The End (A Series of Unfortunate Events)

The End (A Series of Unfortunate Events)

infobox Book |
name = The End
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption =
author = Lemony Snicket (pen name of Daniel Handler)
illustrator = Brett Helquist
cover_artist = Brett Helquist
country = United States
language = English
series = "A Series of Unfortunate Events"
genre = Novel/Fiction
publisher = HarperCollins
release_date = October 13, 2006
english_release_date =
media_type = Print (hardback & paperback)
pages = 324
isbn = ISBN 0-06-441016-1
preceded_by = The Penultimate Peril
followed_by =

"The End" is the thirteenth and final book in "A Series of Unfortunate Events" by Lemony Snicket. This book is the only book in the series without an alliterative title.

Plot summary

"The End" begins with Count Olaf and the Baudelaire orphans fleeing the burning Hotel Denouement. After surviving 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 and sail away. The island , Ishmael, introduces the Baudelaires to the strange island customs. Also, Ishmael has the islanders (most named after famous literary or historical castaways) introduce themselves to the Baudelaires.

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 like orders. After the Baudelaires introduce themselves, Friday's mother, Mrs. Caliban 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.

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 island people arrive and Count Olaf tries to fool them with a bad Kit Snicket disguise (with the diving-helmet containing the Medusoid Mycelium tucked under his dress as his supposed baby). Strangely, the islanders immediately see through Olaf's flimsy 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. 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.

Continuing On

That night, two of the islanders Finn and Erewhon 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. Further, the mutineers refuse to help Kit unless the Baudelaires help them. The children agree, and set off for 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. 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 girl with only one eyebrow and ear (the mother of Isaac Anwhistle) and Gregor Anwhistle.

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, which shatters the helmet containing the Medusoid Mycelium, infecting the island's entire population at once. With Count Olaf slowly bleeding to 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. The Incredibly Deadly Viper offers them an apple. After sharing the apple and curing themselves, 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, and the boat sails away to a horseradish factory to save everyone (It is hinted though, that one apple might have been sneaked on board by the Incredibly Deadly Viper to tide them over until they reach the factory).

Kit tells the Baudelaires the fate of the Quagmires, Hector, 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 are taken by the mysterious object shaped like a question mark (called "The Great Unknown" by Kit Snicket). 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" . He then dies. The Baudelaires help Kit give birth to a baby girl. She then dies due to the Medusoid Mycelium, after asking the orphans to name the baby after their mother. Here "The End" ends with the Baudelaires becoming Kit's child's adopted parents. They bury Kit and Olaf, apparently next to each other, somewhere on the island. A final chapter relates that one year later, Kit's baby and the Baudelaires sail away from the island on the Beatrice to immerse themselves in the world once more...


The book contains a notable continuity error, as the author states that he was unable to find any trace of the Baudelaires and therefore knew nothing of their later lives. However other, earlier books by Lemony Snicket indicated that the Baudelaires do in fact reach the mainland, that Snicket is writing about them from some future date, and that all three orphans survive and grow older. "The Beatrice Letters" makes reference to Sunny when she is older, and "The Reptile Room" speaks of Klaus, many years later, wishing he had pushed Count Olaf back into his taxi, while "The Bad Beginning: Rare Edition" mentions that Violet will return to Briny Beach a third time; at least once mention is made of an adult Violet being haunted by nightmares of the trials she endured as a child. As the younger Beatrice, in "The Beatrice Letters", is searching for Violet, Klaus and Sunny, it can be presumed that she is separated from the Baudelaires at some point. (This may be referenced in "The Beatrice Letters", in the punch-out anagram which spells "Beatrice Sank," probably referring to the boat in which the children sail off in at the end of Chapter Fourteen.)

At the end of the book, 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. 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 Snicket, as he is shown relaxing beside a pool with a cocktail, when he (as are the Baudelaires) is usually depicted as terribly unfortunate. Their roles revert to their traditional billing places at the true conclusion of the book.

Cultural references and literary allusions

* 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".
* 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".Main|Castaways (A Series of Unfortunate Events)
* The final colonist "Willa" may be a reference to the American author [Willa Cather] . From her novel "My Mortal Enemy" (1926):

:"When kindness has left people, even for a few moments, we become afraid of them, as if their reason had left them. When it has left a place where we have always found it, it is like "shipwreck"; we drop from security into something malevolent and bottomless."

* 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: cquote2|"Religious" suffering is, at one and the same time, the "expression" of real suffering and a "protest" against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the "opium" of the people.|("Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right")
* 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.
* The name of the character Erewhon is an anagram of nowhere, as intended by the book of the same name.
* 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.
* 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 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 an apple 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.
* 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.
* 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".

"Le Voyage"

In the last section of the book (Chapter Fourteen), there is a fake copyright page which has the following underneath the copyright:

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 translated by William Aggeler as follows:

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! [William Aggeler, "The Flowers of Evil" (Fresno, CA: Academy Library Guild, 1954)]

Cover images

The American cover has the same illustration as the British cover. The only other book in the series to use the same cover picture for both editions is "The Penultimate Peril".

The UK Edition did not contain the correct image for Chapter Two, nor were the final pictures in the book included. This was due to a mix-up in the printing of the British version. New copies have been published with the correct images.



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