Do you approve of Vera's prank on Nuttel, who has a nerve problem, in "The Open Window" by Saki? Why or why not?

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is an interesting question. If Vera were my daughter and this event happened in my home, I certainly wouldn't approve of her frightening the wits out of a guest, especially a stranger who was there seeking hospitality and acquaintanceship. The fact that Framton Nuttel has some kind of nervous problem does not seem to enter into the equation. It would be just as wrong for Vera to play the same prank on a man who did not have a nerve problem. The author, Saki, chose to give Nuttel his neurosis in order to make his reaction to the three approaching hunters as headlong and impetuous as possible.

Framton grabbed wildly at his stick and hat; the hall door, the gravel drive, and the front gate were dimly noted stages in his headlong retreat. A cyclist coming along the road had to run into the hedge to avoid imminent collision.

And Vera had no way of knowing about Framton's nerve problem. He refrained from saying anything about it to her because of her tender years, but he told her Aunt Sappleton all about it when she arrived to take over as hostess. Would Vera have told Framton her ghost story if she had known he had a nerve problem? If so, I would strongly disapprove. If not, I would still disapprove but not as strongly. 

I can't help thinking that this is a story and that Vera's ghost story is a story within a story. That seems to make her prank less serious. It never really happened.