The Storyteller

by Saki

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In "The Storyteller," by Saki, what does the aunt mean by "You have undermined the effect of years of careful teaching"?

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In Saki's "The Storyteller," the aunt is outraged at the bachelor's "most improper" story that leaves good not only unrewarded, but punished.  For the bachelor puts an ironic twist onto the aunt's story of the young girl who is so good that she is rescued because of her moral character. 

In the bachelor's story, the girl is described paradoxically as "horribly good" and she is rewarded with three heavy medals which she wears around her next.  Ironically, also, it is these medals for good behavior that prove her nemesis.  So, good does not triumph over evil as years of "careful teaching" have conditioned children to think. This unorthodox method of storytelling in which good is not rewarded and there is not a happy ending is illustrated in this passage: 

The wolf came sniffing among the branches, its black tongue lolling out of its mouth and its pale grey eyes glaring with rage. Bertha was terribly frightened, and thought to herself: 'If I had not been so extraordinarily good I should have been safe in the town at this moment.

Clearly, the bachelor's story waivers from the paradigm of the classic children's story.

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