Chapter 17: An Inept Teacher Deliver Inept Aesops
The chapter opens with the monster in the mirror. (No, not that one.
Although it has good advice about what to do when you see a monster in your mirror.)
Everyone starts screaming as their faces warp and distort, just like their mirror images. (Which explains how Tookie smelled her reflection last chapter.)
Dylan's ponytails fall out, and her nose becomes detached. Shiraz's eyes bulge, looking like they'll pop out of her head. Kamalini has a hole that exposes her brain. Angelīka's cut now goes from the top of her head to her neck, exposing her vocal chords.
Three of the unnamed extras bolt, and one yells "I'm beautiful again!" after reaching the Home door.
Gunnero continues to be an ass.
"Last chance! Anyone else want to go through the Home door?" Gunnero teased. "It's dreadful to be hideously fugly, isn't it?"
Apparently, Gunnero is unable to distinguish "ugly" or "unattractive" from "belongs on the set of a horror movie." But given the school's heavy emphasis on looks, it's an attitude we'll likely be seeing plenty of from the Modelland staff.
Tookie realizes that all this is a trick to get them to leave. (Thank you, Captain Obvious
.) She tells her new friends to stay seated, because screw the other girls. Ten more girls leave, but Tookie's new friends remain, so it's all good.
The monsters in the mirrors disappear.
Gunnero is disappointed that so few girls left. He then delivers the Aesop of the story. See if you can guess what it is. Is it: A)
Beauty is fleeting, B)
Make-up alone cannot make you beautiful, C)
Don't share your make-up, or
Gunnero is an ass.
If you guessed D
, you get partial credit. The correct answer is C
"don't share your make-up." This is actually good advice, since sharing make-up can result in sharing germs.
However, Gunnero decides to present this lesson by calling them "feebleminded females" and then gives them permission to be "stingy, selfish wenches" when it comes to their "maquillage." I'd say the real lesson is lost amidst the insults.
Phase 3: Embellishments, aka Starving Kids are Evil
Shiraz leaned over in her chair. "You so smart, Tookie! You make us stay! And we pass first round!"
Shiraz, Tookie was using common sense. Modelland produces new Intoxibellas every year, so it would be against their best interests to mutate all the new students into monsters and leave them that way.
The girls then get decked in accessories: jewelry, handbags, purses, backpacks, etc. The girls gush over how wonderful the accessories are, since some of them are extremely expensive brands.
Then all the stuff they've been decked in starts attacking them. No, really.
Chaste's bag binds her wrists. Dylan's earrings turn into two-pound weights. (I'm pretty sure this would result in the earrings ripping through her ears, but whatever.) Tookie's necklace becomes red-hot and tries to choke her.
Eleven more girls decide them don't want this abuse, and go out the Home door. This is obviously another trap, but Gunnero still seems surprised that Tookie's group remained.
"Figures you four survived."
What do the attacking accessories teach the students? It is a lesson against "counterfeit couturier creations." In other words, name brand knock-offs and forgeries are bad. They make the people who made the original feel betrayed, bereaved, etc.
Personally, the lesson I take away is that the forgeries are just as good as the originals. Why? Because the girls were completely unable to tell the difference.
"You are merely concocting a deceitful world of pseudo luxury and corrupt make-believe, while the hardworking artisans who dedicate their lives to producing authentic wares are robbed blindly."
A little more forceful than necessary, but it does make sense that people get paid for their hard work instead of ripped off by the forgeries.
"And who produces these fake wares? Poor starving children who roam homeless in public squalor and live poverty-stricken in rodent-infested shanties."
Remember. Buying items created by starving children in a desperate attempt to survive is a great evil.
Maybe this is meant to be condemning using children as cheap labor . . . but it comes across as condemning the children instead of whoever is employing them. (The employers aren't mentioned.) Then again, Gunnero is evil, so every word that comes out of his mouth is suspect.
Gunnero then says "how dare you" to the girls, for still holding onto the forgeries they were given.
He asks them what the lesson is, and Shiraz correctly says that it is not to buy fakes.
"At least one of you is listening. Even if it is a knee-high Lilliputian."
"Oh, excuse me for being prźt-a-politically-incorrect," Gunnero simpered. "I believe the acceptable phrase is Five P
: Puny, Pocket-sized Petite Particle of a Person."
Personally, I prefer vertically-challenged.
Tookie wanted to defend her. But she'd never defended anyone before — she'd never had an opportunity to. And anyway now wasn't the time.
You have a verbally abusive teacher who is berating a student simply because she is short. When would be the right time to respond to this? Never?
Look, I get that Tookie is supposed to be shy. I can relate to that, since I'm
shy. But being unable to speak up due to shyness is different from deciding that you shouldn't speak up at all. Even if it got her kicked out of Modelland, standing up to someone who is insulting and belittling your friends is a good thing.
It would have been much more sympathetic if Tookie had tried to speak up, but been silenced like Zarpessa had been earlier. It would have also given good reason for her not speaking up in the future, since the first time she tried ended in her being silenced.
Phase 4: Giant Ceiling Needles From Nowhere
Gunnero tells the group that Phase 4 is "piercingly
funny." (Darn it, book. Quit pointing out all the puns by putting them in italics. Your readers aren't that stupid.)
Tookie looks around, and sees that there are about 70 girls left.
Gunnero asks the girls to guess what the final phase would be. They don't know, so he insults them some more, singling out Dylan by making fun of her hip size. (Just assume any time that Gunnero speaks, he's insulting everyone. You'll probably be right.)
"The final phase is the actual defilé, the sfilata di moda," Gunnero trilled. He eyed Kamalini. "The tamasha. The fashion show. And ladies, ya'll love this. It will allow me to drill into you all you need here at Modelland."
So Gunnero is an effeminate man who "simpers" and "trills", is obsessed with personal appearance, and treats everyone around him like crap. Does this qualify as Unfortunate Implications
, or am I reading too much into this?
Anyway, a giant sewing needle starts descending from above. It starts going through girls, causing them to disappear when pierced.
Angelīka dodges the needles and leaves through the HOME door. She won't be missed. A few unnamed girls leave as well. Desperada (the poor girl Tookie saw at T-DOD) howls when the needle pierces her, although Tookie can't tell if it's from "physical or emotional pain."
Tookie stays still, assuming that since the last two phases were tricks, this one is, too. Her friends copy her.
The moment the tip of the needle hit her skull, she suddenly felt like a million tiny appendages were tickling her skin. Her body tilted upside down and she felt her shirt, cargo pants, and underwear slip off. More fingers gently pulled at her limbs and clothed her body.
And I can't help but imagining the "helping hands" from Labyrinth
doing this. Excuse me while I go soak my brain in ammonia to wash away that image.
Tookie can tell that the new fabric is "extremely luxe" even though it's too dark to see.
Tookie and the other girls are then depositing in "bisque-colored orbs". These orbs only show the girls' faces. She hears familiar sounding music, like music you'd hear at a fashion show. Tookie tries to yell at her new friends, but they don't seem to hear her.
These orbs must be soundproof.
Then how is she hearing the music? Is it being piped into the orbs?
Tookie realizes that she's going to a fashion show.
She feared falling on her face. She feared Gunnero laughing at her. But more than anything, she was almost ... excited. Forgetta-Girls weren't in fashion shows. Only Rememba-Girls were.
Quit saying Forgetta-Girls and Rememba-Girls! It wasn't clever the first time. And speaking as someone who is shy, the idea of performing in front of a crowd with zero preparation is not something that would excite me. It would terrify
Tookie's orb approaches a door which says "THIS WAY HOME." She panics, and tries to change the direction of her orb.
Up ahead, girls' heads floated through the Home door: first Zarpessa, then Chaste. Good! They're gone! Yes!
Yay! The girl who I dislike is being sent back living on the streets, and eating rotting food out of Dumpsters! So much for Tookie taking the high road.
Tookie gets upset when she sees Shiraz, Dylan, Piper and Kamalini go through the Home door, too.
Okay, raise your hand if you actually believe everyone is being sent home. No one? That's what I thought.
Tookie tries to change the direction of her orb, but is unable.
She closed her eyes and tried to hold on to all the good things that had happened to her on her journey here. She recalled Dylan's sassy laugh, Shiraz's spunky broken English, Piper's intelligence and dry wit,
Citation needed on Piper's "intelligence and dry wit."
and ZhenZhen's contagious giggle and nurturing kindness.
And finally, as she passed through the Home door, Tookie bid a silent goodbye to Modelland.
It's just the end-of-the-chapter cliffhanger. Quit being a drama queen.