Jerome Squalor first appears in The Ersatz Elevator. He is married to Esmé Squalor, who decided to adopt the Baudelaires because orphans were "in." Jerome is kind to the Baudelaires but completely submissive to Esmé and other characters due to his distaste for arguments. The phrase he consistently uses throughout the book is "Well, I don't want to argue..." He is less of a follower of fashion than Esmé and dislikes the idea of buying superfluous items simply because they are "in." He is rich and successful, but this position is abused by Esmé, who wants to gain access to the Baudelaire Fortune. He is perhaps the most caring guardian of the Baudelaire children since Uncle Monty.
He was friends with the Baudelaires' parents, hinting that he is or was part of V.F.D. When the Baudelaires first come into the apartment, Jerome tells Violet about their mother:
- "You’re adventurous! I like that in a person. Your mother was adventurous, too. You know, she and I were very good friends a way back. We hiked up Mount Fraught with some friends - gosh, it must have been twenty years ago. Mount Fraught was known for having dangerous animals on it, but your mother wasn't afraid. But then, swooping out of the sky.."
He is then cut off by Esmé. The same occurs when he tries to tell the Baudelaires about their mother's love of auctions. This may be because Esmé didn't want Jerome to tell the children of Beatrice's past for fear that even though he may not know of V.F.D., (it is never stated he was involved), he may tell the children something about V.F.D. activity without knowing what he is talking about.
In Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography, there are two letters concerning Jerome: one to Jerome from Jacques Snicket and the second from Jerome to Jacques. The first begs Jerome not to marry Esmé, saying
- "The reason you should not marry Esmé is the same reason I begged you to buy the penthouse apartment at 667 Dark Avenue and never, ever sell it, and the same reason people should never get tattoos."
It is unclear from this letter whether Jerome was part of V.F.D. knowingly and willingly.
It is implied in the second letter that the first never reached Jerome because the doorman - one of Count Olaf's henchmen, the hook handed man - never gave it to him. In the second letter, it is obvious that Esmé is working against V.F.D. at this point, as the letter says
- "She (Esmé) says that she can't wait to meet you so she can finally give you what you deserve. I assume she means a present of some sort."
This letter suggests that Jerome, because of his optimism and submissiveness, was used as a pawn by Esmé to secure the tunnel in the elevator at 667 Dark Avenue.
Adopting the BaudelairesEdit
Esmé leaves Jerome to become a member of Count Olaf's troupe and Count Olaf's girlfriend. In keeping with his timid and nonconfrontational disposition, Jerome tells the Baudelaires that he wants to take them "far, far away from here, so far away that you’ll forget all about Count Olaf and the Quagmires and everything else." The Baudelaires refuse because they think that the act of finding Count Olaf and the Quagmires is more noble.
At the Hotel DenouementEdit
Jerome returns in The Penultimate Peril. Feeling guilty at his desertion of the Baudelaires, he has been researching their case and writing a book about injustice entitled Odious Lusting After Finance (a backronym of "Olaf"). He gives the book to Justice Strauss to be used as evidence at Olaf's trial in the lobby of Hotel Denouement. Jerome also meets his wife Esmé at the hotel, and when she dumps Count Olaf publicly Jerome urges her to rejoin his side, that he has faith that she still has nobility left in her. Unfortunately Esmé replies that she can't, because justice is out at this time ("that's why it's called injustice"). When the time for the trial comes Count Olaf kidnaps the judge, escapes, and uses the only copy of the book as kindling to set fire to the hotel. It is unknown whether Jerome Squalor survives the fire.