The Open Window Setting
What is the setting of "The Open Window"?
The setting is the living room of a big country manor house. The reader may never have seen such a house, but they are frequently shown in movies, notably in adaptations of Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Characteristically, the males who live in these upper-class homes like to hunt fowl and small game. They are stereotypical English country gentlemen. The owners of these houses are usually owners of the surrounding land and derive their incomes from rents paid by tenant farmers. The female occupants have liittle to do, since there are always plenty of servants indoors and ourdoors. The women and girls lead sheltered domestic lives. They wear long dresses with plenty of cumbersome undergarments. Their constricting clothing prevents them from enjoying much activity, which is probably the intention. They read, play music, sing, and engage in conversations. A visitor is a welcome change in their routines, as is the visit of Framton Nuttel in "The Open Window." His tormentor Vera probably would be less mischievous if she had more to do with her time. Boys typically are sent off to school, but girls are typically kept at home. Vera and Framton make good contrasting characters because they are so different in so many respects. She is comfortable in the setting because she lives there, while he is uncomfortable because he is a total stranger and has to force himself to present his letter of introduction. Saki had to invent a reason for Framton, a total stranger, to be there.
Setting is the time and place in which a story occurs. Sometimes settings are directly stated, other times the reader infers the setting from clues in the story. In the story “The Open Window,” by Saki, the setting is not specifically described or stated. We know that it is in a country area because it is referred to early in the story as a “rural retreat.” We also know that it is on a “moor” which, according to The Free Dictionary (an online dictionary), is a “A broad area of open land, often high but poorly drained, with patches of heath and peat bogs.” We also know that people go hunting nearby, based on the story that the niece tells Framton Nuttel.
The fact that the house has large windows that can be opened and walked through tells the reader that the people who live there are probably pretty well-off. That’s not the kind of thing you’d see in a simpler house.
Although this isn’t a lot of information, it’s really all the reader needs. We can assume that the story is set in the period of the writer’s own life (1870-1916) since there is nothing in the story to indicate otherwise.
"The Open Window" takes place in Victorian England. More specifically, it takes place in the Sappletons' country home. Many people in the upper class had two homes--an large apartment in town and a large country house they could escape to when they wanted to relieve the pressure of town. Framton Nuttel obviously isn't well-off enough to have a country house, so his sister send him to the Sappletons with a letter of introduction.
The story is set in the English country house of Mrs. Sappleton. The home has a huge window which allows Vera to make up the fanciful tale of how Mr. Sappleton and his hunting party left one day, never to return. Framton Nuttel has been sent to the country to rest his nerves, but Vera's tale and subsequent events make that impossible.