What was your reaction to Vera and Framton Nuttel in H.H. Munro's (Saki's) short story The Open Window?

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is easy to empathize with Framton Nuttle, the protagonist in H.H. Munro's short story The Open Window. Hardly courageous or particularly admirable in light of the little information provided regarding his character, he is nevertheless a weak individual whose vulnerability should make him a figure of pity rather than scorn. There is nothing intrinsically evil about him, but neither is there anything worthy of emulation. He just exists. At the encouragement of his unseen sister, Nuttle moves to the country in the hopes of finding the peace-of-mind that has heretofore eluded him. He suffers from anxiety and anticipates a less stressful life in the rural environment to which he as traveled. That he rapidly becomes the victim of a fifteen-year-old girl's inclination to torment visitors to her family's home is illustrative of his lack of mental fortitude, but his decision to flee rather than to stay and confront his demons is reflective of his character. After all, he has fled the city in the hopes of more restful existence; now, he has fled his relatives' home in order to distance himself from the macabre circumstances in which he has now found himself. All in all, Framton Nuttle is scarcely worth a moment's reflection, however pitiable he appears.

Vera is a more complex character. She clearly has a vivid imagination and an interesting if potentially psychotic sense of humor, but she is a compulsive liar with no regard for the feelings of those around her. It's difficult to not enjoy the humor behind her pranks, but those pranks have 'real world' implications. Nuttle's mental state is seriously upset, and her family has no knowledge of the real reason their visitor has fled their house in terror. A teenager exhibiting such characteristics is not particularly endearing.  In short, she deserves some form of punishment for her behavior, should the true nature of that behavior become known to her parents.