Monday, August 27, 2012


Summary of Story: H.H. Munro's (Saki) "The Open Window" brilliantly portrays how one's nerves affect his/her personality. As Framton embarks on a trip intended as a "nerve cure," he finds himself in an unfamiliar situation that ultimately has a negative effect on his seemingly nervous personality.

Frampton Nuttel suffers from a nervous condition and has come to spend some time alone. His sister sets up introductions for him with a few members of the community. His first visit is to the Sappleton house where he meets fifteen-year-old Vera, the niece of Mrs. Sappleton. Vera keeps Nuttel company while he waits. Upon hearing that Nuttel has not met the Sappletons, Vera tells Nuttel some information about the family. Vera says that three years ago to the date, Mrs. Sappleton's husband and two younger brothers went on a hunting trip and never returned. Vera goes into detail about the clothes they were wearing, the dog that accompanied them, and the song that Mrs. Sappleton's brother sang upon their return. Vera says that her grief-stricken aunt watches out the window expecting their return. When Mrs. Sappleton enters, she tells Nuttel that she expects her husband and brothers to return at any moment. Nuttel listens, thinking that Mrs. Sappleton has in fact gone crazy. Suddenly, Mrs. Sappleton brightens as she tells Nuttel that they have returned. Nuttel turns only to see the "dead" hunters. He becomes frightened and leaves in a rush. Mrs. Sappleton doesn't understand Nuttel's strange behavior, but Vera replies that he is deathly afraid of dogs. Not until the end of the story does the reader realize that Vera has tricked Mr. Nuttel. This is revealed with the last line of the story: "Romance at short notice was her [Vera's] specialty."

Armed with a letter of introduction, Framton Nuttel is visiting Mrs. Sappleton’s country estate for a “nerve cure.” Mr. Nuttel is greeted by the niece, Vera, a polite “self-possessed young lady of fifteen,” who begins telling him about her aunt’s great tragedy. Pointing to the open French window, Vera (Latin, meaning “truth”) spins a yarn about her aunt’s husband and two brothers who went out through the window on a hunting trip through the moors fifteen years earlier and never returned. The aunt keeps the window open in expectation of their imminent return. Suddenly the aunt enters. Over the civilities of tea and polite conversation, she alludes to the hunting trip, and Mr. Nuttel becomes gradually unnerved. When, indeed, the hunting party returns, Nuttel, as if he had seen ghosts, flees. The niece, we learn, had told the truth about the hunters, but had made up the part about their disappearance. They had simply gone out that morning, but, says Saki, Vera was incorrigible. “Romance at short notice was her specialty.” At first glance the story appears to be a mere joke; but “THE OPEN WINDOW” can be reread with pleasure because of its masterful tone--a finely honed, polite restraint with only a hint of a smirk on the authorial face.Finally, the narrative works as a parody of the traditional ghost story. Vera’s yarn has all the trimmings of the standard mystery--the journey on the moors, the mysterious disappearance, even Mr. Nuttel’s role as scared listener. In the end, the tradition is subverted. Romance is but a prank.
Sources: › ... › The Open Window - Salem on Literature-17.08.2012
"The Open Window'' is Saki's most popular short story. It was first collected in Beasts and Super-Beasts in 1914. Saki's wit is at the height of its power in this story of a spontaneous practical joke played upon a visiting stranger. The practical joke recurs in many of Saki's stories, but "The Open Window'' is perhaps his most successful and best known example of the type. Saki dramatizes here the conflict between reality and imagination, demonstrating how difficult it can be to distinguish between them. Not only does the unfortunate Mr. Nuttel fall victim to the story's joke, but so does the reader. The reader is at first inclined to laugh at Nuttel for being so gullible. However, the reader, too, has been taken in by Saki's story and must come to the realization that he or she is also inclined to believe a well-told and interesting tale.

The Open Window Summary

Framton Nuttel has presented himself at the Sappleton house to pay a visit. He is in the country undergoing a rest cure for his nerves and is calling on Mrs. Sappleton at the request of his sister. Though she does not know Mrs. Sappleton well, she worries that her brother will suffer if he keeps himself in total seclusion, as he is likely to do.
Fifteen-year-old Vera keeps Nuttel company while they wait for her aunt. After a short silence, Vera asks if Nuttel knows many people in the area. Nuttel replies in the negative, admitting that of Mrs. Sappleton he only knows her name and address. Vera then informs him that her aunt's "great tragedy" happened after his sister was acquainted with her. Vera indicates the large window that opened on to the lawn.
Exactly three years ago, Vera recounts, Mrs. Sappleton's husband and two younger brothers walked through the window to go on a day's hunt.
D.N. Aloysius

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