Jerome Squalor is one of the protagonists of A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. Jerome Squalor has yet to appear in any film adaptations but he may appear in the promised film sequel to Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events.
He is the sixth guardian of the Baudelaires
Jerome was definitely a member of V.F.D., given that he knew such individuals such as Count Olaf, Lemony, Kit and Jacques Snicket, the Quagmires, the Baudelaires and Dewey Denmouemet from his childhood. It is very probable they all grew up in the V.F.D. headquarters together. Jerome Squalor was somewhat of an optimist, as when his wife Esme made comments about people being sick, he said he didn't want to think of that.
After graduating from V.F.D., Jerome became a billionaire and was one of the richest men in the city. He married the city's sixth most successful financial advisor, Esme Squalor, and became even richer. Jerome was always best friends with Jacques Snicket, and before marrying Esme, he asked Jacques if he believed he should marry Esme. Jacques said on no condition. Jerome said maybe Jacques could explain a little more when they all met after the marriage, and married Esme anyway.
Jacques got married at the Vineyard of Fragrant Grapes, which was in reality a V.F.D. owned vineyard, whose real name was the Vineyard of Fragrant Drapes, but they subtlety changed the name when they had business communities over. Their wedding brochure was enscribed with "JEROME AND ESME: MARRIED AFTER ONLY ONE EVENING TOGETHER!"
One day into their marriage, Esme decided to go to Peru for some unidentified reason (presumably she was going to betray Jerome even then and meet Olaf in Peru, as he was planning on abducting the Baudelaires) Esme got to The Prospero ship late, and was left stranded on the departures ladder as she watched the ship sail off. Her only comment was "I do not intend to swim!"
Jerome wrote to Jacques for what was to be the last time, about adopting the Baudelaires and he wondered in his letter about why exactly he should never have bought that penthouse.
The Ersatz Elevator
In this book, Jerome is an incredibly wealthy man living on 667 Dark Avenue (they live next to the Beast). Upon entering the street, the Baudelaires assume the name "Dark" is just a name but they then find its an appropriate description because all the trees on the street are gigantic and block the Sun. So the whole avenue is pitch dark.
Upon getting the 68 floors to Jerome's penthouse apartment (a number often confused with 78 or 84) the Baudelaires finally meet Jerome, who is extremely polite and welcoming to them. He even makes them feel welcome by saying he knew their mother, Beatrice, who apparently went hiking with him (its implied Jerome fancied her) and then was mysteriously abducted by a giant eagle.
Esme then enters, and unlike her husband, she is extremely obnoxious and unwelcoming, telling the Baudelaires stupid stuff such as fashion, ("what's in and out") and also emphasizing the fact orphans are in... for now! The Baudelaires shudder at the thought but then hear that "light is in, dark is out" and Jerome is only half-heartedly enthusiastic about the prospect, saying it would be a relief to get proper light. Upon pulling back the curtains to reveal daylight and blowing out the candles, Jerome exposes a beautiful view of the city to the Baudelaires. They see the gardeners chopping down the beautiful trees below, and this makes the Baudelaires wonder what they'll do to orphans in this community when they're out.
However, Jerome really does love the Baudelaires and he tries to make their stay as welcoming as he can. He takes them to all their favorite parts of the city - Klaus goes back to his favorite bookstore, Sunny revisits her old birth hospital, and Violet goes to the inventing museum which inspired her inventions. They all have a wonderful time with Jerome, but when they're with Esme it's not so much fun.
One day, Esme buys them pinstripe suits, the "in" thing to wear, saying the kids must've been "mortified" to not wear them as if they're even bothered. But they lie and say thanks anyway even though the suits are like three times bigger than the Baudelaires. Upon realizing what a good life they have (even if Esme is a nasty person) they put them on anyway. But Count Olaf returns at that moment, disguised as Ghunter the auctioneer, and makes the Baudelaires call him this. Jerome is the only one who begins to trust the Baudelaires when they say Olaf is here.
Jerome doesn't want an argument, so he takes the Baudelaires out for dinner when they try and convince him Ghunter is Olaf and what he might be doing with their friends the Quagmires who he had kidnapped. Jerome is the only one to listen to their worries when Esme tells them to shut up. Jerome makes them breakfast the next morning and he says Esme is going to the King of Arizona so they have the day to themselves... until Esme says parsley soda is in and orders Jerome to go and get some. Jerome protests that he was going to tailor the suits for the Baudelaires but Esme says grow up.
Jerome returns when he comes home that evening with Esme and is delighted to see the Baudelaires but Esme is as usual rude and impatient. Jerome calls the Baudelaires' company "pleasant" and says they'll be fun to walk to the penthouse with. Jerome is confused to the doorman's comment not to go home because Olaf apparently didn't leave, but Esme said he had left, so they should go up.
Later, Jerome returns towards the end of the book when he leaves a note for the Baudelaires about the In Auction that day. He reappears in the Auction itself. He is delighted to see the Baudelaires but very surprised, he says they could've knocked him over with a feather. In this case, Jerome wants to bid on Lot 48, a red herring statue. The Quagmires have been hidden in the Auction and are about to be sold off, so the Baudelaires know the Quagmires are in Lot 50, V.F.D., and the doorman buys the red herring, to Jerome's surprise. Jerome introduces Mr Poe (who was at the Auction) to the doorman but the doorman surprisingly tells Ghunter the orphans are here. Ghunter says it's cool and continues the Auction. Esme says skip all the other Lots, astounding Jerome, who knew she was greedy and never thought she'd say it was enough money. Eventually, Jerome tries to buy Lot 50 ("V.F.D") for the Baudelaires, angering Mr Poe who believes he is spoiling the kids, but the Lot turns out to be a box of Very Fancy Doilies. The Baudelaires nonetheless expose Ghunter as Olaf and Esme's cooperation with him is revealed. Jerome is angered and repulsed by Esme's treachery, and says ruthless kidnapping villains aren't in.
Olaf says he's right and legs it with Esme. Outside, Olaf meets with the hook handed man, one of his friends, who was the doorman all along. They have the Quagmires in the red herring statue, it turned out, and not the V.F.D Lot at all. (Hence, a red herring!) But as Esme drives away laughing with Olaf, Jerome sadly approaches the Baudelaires and apologizes for his incompetence and all he gives them in the end, is "good luck."
The Penultimate Peril
Jerome came to his senses after he selfishly abandoned the children, and reconsidered his words about fleeing and hiding from Olaf. Instead, he tracked him down.
After his wife's treachery, Jerome went to the Village of Fowl Devotees, Prufock Preparatory School, the Hotel Denouement, and read books of injustice and crime in all the libraries he went to, and he eventually wrote a book, called Odious Lusting After Finance, which is actually a backronym of Olaf, as Olaf was the cause of all the trouble in V.F.D. and Jerome was angry at Olaf enforcing his wife to betray him so he wanted Olaf bought to justice. He also hoped he could win back Esme.
He ended up being employed by Dewey Denouement, one of V.F.D.'s leaders, and he worked at the Hotel Denmouement in the city, as a spy. Jerome was assigned to tracking the night crows which delivered the sugar bowl to the hotel, but he thought the crows were killed with a harpoon and the sugar bowl fell into the funnel in the laundry room. Dewey asked if this really was the case, as he knew the sugar bowl could also end up in the hotel pond, which hid an exact replica of the Hotel Denouement in its immeasurable depths.
Jerome apologized to the Baudelaires upon meeting them again, which was at two o clock on Thursday morning, the morning of the trial against Olaf. Jerome trusted the judges on the High Court, not knowing they were evil traitors and Olaf's bosses. Jerome was working with Justice Strauss, another member of V.F.D and who shared the same initials. Volunteers in V.F.D. kept leaving letters assigned to J.S. which the Baudelaires thought was Jacques Snicket even though he was dead.
Jerome and Justice Strauss admitted they were the ones the messages were for and hugged the Baudelaires. Jerome then said that he had felt betrayed by Esme but wrote a book about injustice which would be crucial against Olaf.
Then, Olaf himself appeared, with Esme and his gang. Esme eventually fell out with Olaf after arguing about the sugar bowl, and she furiously dumped him. Olaf said he was sick of having a girlfriend obsessed with fashion, showing his selfish nature. Olaf then proceeded to try and kill Dewey, which eventually happened, although by accident. Olaf saw Mr Poe coming and he thrust the harpoon gun into Violet's hands, causing it to fall on the floor and shoot Dewey.
The orphans were accused of the crime and Olaf perpetuated this lie. Jerome and Justice Strauss were the orphan's only defendants, although many volunteers in the hotel also defended the kids. One man even said "I think they look like nice kids!" Also, the trail began proper.
Jerome presented his biography of injustice much to the displeasure of all the villains. But then the Baudelaires recognized the judges as being evil friends of Olaf who in no way would arrest the man. So they yelled that the court was dishonourable, and Justice Strauss was being kidnapped, causing the orphans to yank off their blindfolds (the court decided "justice is blind" should be taken literally) and the judges yelled that the Baudelaires were in contempt of court, to which Violet said definitely, the judges are evil villains who deserve prison. Olaf was fleeing with Justice Strauss and Jerome said he believed the Baudelaires weren't lying, citing that they had experienced villainly before.
When the judges ordered everyone to hunt down "anyone who looked suspicious, after all you can't make such judgements yourselves!" its likely Jerome ignored this. He probably believed the Baudelaires when they said about the fire, and may have evacuated. Esme didn't believe them and presumably perished. Jerome, on the other hand, may have been one of the people outside the hotel who were fiercely pointing at the Baudelaires when they sailed away and they knew it was just as dangerous on land. Jerome probably rejoined V.F.D. if he survived, he would have been torn up about Esme's death if he ever discovered it.
Jerome was very much like Jonathan Carnahan. He was a bumbling fool who meant well but then a cheese pasty also means well and would do a better job of protecting the Baudelaires. Jerome was a good natured man, and could survive any conflicts thrown at him. He got over Esme's treachery pretty well and eventually tried to forgive her, as did Justice Strauss.
- Jerome's name, Jerome Squalor, is a pun on the book For Esmé—with Love and Squalor, as his wife's name is Esme and Jerome is definitely not squalid.
- Despite his wealth and spoiled nature, he is not a spoiled brat.
- Also despite his abandonment of the Baudelaires, they forgive him and he redeems himself.
- He is also closest to unmasking Olaf straight away out of all the guardians.