Summary (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
Framton Nuttel, an eccentric hypochondriac, has moved to the country on his doctor’s advice to effect a cure for a nervous condition from which he suffers. His sister has lived in the area he visits and has given him letters of introduction to his new neighbors. The story concerns his visit to the home of one of these neighbors, a Mrs. Sappleton.
Mr. Nuttel is first met by Mrs. Sappleton’s niece Vera, who entertains him until her aunt is available. Vera, apparently bored with her guest, is graced with an overactive imagination and a sense of mischief. Once she determines that Mr. Nuttel knows nothing about the family and is a very literal-minded fellow, Vera spins a gothic yarn involving her aunt, whom she characterizes as a mentally disturbed widow.
Three years ago, Mr. Sappleton and his two younger brothers-in-law went hunting, leaving the house through a French window, which was left open until their return. However, all three of them were lost in a bog that day, Vera asserts, and their bodies were never recovered. The aunt, driven to distraction by her grief and loss, left the window open thereafter, anticipating that “they will come back some day” with “the little brown spaniel that was lost with them, and walk in that window just as they used to do.”
When Mrs. Sappleton finally appears, she explains why the window is open, apparently confirming Vera’s story. Mr. Nuttel then tells Mrs. Sappleton about his nervous...
(The entire section is 402 words.)
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"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 its sharpest in this story of a spontaneous practical joke played on a visiting stranger. The practical joke recurs in many of Saki's stories, but "The Open Window" is perhaps his most successful and the best-known example of the type. In dramatizing the conflict between reality and imagination, Saki makes the point that they are more difficult to distinguish than we often realize. Not only does the unfortunate Mr. Nuttel fall victim to the joke, but so do readers, who are at first inclined to laugh at Nuttel for being so gullible. However, readers, too, have been taken in by Saki's story and must realize that they are also inclined to believe a well-told and interesting tale.
At the beginning of the story 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 demand 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 Nuttel whether he knows many people in the area. Nuttel replies in the negative, admitting that he knows no more about Mrs. Sappleton herself than her name and...
(The entire section is 1107 words.)
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. They never came back. They were drowned in a bog, and their bodies were never found. Mrs. Sappleton thinks they will come back some day, along with their spaniel, so she keeps the window open. She still talks of them often to her niece, repeating the words of one of her brother's favorite songs, "Bertie, why do you bound?" Vera herself admits to sometimes believing the men will all come back through that window. She then breaks off her narration with a shudder.
At that moment, Mrs. Sappleton enters the room, apologizing for keeping him waiting and...
(The entire section is 491 words.)