The End (novel)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The End
Author Lemony Snicket
Illustrator Brett Helquist
Cover artist Brett Helquist
Country United States
Language English
Series A Series of Unfortunate Events
Genre Gothic fiction
Absurdist fiction
Publisher HarperCollins
Publication date
October 13, 2006
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
Pages 324
ISBN 0-06-441016-1
OCLC 70718171
LC Class PZ7.S6795 En 2006
Preceded by The Penultimate Peril

The End is the thirteenth and final novel in the children's novel series A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. The book was released on Friday, October 13, 2006.[1]


The Baudelaire orphans and Count Olaf flee the burning Hotel Denouement on a boat after setting it on fire. After a storm, they find themselves on a coastal shelf of an island inhabited by a mysterious group of people. They are first greeted by a little girl, Friday. Count Olaf, who had previously proclaimed himself king of Olaf-Land, threatens the girl with a harpoon gun. Friday is unfazed; she refuses Olaf permission to land on the island, but invites the Baudelaires onto the island. Along the way, she describes what the islanders do with their time—all year long, they build an outrigger on the coastal shelf, and once a year the water rises high enough to submerge the shelf and launch the outrigger. This is known as Decision Day, when anyone who wishes can board the ship, bite a bitter apple, spit it back out, and sail away. The island facilitator, Ishmael, introduces the Baudelaires to the strange island customs. Also, Ishmael has the islanders (most named after famous literary or historical castaways - he himself is named after the narrator from Moby Dick) introduce themselves to the Baudelaires. The islanders welcome the Baudelaires with warmth and kindness, and Ishmael promises to protect them from Olaf.

Ishmael, according to the islanders, injured his feet a long time ago and, consequently, must keep his feet submerged in clay. Every time there is a storm, the residents of the island go out to the coastal shelf to pick up items that have washed up that may be useful. These items are judged by Ishmael. If he decides that the items are not useful, they are loaded onto a sled and towed by a local herd of sheep to a local arboretum with one huge apple tree that bears bitter apples, where no one should go (according to Ishmael) lest they injure themselves amongst the garbage. The sheep and the sled are also Ishmael's main method of transportation.

Although Ishmael always tells the islanders "I won't force you", it soon becomes apparent that his decisions go largely unquestioned and his suggestions are obeyed as if they were orders. After the Baudelaires introduce themselves, Ishmael toasts the "Baudelaire orphans" (despite their not having mentioned their lost parents) with the coconut cordial which everybody carries, but which the orphans themselves dislike. The Baudelaires also find life on the island rather dull, but reflect that perhaps a dull, non-progressive life is better than a treacherous and sneaky one.

After another storm, more objects wash up including a giant pile of books tied together in the shape of a cube, an unconscious and pregnant Kit Snicket, and the Incredibly Deadly Viper from Uncle Monty's collection. The islanders arrive and Count Olaf tries to fool them by disguising himself as Kit Snicket (with the diving-helmet containing the Medusoid Mycelium tucked under his dress as his supposed baby). However, the islanders immediately see through Olaf's disguise and cage him. They then debate whether the orphans should be expelled from the colony when they discover that the Baudelaires are carrying "contraband" items. Ishmael decides that the children, Kit, and Olaf should all be abandoned unless they agree to abide by the colony's rules. The children, along with Olaf, are left on the coastal shelf, despite the islanders obviously not wanting to do so. After everyone leaves, Olaf tries to tempt the children to let him out of the cage by promising to explain the many mysteries and secrets which they have been surrounded by since The Bad Beginning, but they ignore him.

That night, two of the islanders, Erewhon and Finn, sneak out to feed the children and ask them a favor. A group of discontented colonists are planning a mutiny against Ishmael in the morning, and they ask the Baudelaires to go over to the arboretum where all the contraband items are collected, and find or make some weapons to use in the rebellion. The mutineers refuse to help Kit unless the Baudelaires help them. The children agree, and set off for the arboretum. Upon arrival, they notice very strange clay-encrusted footprints leading to the arboretum. They conclude that Ishmael has been getting up during the night and sneaking out to the arboretum on his perfectly healthy feet to eat apples. As they move to the center of the arboretum, the orphans discover a well-appointed living area, before they are in turn discovered by Ishmael. They learn that their parents were once the island's leaders and were responsible for many improvements meant to make island-life easier and more pleasant, but they were eventually overthrown by Ishmael, who believed that a strictly-enforced simple life (combined with the opiate of the coconut cordial) was the best way to avoid conflict and treachery. The Baudelaires find an enormous history of the island, entitled A Series of Unfortunate Events, written by the many different people who had served as island leaders, including their parents and Ishmael. Ishmael also makes references to many other people, including a woman with only one eyebrow and ear (the mother of Isaac Anwhistle) and Gregor Anwhistle. Ishmael then invites the children to just lead a dull and simple, but safe life in the island, far from the cruelty and treachery of the world.

The Baudelaires and Ishmael go back to the other side of the island, where the mutiny is already underway. Count Olaf returns, still in disguise. After a brief exchange, Ishmael harpoons Olaf in the stomach, also inadvertently shattering the helmet containing the Medusoid Mycelium, infecting the island's entire population at once. While Count Olaf bleeds to his death, the Baudelaires run back to the arboretum to try to find some horseradish to cure everyone. They learn that their parents had hybridized an apple tree with horseradish, allowing the fruit to cure the effects of the Medusoid Mycelium. After sharing the apple and curing themselves with the help of the Incredibly Deadly Viper, they then gather more apples for the island's inhabitants, only to discover that the island people have abandoned the mutiny and boarded their outrigger canoe, ready to set sail. Ishmael refuses to allow the apples on board, though it is clear that he himself has already eaten one to cure himself. The Baudelaires try to persuade Friday to have at least one bite, but the girl apologizes to them and just tells them that she must go with her mother since her father has long been dead (which is revealed to be untrue because her father, a V.F.D. member, is still very good friends with Kit Snicket and just had coffee with her a few weeks ago). Ishmael promises that he will save the islanders by sailing to a horseradish factory to save everyone, which is close to impossible because of the amount of time needed to travel. It is hinted though, that one apple might have been snuck on board by the Incredibly Deadly Viper to tide them over until they reach the factory. The Baudelaires also conclude that their parents' principles contradict Ishmael's, because they never wanted to shield their children from world's treacheries, but instead teach them how to survive.

Kit tells the Baudelaires the fate of the Quagmires, Hector, Phil, Captain Widdershins, and his two stepchildren Fernald and Fiona. After reuniting on Hector's float, they are attacked by trained eagles, who pop the balloons supporting the float and send them hurtling back to the ruins of the Queequeg. There, they let themselves get taken by the mysterious object shaped like a question mark (called the "Great Unknown" by Kit Snicket), not knowing if it ate them or rescued them. Only Ink (the viper) came with her. In turn, the Baudelaires confess their own crimes committed at the Hotel Denouement. At this point, Kit is about to go into labour. She seems to be dying of the fungus, but cannot eat the bitter apple due to the hybrid's unhealthy effects on unborn babies. She is still trapped on top of the cube of books (her Vaporetto (boat) of Favorite Detritus) but when the critically injured and fungus-choked Olaf hears that she is still alive, he takes a bite of an apple and manages to get her safely down onto the beach, giving her a single soft kiss as he lays her on the sand and collapses, still conscious, beside her. Kit recites the poem "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes" by Francis William Bourdillon, answered by Olaf reciting the final stanza of Philip Larkin's "This Be The Verse", before dying. The Baudelaires help Kit give birth to a baby girl. Kit then dies due to the Medusoid Mycelium, after asking the orphans to name the baby after their mother. The Baudelaires become Kit's child's adopted parents, and become the only ones on the island. They bury Kit and Olaf somewhere on the island. Olaf's grave is visited by the Baudelaires, but is not as embraced as Kit's, which they always lay flowers on.

Chapter Fourteen[edit]

Unlike the previous installments in the series which each have thirteen chapters, The End features a total of fourteen chapters. Chapter Fourteen is featured as its own book within The End, serving as an epilogue to the series.

One year later, Kit's baby and the Baudelaires sail away from the island on the boat they came on to immerse themselves in the world once more. As they board the ship, Kit's baby says the boat's actual name, "Beatrice," which is also her own name. They sail away, leaving the reader with no indication as to what happens next.

There is an author and illustrator page, as usual, and a final image which depicts a lonely sea with the murky shadow of a question mark in the water, suggesting the return of the device (or sea monster) called the Great Unknown by Kit's brother, leaving the children's fate ambiguous. The author and illustrator page was the only instance that artist Brett Helquist and Lemony Snicket swapped their billing places in the pictorial credits. Brett, dressed in Snicket's usual fashion, was photographed and on top, while Lemony, face exposed save for cucumber slices over his eyes, was drawn underneath a comic depiction of himself, as he is shown relaxing beside a pool with a cocktail, when he is usually depicted, as are the Baudelaires, as terribly unfortunate. Their roles revert to their traditional billing places at the true conclusion of the book. Brett Helquist is illustrated and Snicket holds a stack of papers hiding his face with a description saying that he is still at large.

Cultural references and literary allusions[edit]

  • Lemony Snicket makes frequent references to Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. The character Ishmael is named after the narrator of Moby-Dick. Snicket's Ishmael constantly says "call me Ish," a reference to "call me Ishmael," the opening line of Moby-Dick.[2]
  • All of the people in the colony take their names from more or less famous castaways from literature or are connected to such castaways. Many castaways have names that originate from Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe such as Robinson and Friday. There are also the more obvious names from Shakespeare's The Tempest, including Mrs. Miranda Caliban, Alonso, Ferdinand, and Ariel. Calypso was an island goddess-nymph from Homer's Odyssey. Rabbi Bligh is named after William Bligh was involved in the famous mutiny on the Bounty Siblings with the surname Bellamy likely allude to the author Edward Bellamy, whose novel "Looking Backward" was about a utopia, or Captain Samuel Bellamy, also known as Black Sam.
  • The castaways, who dress in white and whose consumption of the coconut cordial keeps them docile, are an allusion to the Lotus Eaters encountered in the Odyssey. Also, Sunny calls the cordial "Lethe," a river whose waters cause forgetfulness in Greek mythology. The sheep strapped together are also a possible allusion to The Odyssey. Odysseus hides his men under sheep strapped together to escape the cyclops' cave.
  • In the New Testament, Jesus often uses sheep as symbols to represent his followers. The sheep in The End do Ishmael's bidding and sleep in his tent, presumably indicating Ishmael's status as a false messiah to the castaways of the island.
  • The cordial is described as "the opiate of the people". This is a reference to a passage written by Karl Marx:
  • The poem Olaf recites at the end is the last stanza of This Be The Verse by Philip Larkin.
  • When Sunny asks 'Why are you telling us about this ring?', the word she uses is 'Neiklot', or 'Tolkien' (who wrote The Lord of the Rings) backwards.
  • At the beginning of Chapter Thirteen there is a mention of "...the heroine of a book much more suitable to read than this one [who] spends an entire afternoon eating the first bite of a bushel of apples." This is a reference to the character Ramona Quimby in the book Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary. The scene in question has Ramona taking one bite out of each apple before putting them back because to her the first bite tastes best. This is also significant because the character Beezus's real name is Beatrice.
  • Multiple times throughout the book, the author mentions that "history is indeed little more than the register of crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind." This is taken from Edward Gibbon, who presumably took it from Voltaire.
  • The sheep used as a mode of transportation, yoked together is likely referring to El Dorado as described in Candide, a short novel by Voltaire
  • The tree that the islanders are forbidden to eat from is a reference to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the biblical creation. Similarly, the Baudelaires were offered an apple by Ink, a reference to how Eve was tempted into eating a fruit from the Tree of Good and Evil by a serpent.
  • When Sunny agrees that eating the apples will dilute the poison, she uses the word "Gentreefive," referring to Genesis 3:5 in the Bible, which says:
  • Snicket makes some references from his previous books. An example is that just after he describes how confusing it is to skim through a book, he teases the reader by writing, "Three very short men were carrying a large, flat piece of wood, painted to look like a living room." which is a sentence from The Bad Beginning.
  • In Chapter Six, when Sunny tries to say "What exactly are you accusing us of?", the word she uses is "Dreyfuss", referring to French Jewish army officer Alfred Dreyfus who was wrongly accused of treason in the late 19th century and who was also held on an island. Dreyfus' case caused a major schism in French society, similar to that of V.F.D. and the island's colonists.
  • In Chapter Seven, when Sunny is trying to say "never again", the word she uses is "Yomhashoah", a reference to the Jewish holiday Yom HaShoah, the day set aside for remembering the six million Jews who died in the holocaust.
  • Snicket also discusses the Cimmerians, and the phrase "In the dark".
  • The poem Kit recites in Chapter 13 is The Night has a Thousand Eyes by Francis William Bourdillon.
  • One of the islanders' name is Erewhon, which is an anagram for "nowhere." It could also refer to Erewhon the book by Samuel Butler, which features Erewhon, a fictional country that seems like a utopia, much like the island the orphans and Olaf land on. Erewhon is also the name of one of the biggest sheep stations in New Zealand and sheep feature in this book.
  • The name, Beatrice, may refer to Dante's guide through the last stages of Purgatory and through Paradise in his Divine Comedy (also the subject of his Vita Nuova). If so, it gives a hopeful coloring to the unknown future of the Baudelaire children: they have been through Hell and Purgatory, after all, and are perhaps now in a position to find their own Paradise in the many years ahead, released from the need to perform for an author and his readers.

"Le Voyage"[edit]

Ô mort, vieux capitaine, il est temps! levons l'ancre!
Ce pays nous ennuie, Ô mort! Appareillons!
Si le ciel et la mer sont noirs comme de l'encre.
Nos cœurs que tu connais sont remplis de rayons!

This is the first verse of the eighth and final part of Charles Baudelaire's poem "Le Voyage," from Les Fleurs du Mal. It is found in the title page of Chapter Fourteen. It was translated by William Aggeler:

O Death, old captain, it is time! Let us lift the anchor!
This country wearies us, O Death! Let us set sail!
Though the sea and the sky are black as ink,
Our hearts which you know well are filled with rays of light![3]

Critical Reception[edit]

Henry Alford of the New York Times said, "Handler serves up his trademark blend of goofball humor and suspense... The End may not reach the comic highs of, say, The Austere Academy ...But it’s more suspenseful than the other books."[4] The novel did get some criticism, however, particularly regarding the unsolved mysteries the novel leaves, which were introduced at the end of the fifth book, this includes the fates of the characters.[5]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Inskeep, Steve (13 October 2006). "Lemony Snicket Reaches 'The End'". NPR. Retrieved 14 February 2011. 
  2. ^ Jorden, Tina (17 August 2010). "20 Classic Opening Lines In Books". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 6 February 2011. 
  3. ^ Aggeler, William (1954), The Flowers of Evil, Fresno, CA: Academy Library Guild .
  4. ^ Alford, Henry (22 October 2006). "The End by Lemony Snicket". Children’s Books. The New York Times. Retrieved 24 October 2010. 
  5. ^ "The end, Snicket", Best sellers, About .