Saki (H. H. Munro) is good at capturing the attitudes and feelings of children towards oppressive elders, possibly motivated by own life experience. “Sredni Vashtar” is a story about a young boy named Conradin who has a deadly disease. He lives under the care of his cousin, Mrs. De Ropp, who he hates. The only thing that he likes is the polecat ferret and a Houdan hen in the garden shed. When Mrs. De Ropp takes the hen, Conradin starts to have murderous thoughts. Conradin frantically prays to the ferret deity, Sredni Vashtar and then the ferret comes out with blood in its mouth. At the end, Conradin enjoys a piece of toast while Mrs. De Ropp lies dead.
In this story, Conradin is the protagonist. He is a physically weak and ill boy with powerful imagination, devoted and capable of being happy in any circumstances.
In this story, Mrs. De Ropp is the antagonist, controlling, harsh, cruel and sadistic.
Point of View:
The story follows Conradin but is told in third-person.
In the constant battle between nature and society, Conradin represents the nature who is also oppressed and Mrs. De Ropp represents the oppressor society.
The shed represents a cathedral of Conradin's faith and a safe place where he goes for worship. The ferret deity, Sredni Vashtar is a symbol of Conradin's anger towards Mrs. De Ropp.
The hen stands for Conradin's innocence and the toast signifies Conradin's freedom.
The story centers around three themes: (a) Nature vs. Society: In this constant battle, no side ever wins (b) Death: Death shapes the relationship between characters and finally Conradin is free from oppression, and (c) Oppression: The story shows what people can do or want to do, to escape oppression.