Study Guide

The Invention of Hugo Cabret Part 1, Chapter 12

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Part 1, Chapter 12

The Message

  • Text
  • Hand a’shaking, Hugo moves to put the key into the automaton, and… drumroll please… it fits!
  • Just as he goes to turn it, the door rattles and Isabelle bangs into the room in a true fury, launching herself at Hugo.
  • She accuses him of being a thief (fair enough) and asks him what’s going on. Hugo lies and says that the automaton was something that his dad was working on before he died.
  • Isabelle isn’t convinced, though. She wants to know why her key would fit into it. Then she tells Hugo to just turn the key, already.
  • Hugo doesn’t want to while she’s there, but Isabelle reaches over and does it herself.
  • Resigned, Hugo gives the man a little bottle of ink and watches to see if he’ll write a secret message…
  • Illustration
  • We see the little man sitting at his desk with an inkpot in one hand and a pen in the other. Hugo and Isabelle are leaning forward, because they can't wait to see what he writes.
  • Text
  • As the two kids watch, the mechanical man starts moving, making marks on the page with his pen.
  • Illustration
  • We see a close-up of the mechanical man’s hand as he draws a line across the paper. If it weren’t for the gears and thingamabobs visible from underneath his sleeve, we’d be hard-pressed to say that this wasn’t a normal, human person writing.
  • A different angle on the hand. We see that he’s made a few scratches on the paper, though they don’t look like letters or anything.
  • In the next picture, we see the mechanical man from the back. He’s still making a series of odd scratches across the paper.
  • We see an overhead view of what the man is “writing.” Is it hieroglyphics? Chicken scratch? Whatever it is, it’s certainly not in any alphabet we've seen.
  • Text
  • Hugo's more than a little frustrated at the nonsense flowing from the automaton's pen. All those hours fixing this thing, and it writes gibberish?
  • He goes off to a corner of the room to cry, while the mechanical man keeps writing.
  • Then Isabelle gasps and Hugo runs back over.
  • Turns out—those chicken scratches aren’t forming words. They’re forming a picture. He's drawing.
  • Image
  • Oh hello, man on the moon! We see a drawing of the moon with quite the human face on it, and a rocket (or something) plunged into its right eye socket.
  • Text
  • Here the story takes an interesting turn, stepping outside of the narrative we’ve been following along with.
  • The narrator (who knew there was a narrator?) says that the curtains on this story are drawing to a close and it’s fading to black, but that this leads us to another story. How mysterious and, dare we say, cinematic.

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