What is the moral of Saki's story "The Seven Cream Jugs"?

Expert Answers
M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The moral of "The Seven Cream Jugs" can be summarized with the statement “Do not judge others if you cannot stand others judging you.”

In this story, the Pigeoncotes, a wealthy couple, have just celebrated their 25th anniversary. They received a lot of silver-based gifts because this is supposed to be their “silver” anniversary according to customary marriage tradition.

The couple was excited about their expensive gifts, but then received a telegram saying one of their relatives, Wilfrid, wanted to spend the night at their house as he crossed town. Wilfrid had a reputation of being a kleptomaniac, someone who has a psychological tendency to steal things. People like Wilfrid would not do that for the sake of becoming richer, or having more, but as a general habit.  Kleptomania is an impulse-control disorder, and there is no short-term or easy cure for someone who suffers from it.

None of the psychological considerations of kleptomania were in existence in the 19th and early 20th centuries, so people like Wilfrid were seen as “thieves by nature” rather than mentally-challenged individuals. For this reason, the Pigeoncotes did everything they could to protect their gifts from Wilfrid, from telling him the silver was fake, to keeping an eye on him at all times. They were, overall, extremely judgmental of him.

As it happened, one night the couple claims one of their silver cream jugs was missing. They decide to spy on Wilfrid and they go in, hiding, and find the silver jug inside his bag.

What they didn’t know is that this was not their jug, but Wilfrid’s own jug that he purchased to give the Pigeoncotes for their anniversary. None of the original seven silver cream jugs ever go missing after all. To make matters worse, when Wilfrid realized his loss, he told the Pigeoncotes the embarrassing suspicion that they may have thieves in the household staff, and that one of them must have robbed  him in his sleep. This is a double dose of shame to any respectable family.

Embarrased, Mrs. Pigeoncote decided to put the blame on her husband and said he is a kleptomaniac. Unbeknownst to her husband, Mrs. Pigeoncote used him to look as if he is the one with the mental disorder to save the family name. Ever since then, everyone who visited the Pigeoncotes would bring their belongings everywhere with them out of fear of Mr. Pigeoncote. This is why the moral if the story is that one should never judge others, or else you will one day feel how ugly it is to be judged.