Sredni Vashtar by Saki

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How does Saki make the ending so powerful in "Sredni Vashtar"?

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The ending of Saki's "Sredni Vashtar" is powerful because it has elements of the mysterious and the preternatural that converge with the realism of the story.

Saki's narrative is rife with intense feelings, though many of which are masked. Mrs. de Ropp is the "uninspired" guardian of ten-year-old Conradin,  a sickly, but imaginative boy who "hates this cousin with a desperate sincerity" and is in "perpetual antagonism" with her. She feels it is her duty to thwart the boy "for his good," and it is a duty that she does not find "unpleasurable." With such tension between this stringent adult and imaginative boy, there is generated a tension which becomes almost palpable.

In order to subvert his cousin and to have something on which to pour his affection Conradin keeps a little Houdan hen in a half-hidden, unused tool shed to which his guardian gives no attention. Farther back in the gloom of this old shed is later hidden a "polecat-ferret," surreptitiously brought in for Conradin by a butcher-boy. To this ferret Conradin gives the exotic name, Sredni Vashtar

...for he was a god who laid some special stress on the fierce impatient side of things, as opposed to the Woman's religion, which, as far as Conradin could observe, went to great lengths in the contrary direction.

Every Thursday Conradin holds a "mystic and elaborate" ceremony before the hutch of Sredni Vashtar, "the great ferret." He celebrates some ailment of the woman such as a severe toothache, and offers the ferret some stolen nutmeg in homage. 

After some time and to Conradin's dismay, his guardian discovers his visits to the Houdan hen, and she has the unfortunate bird taken away. In protest, Conradin sets his face stoically and declines without emotion to eat his toast at tea time. 

"I thought you liked toast," she exclaimed, with an injured...

(The entire section contains 631 words.)

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