“The Open Window” Analysis and Summary

In the beginning of the story, Mr. Frampton Nuttel goes to visit Mrs. Sappleton. He does this because he has received an invitation card and does not wish to be rude. When he arrives, Mrs. Sappleton is busy upstairs, so her niece Vera keeps Mr. Nuttel company. Vera tells him a very interesting tale while they wait. She says that her uncles, Mrs. Sappleton’s husband and brothers, went off hunting with their spaniel in the marshes. They drowned while there one day, and Mrs. Sappleton keeps the window open because she thinks they will return eventually.

After the story Mrs. Sappleton comes and tells Mr. Nuttel that “her husband and brothers will soon return from hunting and that is why we keep the window open.” The brothers return soon afterwards, and Nuttel runs off scared out of his wits. Vera then makes up another story about Mr. Nuttel being deathly afraid of dogs.

“The Open Window” by Saki  operates on a story-within-a-story structure. The story of the events of Mr. Nuttel make up the “frame story,” and the story Vera tells is the “center story.” The story fools Mr. Nuttel by making him believe that the dead have come again. The story also fools the reader by tricking him/her into believing the story is true, at least until the last paragraph. Saki uses specific words to make the ghost story more effective. For instance, the work says that Vera stared “in dazed horror.” This is one of the many phrases Saki uses to make the reader fall for the ghost story. Saki also uses irony to hint on the trick he plays on us. For example, Vera means truth, yet she is a liar throughout the work. Sappleton is derived from the Greek word for wise, and yet she fails to notice Vera’s scheme and why Mr. Nuttel is so scared.

 

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