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The Open Window

by Saki

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Why is Mrs. Sappleton bored with Mr. Nuttel?

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Mrs. Sappleton's boredom is not a function of her character but of the character of Framton Nuttel.  It is his fault that she is bored, not hers.

Mrs. Sappleton is bored with Nuttel because of his personality.  He is a self-centered person who is not at all good in social situations.  We have seen this from the very beginning of the story, where he is unable to think of anything to say to Vera.  We then see it again when Mrs. Sappleton is talking to Nuttel late in the story.  There, we are told that Framton

... laboured under the tolerably widespread delusion that total strangers and chance acquaintances are hungry for the least detail of one's ailments and infirmities, their cause and cure.

This shows us that Framton does not have the sort of personality that tends to interest people.  He talks about boring details of his health that would not really matter to other people, particularly those whom he has just met.  It is for this reason that Mrs. Sappleton is bored with him, though she is gracious and polite enough not to let her boredom show.

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Mrs. Sappleton is bored with Framton Nuttel from the beginning. He is just someone she is obligated to entertain because of some very tenuous connection with his sister dating back four years. They have nothing in common to talk about. He talks about his ailments, while she "rattled on cheerfully about the shooting and the scarcity of birds, and the prospects for duck in the winter." Framton cannot talk about that subject because he knows nothing about it and because he thinks his hostess is insane.

Probably what happened was that his sister, who stayed at the rectory, asked the minister to introduce him to a few local people, so Mrs. Sappleton is obliging the minister and may not even remember Framton's sister. Furthermore, Framton is an inhibited, boring person. At the end of the story she says: "...could only talk about his diseases." No doubt Vera makes up her ghost story because she finds Framton boring and would like to shake him up a little. We can't help liking the mischievous Vera. She is not old enough to tolerate the kind of boredom that her aunt has had to accept as part of the obligations and proprieties of upper-middle-class domestic life in the country.

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