What is the theme of "Fur" by Saki?
One reigning theme in "Fur" is friendship vs. convenience, among many other themes that could be extrapolated from the tale.
In this story, two women who are friends, Eleanor and Suzanne, are plotting a way to let Suzanne's rich cousin know that she wants an expensive fur for her birthday. While they are about to carry out their plan, Eleanor asks Suzanne if she could do a favor for her as well: to sit in her place at a game of bridge, hosted by some "boring" aunts, in order for Eleanor to see her beau.
Suzanne is a woman who is described as someone who thinks that
the sacrifices of friendship were beautiful in her eyes as long as she was not asked to make them.
Therefore, she refuses to do the favor for Eleanor even though the latter is currently doing a favor for her. This type of "friendship for convenience" and the poor balance of sacrifices that each woman is willing to do for one another are the central topics that the story reflects. Still, there is one more theme, which is revenge.
When Eleanor sees Suzanne's refusal, she actively and discreetly switches her goal and ends up convincing the rich cousin to buy her (Eleanor) a fur after she "revealed" to him the sad story that her family cannot buy her nice things. Not only did she manage to snag the fur for herself, but she also suggested the wrong present for Suzanne's birthday, which was a fan; something that Suzanne absolutely does not need.
The theme of this story is betrayal and deception: Eleanor is a false friend who uses her friend Suzanne's confidences to stab her in the back.
Eleanor pretends to be Suzanne's friend but treats her maliciously. Eleanor learns that Suzanne's rich relative is coming to town, and that Suzanne, who doesn't have much money, would love for him to give her some fox furs for her birthday.
Eleanor, whose birthday is in March, presumably months away, lies to the cousin and says her birthday is tomorrow when she and Suzanne get separated in a crowded department store, and Eleanor is left alone with the cousin. Eleanor tells him a sob story about wanting furs but having no money and no relatives with money who will remember her. She manipulates the cousin into buying her furs and getting Suzanne a fan, which she knows Suzanne does not want.
Eleanor apparently acts out of spite and malice: there's no evidence that she wants furs. She simply appears to hope to thwart Suzanne in her desires and make her jealous. There was no reason but cattiness for Eleanor to insist on Suzanne wanting a fan. The story warns us to be careful who we trust and confide in. Seeming friends can be malicious enemies.