|“||No. We mean no. We don't want to participate in your schemes anymore. For a while, it was fun to fight fire with fire, but we've seen enough flames and smoke to last our whole lives. We don't think that it was a coincidence that our home burned to the ground. We lost a sibling in that fire, Olaf.||”|
— The women refusing to throw Sunny off a mountain and telling Olaf that they quit his troupe.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Like Olaf's other associates, very little is known about the White-Faced Women, other than that they are sisters. Though Lemony Snicket never reveals much about them, it is known that they once had a third sibling who died in a fire that burnt down their home. It is possible that Count Olaf was responsible for this fire, although there is no proof of this.
In Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography, it is mentioned they took part in a play by Al Funcoot (Count Olaf), titled One Last Warning to those Who stand in My Way, previously the World Is Quiet Here, as the Defenders of Liberty. It said they had painted their faces a ghastly white color.
The White-Faced Women arrive at Count Olaf's Home and are introduced to the Baudelaires, arriving alongside the Hook-Handed Man, the Bald Man with the Long Nose and the Henchperson of Indeterminate Gender. They await their dinner impatiently as the orphans serve them pasta puttanesca. They also witness Olaf harassing Sunny Baudelaire and striking Klaus Baudelaire when the latter stands up to him.
Later, they help with The Marvelous Marriage by dressing Violet Baudelaire into her wedding gown. They have no elegance and are fairly bitter towards Violet during this process. When the play is interrupted and their plans are exposed, the White-Faced Women escape with Olaf when the lights go out.
The White-Faced Women help with the abduction of Duncan and Isadora Quagmire. During this time, they are disguised as cafeteria workers and wear metal masks to hide their faces, the masks being declared a safety precaution. While they are fleeing, Klaus pursues them as the Quagmires plead for his aid. With the Quagmire's trapped in the care with them, one of the White-Faced Women bites Klaus' hand before shutting the car door and driving away.
The women disguise themselves as nurses named Dr. Tocuna and Nurse Flo, which combine to create an anagram of Count Olaf. In the initial scheme, perform the cranioectomy on Violet Baudelaire after she is captured, rendered unconscious and disguised as a patient. They were late to fulfil their role in the plan and both Klaus and Sunny used this opportunity to disguise themselves as the nurses. The Hook-Handed Man and the Bald Man both fall for the disguises and begin the operation.
During several attempts to stall the operation, Klaus and Sunny are exposed when Esmé Squalor and the real White-Faced Women enter to declare them imposters. In the ensuing uproar, Klaus and Sunny escape with the sister as they push her gurney through the hospital. The sister's escape from the hospital while it is burned down by Esme, before Olaf and the rest of the troupe drive away.
The White-Faced Women confront the Baudelaires towards the end of the book, with Olaf giving the order to throw Sunny off the side of the Mortmain Mountains. The women, having become tired of Olaf's schemes and expressing offense to their instruction, refuse. They confess the loss of their own sibling in a housefire to justify their treachery, and leave down the mountain to never be seen again.
Lemony Snicket is unsure of what happened to them. He mentions that some say that they still paint their faces white and can be seen singing sad songs in some of the gloomiest music halls in the city. Some say that they live together in the Hinterlands, attempting to grow rhubarb in the dry and barren ground. And some say that they never made it out of the mountains, and that their bones can be found in one of the range's many caves. Their true fate is unknown.
The women are always described as wearing white makeup on their faces, and although they think their makeup makes them look freakish, they continue to wear it. It is never explained why their wear white makeup; it may be because they are actors like Count Olaf, a possible fashionable preference, or possibly to hide fire scars.
Behind the scenes
- In the movie, they were portrayed by Jennifer Coolidge and Jane Adams.
- In the video game, they were voiced by Jocelyn Blue and Kari Wahlgren.
- In the TV series, they were portrayed by twin actresses Jacqueline Robbins and Joyce Robbins and were older than the books let on. The TV series had them finishing each other's sentences when they speak. In an interview with the Unfortunate Associates podcast, the Robbins sisters revealed that they brought their natural back-and-forth patter to the role, and were commended by Barry Sonnenfeld for their "verbal gymnastics".
- There is speculation they may be, or related to, Zada and Zora.
- They are frequent boss fights in the video game, fought by Violet in all encounters. The first occurs in the parlor of Count Olaf's house. The second is in Stephano's guest room. The third is in Lake Lachrymose's town.
- It is possible they use talcum powder, also known as baby powder, on their faces, since the Baudelaires use it to whiten their hair to diguise themselves as freaks, after finding it in Count Olaf's car. Later, in The Slippery Slope it is mentioned they powder their faces (oddly enough, in the same book, Lemony Snicket says there are rumors they "paint" their faces, although "painting" with powder is an odd descriptor).
- Talcum powder/baby powder has since been linked to cancer and is dangerous if inhaled.
- It is possible the reason the sisters delayed in appearing in the Operating Theater was because they did not have the courage yet to kill Violet, as they know what it is like to lose a sibling.
- The Bad Beginning (First appearance)
- The Reptile Room (Mentioned only)
- The Wide Window (Mentioned only)
- The Miserable Mill (Mentioned only)
- The Austere Academy
- The Hostile Hospital
- The Carnivorous Carnival
- The Slippery Slope
- The End (Mentioned only)
- Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (film)
- Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (video game)
- A Series of Unfortunate Events (TV series)