What is the problem and the solution in "The Open Window"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The problem, or conflict, in "The Open Window" is the inner turmoil/conflict of Framton, a nervous, distraught man who is sent to the country for a "nerve cure."  

But, before Framton speaks with the lady with whom he is to stay, her niece enters to visit with him while the aunt is delayed.  This girl who talks with him creates a story of death and tragedy that, while unnerving enough to Framton, causes him even greater distress when the aunt, whom the girl has portrayed as insane, comes into the room and says all that the girl has predicted she would.  When Framton shudders at the woman's derangement and looks to the girl to convey sympathy and understanding, the girl, instead, is looking out the window with horror in her eyes as the people who, according to her are dead, approach the open window and come in.  The young man is singing according to the "script" of the horror tale the girl has spun.  In the resolution of the plot, poor Framton is so overcome with nervous apprehension by this horrific return of "dead" people that he flees in a "headlong retreat."  Ironically, the aunt perceives Framton as the one who is insane.