The seriesended on an island yet its poor beginning is still rife through controversy,confusion and also contempt. Together of today, we have actually no idea exactly how the Baudelaire firehappened, or who escaped it, or why it was so important. In among the mostinfuriating and also frustrating piece of dialogues Daniel Handler has everwritten, we, the readers, room denied any type of answer come this mystery:

Klaus knelt downbeside his sister, and stared into the villain’s shiny eyes.“You’re the one that made us orphans in the an initial place,” he said, uttering outloud because that the very first time a mystery all three Baudelaires had kept in their heartsfor virtually as lengthy as they might remember. Olaf closed his eyes for a moment,grimacing in pain, and also then stared progressively at each of the three children in turn.“Is the what you think?” he said finally.“We know it,” clear said.“You don’t recognize anything,” count Olaf said. “You three youngsters are the exact same aswhen I first laid eye on you. You think you deserve to triumph in this world withnothing more than a crawl mind, a heap of books, and also the sometimes gourmetmeal.” the poured one last gulp of cordial right into his poisoned mouth beforethrowing the seashell into the sand. “You’re as with your parents,” he said,and from the shore the youngsters heard Kit Snicket moan.

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There areabout a million different ways to analyze Olaf’s reaction:

Someoneelse was in reality responsible for burning under the mansion.Agroup the several human being (including Olaf) melted down the mansion for differentreasons.Olafdid burn under the mansion yet the Baudelaire parents’ fatality had nothing come dowith the fire, together at the very least one of lock escaped the fire.Olafwas coerced right into killing the Baudelaire parents and was only an accomplice tothe murderOlaffeels the Bertrand and Beatrice room responsible because that their very own death and also thatthey essentially lugged it upon themselvesKlausis more or less right but Olaf simply enjoys not leaving the Baudelaire orphansany closure or certainty top top this topic as a last “screw you” to hisenemies.

Theambiguity the the universe and also the inability to gain perfect knowledge aremajor themes throughout the series, and Olaf’s ambiguous an answer is atestament. Nevertheless, there appears to it is in a sort of emotional sincerity inOlaf’s flippant dismissal. This is a dying male who has nothing left to lose;why would he lie? If a drama-queen has to make a final speech, said drama-queenuses it come send a deeply personal message. And also the message right here is that Klausis… not wrong, exactly, yet that his expertise of his parents’ death is biasedand simplistic. Let’s take some time to examine Olaf’s point of check out on the dayof the Baudelaire fire.

Simply put: what the hell happened?

How counting Olaf voices his involves (and why itmatters)

It’sdifficult to attest come what is walking on in Klaus’ psychic in Olaf’s last moments:his reaction is more emotional 보다 rational. That doesn’t describe why Olaf isguilty, he just believes it on an practically spiritual level. This is a concept thatKlaus has actually held onto because that a an extremely long time. The Baudelaire orphans understand that Olafis an arsonist due to the fact that their aunt Josephine died. Olaf straight-up bragged aboutit to your faces:

Mr. Poe frowned, andcoughed into his white handkerchief. “That’s enough of your revoltingtalk, Olaf,” he stated sternly. “We’ve recorded you now, and there’s noway you’ll be acquiring away. The Lake Lachrymose Police Department will be happyto record a well-known criminal wanted for fraud, murder, and also the endangerment ofchildren.”“And arson,” counting Olaf piped up.

So fromthen ~ above the Baudelaire orphans had actually serious reasons to think that Olaf hadburned under their home. Why is this never disputed throughout the series?Probably since the idea of your parents’ murder is therefore horrid, therefore unthinkablethat the kids prefer not to talk around it. That takes Ishmael committinggenocide, Kit Snicket going into labor in one unsafe area and Olaf’s insistencethat he was a proficient guardian for Klaus to truly lose his temper and also admitthe truth he’s tried come hide for virtually a year.

However,the Baudelaire orphans should know better. They’ve had much more than enough to knowthat every time he’s started a fire or cursed a dreadful crime of any kind of sort,he’s bragged around it. He just hides his involvement when an government figure,legal representative or person he desires to manipulate is in the vicinity. Thereis no such human on the beach together he questions Klaus’ assertion, in truth he isnot even conscious of Kit Snicket’s presence, which is only lugged up later in theconversation.

However,absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. When Olaf is challenged by anincorrect accusation that arson, he denies it unambiguously.

“I had Omeroskeep this weapon handy,” Ishmael said, “instead the tossing that in thearboretum, due to the fact that I assumed you might escape from that cage, count Olaf, justas i escaped native the cage you put me in as soon as you collection fire to my home.”“I didn’t collection that fire,” count Olaf said, his eyes shining bright.

Notice howOlaf never ever denies placing Ishmael right into the cage, his dismissal specificallyconcerns the arson. Given that Ishmael is at this time holding Olaf atharpoon-gun-point, his words room chosen very carefully regarding not anger the evenmore. On the topic, it’s amazing to keep in mind that the Baudelaire orphans havepicked increase on one of Olaf’s tics: his eyes shine brightly whenever he distortslanguage to make a sinister joke.

His eye were very,very shiny, i m sorry made the look both hungry and angry. “Hello, mychildren. Please step right into your brand-new home, and wipe her feet exterior so no mudgets indoors.”As lock stepped into the house, Mr. Poe behind them, the Baudelaire orphansrealized what a ridiculous thing Count Olaf had just said. The room in whichthey uncovered themselves to be the dirtiest castle had ever seen, and also a little bit ofmud native outdoors wouldn’t have actually made a bit of difference.

“If I know you,Olaf,” stated the male with the hook-hands, “you’ll figure out a way toget at the Baudelaire money.”“We’ll see,” counting Olaf said, but his eye were bright bright together ifhe already had an idea.

“Mr. Poe toldme,” counting Olaf said, “that you showed up to be having some difficultyadjusting to the life I have so graciously listed for you. I’m an extremely sorry tohear that.”The children looked at count Olaf. His face was very serious, together if that werevery sorry to hear that, yet his eyes were shiny and also bright, the way they arewhen who is telling a joke.

Count Olaf’s eyes grewvery shiny, yet he continued to smirk in ~ Klaus. This to be surprising. Klaus hadguessed that when he announced what that knew, this devastating man would have beenvery angry, even violent. After all, he’d had actually a furious outburst just becausehe’d want roast beef rather of puttanesca sauce. Surely, he’d be also moreenraged to have his setup discovered. However Count Olaf simply sat there as calmly asif lock were pointing out the weather.

“Where have the right to she beindeed?” stated a voice behind them, and the two youngsters turned around.Count Olaf was standing in the doorway, the town hall Violet and also Klaus together theysearched the room. His eye were bright brighter 보다 they ever had, and hewas quiet smiling like he’d simply uttered a joke.

So in theabove passage Olaf is definitely mocking Ishmael (a part of him is certainlytoying with him to view if he has actually the guts to pour out Olaf’s and spread the deadlyspores that the Medusoid Mycelium). But his eyes do not shine when Klausconfronts him around his parents’ murder. Olaf to be is, in fact, informing a jokewhen he tells the Baudelaire orphans they walk not recognize anything around the firewhich destroyed their home. The is not being opaque on purpose or play mind-games.He is voicing legitimate, thank you concerns and grievances.

What Klaus to trust (mistakenly)

Klaus doesnot define why on earth Olaf would want to kill the Baudelaire parents, butgiven what he to know at this allude in the series, that can conveniently imagine threemain motives:

PROFITKilling turn off the Baudelaire parents would enable Olaf to get custody that theirchildren and also from then on concoct schemes to steal their enormous inheritance.REVENGEOlaf’s parents were assassinated by Bertrand and Beatrice and also Olaf wanted theirchildren to endure the pain the felt ~ his own losses.DUTYOlaf is part of the next of V.F.D. Operation by the male With Beard yet No Hair andthe Woman with Hair yet No Beard, two fanatics who terrify him and burn downbuildings the rich children on a consistent basis. If lock ordered him to killBertrand and Beatrice (whom castle have explained as your enemies), Olaf wouldbe compelled come obey.

Naturally,none of these motives are mutually exclusive. In fact, they incorporate quite well.Many mansions that rich family members have been melted down since of V.F.D.’s schismand unifying theories have actually been propose to describe why. Basically, Olaf’smotives could be summarized together such:

Klaus iscertainly lacking some pieces of the puzzle yet has sufficient material to theorizethat this is what truly happened. And also it’s absolutely what many readers of theseries believe around Olaf, too.

ExceptOlaf’s reaction says that this translate is totally wrong. For this reason whatthen? was there a completely different reason to burn under the Baudelairemansion? Why go Beatrice and also Bertrand need to die?

In apredictable and unfortunate turn of events, it every comes ago to the sugarbowl.

The timing of the Baudelaire fire (and itsimplications)

The firstpoint we should examine is the timing of the event. We recognize that the Baudelaireparents and also Olaf were opponents well prior to Violet to be born. If Olaf hates themso much, why did the wait so plenty of years come enact his revenge? How can Bertrandand Beatrice intend to store their children safe in a city where their arch-nemesiscould roam freely, in the public eye? Somehow, they must have had actually reason tobelieve Olaf wouldn’t dare assault them. The most obvious answer is thatBeatrice was the last well-known owner the the sugar bowl.

“Then girlfriend knowall around the sugar bowl,” Esmé said, “and what’s inside. You understand howimportant that thing was, and how countless lives were lost in the pursuit to discover it.You know how difficult it to be to discover a container that could hold it safely,securely, and also attractively. You know what it method to the Baudelaires and whatit means to the Snickets.” She took one sandaled action closer to Dewey, andstretched out one silver fingernail-the one shaped like an S-until it to be almostpoking him in the eye. “And you know,” she said in a disastrous voice, “that itis mine.” “Not anymore,” Dewey said. “Beatrice stole it from me!” Esmé cried. “There room worse things,” Dewey said, “than theft.”

As Deweyputs it, this put her in a place of power over Olaf, who desires it verybadly. It’s basic to imagine the he was condemned to merely observe theBaudelaire parental from afar, in the expect of finding out where they to be hidingthe street bowl.

“It doesn’t matter,Baudelaires,” Jerome said. “Olaf won’t challenge unleash the Medusoid Myceliumunless he gets his hands on the street bowl, and he’ll never find it.”

DanielHandler created a little-known supplement called "The Dismal Dinner”where he reveals important information about what taken place shortly prior to theBaudelaire fire. The sugar bowl was gift shown roughly in the Baudelairemansion some days prior to the fire, and Olaf was watching. This means that therewas a brief lapse of time throughout which he much more or much less knew whereby the sugarbowl to be hidden, prior to it to be taken away someplace else. Olaf had a miraculouschance of gaining his hands on the item, one and also only one. This must havesomething to do with the fire.

My discovery of a tornpant leg mirrors that Sunny, an infant and also the youngest Baudelaire child, playeda crucial role in the dinner party organized at the Baudelaire mansion rather some timebefore that was reduced to a smoking pile the rubble. Third-hand reports suggestthat just after the sugar key was placed on the table, sunny shrieked,“Funcoot!”, i beg your pardon either supposed “My gums hurt!” or “I think I might haveseen someone lurking outside.”

Recent discoveriessupport my suspicions around the fateful occasion hosted through the Baudelaire parentsbefore their death. Near the finish of the meal, baby clear Baudelaire looked outthe window and started to cry through a clarity and also force that would sooncharacterize her ability to bite things. She cries alert a variety of guestswho to be in the procedure of passing around the street bowl.

But thereis additionally another occasion which wake up shortly prior to the Baudelaire fire, thistime revealed in the added notes the "The negative Beginning: rarely Edition”.It concerns an additional fire, the of ther imperial Gardens, which happened some timebefore the begin of the series. To placed it plainly, Olaf failed come burn under aplace whereby he was attempting to steal a poison plant, and also Jacques reportedit in the hope the the authorities would placed two and also two together and realizethat his brother Lemony had actually been framed for Olaf’s crimes. You can read allabout this theory here: (Link).

p.18 pass an huge pile that dirt whereby the imperial Gardens when stood.For more information ~ above the devastation of the royal Gardens, interestedparties might turn come the following articles in The everyday Punctilio, the city’snewspaper: “Arson suspected in damage of imperial Gardens,” by JacquesSnicket, and “Absolutely No Arson or any Other suspicious Thing associated withthe royal Gardens, which Simply melted to the Ground and also Then Were spanned inDirt as result of Wind, Says official Fire Department,” by Geraldine Julienne.

So two veryimportant things happen a couple of days prior to the Baudelaire fire:

Jacques is working hard to provethat Olaf is one arsonist, and Justice Strauss is going to it is in assigned ~ above thecase.Count Olaf is conscious that the sugarbowl is being maintained inside the Baudelaire mansion.

These twofacts incorporate to explain what may have happened ~ above the morning of the fire.

But mostimportant is the reality that Olaf is without doubt implied to have actually been current insidethe Baudelaire mansion on that day…

p.6 among the things Violet,Klaus, and Sunny really liked about their parental was the they didn’t sendtheir kids away once they had agency over, but permitted them to sign up with theadults at the dinner table… The Baudelaire table was not used exclusively fordinner. Its surface was handy for unrolling maps, perfect jigsaw puzzles,and tracing the deals with of civilization from photographs. One thing I remember indigenous mytime in ~ the table was the it was constantly necessary to usage a coaster underneathone’s beverage so regarding not leave an unsightly ring ~ above the wood.

p.98 but Count Olafjust satellite there together calmly together if castle were pointing out the weather. Specific kindsof weather-severe rainstorms, because that instance-have a dampening result on fires,which is displeasing to arsonists. There have been reports the alleged arsonistsso apparently displeased v the weather the they have actually been rumored to poundtheir beverages on one unprotected wooden table.

…and thathe was supposedly invited there by the Baudelaire parents:

p.2 The threeBaudelaire youngsters lived v their parental in an huge mansion in ~ theheart the a dirty and also busy city, and also occasionally your parents provided thempermission to take it a rickety trolley-the indigenous “rickety”, you more than likely know,here method “unsteady” or “likely come collapse”-alone come the seashore… on thatparticular occasion, the Baudelaire parents not only provided their childrenpermission however encouraged castle to leave the house, as the adults had somepressing business to attend to. This company was delayed indefinitely early out todeath. Also note the the trolley has since collapsed, and its remains wererecycled right into the foundation of a hotel.

pp.12-13 here andthere, the children could view traces the the home they had loved: fragments oftheir cool piano, one elegant party in i m sorry Mr. Baudelaire had actually kept brandy,the burnt cushion that the windowseat wherein their mommy liked to sit andread. Curiously enough, Mr. Baudelaire’s brandy bottle was uncovered on the remainsof the dining table, with no coasters nearby. This would show that eitherthe coasters to be burned past recognition, or the Baudelaires had received avisitor who had actually no manners whatsoever.

There seemsto it is in a number of odd coincidences there. With their expertise of the sugarbowl’s relevance and also the Jacques’ ongoing examination of Olaf’s crimes, theBaudelaire parents actually have actually a many of regulate over the instance at thispoint. Is it possible that lock lured Olaf into their house? to be his presencepart the a mystery plan?

Why the Baudelaire fire resembles theDenouement fire (for every the appropriate reasons)

“ASeries of unfortunately Events” largely encounters the problem of historyrepeating itself, particularly when it concerns the cycles the violence. Sonsand daughters follow in their forbearers’ footsteps and commit the same kind ofmistakes, never finding out anything. Near the end of the saga, the Baudelairechildren find that Olaf was orphaned by their parents because that something relatedto V.F.D., and also that he seems to execute what that does based upon retribution. Furthermore,the schism which broke the organization is complied with by number of smaller, similarschisms: the separation of Klaus and Fiona, the mutiny the the Islanders, etc.Many occasions of the past and also present are explicitly presented as parallel come eachother.

In manyways one would think that, the many logical way to i found it the truth about theBaudelaire fire is to compare it come a comparable fire. Let’s check out what us know:

Ithad something to execute with the sugar key being exchanged there and also Olaf wantingto acquire his hands on it.Thefire happens in relationship to a big investigation regarding Olaf’s crimes.Oneor several characters may have survived and their fate is left faint byLemony in the narration. Lemony himself might have been there.Theexistence that a secret underground complicated changes the entire meaning of theevent.

As thesimilarities heap up, it i do not care clear the the set-up the the Baudelaire fireclearly mirrors the one which destroyed Hotel Denouement. And there is reasonto think that the sugar bowl is actually a red herring, a sinking entice thatthe “noble” side of V.F.D. Offers to gain the various other side wherein they desire them,when they desire them (Link). Theentire street bowl follow in “The Penultimate Peril” is in reality an elaboratetrap collection up by Dewey and his allies come arrest Olaf and also his allies, and to putthem on trial in the Hotel Denouement’s lobby whereby all proof of theircrimes will certainly be gift to the judges the the High Court.

TheBaudelaire fire was a trial version of the Denouement fire. The Baudelaireparents made sure that Olaf knew the the sugar bowl was being retained there, touse his greed against him. Then they invited him into their residence on a falsepretext, knowing he would waste time trying to uncover the Vessel because that Disaccharides.In the meantime, Jacques was claimed to present the results of hisinvestigation to the police. The authorities would then involved the Baudelairemansion and arrest Olaf.

Thisscenario is crucial to understand why the structure eventually captured fire.

Why Olaf melted down the Baudelaire mansion (ashe tried come retrieve the sugar bowl)

There’s aparticularly weird detail around the step of the crime which everyone in theseries overlooked: the damaged pieces that the brandy bottle. Now, anyone that readthe un-Authorized Autobiography have the right to tell you that brandy is traditionally drunkat V.F.D. Committee reunions. Therefore the truth that the bottle is emphasize byHandler, and presented out of the liquor cabinet, need to be significant. Firstly,it reinforces the idea that some discussion related to V.F.D. To be going onwhile the children were having fun at the beach.

pp.12-13 right here andthere, the children could watch traces the the home they had actually loved: pieces oftheir grand piano, an elegant bottle in which Mr. Baudelaire had actually kept brandy,the charred cushion the the windowseat wherein their mother liked come sit andread. Curiously enough, Mr. Baudelaire’s brandy party was uncovered on the remainsof the dining table, with no coasters nearby. This would show that eitherthe coasters to be burned past recognition, or the Baudelaires had actually received avisitor who had actually no courtesy whatsoever.

J— Please pass thebrandy.

After the pudding, theolder gentleman of my acquaintance and I retirement to one enormous, imposingliving room to enjoy and also after-dinner brandy, and the arcane smile returned tohis challenge as a number of older gentlemen not of mine acquaintance joined us,clearly for some sort of meeting.

Secondly,however, it brings up a much an ext salient point: why to be the bottle broken?Glass melts quickly under fire, and also in reality Daniel Handler provides a suggest ofshowing a glass instrument which has melted since of the damages caused by theheat. Alcohol is flammable, so a brandy bottle must burn even more easily asthe fluid ignited. And also yet the bottle is clearly well-preserved enough for thechildren to recognize it as their father’s brandy bottle immediately. It’s inshards, so the would have to be barely burned for any type of identification. Just how isthis possible?

Thesolution come this trouble is the Olaf poured the brandy out of the bottle on aparticularly flammable object (a book?), and also used his matches to irradiate a firein the Baudelaire library. That then maintained the empty bottle on his human being as heran come the various other side of the house. This next of the home was less affected bythe fire as the fire department had arrived by the time the flames caught upwith him.

“The firedepartment arrived, of course,” Mr. Poe said, “but they were toolate. The whole house to be engulfed in fire. It burned to the ground. ”Klaus pictured every the books in the library, going up in flames. Now he’d neverread every one of them.

Olaf’s maingoal was to escape, yes, however he additionally had a secondary objective in mind: in theheat of the brazier, the street bowl would be threatened and the Baudelaireparents would have no an option but come retrieve that from its safe. It to be thequickest, easiest way for Olaf to discover where it was hidden and also to get hishands on it. This tactic is supplied with some success by Sherlock Holmes in thestory “A scandal in Bohemia”.

TheBaudelaire parents soon realized the a fire had started in their residence anddecided to split. Beatrice checked out the library whereby she attempted come salvagedas many V.F.D. Documents as she could, and to retrieve the sugar bowl from itshiding place. The Baudelaire library undoubtedly holds many documents precious toV.F.D. And the Baudelaire parents were constantly afraid that a fire would destroythem:

“Our mother wouldget mad, too,” Klaus said. “Remember, Violet, when we left the windowof the library open, and also that night it rained?”“She yes, really flew turn off the handle,” Violet said, making use of a phrase whichhere means “became incredibly angry.”“We spoiled one atlas that she stated was irreplaceable.”“You should have heard she yell,” Klaus said. “Our father camedown native his study to watch what to be the matter.”“And then he began yelling, too,” Violet said, and the Baudelairespaused and also looked in ~ one an additional uncomfortably.

“And sometimesyou burn the toast,” Klaus said, and they smiled. They were bothremembering a time as soon as the two of them obtained up early to make a specialbreakfast for their parents. Violet had melted the toast, and also their parents,smelling smoke, had actually run below to view what the issue was. Once they sawViolet and Klaus, feather forlornly at piece of pitch-black toast, theylaughed and laughed, and also then made pancakes because that the totality family.

Bertrand,meanwhile, ran after ~ Olaf to avoid his escape and to make sure he wasn’tfollowing Beatrice come the street bowl’s hiding place. Olaf to be apprehended byBertrand but damaged the empty brandy bottle to make a shiv, and stabbed the in(debatable) self-defense. Bertrand dropped to the floor together he bled indigenous the stabwounds and Olaf jumped out a window. His body would later on be destroyed by theflames. Beatrice, meanwhile, got badly burned trying to secure the sugar bowland she books and also soon discovered herself trapped. Her just escape to be the secretpassageway under the house, whereby she remained for fairly some time. For moreinformation on how Beatrice might have survived the fire, read this theory: (Link).

How other passages of the collection mirror theevent (through symbols)

There isindeed factor to think that the brandy was supplied to ignite the fire and thatits damaged pieces were offered to develop a shiv: the plot rather literally spellsit out for us. In “The bad Beginning”, Klaus and Violet findthemselves trapped in Olaf’s lair. The only items at your disposal space Olaf’sempty wine bottles, scattered around. Violet Baudelaire, in a usual displayof thuggish swagger, suggests flaming alcohol and a shiv as an escape plan. Andthe Baudelaire fire happens in the very same book, too! how fitting would certainly it be forthe Baudelaire kids to re-enact the technique that Olaf used to burn downtheir house… to burn under his own house?

“If we had actually anykerosene,” Violet said, approximately noon, “I might make Molotov cocktailswith this bottles.” <…> “They’re little bombs make insidebottles,” Violet explained. “We might throw them our the home window andattract the fist of passersby.” <…> “We could break thesebottles in half,” Violet said, “and use them as knives, yet I’mafraid the Count Olaf’s troupe would certainly overpower us.”

Thesimilarities carry out not end there: let’s go back to the Hotel Denouement fire. Howdid Olaf light it, exactly? A burning book, right next to dangerous chemicals.The scene is explained as unsettling. Component of that, the course, needs to do withthe reality that our protagonists worth education and that autodafés carry up verydistasteful connotations. On another level, however, it’s possible that thismethod the arson potentialism reminds castle of the means Olaf ruined their ownhome. It’s no wonder they bring up this possibility in the following book. Thelighting that the publication acts together a triggering event: it’s the minute the childrenactually admit to themselves the Olaf probably murdered your parents.

The Baudelaires leanedforward to watch if they can read what the injustice skilled had written, andcaught just the native “passageway” prior to Olaf lit a match and tossedit expertly top top the page. The paper caught ~ above fire in ~ once, and the book beganto burn. <…>“We’d ideal get far from here,” counting Olaf said, breaking thesilence. “In mine experience, when the flames with the chemicals, the firewill spread an extremely quickly.

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So, come comeback come our initial question… go Olaf burn under the Baudelaire mansion? Ishe the one that made the Baudelaire kids orphans in the an initial place? Well…it could that Olaf answers no "yes” or “no” becauseany an adverse or positive statement would be simplistic. Technically, one couldindeed make a instance for Olaf gift responsible because that the fire, and also for Bertrand’sdeath. Then again, the murder and also arson to be a means to one end, no an finish initself. Olaf’s personal vendetta against the Baudelaire parents in reality playedvery little role in the Baudelaire fire. Mostly the culprit appears to have actually actedthe way he always has: as a awful thief ready to ruin anything in itspath to get the treasure that so no hope wants. However in many ways, his behaviorwas the of a beast trapped in a cage, improvising a no hope escape. Besides,no one required the Baudelaire parental to flower a sinister plot come entrap Olaf intheir home, or Beatrice to save the publications instead of running outside to safety,or Bertrand to capture Olaf instead of helping his wife escape. They were also,on a metaphorical level, “playing with fire”.