In "The Open Window," what does Vera ask Framton Nuttel to break the silence?  

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "The Open Window" Mrs. Sappleton sends her fifteeen-year-old niece down to talk to their visitor Framton Nuttel for a few minutes before she puts in her own appearance. No doubt, the aunt is training the girl to be a gracious hostess like herself and giving her a little solo experience with this stranger. Vera seems not only mischievous but rebellious and resentful at being molded into the tedious domestic role being prepared for her as a housewife and mother confined to a country estate where there is never anything to do but shoot birds and talk about shooting birds. She is almost like a adolescent Hedda Gabler. She looks sweet and innocent, but inside she is burning up. She despises her aunt, who apparently doesn't even read books, and who she knows will talk about nothing but killing birds while she waits for the all-important males in her life to return through the open window.

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

Vera isn't only trying to break the silence but also to find out if Framton knows anything about her family.

"Hardly a soul," said Framton. "My sister was staying here, at the rectory, you know, some four years ago, and she gave me letters of introduction to some of the people here."

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

"Only her name and address," admitted the caller.

This is all the assurance Vera needs in order to go ahead and make up her fantastic story about how the three men went hunting and were engulfed in a bog exactly three years ago. Saki twice describes her as "self-possessed." She certainly does seem self-possessed -- but this characteristic will make her story seem all the more credible when she pretends to lose that self-possession.

Framton shivered slightly and turned towards the niece with a look intended to convey sympathetic comprehension. The child was staring out through the open window with dazed horror in her eyes. In a chill shock of nameless fear Framton swung round in his seat and looked in the same direction.

The reader can imagine the kind of face this precocious girl is making: with wide eyes and open mouth and all the blood draining from her face. She is an actress as well as a story-teller.

Poor Framton came to the country hoping to cure his nerves.

"The doctors agree in ordering me complete rest, an absence of mental excitement, and avoidance of anything in the nature of violent physical exercise," announced Framton, who laboured under the tolerably wide-spread delusion that total strangers and chance acquaintances are hungry for the least detail of one's ailments and infirmities, their causes and cure. "On the matter of diet they are not so much in agreement," he continued.

Framton will not only get plenty of mental excitement, but he will  get plenty of violent physical exercise when he goes running out of the house and all the way down a country road. His mention of "the matter of diet" sounds like a hint that he might like to be invited to stay for supper. He seems to be suggesting that he is not particularly fastidious about what he can and cannot eat. Vera must have found him a terrible bore and may have wanted to forestall having him as a guest at dinner. In any case, she was wise to scare him out of the house before he had an opportunity to find out that the three men were not really ghosts and her aunt was not really so crazy.


sesh | Student

In Saki's 'The Open Window', he presents a deceit brought on by the young girl, Vera. Before playing this hoax, she gets to know the ins and outs of this stranger. Saying that her aunt will be down soon, she commences to talk with Framton Nuttel. Vera, being talkative and extrovert, starts to ask questions to break the silence. Nuttel is introvert and just feels strange in meeting total strangers.

Vera first verifies whether he knows people in the area. That is the first question she asks from Nuttel, breaking the silence.

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