In the "Lumber Room" by Saki, the aunt's efforts to punish Nicholas boomerang on her. Who or what is the author satirizing in this story?
In the short story “The Lumber Room,” Saki primarily uses the aunt to satirize the authoritarian adult thinking and actions towards Nicholas and the other children. Although the aunt believes she is punishing Nicholas for his transgression of putting a frog in his breakfast, he uses his quick wit to outsmart the aunt at her own game. In developing the character of Nicholas, Saki ridicules the actions and reactions of the aunt, thus satirizing her.
The aunt, and other adults, are unable to see the reasoning skills Nicholas demonstrates, and think he is an impertinent child who needs to be punished. In reality, Nicholas outmaneuvers the aunt, who sends the other children and adults on an adventure that turns into a disaster, while she keeps watch over Nicholas at home. She wastes her whole day insuring that Nicholas pays the price for being “in disgrace.” By tricking the aunt into thinking he entered the forbidden gooseberry garden, he is able to have his own adventure in “The Lumber Room.” While he was enjoying items in the room, the aunt is certain he entered the gooseberry garden, and in her haste to catch him, she falls into the water tank.
Once again, Saki creates a scene in which the aunt is made to seem ridiculous. Nicholas, a mere boy, is able, through his line of questioning, to outsmart the aunt. He is fully aware she is the one who is trapped, but uses her dull intellect to his advantage.
"I was told I wasn't to go into the gooseberry garden," said Nicholas promptly.
"I told you not to, and now I tell you that you may," came the voice from the rain-water tank, rather impatiently.
"Your voice doesn't sound like aunt's," objected Nicholas; "you may be the Evil One tempting me to be disobedient. Aunt often tells me that the Evil One tempts me and that I always yield. This time I'm not going to yield."