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

The Open Window

by Saki
Start Free Trial

In Saki's "The Open Window," describe the author's tone and purpose behind 4 details from the text.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The first important detail is the fact that Mr. Framton Nuttel is suffering from a nervous condition and is visiting the country in an effort to become healthy. The tone suggests that people should treat him delicately because he is sensitive to stress. The author's purpose behind this detail is to create a sense of empathy for Nuttel as he nervously meets new people.

Next, after introducing Vera, the narrator says that she first confirms with Mr. Nuttel that he doesn't know anyone in the area, and then waits for them to be completely alone before divulging the tragic events that allegedly fell upon the house three years earlier. The tone for this detail seems secretive and deceptive. The purpose is to create an atmosphere for telling secrets in a confidential way. If Nuttel feels as if Vera is telling him a secret, he will be less likely to ask the aunt about the truth of it.

Another very important detail is the fact that the large French widow is open in October. Without this open in October, there would be no mystery from which to derive a tragic story. The tone behind the detail is ambiguous, yet creepy. The author's purpose behind the open window is to create a specific, concrete image for Nuttel (and the reader) to focus on as Vera tells the horrific story. The window changes from a mere inanimate object, to a symbolic gateway for tragedy and possibly ghosts.

Finally, the detail about the song lyrics, "Bertie, why do you bound?" signals to Nuttel and the reader that Ronnie is coming. Because he sings those words when he comes home from hunting, the tone behind this detail is ironic, eerie and spooky. The purpose is to help validate Vera's story and the possibility that ghosts exist. It is a major factor behind Nuttel believing the story as well.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team