Sredni Vashtar Questions and Answers
by Saki

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In "Sredni Vashtar," how does Saki demonstrate the underlying tension between both characters?   Mrs. De Ropp never confessed of her dislike for Conradin whereas "Conradin hated her with a desperate sincerity."  

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Tension permeates the powerful narrative of “Sredni Vashtar.” Saki does an amazing job at bringing it out through the eyes of Conradin: a miserable child who is as sickly as he is unfortunate.

Saki uses Conradin’s point of view because this main character is not just a sickly kid who is unaware of his surroundings, or one who is chided away from misery by the mercy of his innocence. Quite the contrary.

Conradin is fully aware of his boring and miserable life, and equally cognizant of his guardian’s (Mrs. De Ropp) dislike of him. Moreover, Conradin hates his guardian just as badly as she hates him.

Hence, the tension is clear from the start when the narrator explains that, in Conradin’s eyes,

[Mrs. De Ropp] represented those three-fifths of the world that are necessary and disagreeable and real

Saki also uses a powerful choice of words to indicate the extent of pressure that Conradin lives under.

He tells us that De Ropp is perfectly fine with “thwarting” Conradin “for his own good.” She also forbids that he picks fruit from her few fruit trees in the garden, finds it troublesome to make even a slice of toast for the child, and does nothing but tell him “don’t do this”, or “don’t do that.”

Mrs. De Ropp will not “openly” tell Conradin how much she dislikes him. However, she pushes him around, treats him poorly, and obligates him to attend church services.

In turn, Conradin

hated her with a desperate sincerity which he was perfectly able to mask.

This hatred that Conradin feels is all the more irksome to us, as readers, particularly when we realize that...

(The entire section contains 563 words.)

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