'Since the schism': Reading the tattoo in Lemony Snicket's 'A series of unfortunate incidents'.

Authors: Cox, K. and Jones, C.

Editors: Watson, K.

Publisher: Manchester University Press


An eye tattoo, formed of the letters V.F.D., is crucial to the detective and interpretative functions of Daniel Handler’s A series of unfortunate events (1999-2006). Written under the pseudonym of Lemony Snicket, the series features a significant tattoo on the left ankle of members of a secretive organisation, the Volunteer Fire Department. The series is narrated by Snicket and explores the fate of the orphaned Baudelaire children (Violet, Klaus, and Sunny). As the story develops, the children’s unusual skills (essentially the foundations of training in the ways of the V.F.D.) reveal that their circumstances are manipulated by members of the V.F.D.. The series documents a rapid development for the children through a series of offered or forced communities (a theatre troupe, circus, lumberyard, island commune and so on), until they establish a wider self-sufficient family unit (incorporating the Quigley triplets and the latest Snicket child). During this process of personal growth and establishment of community by the children, the meanings of the V.F.D., and the tattoo that appears to represent it, are a focal point for their detective activities, resulting in a more complex reading of the tattoo.


Source: Manual