John Bellairs uses the verb ‘worm’ to show that Lewis’s intentions are less than noble. He uses it to show that Lewis thinks that Tarby is like a god, and that he is just a minion that has to earn the favor of his master. Lewis thinks that in order to earn Tarby’s favor he has to do something that will impress Tarby. Lewis thinks that if he learns to ice skate, he will impress Tarby, and win favor with Tarby. ‘If he got good enough he might be able to worm his way back into Tarby’s favor.’ When Jonathan and Lewis finally found the skate, Bellairs makes it seem that Lewis encounters it as ‘a short aluminum ski for a midget.’ Is finding one skate a symbol here? Was it purposefully placed here to represent how Lewis is midgeting himself by pursuing Tarby (a false friend?).
A week before Christmas Lewis encounters his thought-to-be-dead Aunt Mattie at midnight. She is wearing a wrinkled black dress, and heavy shoes with thick heels. There was ‘a shaking blue light’ that filled the air around Aunt Mattie. This made the encounter so much more terrifying. ‘Lewis even thought he smelled kerosene – her house, her furniture, and her clothing had always reeked of it.’ Lewis remembered so much, and I think that this could have been his memory turned into a vision. The scene gives me the creeps with the blue light, and the aunt who has risen from the dead. All of this is supposed to give the reader a creepy midnight feeling.
I think this might have happened to try and show Lewis that if he needed to worm his way back into someone’s favor, then he shouldn’t be friends with that person. I think that when Aunt Mattie said, ‘“Well, Lewis? Aren’t you glad to see me?”’ it is to show Lewis that Tarby would treat Lewis like garbage even if he could get back. Who should Lewis be happy to see?
A week after this experience Lewis has a magical Christmas, where he is given a Christmas egg. The Christmas egg throws light on the grown-up life of Lewis, and who he becomes. When John Bellairs writes ‘But it was not until he was a grown-up man, working as an astronomer at Mount Palomar, that he was able to discover the magic property of the magic egg’ it makes me think that Lewis just puts the magic egg away in his closet or toy box and then later discovers it when he is all grown-up. This could lead to a whole story about how he rediscovers the egg, and the different magical properties of the egg. Also, if the egg can show different planets, and Lewis works as an astronaut, then that could lead to him making some alien discovery, or other groundbreaking space discovery. Some of the other Uncle Jonathan magic during that Christmas might play a role in the other books too, las in our expectations for variations of the decor for future Christmases. The Fuse Box Dwarf could be used again in a different holiday like April Fools in order to show how the Barnavelts’ celebrate different holidays. This could lead to a whole book about different holidays. There could also be a reason to all the decorating when John Bellairs wrote ‘Jonathan did a lot of other things that Christmas,’ implying that Jonathan didn’t usually do a lot during Christmas, but because it was Lewis’ first Christmas at 100 High Street Jonathan wanted to make it the best.
Although there are only two obviously magical items in this chapter, some of the non-magical descriptions create a really wonderful visual like ‘he put strong lamps behind the stained-glass windows, so that they threw marvelous patterns of red and blue and gold and purple on the dark sparkling snow outside.’ But how can we forget the other magic item: the Fuse Box Dwarf. Lewis was not at all surprised by this dwarf. He actually felt that this little man should be pitied rather than censured. I imagine that the little man jumps out with his arms raised up. I also imagine this dwarf to wear an elf suit and have a red beard. When he yells “Dreeb” it’s more of a screech at the top of his lungs like “skreeee”.
In the days that followed Christmas Lewis tried to enjoy himself. ‘He kept thinking that Jonathan’s magic show was meant to cover up what was happening to the house.’ Lewis encountered a ‘shimmering’ which he thought was like the house was going to disappear. I think that it means that there might be an overuse of magic, or that something big is about to happen. Lewis thought he was losing his mind, and there is a sort of clear indication when John Bellairs wrote, ‘Lewis forgot what day it was, what he was after, and at times almost forgot who he was.’ The lights that flicked on his bedroom walls in his dreams were not leaf-lights, ‘but rags and patches of orange light.’ This might be some more indication that Lewis is going crazy. Maybe he is magic drunk. When spring finally comes around, Lewis looks outside his house and discovers that the Hanchett house was overgrown with spiraea hedge. He also noticed that the only visitor his new neighbor got was Mr. Hammerhandle. He literally bumped into Mr. Hammerhandle once or twice. On one occasion Mr Hammerhandle calls Lewis a little snip. ‘“You little snip! You’re looking to have your throat cut out, aren’t you?”’