them and they must run. They reach Hector's and the Quagmires get up in the balloon. Then Officer Lucianna comes with a harpoon gun and shoots the rope so the Baudelaires can't get up. The Quagmires throw their notebooks down to the orphans, but they are hit with a harpoon along with a crow. Then, Detective Dupin (accidentally) reveals himself as Count Olaf by removing his sunglasses. The book ends with Count Olaf rides away on a motorcycle with Officer Lucianna. Sunny gets up and walks for the first time while they try to get as many of the pages as possible. They decide to run away from the police.
Dear Reader: A Letter From Lemony Snicket
You have undoubtedly picked up this book by mistake, so please put it down. Nobody in their right mind would read this particular book about the lives of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire on purpose, because each dismal moment of their stay in the village of V.F.D. has been faithfully and dreadfully recorded in these pages.
I can think of no single reason why anyone would want to open a book containing such unpleasant matters as migrating crows, an angry mob, a newspaper headline, the arrest of innocent people, the Deluxe Cell, and some very strange hats.
It is my solemn and sacred occupation to research each detail of the Baudelaire children's lives and write them all down, but you may prefer to do some other solemn and sacred thing, such as reading another book instead.
With all due respect,
- For Beatrice–
- When we were together I felt breathless.
- Now, you are.
- The Baudelaires are placed under the guardianship of the Village of Fowl Devotees.
The last picture of The Vile Village shows Klaus in the foreground, trying to pick up the scraps of the Quagmires' commonplace books, and Violet and Sunny in the background, being blown about by the wind. A copy of The Daily Punctilio appears in the scene, with an ad for the Last Chance General Store.
Letter to the Editor
TO MY KIND EDITOR,
PLEASE EXCUSE THE WORD STOP AT THE END OF EVERY SENTENCE STOP. TELEGRAMS ARE THE QUICKEST WAY TO DELIVER A MESSAGE FROM THE LAST CHANCE GENERAL STORE, AND IN A TELEGRAM, STOP IS THE WAY TO SIGNAL WHEN A SENTENCE STOPS STOP.
THE NEXT TIME YOU ARE INVITED TO A PARTY, WEAR YOUR THIRD NICEST SUIT AND PRETEND TO NOTICE A SPOT STOP. THE NEXT DAY, TAKE THE SUIT TO THE DRY CLEANERS FOR CLEANING STOP. WHEN YOU COME TO PICK IT UP, YOU WILL RECEIVE INSTEAD A SHOPPING BAG CONTAINING MY ENTIRE ACCOUNT OF THE BAUDELAIRE CHILDREN'S EXPERIENCES IN THIS AREA ENTITLED "THE HOSTILE HOSPITAL" ALONG WITH AN INTERCOM SPEAKER, ONE OF THE LAMPS MISTAKENLY DELIVERED TO HAL, AND A HEART-SHAPED BALLOON THAT HAS POPPED STOP. I WILL ALSO INCLUDE A SKETCH OF THE KEY TO THE LIBRARY OF RECORDS, SO THAT MR. HELQUIST CAN ILLUSTRATE IT PROPERLY STOP.
REMEMBER, YOU ARE MY LAST HOPE THAT THE TALES OF THE BAUDELAIRE ORPHANS CAN FINALLY BE TOLD TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC STOP.
WITH ALL DUE RESPECT, LEMONY SNICKET
PS YOUR SUIT WILL BE MAILED TO YOU LATER STOP.
- Depressed- is a word that often desribes someone who is feeling sad and gloomy, but in this case it describes a secret button, hidden in a crow statue, that is feeling just fine, thank you.
- Main Article: References and allusions in Lemony Snicket's works
- At the start of the novel Mr. Poe receives a phone call from Mr. Fagin, a character from Charles Dickens's novel Oliver Twist. Fagin tells Poe that he won't accept the children because they are trouble makers, which is ironic because, in Oliver Twist, Fagin runs a gang of pickpockets.
- Mr. Lesko, a town resident, has the same last name as author Matthew Lesko, who offered to teach his audience how to get free things. In The Vile Village, Mr. Lesko says that he is fine with receiving free labor from the Baudelaire children as they do his chores, so long as he does not have to parent the children.
- The name "Detective Dupin" is a reference to Edgar Allan Poe's character C. Auguste Dupin.
- "Officer Luciana," Esmé's disguised name, is probably a reference to a character in Catch-22, a novel by Joseph Heller, who tears up an address and can never find it again, just as Esmé tears the Quagmire notebooks and they are never fully reassembled.
- Nevermore Tree is a reference to Edgar Allan Poe's poem "The Raven," in which a raven repeats the word "Nevermore."
- One of the towns on the "It Takes a Village to Raise a Child" brochure is named Ophelia, perhaps referencing Ophelia from Shakespeare's Hamlet. Mr. Poe dislikes the bank in this town, perhaps because Ophelia's father is the originator of the saying, "Neither a borrower nor a lender be."
- Ogden Nash, a poet who wrote couplets, is mentioned.
- The initial unnerving nature of the crows in the city may be a nod to Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds.
- When Hector quotes "one of the Baudelaires' favorite books" by saying, "Curioser and curiouser," he is quoting Lewis Carrol's Alice in Wonderland.
- Five of Sunny's utterances, "Pipit," "Grebe," "Merganser," "Towhee," and "Vireo," are the names of birds.
- Sunny uses the word "Scylla" to explain that it would be better to live with regret on the Self-Sustaining Hot Air Mobile Home than to be burned to death at the stake. This is a reference to one of a pair of sea monsters in Homer's The Odyssey. The two monsters live so close together that it is virtually impossible to avoid both, and so Odysseus chose to head towards Scylla (the less dangerous of the two). Interestingly, Scylla and Charybdis were also mentioned in The Ersatz Elevator, although Klaus incorrectly claims that Heracles, rather than Odysseus, encountered them and escaped "by turning them both into whirlpools."
Several editions of The Vile Village have been published. Some of these include foreign editions or re-prints such as: The Vile Village (UK), The Vile Village (UK Paperback) and L'arbre aux Corbeaux.
The Vile Village (UK)
This edition has the same content as in the original one. The main difference here is the cover, which is black, has different fonts and a wine-red spine. Some colors in Brett Helquist's cover illustration were also changed. The book is published by Egmont. On each of the UK versions, between the coloured spine and the black cover there are narrow images depicting a reference to each books content. The Vile Village features a row of feathers. This is repeated on the back cover.
The Vile Village (UK Paperback)
This is a paperback version of The Vile Village released in the UK by Egmont Books in 2010. It has Lemony Snicket written on the top with A Series of Unfortunate Events written below it in an eye shape.
L'arbre aux Corbeaux
This French edition, published by Nathan Poche has a very different cover, Brett Helquist's illustration is not seen here, apart for a portrait of the Baudelaires. It is almost entirely black, with a white illustration of a crow.