What are the six plot points of "The Open Window" by Saki? I need to write the example and explanation of each but am lost.

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Plot structures can be analyzed in more than one way. One way is through six plot points that include complication, conflict and denouement. This is a common method used in narratological analysis of texts. The six plot points are:

  1. Exposition
  2. Complication
  3. Conflict
  4. Climax
  5. Denouement
  6. Resolution

In the exposition, the characters, relationships, situation and setting are introduced and established. This is an important section of the plot because it establishes the premise for all that follows; it sets up the whos and whys and where and when.

The second plot point is the complication. This is the what. The complication is the events or circumstances or characters that pose the germ of the problem to be faced or dealt with by the protagonist.

The third plot point is the conflict. This is the actual problem that develops out of the complication(s). This is the problem that arises between the protagonist and the antagonist. Sometimes, of course, the "antagonist" is the inner being of the protagonist if the conflict is an internal Self against Self conflict, such as when the protagonist is faced with an ethical or moral decision.

The fourth plot is the climax. This is when the events surrounding the conflict turn (at the turning point) so that the outcome is inevitable, for example, if the protagonist decides to battle the antagonist in the climax, what comes--a battle--is inevitable.

The fifth plot point is the denouement. This is what happens as a result of the climax. The decision or the action the protagonist takes in the climax leads to the occurrences of the denouement.

The sixth plot point is the resolution. This is how the conflict does or does not get completely resolved: it is completely resolved or it is continuing.

Now, to apply these plot points to "The Open Window." First find the exposition: setting, characters, relationships and situation. I'll get you started with the characters and relationships, then you can proceed:

  • Framton Nuttel and his sister
  • Vera and her aunt, Mrs. Stappleton

Now find the complication, the seed of the problem that will arise. The complication here is that Framton is emotionally and mentally exhausted and needs a complete mental rest cure: mental rest is the key phrase in the complication.

Now identify the conflict. The conflict develops from the complication. It helps to identify the antagonist to the protagonist. In this case, with Framton the protagonist, the antagonist is Vera, the niece. What does she do related to Framton's need for complete mental rest? The answer to this leads to the conflict: She tells him a horrific story and suggests it will come to an end in a deathly manner before his very eyes, thus destroying his mental rest cure (and his sanity?).

Now identify the climax--the moment when the inevitable is decided--the denouement (the results of the climax) and the resolution. Be sure to identify if the resolution is complete or if the conflict continues after the story ends: complete or continuing resolution. I'll help a little on a some of this. The denouement, the result of the climax, is when Framton runs away. The conflict does not completely resolve; it is only run away from. Since we still fear what will become of Framton, it is continuing. Now, you can identify the climax that falls between the conflict and the denouement.


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