What position does Philip Sletherby hope to get?

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In "A Shot in the Dark," as is often the case in his short stories, Saki is satirizing the upper echelons of the British class system. The hapless Philip Sletherby is off to Brill Hall, hoping to impress a powerful political patron by the name of Honoria Saltpen-Jago. Mrs. Saltpen-Jago's...

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In "A Shot in the Dark," as is often the case in his short stories, Saki is satirizing the upper echelons of the British class system. The hapless Philip Sletherby is off to Brill Hall, hoping to impress a powerful political patron by the name of Honoria Saltpen-Jago. Mrs. Saltpen-Jago's kind of a big deal in Chalkshire, so she's just the kind of VIP that Philip needs to impress if he's to have a shot at being the governing party's candidate in the forthcoming by-election. Unfortunately, the young man blows his chances by insulting Honoria's son Bertie on board a train, wrongly believing that he was a con artist trying to scam him out of a few quid.

The satire here is that someone of such remarkably bad judgment and immaturity was genuinely in with a good chance of being elected to Parliament. This tells us a lot about the inner workings of the British political system, in particular the extensive powers of patronage that the old aristocracy still exert. Before one can be admitted to the inner sanctum of Parliament, before the people have actually had their say at the ballot box, it's necessary to pass a number of social tests set down by the relevant movers and shakers in the locality.

Unfortunately for the hapless Sletherby, he's fallen at the very first hurdle. So no matter how agreeable and socially confident he may be during his forthcoming stay at Mrs. Saltpen-Jago's he has wrecked his chances of being the next Honourable Member for the local constituency. In this neck of the woods it's the great families who make the rules, and if one breaks those rules, albeit inadvertently, then there is no chance of being chosen to represent them and their interests.

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In "A Shot in the Dark," Philip Sletherby hopes to get the position of member of Parliament for the eastern division of the fictional county of Chalkshire in England.

For this reason, he has boarded a train and is heading to the country estate of Mrs. Saltpen-Jago. She is a prominent person in the county, and Sletherby hopes she will use her influence to help him secure the nomination for the parliamentary seat he hopes he will be able to win in the election.

Sletherby is a calculating and self-interested human being who is only interested in helping people who can help him in return. He wants to get into Mrs. Saltpen-Jago's good graces. However, his unwillingness to help anyone without an ulterior motive means that he has probably blown his chance to gain her goodwill.

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