|“||Call me Sir. Everyone does, because I tell 'em to. I'm the boss, they have to do what I say.||”|
— Sir introducing himself to the Baudelaire orphans
Sir's "partner" and heavily implied lover is Charles, whose duties involve ironing Sir's shirts, cooking him omelettes, and making him milkshakes.
Sir is the dominant one in his relationship with Charles. He often acts mean to Charles, including handwaving Charles's concerns and treating his opinions as worthless, and Sir also raises his voice at Charles.
Sir is the type of person who thinks that raising his voice and saying "my word is final, this argument is over" means he "wins" an argument, as if he is the ultimate authority. Because of Charles submissive personality, Sir's behavior in debates works.
Despite their unhealthy relationship, it is implied that Sir is not entirely evil and that he cares about Charles to some degree, which is why Charles stays with him. Charles hopes he can change Sir, as he sees that little bit of kindness in Sir. Charles mentions Sir had an unfortunate childhood, and Charles is sympathetic. Another probable reason why Charles stays with Sir is the rarity of non-closeted gay men, as the series is set in a certain era.
Despite this, it is implied that Lemony Snicket has the opinion that Sir is not worthy of Charles' love, and that enduring emotional abuse for the sake of love is not worth it. In the books, it is left a mystery if their relationship worked out in the end, although in the TV series, Charles mentions he has found another man (Jerome Squalor).
Sir is also greedy. He does not care much about the welfare and horrid living conditions of his employees, and mentions he has not even visited his dormitory in six years, and hires relatives to work in his dismal conditions.
He had a very terrible childhood which caused him to be the mean-spirited boss he is today, but it's unknown what happened.
Sir is the owner of the Lucky Smells Lumbermill, located in Paltryville. Sir's real name is unknown. It is extremely difficult to pronounce, as evidenced by Mr. Poe's attempts early in the book. Equally obscure is Sir's appearance, his entire head is hidden by a thick layer of smoke from his ever-burning cigar.
He shows little concern for either the Baudelaire orphans or his employees, whom he pays in coupons and provides an unsatisfying meal of chewing gum for lunch and disgusting casseroles for dinner. The possible reason he is so mean and greedy is that, according to Charles, he had a very terrible childhood.
It is possible he is a member of V.F.D. (probably the fire starting side).
In the book, it is left ambiguous that he may have conspired with Georgina Orwell. In the TV series, it is revealed they did conspire as he gets free labor and they split the profits, however, Sir simply thinks that Orwell simply does "weekly eye exams to boost worker morale" instead of hypnotism.
The Miserable Mill
In the end of The Miserable Mill, he fires the Baudelaires, claiming that they were too much trouble and that wherever the Baudelaires go, misfortune follows, and he will have no more of it. Charles objected to Sir's decision.
In the TV series adaptation, a worker's revolt causes Sir to flee instead of stay at the lumbermill.
The Penultimate Peril
He later appears in The Penultimate Peril as a guest at Hotel Denouement. A disguised Klaus takes him and Charles to the sauna. While Charles tells Sir that he wants to apologize to the Baudelaires for what happened at the mill, they both talk about a cocktail party held by someone named J.S. In addition, Sir stated that wood from his lumbermill helped to build the Hotel Denouement. Frank Denouement or Ernest Denouement comes in telling the two of them that they have to clear the sauna. When Sir stated his love for burning wood, Frank or Ernest asks a passing chemist (who was actually Colette in disguise) to take them to Room 547 where Organic Chemistry is.
After being among those awoken by the death of Dewey Denouement, Sir remembered the Baudelairs after they were identified by Geraldine Julienne and claimed that the Baudelaires caused accidents at the Lucky Smells Lumbermill while Charles stated to him that Count Olaf was responsible for those accidents.
During the trial of the Baudelaire children and Count Olaf, Sir submitted the employment records as evidence.
When the Hotel Denouement Fire was started, Sir and Charles were holding hands in order to not lose each other as they argue on if fires are good for the lumber business or not. It is unknown if Sir and Charles survived, or if they died together as partners until the end.
Sir and Charles relationship
It is thought by some readers that Charles is in a relationship with his boss and partner, Sir:
- Some moments in The Miserable Mill in combination with their chat in The Penultimate Peril have suggestive lines
- In The Penultimate Peril, they share a room when they travel together to the Hotel Denoument, share a relaxing sauna together there, and when the hotel is set on fire, they are holding hands as they attempt to escape.
- In The Beatrice Letters, Lemony Snicket tells Beatrice Baudelaire that he will love her until "C realizes that S is not worthy of his love," confirming suspicions of the relationship.
- They are mentioned to be partners—the lack of mention of them being business partners is unusual, and suggests they may be romantic partners.
The TV series adaptation made this relationship more explicit.
- Klaus: Doesn't "partner" mean "equal"?
- Lemony Snicket: Well, in fact, "partners" can mean several things. It could mean "two people who own a lumbermill together, or a cupcakery." Now, with the advent of more progressive cultural mores, not to mention certain High Court rulings, it could also mean...
- Sir: I do all the work. He irons my clothes.
- Charles: I also cook your omelette.
- Lemony Snicket: The definitions are not mutually exclusive.
At one point, while Violet is snooping around the library, she eavesdrops on Sir and Charles. Charles attempts to kiss Sir but Sir does not notice.
At the end of Episode 8, Violet asks what Charles plans on doing next. Charles responds that he plans on searching for Sir even though he's not a good person. He tells the Baudelaires, "Some day you will learn that some things aren't always black and white."
When asked about LGBT characters in his novels, Daniel Handler specifically mentioned Sir and Charles despite there being no prior mention:
|“||I grew up in an environment of queerness of every stripe, and I'd like to believe my work reflects such a world, even if the romantic and sexual lives and preferences of many of my characters are not explicit, as they aren't in life. (After all, we don't know what Sir and Charles do when we're not around, as we don't know, and thank goodness, with many friends; my new forthcoming YA novel has already ruffled the feathers of both queer and straight readers for scenes portraying certain flexibilities.)||”|
— Daniel Handler
In another interview, when Daniel was asked about who is LGBT in A Series of Unfortunate Events, he replied he wanted to leave it up to speculation, but said, "More than you probably think, as in real life."(25:00)
Behind the scenes
He is portrayed by Don Johnson in the TV series.
- "It wasn't a mistake. I don't make mistakes, Charles. I'm not an idiot."
- Charles: "Oh, sir. You can't be serious. A lumbermill is no place for small children to work."
Sir: "Of course it is. It will teach them responsibility. It will teach them the value of work. And it will teach them how to make flat wooden boards out of trees."
- Charles: "Now, Sir. These are children. You shouldn't talk to them this way. As you remember, I never thought it was a good idea for the Baudelaires to work in the mill. They should be treated like members of the family."
Sir: "They are being treated like members of the family. Many of my cousins live there in the dormitory. I refuse to argue with you, Charles! You're my partner! Your job is to iron my shirts and cook my omelettes, not boss me around!"
- "Now THAT is the part of the story that is so unbelievable that I don't believe it. I met this young woman, and she isn't at all like Count Olaf! She has one eyebrow instead of two, that's true, but plenty of wonderful people have that characteristic!"
- "How did you know my name?" (to a disguised Klaus who asked, "What can I do for you, Sir?")
- Many years before the TV series came out, there was a lot of speculation on Sir's and Charles' relationship. Many people did not believe they were a couple, thinking that Daniel Handler would not insert gay characters into his stories, especially those which young readers would read. Ironically, the same book features a woman being gored to death by a buzzsaw, which is unconventional enough for a children's book. One of the major themes of A Series of Unfortunate Events is that one can choose to face reality or be in denial of it. Handler is of the opinion that being a child is not an excuse to be sheltered from the reality that LGBT people exist.
- One possible reason that Handler did not make the relationship more explicit is due to the amount of stigma and possible backlash of LGBT characters in children's books, as The Miserable Mill was published in 2000. Such backlash could prevent the other 9 books in the series from being published, as Handler was unsure if the series could continue past the fourth book.
- Sir wrote the book The History of Lucky Smells Lumbermill and donated it to the library. In the TV series, the table of contents is shown and the final chapter is titled "Sir a Legend in the Making".
- A character with similar traits to Sir, Smogface Wiley, appears in File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents. Smogface Wiley smokes cigarillos and collects silver spoons, each engraved with a different letter of the alphabet. In the TV series, an excerpt from his book says that Sir smokes cigarillos and uses a silver spoon to eat alphabet soup.
- The Miserable Mill
- The Penultimate Peril
- A Series of Unfortunate Events (TV series)