What is the conflict between Vera and Nuttel in "The Open Window" by Saki? 

What is the conflict between Vera and Nuttel in "The Open Window" by Saki?

 

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The conflict between Vera and Nuttel is an age-old one: It is that of the predatory, ruthless type against the weaker one. 

Vera obviously is a perceptive, mischievous girl because she immediately asks Mr. Nuttel if he knows many of the people who live around there. So, once Nuttel says, "Hardly a soul," the clever and ruthless Vera amuses herself with creating a tale that has enough truth in it to lend it credibility and enough horror to frighten the nervous and intimidated Framton Nuttel. 

Stealthily, Vera asks Mr. Nuttel another question in order to ascertain that her fabricated tale of horror will have its intended effect: "Then you know practically nothing about my aunt?" And, when Nuttel replies that he only knows Mrs. Stappleton's name and address, the predatory nature leads Vera to further weave her tale into the "great tragedy" of the loss of Mrs. Stappleton's husband and two younger brothers. This now is a tale that will produce a horrific effect.
Cleverly, then, she continues to frame this story with more details of the truth, blurring the lines between reality and illusion so much that her tale becomes credible to the nervous visitor. Thus, the horrific effect of the supposedly dead men walking through the open window is profound upon the man who has already suffered a mental breakdown. 

When Nuttel flees in terror, Vera has won her battle.

William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The above answer by mwestwood is excellent. I would like to suggest another possibility.

Vera is being forced to play hostess. She doesn't like it. She probably hates it. Her conflict may be with her aunt. She hates her aunt for trying to force her to become another airhead country hostess, just like she is. So Vera takes out her anger on poor Framton Nuttel, who doesn't understand what he has gotten himself into. Instead of being the nice little junior-hostess-in-training her aunt wants her to be, Vera becomes just the opposite, the hostess from hell. She has to find out who this man is and what he knows about her aunt. Then she makes up a wild story intended to scare him out of his wits when the three hunters come back for tea. People who are forced to do jobs they don't like often retaliate by doing terrible jobs. 

There may be a big ongoing conflict between Vera and her aunt which Framton Nuttel has unwittingly stepped into. Aunt Sappleton checks up on Vera's hostessing as soon as she enters.

"I hope Vera has been amusing you?" she said.