What makes the story Vera tells so believable in "The Open Window"?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As told by "very "self-possessed girl," Vera's tale has verisimilitude in Saki's story "The Open Window" because of the confidence with which she tells her story since she realizes after her inquiries that Mr. Framton knows little about her aunt, Mrs. Stappleton.  In addition, Vera makes use of situations that are visible to Framton, such as the open window:

'You may wonder why we keep that window wide open on an October afternoon...'

Weaving her tall tale around the open window, Vera fabricates a tragic reason for the window's state.  In a "falteringly human" voice, Vera says that her uncle and her two cousins went out through that same window three years ago "to a day," but they never came back.  And, their bodies were never recovered.

'Poor aunt always thinks that they will come back some day, they and the little brown spaniel that was lost with them, and walk in at that window just as they used to do.'

Vera shudders and repeats that she imagines this scene as well.  Then, as she walks into the room, Mrs. Stappleton tells Mr. Framton that her husband and sons will soon return from hunting and they will come through the window to avoid getting the carpets muddy and wet.  She "rattles on cheerfully" as Framton notices that her eyes are looking out the window onto the lawn, thus confirming what Vera has told him: the woman yet looks for her family.

When the men enter and walk through the open window with a little brown dog, just as Vera has described, the incident is  much for the emotionally distraught Framton;  so he turns towards the niece with compassion, but Vera's eyes stare out the window in shock as though she is seeing the dead.  The shattered nerves of Framton cannot handle what he believes has happened; he grabs wildly at his stick and runs from the house.

Saki's last line, "Romance at short notice was her specialty" befits Vera perfectly.  For, she can construct a story quickly from of an existing situation and feign emotion perfectly so that her tale has the semblance of truth.

billdelaney's profile pic

William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Evidently Framton Nuttel is sitting facing Vera and her aunt and has his back turned to the open French window when the three hunters arrive outside. 

"Here they are at last!" she cried. "Just in time for tea, and don't they look as if they were muddy up to the eyes!"

Framton is already convinced that Mrs. Sappleton is crazy, but he is completely taken in by young Vera. She is obviously a very poised adolescent girl. She is twice described as self-possessed. The most effective part of her deception occurs when she appears to lose this poise and "self-possession."

The child was staring out through the open window with dazed horror in her eyes.

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