This must be a question about Walter de la Mare 's short story, "The Riddle." In this story, seven children go to live with their grandmother, in her house. When the children arrive, the grandmother tells then that there is one place in the house where they must not play,...
This must be a question about Walter de la Mare's short story, "The Riddle." In this story, seven children go to live with their grandmother, in her house. When the children arrive, the grandmother tells then that there is one place in the house where they must not play, which is in the spare bedroom where there is a mysterious box, or chest.
The grandmother's house is initially described as "not a pretty house, but roomy, substantial, and square." Later in the story we learn that there is a "wide staircase," and the house is also described as a "great house," a "many-roomed house," and, at the end of the story, a "vacant house." These descriptions suggest that the grandmother's house is large and spacious. The many rooms and the wide staircase also perhaps suggest that the house is perhaps a little gothic in appearance, and this impression is encouraged by the frequent references to the time of day. At one point in the story it is "a silent afternoon in October," and at another it is "evening twilight." The word "dark," or a form of the word ("darker," "darkening") is used six times throughout the story, which also adds to the impression of a gothic setting. The gothic impression of darkness and emptiness suggested by these aforementioned descriptions creates suspense because darkness connotes mystery and the unknown, and the emptiness of the house suggests a foreboding sense of isolation. The house is not homely, and it never feels comfortable or safe.
The box, or chest, that the grandmother warns the children to stay away from is described in more explicitly gothic terms. It is described as "a great deal older" than even the grandmother's grandmother, and it is decorated with "carved fruit and flowers" and "dark-smiling heads," like gargoyles "at the corners." The box also has a "sweet-scented" smell of "pot-pourri." This description creates suspense because the box appears at once sinister ("dark-smiling heads") and inviting ("fruit and flowers," "sweet-smelling"). This curious juxtaposition suggests that the box is dangerously seductive, and keeps the reader in suspense as to whether the box is in some sense good or evil. Over the course of the story all of the children climb into the box, and seem, as a result, lost forever to the real world. This also of course creates suspense because we wonder where the children could have gone.