- Rona: Some people will think you're a hero, and some people will think you're a villain.
- Lemony Snicket: You could say that about anyone.
Rona is a potentially fictional legendary character who appears in The Hero of the Story.
|“||She was only thirteen, after all, and fresh from her hero-making adventure. She wanted to see what would happen next.||”|
In Rona's legend, as read by Lemony Snicket, she lived in a small village which was regularly menaced by a giant crab who lived in a cave a few kilometers outside the village.
One day, when Rona is thirteen years old, Rona decides to rid the village of their crab, and hatches a plan. She stretches a long vine a few centimeters off the ground between two trees that grew on the edge of a high cliff above a churning sea. Rona then journeys to the crab's lair, throwing sticks into the mouth of the cave until the crab angrily awakens. The crab chases her and she leads it to the cliff, fast enough that Rona fears it may pinch her to death. She finally reaches the cliff and leaps off, grabbing onto the vine she'd tied to prevent herself from falling. The crab, meanwhile, falls into the sea, and Rona, grinning with pride, climbs back up and tells her village of what she's done. The village throws her a party in her honor.
Unfortunately, not long after, the emperor comes to her village with an enormous retinue. The emperor offers great heaps of jewels to exchange for the crab for his collection of beasts, but as they don't have the crab anymore, the villagers instead offer Rona as a bride. Rona, uninterested in marrying someone she doesn't know and so young, protests, but the village sends her to the emperor's palace to marry him in order to gain the treasure.
Rona is angered at the unpleasant palace, as the emperor is loud and boring, and he already had several boring wives. Rona asks again and again to go home, but each time is denied and not listened to. One afternoon, she finds a solution to her problems- a long bell pull that reminds her of the vine that had made her a hero. Rona takes the bell pull that night and stretches it between two lamps as tall as trees.
While Snicket does not finish the legend, he infers from the similar trap setup that Rona plans to murder the Emperor in order to free herself.
- Lemony Snicket: Our stories are very similar.
- Rona: The trouble is, my story's in a book, and yours is right here in the world.
After Snicket is arrested under suspicions of kidnapping an infant emperor, he imagines speaking to Rona. He questions if she is a villain for planning to kill her husband, and she points out that he could have taken the infant to the police. He points out that their stories are similar, and she points out that her story is in a book, and his in reality.
When Snicket is released from prison with the infant, who turned out to not be the emperor, he has an imaginary conversation with Rona and the baby, and asks if he would be a hero or villain for giving the baby to someone who is not her mother if her mother is a kidnapper. Rona suggests that some people will consider him a hero and some a villain, and that it doesn't matter what people say, and instead more important what he thinks of his own actions.
Rona is seen in an illustration in a library book, as a fierce-looking girl with short hair and glasses that make her eyes look even sharper. Snicket says he can easily picture her thoughtfully shrugging.
|“||I have troubles of my own.||”|
- Lemony Snicket: Right before that man started shouting at me, it seemed like you were about to trick the emperor to his death, just as you did with that giant crab.
- Rona: What's wrong with that?
|“||Everyone thought I was a hero until the emperor came to town.||”|
- There is a Maori legend about a girl named Rona, the controller of the tide who is captured by the moon.
- Rona's physical appearance is described as very similar to illustrations of Fiona, with short hair and glasses. This is interesting, as she and Snicket's conversation plays heavily into the ideas of moral ambiguity and what makes a hero and villain, a theme that was focused on with Fiona and her brother Fernald in The Grim Grotto.