illustration of a young girl looking out a window at ghostly figures

The Open Window

by Saki

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What is the point of view in "The Open Window" and does it change?

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This story is told from a third-person limited omniscient point of view. This means that the narrator knows the thoughts and feelings of one character and can report them to us. Often this perspective is used to help us sympathize more deeply with the character of whose thoughts we are told. We get quite a bit of Framton Nuttel's thoughts: he wonders about his sister's feelings regarding Mrs. Sappleton, ponders the woman's marriage state, experiences horror regarding the story Vera tells him about Mrs. Sappleton's dead husband and brothers, and tried to turn the topic of conversation to the subject of his personal ailments because of his "delusion" that everyone is interested. We really do not get any descriptions of Mrs. Sappleton's private thoughts: she expresses them either in word or gesture. Early on, the narrator does say that Vera "judged that [she and Framton] had had sufficient silent communication," but this could be inferred as a result of the fact that she begins to speak rather than taken as a description of her private thoughts. However, in the end, the narrator does tell us that "Romance at short notice was [Vera's] speciality"; I would argue that we might also be able to infer this from the two obviously false (and quite creative) stories we have seen her generate on incredibly short notice. It is not necessarily the revelation of a private thought, but, perhaps, a description of the behavior she has exhibited during the story. Therefore, I would argue that the perspective remains the same throughout.

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In the beginning of the story, the narration is controlled by Vera, Mrs. Sappleton's niece, she shapes the story, telling Framton Nuttel a tall tale about the open window being a memorial for the lost hunters. Vera is in charge of setting up the deception.

It is Vera who provides the crazy setting in the home, that when Mrs. Sappleton comes into the room to greet Mr. Nuttel, he is already scared half out of his mind thinking that she is a nut and that he is observing the arrival of the ghosts of her husband and brother, along with the dog, returning on the anniversary of their deaths in the bog.

Toward the end of the story, the narration shifts away from Vera and is picked up by Mrs. Sappleton who reflects on why Mr. Nuttel ran out of the house with such speed.

Mr. Nuttel's behavior is perceived as rude and unexpected, since he called on the Sappleton's and then rushes out of the house just as Mrs. Sappleton is getting to know him.  Once Nuttel leaves, the reader gets a chance to learn the truth once the narration shifts from Vera to Mrs. Sappleton. 

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This story is told by an omniscient third person narrator who focuses the story on the reactions of Framton Nuttel to the tale Vera tells him. We can tell the narrator is ominiscient because at the end of the story, Nuttel runs out of the room and the narrator reveals that ''romance at short notice" is Vera's specialty. In other words, Vera loves to make up stories at a moment's notice and then watch people's reactions to them. She continues this after Nuttel leaves with another story about why he left so quickly.

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