"The Open Window" uses the "Anonymous narration (single character point of view)" narrative technique throughout most of the story. Which character does Saki use to view the events?

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The story is told almost entirely through Framton Nuttel's viewpoint. The only departure comes at the very end when he is described from the anonymous narrator's own point of view, as follows:

Framton grabbed wildly at his stick and hat; the hall door, the gravel drive, and the front gate were dimly noted stages in his headlong retreat. A cyclist coming along the road had to run into the hedge to avoid imminent collision.

There is also a sort of "coda" in which both Mr. and Mrs. Sappleton discuss Framton and his sudden flight. Vera tells about how Framton was attacked by a pack of pariah dogs in India, but this is not her point of view; it is from the point of view of her aunt and uncle to whom she is telling the fantastic story. The purpose of this interchange among the three characters is solely to establish that Mr. Sappleton is not a ghost but an ordinary country squire, which proves that the story Vera told to Framton about the three hunters being sucked into a bog several years ago is a complete fabrication. We should realize that as soon as Mr. Sappleton asks:

"Who was that who bolted out as we came up?"

The rest of the story is told through Framton's point of view. For instance, when he first meets Vera he sees her as a very self-possessed young lady, but there is no indication of how she perceives him. Then the narrator goes right into Framton's mind and tells how he is feeling and what he is thinking.

Framton Nuttel endeavoured to say the correct something which should duly flatter the niece of the moment without unduly discounting the aunt that was to come. Privately he doubted more than ever whether these formal visits on a succession of total strangers would do much towards helping the nerve cure which he was supposed to be undergoing.

Although Vera does most of the talking before her aunt arrives, and although her aunt does much of the talking after that, the reader understands that they are talking to Framton and are being observed and heard from his point of view. In the big finale when the hunters appear outside headed for the open window, the narrator specifically declares that they are being seen by Framton and that he is having an emotional reaction to their approach.

The child was staring out through the open window with a dazed horror in her eyes. In a chill shock of nameless fear Framton swung round in his seat and looked in the same direction.

     In the deepening twilight three figures were walking across the lawn towards the window, they all carried guns under their arms, and one of them was additionally burdened with a white coat hung over his shoulders. A tired brown spaniel kept close at their heels. Noiselessly they neared the house, and then a hoarse young voice chanted out of the dusk: "I said, Bertie, why do you bound?"

Vera is putting on an act for Framton's benefit--but it is Framton's perception of Vera that is described. This is appropriate because the reader does not suspect as yet that the whole thing is a hoax. The author's intention is not only to fool Framton Nuttel but to fool the reader. This would be impossible if there was ever any indication that part of the story was being told through Vera's point of view--although it would be very interesting to see inside her mind and understand what that point of view actually was. She does not know anything about Framton's nervous disorder. He would not discuss that with a young girl. He does not bring it up until he meets the aunt. In fact, Framton hardly says anything to Vera, and she is forced to do most of the talking.

"Do you know many of the people round here?" asked the niece, when she judged that they had had sufficient silent communion.

Although Vera asks a lot of questions to find out how much Framton knows about the people in the region, and although her long story about the three dead hunters takes up the remainder of her private time with Framton, the whole interview is seen and heard via Framton's point of view. The only deviation comes at the end of the story when Framton has fled from the scene and his point of view is thereby eliminated.