Great Mysteries of the Freddy Book
|As my reputation as someone with a slightly above-average familiarity with (not, mind you, admiration of) the Freddy series has spread through the Freddyite community, I have received more and more questions concerning details in the books. Several of these queries are actually somewhat interesting --i.e., the ones that involve inconsistencies, implausibilities, impossibilities, and imponderables--and I have been dumping them into a special file for some time now. I've had a little spare time lately, so I put some of them into the chart below for your perusal and delight.|
Answers & Speculations
|In Florida there are a number of pigs on the Bean farm. In Detective, Freddy's family is mentioned. Where did all these other pigs go?||Given the presence of bacon and ham on the Bean dinner table, I think the answer might be rather obvious. It is possible, though, that they had been sold to the sheriff, because in Detective it is said that he owns "distant relatives" of Freddy.|
|What happened to Henrietta's eight sisters who were mentioned in Florida?||I think that Mr. Brooks wanted to establish Charles as a "family man," which is certainly not the natural bent of a rooster in the presence of nine hens. Consequently, the sisters had to go, leaving only Henrietta to rule the roost.|
|What happened to Jock, the "wise old Scotch collie" who is Robert's older brother? He's on the farm in Florida, Detective, and Clockwork, and then he's never heard of again.||I haven't the foggiest notion! Maybe he took up residence on a more interesting farm. Perhaps he passed away, though other than the horsefly Zero, no major or secondary character in the series actually dies. (Since children may be reading this page, I will not go into any of the more realistic scenarios involving bricks and farm ponds and farm dogs who outlive their usefulness.)|
|There was a horse named William who pulled Mr. Bean's buggy in Florida. Where'd he go?||An "Uncle William" is mentioned in North Pole--he's Hank's uncle, "a wise old gray horse who lived over near Centerboro" and who "had once been in a circus." Are they the same horse? Could be. He might still be around in Politician, because two horses are members of the "Farmers' Party"--Hank would be one and the other unnamed one could be this "Uncle William."|
|How many children do Charles and Henrietta actually have?||I guess
that over the years the size of the brood would naturally change. Here are some
hard numbers from the series and a brief statistical breakdown:
|How many brothers and sisters does Jinx have?||In North Pole we are told that Jinx has "...[a] dozen brothers and sisters in the neighborhood." But in the same book it says later on that he has seven brothers and sisters. You tell me.|
|Who taught whom to read on the farm?||In North Pole, we are told that Jinx taught Freddy to read; however, in Politician, Jinx tells John Quincy Adams that "...[Freddy's] the only animal on the farm that can read or write." In Ignormus, Jinx once again mentions Freddy as having "...taught a lot of animals on this farm [to write]." And then in Football it says that Freddy had learned to read and write when "quite young" and later taught most of the others on the farm.|
|Didn't Mrs. Wogus have a daughter Marietta? What happened to her?||In North Pole she does, but she's never mentioned again. Perhaps she was rendered into veal cutlets or sold to a neighboring farmer.|
|How old are the Beans? and Mrs. Peppercorn?||In North Pole, Mr. Bean is said to have farmed for 52 years, so it would be reasonable to infer that he's in his 60s in that book. However, later in Popinjay, Mr. Bean says he's been farming for 50 years. Furthermore, in Clockwork, Uncle Ben is introduced as a "smaller and older and hairier Mr. Bean," and then much later in Space Ship it says Uncle Ben is 47 years and 2 months old. Of course, all this makes no sense whatsoever. In Football, we learn that the real Aaron Doty, Mrs. Bean's older brother by 5 years, was two years old when the Spanish-American War began. As any semi-educated person knows, that would be in 1898. Aaron had left home, so the story goes, 30 years before when Mrs. Bean (then Martha Doty) was 11 and he 16. That makes him 46 at the time of Football and Mrs. Bean 41, a relatively young wife for Mr. Bean. (For Freddyite scholars, this also establishes the time setting of Football as 1942.) So, you tell me: how old are the Beans? As for Mrs. Peppercorn, who knows? In News she's already 90, and she's around for a goodly number of years after that.|
|Where did the characters Ella and Everett go? What about Byram and Adoniram?||Well, Ella and Everett are around in North Pole, of course, and in Detective, but in Clockwork they're said to be abroad "for a year" with Mrs. Bean's sister. By Politician, they're never mentioned again. That's about it for those two. Regarding Byram and Adoniram, they disappear after their trip to Europe with the Beans in Politician. Later in Popinjay, Freddy dreams that Byram and Adoniram "were still living on the farm," but no explanation of their absence is given. They must have still been on the farm "two summers ago," because in Popinjay it says that that's when Mr. Bean had put up a diving board for them at the duck pond. Adoniram's trunks are still in the house, and he's spoken of in the present tense: "He's [Jimmy Witherspoon] ashamed of looking so poor, and he's proud. He won't take anything unless he can make some return for it. Mrs. Bean was just talking about him; she's got all those things of Adoniram's --books and clothes and games that he doesn't want anymore. And she said she'd like to give them to this boy." So where are the children? You got me!|
|Is Mr. Witherspoon rich or isn't he?||In Politician he is described as an addict of the card game solitaire and this is why he "could not make his farm pay and why he hadn't been able to buy shoes for his horse Jerry." In Popinjay, Mrs. Church says that he has so much money he could "buy and sell me three times over," and he begins spending money to spruce up his son. But in Rides Again, he is so stingy he won't buy screens for his kitchen window although he's probably richer than the banker Margarine, because it states that Mrs. Church is almost as rich as Margarine. Then in Pilot, he's spending money again--his son Jimmy has had flying lessons. I guess Zenas is rich and intermittently stingy.|
|Where does Old Whibley live?||Several locations, evidently. In Politician, his nest is high up in an old gnarled beech. In Weedly, he lives in a "big hollow maple that's to the right of the path, about halfway through the woods."|
|There's something wrong about the chronology of the revolving door in the hen house, isn't there?||Grover promises Henrietta a revolving door, so there must not be one in Politician, but in Bean Home News, it says that Mr. Bean had already installed one (and an electric heater) in the henhouse after the animals had come back from the original Florida trip. Later in Men from Mars, Henrietta states that the door had been put in just "last year." You're right. There's something wrong. For even more details, check out E.N.'s detailed discussions below.|
|In Bean Home News, Centerboro is the "garden spot of Oneida County." That isn't right, is it?||As far as I know, that's the only time Centerboro is set outside of Oteseraga County. For more information on places frequently mentioned in the Freddy series, go to FAQ #22, a.k.a., the "Where Is...?" FAQ. The maps there should clear up any number of questions you may have about this or that place.|
|If Freddy and the other Bean animals are held in such high regard by the inhabitants of Centerboro, why would Freddy have to fear being sold by Herb Garble to the butcher in Bean Home News?||Good question. Search me.|
|Freddy is such good friends with the four mice, so why in Bean Home News does he think it would be a nice gesture to send Whibley a "box of mice" as a present for defending him in the trial?||Another good question.|
|In Bean Home News, Herb Garble and his sister are enemies of Sheriff Higgins and try to discredit him and elect Herb in his place. Why then does the sheriff attend Mrs. Underdunk's party for Sen. Blunder?||Beats me.|
|In Ignormus, Mrs. Lafayette Bingle finally pays Freddy for having found her glasses long ago on one of his first cases. However in Flying Saucer, Mr. Brooks says that it is Mrs. Peppercorn who had lost her glasses on her forehead. What gives?||Memory loss? In Chapter 5 of Camping, too, mention is made of Freddy's having located Mrs. Bingle's lost spectacles. Just another example of our searching for consistency which isn't there.|
|In Politician, Mr. Weezer's glasses fall off at the mention of a $10.00 or more. Later in Camphor, it's $5.00. How come? I also noticed that originally in Politician Weezer says that his glasses are just windowpane worn for effect, but later in Football it says that he's worn the glasses for 25 years and he "...can hardly see at all without them." In Piper, Freddy asks Mr. Weezer if it would take $1000 to get Boomschmidt's Circus going again--and Mr. Weezer's glasses don't fall off because he hasn't put them on. That makes sense. But after he puts them on, his accountant Barclay mentions sums of $150 and $700, and they don't fall off.||I believe it's $10.00 everywhere in the series except Camphor. I don't know why. In Football, Brooks needed Weezer to have poor sight as a plot device in the trial scene, so he just conveniently changed things. About that business in Piper, your guess is as good as mine.|
|In Camphor, there's an illustration that puzzles me. Freddy mows "HELP" in unconnected block letters in Camphor's lawn. How would that be physically possible considering the kind of mower Freddy is riding? In Camping, "Mr. Eha" wears a cat mask when he haunts the Bean farm, but the illustration shows him wearing that really cool demon mask. In Space Ship Mrs. Peppercorn is supposed to be hiding behind a tree spying on a Martian, but the illustration shows her standing in plain sight among the burnt tree stumps. In Saucer Plans, Freddy is supposed to be disguised in a farmer's overalls and hat, yet Wiese's illustration shows him in his cowboy outfit. Also in the same book, Cy doesn't sport a bridle and bit in the illustration, but the trooper says he saw one and that that's why he came back to investigate. One more thing...in Politician, Mr. Brooks has Freddy flying off his bicycle and crashing through a window in the First Animal Bank and there's a Wiese illustration of this event. Then a little later Mr. Brooks writes, "It was hot in the bank, which had a door but no windows."||I guess Misters Brooks and Wiese weren't paying attention to details...again.|
|Here's an interesting question about Mr. Camphor's coin collection from T.G. of Grand Rapids. In Freddy and Mr. Camphor, it says that Mr. Camphor owned a 1776 dollar coin and a gold rising sun doubloon. Do such coins really exist? If so, what would they have been worth?||The dollar
was established as the money unit of the United States of America by the Continental
Congress on July 6, 1785. The Mint Act of April 2, 1792, authorized coinage of
the silver dollar, and coinage of silver dollars began in 1794. What Camphor probably
had was a Spanish silver dollar, which would have come into the colonies by trade
across the frontier from Louisiana, although he could have owned a Continental
Currency dollar of 1776 stuck in pewter, brass, or silver. In October of 2000,
a pewter version sold for $7,475. The rising sun doubloon probably is the famous
engraver Brasher's gold doubloon, which shows the sun rising from behind a mountain
with the ocean in the foreground as on the New York State state shield. It was
privately minted between the Revolutionary War and the ratification of the U.S.
Constitution in 1787. The legend reads "New York" "Columbia" (from Columbus, referring
to the United States) and includes the NY State motto "Excelsior," which of course
means "Higher." If Mr. Camphor indeed owned such a coin, it would be worth a
lot of money today. One version of this coin was auctioned off in 1979 for
$725,000! Here are pictures of the rising sun doubloon and the dollar. Pretty
nifty, eh? Although Camphor was regarded as a silly jackass by most of Oteseraga
County, he certainly knew his coins!
|I notice that Freddy throws off his disguise consisting of Mr. Camphor's cap, coat, and trousers in chapter 13 of Camphor, but Wiese's illustration shows him wearing the outfit in the next chapter. And there is a picture of Freddy having a punch-up with the rats at the beginning of chapter 17, but the fight actually occurs in chapter 15. Another thing--at the very end of Chapter 1 of Magician, Leo agrees to have his mane clipped. However, the illustration for an earlier exchange between Leo and Freddy shows Leo already clipped.||Go figure. The devil really is in the details, isn't it?|
|Isn't it impossible for "Cowboy" Freddy, who has trotters, to "...yank both guns--the real one and the water pistol--out of their holsters and point them and pull the triggers all inside of a single second"?||Well, yes it would be. But this feat involves your "suspension of disbelief" in order to work. You either buy it or you don't. There's a lot of this in the series. For example, in Magician, Freddy says he is incapable of performing sleight-of-hand tricks for an obvious reason; however, in the same book it seems he is quite capable of sewing with needle and thread.|
|This is just a small detail, but it really bugs me. In Space Ship, p. 88, Uncle Ben, who thinks he is on Mars, takes "a sight on the sun which is just about to set." But just two pages earlier and minutes before, it says "over it all [the landscape] the rain poured down."||Something must have distracted Mr. Brooks when he was writing page 87. Perhaps he became hungry and left his typewriter to make a liverwurst and onion sandwich, and by the time his attention returned to his task, he had forgotten the weather conditions.|
|How many fingers do the Martians have?||In Men from Mars it's 7 fingers per hand. You've obviously noticed that elsewhere it's 10, which is indeed the case.|
|I'm not very good with figures, so maybe you can help me out. In Camphor, Charles claims that there are 70 trillion vegetable-eating insects in New York State. Zero pooh-poohs Charles and says it would take "hundreds and hundreds of years" to count that many. Would it really take that long? In Space Ship, Freddy says that at 100,000 m.p.h. it would take about a week to get to Mars. Is that right? In Men from Mars, Uncle Ben's space ship gets to Saturn in a week going 100,000 m.p.h. This can't be right, right? And how fast is that flying saucer? And one more thing--in Men from Mars, it takes Uncle Ben's atomic-powered station wagon two days to get to Washington, D.C. Isn't that kind of slow?||Let's say
that the bugs started marching by you in neat rows of 100. Each second one row
goes by and you check off another 100 bugs. The last row would pass by 22,197
years later. I guess that would be "hundreds and hundreds of years"
At 100,000 m.p.h., the space ship would travel 16,800,000 miles in a week, or about 48% of the way to Mars at its closest to Earth (about 35 million miles). At its most distant from Earth, Mars is about 234 million miles away. Saturn is about 745 million miles from Earth, so a rocket traveling at 100,000 would get only 2.26% of the way there in a week.
In Men from Mars, Brooks reports the saucer as traveling 1 million miles per minute (60,000,000 miles per hour) in space and covering the distance from Syracuse to Centerboro (50 miles) in 15 seconds, or at a rate of 12,000 miles per hour. In Saucer, he says it travels at about the speed of light (669,600,000 miles per hour). There are other data given (e.g., the saucer can travel from New York to London in 10 minutes, etc.), but you can see from the examples above that it travels as fast as Brooks wants it to, so there's no point in pursuing the saucer's velocity any further.
The atomic powered station wagon must be very, very slow.
Here are even more bafflements, blunders, and bungles raised by my readers and/or by contributors to the Freddy list at yahoo.com. I'll not attempt to clear up matters here, because to each difficulty listed below there is either no answer/explanation or the obvious answer that someone wasn't paying attention to details again.