The Open Window Questions and Answers
by Saki

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What is an example of foreshadowing in "The Open Window" by Saki?

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Twice, before she tells Framton the story about Mr. Sappleton and his two brothers-in-law, the narrator describes Vera as "self-possessed." This means that she is confident and able to control her feelings even in difficult situations. Framton, on the other hand, is described as having a problem with his nerves. So, before Vera starts to manipulate Framton, we have some indications about who has the upper hand and/or who might control the situation. Framton is nervous and shaky while Vera is confident and self-assured. The stage is set for the confident Vera to manipulate Framton. 

Framton's last name "Nuttel" does suggest a nutty, crazy, or even illogical frame of mind. His problem seems to be based on nervousness and anxiety, but the "nutty" reference suggests he is also mentally unstable or, at the very least, easily manipulated. 

The reader does get a clue from Framton that Mr. Sappleton is, in fact, alive and simply out of the house at the moment. As Vera begins her story, it occurs to Framton that "An undefinable something about the room seemed to suggest masculine habitation." Despite this intuition, Framton is easily tricked by Vera. But, with Mr. Sappleton's return, this subtle hint could be regarded as an example of foreshadowing

Vera tells Framton that sometimes "I almost get a creepy feeling that they will all walk in through that window." Here, Vera gives a veiled truth, a clear attempt to foreshadow what is to come. She is toying with Framton here, telling him what is going to happen, while knowing that he will be shocked when it does happen. 

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aleabalck | Student

Saki’s mysterious short story “The Open Window” is a masterful work on the wonders of being and seeming. The short story, which takes readers on a brief but playful journey of intrigue, contains several deceptive moments of foreshadowing which later reveal to readers that the characters are not the only ones who have been deceived. Since the story is incredibly short, readers need a careful eye to notice the following examples of foreshadowing.

The first example lies in the opening description of Framton Nuttel. Beyond the obvious integration of the slang term nut in his last name (NUTtel), Framton’s unstable mental state is a clue that his health problems will prove problematic later in the story:

“Privately he doubted more than ever whether these formal visits on a succession of total strangers would do very much towards helping the nerve cure which he was supposed to be undergoing.”

Next, Framton’s sister is said to have this important premonition:

“I know how it will be,” his sister had said when he was preparing to migrate to this rural retreat; “you will bury yourself down there and not speak to a living soul, and your nerves will be worse than ever from moping.”

The sister's statement that his “nerves will be worse than ever” in fact is shown to be true by the story’s end, as Frampton leaves the house in a frenzied state.

The Sappleton’s niece Vera provides several instances of foreshadowing, primarily in her seemingly innocent questions about Framton’s knowledge of her aunt:

“Then you know practically nothing about my aunt?” pursued the self- possessed young lady.”

Vera’s careful questioning initially sets up the readers for her explanation the “tragedy” that happened several years prior, but upon further reading of the story we can view her questions as crafty and this line as an excellent example of foreshadowing her craftiness.

Also, Saki includes Framton’s musings into the narrative that hint at the surprise end:

“He was wondering whether Mrs. Sappleton was in the married or widowed state. An undefinable something about the room seemed to suggest masculine habitation.” 

When Saki mentions the “masculine habitation,” that is a clue that there may be more members of the family still living in the house, although readers are initially led to believe Mrs. Sappleton is simply living in the past. Framton’s other notion that the “tragedy” refers to “seem[s] out of place” in “this restful country spot” also provides clues to readers that Vera’s story cannot be trusted.

The concept of truth and reality is carefully crafted in this story, with Frampton presented as the type of character who would easily fall into Vera’s trap. The genius of the story is that this concept of deception extends beyond Framton’s plot line but extends to the readers as well.