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Yikes. For Hugo, the Station Inspector is Villain Number One. He's always looming in the back of the kid's mind as a threat to his safety and way of life—you know, the semi-homeless, clock-caretaking, scrounging for scraps way of life.
In a way, Hugo needs to confront the Station Inspector in order to move on. We mean, he can't live in the train station forever. Maybe a run-in with the Inspector is just the kick in the pants that Hugo needs to make a change.
So let's zoom in on their chase scene, which is one of the longest sequences of illustrations in the book (I2.9.1-18). Go take a peek at those images. Scary, right?
Hugo is upset and devastated when the Station Inspector finally catches him and tells him he’s going to jail for squatting in the train station. What twelve-year-old wants to spend time in the joint?
But—just when all is lost—Georges swoops in and saves Hugo from the Station Inspector’s grasp:
The Station Inspector reached forward for Hugo, but the old man said, in his most dramatic voice, “Take your hands off of him.” (2.10.11)
Go ahead, cheer aloud. We certainly did. The whole time, Hugo’s been so alone and afraid of the Station Inspector, but once he confronts him he finds that there are people in his life who will have his back. He doesn’t have to be so scared anymore. So when that whole big chase scene happens, it allows Hugo to move on in life and go live with Georges Méliès and his family. So thanks, Station Inspector?