illustration of a young girl looking out a window at ghostly figures

The Open Window

by Saki

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What is a character trait of Mr. Framton Nuttel from "The Open Window"?

In "The Open Window," a chief character trait of Mr. Nuttel is his self-absorption, which leads to his gullibility.

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One of the most important character traits of Framton Nuttel is his painful shyness. Among other things, this makes it difficult for him to connect with other people, which in turn prevents him from understanding what they are really like.

This allows the cruel, mischievous Vera to spin him a tall tale, a ghost story about her relatives being killed out on the moor during a hunting expedition. Most people would realize straight away that Vera is having a joke, but because Framton is so shy and lacks experience of being in other people's company, he's easily conned into thinking that Vera's on the level. For a socially awkward man like Framton, there's no good reason to believe that she's pulling his leg.

Additionally, Framton is rather gullible, and this particular character trait could be said to have arisen from his crippling shyness. If someone's as shy as Nuttel and has little or no experience of being around others in a social environment, then they're more likely to find it hard to pick up on social cues that give people away.

Vera instinctively understands this, which is why she recognizes Framton to be the perfect mark for her cruel little joke.

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Mr. Framton Nuttel displays three main character traits: self-centeredness, gullibility, and fearfulness.

In terms of self-centeredness, he expresses with “distinct regret” that his sister had provided him with a way to meet some of the locals. This implies that he considers himself superior to others. Later, when Mrs. Sappleton makes her appearance, he swiftly changes the subject, telling her about his health and what the doctor has ordered. While he has good reason, thanks to Vera’s tall story, to not want to listen to Mrs. Sappleton talk about her husband and brothers’ return, he is abrupt and almost rude in the way in which he changes the subject. He assumes that Mrs. Sappleton will be interested in hearing about his health woes, even though she is clearly thinking about her husband’s imminent return.

Mr. Framton Nuttel displays his gullibility when he sees the men and dog returning from the marshes and approaching the window. Instead of thinking logically and realizing that young Vera had been having a good laugh at his expense, he assumes that what he is seeing is an apparition of a group of men and a dog returned from the dead.

Framton’s fear is palpable, and he is so fearful that he nearly causes a collision with a cyclist in the road as he hotfoots it out of there. A reasonable person would have realized quickly that a prank was underway, but Framton responds with extreme fear, to the point that he is unable to think clearly.

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Mr. Nuttel is nervous, self-centered, and gullible. A nervous disorder has sent him on a sojourn to the country to take a rest cure. His sister has packed him off to stay with her distant friends.

Mr. Nuttel considers only what he thinks of other people...

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but does not reflect at all on how other people might perceive him. He assumes, for example, that because he is minutely interested in his health problems, others will be, too, even if they have just met him. His hostess, Mrs. Sappleton, has to suppress a yawn when he starts going on about his doctor's advice.

Mr. Nuttel, in the same manner, thinks only about the effect of his visits on himself. He never stops to consider that his sister may be doing anything she can to get rid of him or that he might be burden to the people he imposes on to visit.

Mr. Nuttel's self-absorption leads to his gullibility. It simply never occurs to him that Vera might want to be rid of him and might have hit on an ingenious scheme to do so by lying to him blatantly to get him to flee the house in fear, ridding the household of a problem.

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In "The Open Window," Framton Nuttel can be considered somewhat self-absorbed. Framton, on the advice of his doctors, is seeking peace and quiet to calm his fragile nerves. His sister provides him with letters of introduction, one of which he plans to give to Mrs. Sappleton. During his conversation with Mrs. Sappleton, he seems anxious to change the topic of conversation back to himself, as he finds her topic "ghastly." Framton proceeds to share his medical concerns with her and notices that she seems focused on other matters.

Framton can also be considered a nervous fellow. The reader learns early in the story that he seems to have fragile nerves for which he is seeking a calming environment. He is uncomfortable meeting strangers and even questions whether he can say the "correct something" that he should say to Vera. Believing Vera's story about her aunt's "tragedy," Framton flees the house when he sees the figures approaching the open window.

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Mr. Framton Nuttel is a visitor to the area and to the home. He suffers from a "nerve condition" and thus could be described as neurotic. He comes with letters of introduction from his sister and has come to the countryside to relax. But he proves to be quite gullible when the niece tells him the false tale of her aunt's widowed state. As the hunters return, Framton panics, thinking that he has seen a ghost. Mr. Nuttel is shown as quite naive as he frantically flees the house.

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In "The Open Window," what character trait best describes Framton?

The character trait that best describes Framton Nuttel is neurotic. In the second paragraph the author writes:

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.

Saki intentionally contrasts him with the girl playing hostess by describing her as

. . . a very self-possessed young lady of fifteen

Her self-possession makes Framton seem all the more nervous, while his nervousness makes her seem all the more self-possessed.

Then when Mrs. Sappleton appears, Framton explains in one paragraph what his problem is. This is all the information the reader will get about his condition and virtually all that the reader will get about his character.

"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 cause and cure. "On the matter of diet they are not so much in agreement," he continued.

Framton seems to have enough money to be able to consult several doctors on a regular basis and to take time off from whatever work he does, if any, in order to spend time vegetating in the country. Saki created this character to be the perfect victim for the mischievous young Vera. Framton is going to experience just the opposite of what the doctors have advised him to do. He will probably not have "complete rest" for a long time after his encounter with the supernatural. He will get plenty of "mental excitement" when the three "ghosts" appear heading towards the open window carrying guns. He will also get a great deal of "violent physical exercise" when he flees.

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 an imminent collision.

The sentence about the cyclist coming down the road creates an impression of Framton running for his life for several miles back along the country road. He would have no means of transportation except his own legs, especially with night coming on. Perhaps the frightening experience and the violent exercise would be good for him. For one thing, he might realize after running for several miles that he actually felt better than he had in years, and he might begin to suspect that the doctors were all wrong.

In that case, Vera might have been doing him a favor by concocting her ghost story. Franton might very likely make some inquiries about the Sappletons and find out that he had been the victim of an elaborate practical joke. In that case, he might be able to laugh at himself, which would be a good way to cure his neurosis.

Saki himself seems to have been a vigorous, self-reliant person. He fought in the trenches during World War I, even though he was in his early forties and not subject to conscription. He probably had little sympathy for neurotic, dependent men like Framton Nuttle or for the doctors who all had different theories about how to diagnose and prescribe for them.

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