Write a brief character sketch on Mrs Sappleton (Vera's Aunt) in "The Open Window."

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Saki's ironic wit is at its best in his short story, "The Open Window" as the precocious niece Vera who cleverly fabricates a tale around the truth of Mrs. Sappleton's husband and brothers' disappearance tht terrifies the guest, Framton Nuttel, also suggests some things about her aunt.  While Vera depicts her aunt as delusional--"Poor aunt always thinks that they will come back some day"--she does reveal some truth about Mrs. Sappleton: she is fastidious.  For, the window is open because Mrs. Sappleton has never wanted the hunters to traipse across her carpets. 

As Vera is in the middle of her tale, Mrs. Sappleton "bustled into the room" offering "a whirl of apologies" for her tardiness in coming down to greet Mr. Nuttel. She then apolgizes for the open window, explaining that it serves to retain her "poor carpets."  Then, she expresses a gender bias, though not meant to give offense:  "So like you menfolk, isn't it?"  Without noticing Framton Nuttel's horrified reaction, Mrs. Sappleton "rattled on cheerfully" on topics relative to the men's hunting. As she speaks, Mrs. Sappleton eyes flit to the window and the lawn beyond it.  As Framton decides to discuss his ailments, Mrs. Sappleton is barely able to stifle a yawn of boredom which is instantly relieved when she spots the hunters returning.  One of the men, having neared the window, is heard calling to the dog not to run so.  Hearing this ghost speak, Framton Nuttel flees in terror.

All that Mrs. Sappleton can do is remark on how extraordinary Nuttel is.  She is appalled at his talk of illnesses and then his "dashing off" so rudely.  "One would think he had seen a ghost."  Vera explains to her that Nuttel fears dogs because he was once hunted by a "pack of pariah dogs."

Obviously, Vera is far more clever than Mrs. Sappleton, who seems to live her life in a fairly confining fashion, absorbed in what occurs with her immediate family only.  For, she is in no hurry to meet Framton Nuttel and simply appears out of some sense of obligation and civility.  She is fairly myopic, as well, as she does not observe any of the dynamics between Vera and Framton before she sits down.  Nor does she ask Framton anything about himself; instead she "rattles on cheerfully" about her family that is out hunting.  When Framton flees, she demonstrates no real concern for him then, either, as she does not call him back, but only remarks upon what an odd man he is.