Study Guide

Here Be Monsters! An Adventure Involving Magic, Trolls, and Other Creatures; The Ratbridge Chronicles Volume 1 Manipulation

By Alan Snow

Manipulation

"Well, I'm not getting on, and I'll blame you two if we get in trouble for getting left behind," said the face at the front.

"All right then!" said the rider with a pout. (2.12-13)

Arthur observes some of Snatcher's minions arguing about who has to be the horse legs and who gets to be the rider. Not surprisingly, we see some passive-aggressive behavior. Someone threatening to get everyone in trouble if he doesn't get his way? Yeah, that's passive-aggressive manipulation.

Madame Froufrou started to speak again. "'Ere I 'ave a tiny lap creature, just the very sort the finest ladies of Pari are clamoring for as we speak. I 'ave a very limited supply, and I'm afraid that some 'ere will be left in a sad and lonely fashion backwater." (13.20)

Wow, Madame Froufrou can work a crowd like a pro. As soon as she makes this announcement, the mass of fashionable Ratbridge ladies begins to moan and beg to have a shot at this latest fashion advancement. Making it sound like you have a limited supply of something that's in demand is always a good strategy to get what you want out of people (for those who haven't taken an economics class yet).

Two men dressed in dirty pink suits climbed onto the stage.

"These are my French fashion specialists, and they are here to help me select those who are the most fashionable. Roberto and Raymond, please take out your fashion scopes and wands….Divine those who are most promising!" (13.52-53)

Yeah, so, anytime someone says you need to pay your way to be considered for something desirable, your manipulation sensors should go off. These "French fashion specialists" are actually looking to see which ladies wave around the most cash, so it's a very shady enterprise.

"Every day they assemble there, waiting for their chance to spring. They watch for unhappy faces leaving the tents, then, with all the slime they can muster, they approach the person and offer him 'sympathy.'" (14.47)

Willbury's description of failed patent acquisition officers makes them sound pretty darn manipulative. They apparently sweet-talk inventors who are down on their luck, and then wrap them up in a series of promises and half-truths in order to get people to sign over the rights to their inventions. Yuck.

"The Great One is growing ever greater, and his needs must be met. We must get all the cheese we can tonight. I don't want any slacking. Anybody I catch not pulling his weight may find themselves in 'reduced circumstances.' Get my drift?" (19.36)

Oh, Snatcher, how low will you sink to get what you want? He even threatens his own minions in order to get stuff done. For whatever reason, though, everyone keeps doing what he wants. Maybe they're scared of him, maybe their goals are close enough to his to justify going along with it… whatever the case, Snatcher's a master of manipulation.

The policemen turned to the members, still brandishing their handcuffs. But then Snatcher walked forward. "The difference between me an 'im is 'chalk and cheese,'" he said. Then he made funny little signs with his hands. (28.16)

If you were approached by the police, would you make funny signs with your hands? We sure wouldn't… But in Ratbridge, apparently these funny signs have a different meaning, and they reveal that Snatcher is a member of a Guild, a secret organization that has deals going with other secret organizations. This allows Snatcher to exploit his connection with the police, and basically manipulate them into doing what he wants them to do.

"I've been thinking about that too. I think they must be blocking up the holes to help trap them in some way. Perhaps there is only one hole still open, and they lie in wait for the underlings there, knowing it is their only way to the surface….I don't know," answered Marjorie. (31.51)

Actually, Marjorie, that's a pretty good guess. This seems to be exactly what Snatcher and his goons are doing. It's a little scary to realize that the extent of Snatcher's manipulation goes beyond bribery and bullying… he is also manipulating the very landscape of Ratbridge. This turns out to have consequences, since when there are no boxtrolls around to manage the waterworks, things can break and flooding ensues.

"Now, get on with you!" Snatcher fixed Gristle with his good eye. "Or perhaps I could come up with a substitute for monsters….If you get my drift?" (33.7)

Wow, Snatcher, Gristle is basically your second in command and you're going to threaten him with shrinking? Not cool, dude, not cool. We're guessing that even if Snatcher's war party wasn't foiled by Marjorie's rigged-up magnet, his power structure would've crumbled from the inside eventually, because no one likes to be constantly manipulated.

Snatcher followed the Trouts to the cage but stopped outside the door. Then in a blink, Snatcher snapped the door closed and locked it.

"Shrink 'em, Gristle!" (48.9-10)

And Snatcher finally makes good on his many threats to shrink his minions if they don't do as he says. Except in this case, they pretty much have done everything he wants them to. Snatcher just happens to need a little more size piped into Framley to get the war-armor to fit. This goes beyond passive-aggressive to aggressive-aggressive.

"It was Archibald Snatcher who was responsible for the poisoning. Yes! That very same Archibald Snatcher whom we all witnessed you investing with legal powers to justify a kidnapping and the theft of a pair of mechanical wings. I intend to sue whatever remains of the Cheese Guild on behalf of my clients here, for compensation, and I am sure the full story will come out." (53.40)

Wow, Willbury, way to lay it out there. If we ever doubted that Willbury was a fiercely manipulative guy when provoked, we doubt it no more. He's brave enough to threaten the police chief with legal action, and he demonstrates that he's got enough dirt on the chief and Snatcher to make it stick. Normally Willbury is a sweet guy, but now we see why he's a good lawyer: He's willing to be manipulative when it's needed most.