Introduction to The Open Window

“The Open Window” is a 1914 short story by Saki, otherwise known as Hector Hugh Munro. It offers readers a unique blend of situational irony, comedy, and mild horror in order to emphasize the disparity between appearances and reality. Framton, the story’s gullible viewpoint character, is led to believe that his host, Mrs. Sappleton, is mentally deranged. This farce is orchestrated by Mrs. Sappleton’s niece, Vera, who preys on Framton’s ignorance and gullibility. Though Vera’s intentions do not seem to be overtly malicious, her easy manipulations of both Frampton and her relatives highlights the ways in which one person can obscure reality using half-truths and outright falsities. 

On a metafictional level, “The Open Window” is a commentary on the ways in which storytelling relies on both a suspension of disbelief and a lack of context. For most of the story, readers are given only Framton’s perspective, setting up the ironic reveal that everything Vera has said is false. Readers are then made privy to the fact that Vera has perpetuated a new lie to her relatives in order to explain Framton’s sudden departure. Vera’s reshaping of the narrative is representative of how fiction operates, and Saki asks readers to question their own approach to reading and writing stories, including the degree to which they are willing to suspend disbelief.

A Brief Biography of Saki

Hector Hugo Munro (1870–1916), who published all of his fiction under the pseudonym Saki, was a British writer known for his short stories, which satirized contemporary society and politics. Munro was born in the British colony of Burma—now known as Myanmar—but was raised, along with his siblings, in England by his puritanical aunts. After Munro’s father retired from his diplomatic post in Burma, the family toured around Europe. Munro originally attempted to follow his father’s career path, but he fell ill while abroad in Burma and returned permanently to England to begin working as a writer. He started his career as a journalist and experienced a series of false starts. His first major success began with the publication of his collaborative episodic work, The Westminster Alice, a series of political satires modeled after Alice in Wonderland. This was also the first work to be published under the Saki pseudonym. Munro spent the following years as a prolific and popular short story writer before he was killed during World War I after enlisting as a trooper—despite being past the compulsory age. Several works were published posthumously, including pieces he wrote while on the frontlines of WWI. His best-known stories include "The Open Window," "The Interlopers," and "The Mouse."

Frequently Asked Questions about The Open Window

The Open Window

Saki's purpose for writing "The Open Window" was to entertain readers. This is a humorous story that doesn't end as expected. When Vera engages with Framton Nuttel, she masterfully generates an...

Latest answer posted October 14, 2020, 12:00 pm (UTC)

3 educator answers

The Open Window

In a work of literature, the climax is the moment of the most tension in the story, the result of the conflict between the protagonist and the antagonist. In this story, that moment arrives when...

Latest answer posted October 15, 2020, 12:09 pm (UTC)

4 educator answers

The Open Window

“The Open Window” by Saki provides readers with an excellent example of what is called situational irony. This is where something happens that is completely the opposite of what one would normally...

Latest answer posted October 15, 2020, 11:53 am (UTC)

7 educator answers

The Open Window

In the context of “The Open Window,” a romance isn't a love story; it's any kind of fictional tale showing signs of a vivid imagination. An elaborate ghost story or tall tale would be an example of...

Latest answer posted October 15, 2020, 11:14 am (UTC)

6 educator answers

The Open Window

After Framton Nuttel arrives at the Sappleton home, Vera asks him several questions to gauge whether or not he is familiar with her aunt, her family, or the community. Vera is described as a...

Latest answer posted October 15, 2020, 4:30 pm (UTC)

2 educator answers

The Open Window

If there is a moral lesson to be taken from Saki’s humorous short story “The Open Window,” it is that gullible people—those who take things at face value and believe what they are told without...

Latest answer posted October 14, 2020, 11:19 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

The Open Window

In Saki’s short story “The Open Window,” the neurotic, gullible Framton Nuttel goes to stay in the country, where the Sappletons happen to live, in the hopes of curing his nervous condition. As a...

Latest answer posted October 14, 2020, 12:02 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

The Open Window

In Saki's short story "The Open Window," the neurotic Framton Nuttel travels to the countryside in hopes of curing his nervous condition and pays a visit to the Sappleton home, where he meets Mrs....

Latest answer posted October 15, 2020, 12:25 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

The Open Window

After Framton Nuttel runs away, fifteen-year-old Vera, a skillful and imaginative liar, tells her aunt and uncle (the latter of whom has just come in from hunting with Mrs. Sappleton's two brothers...

Latest answer posted October 15, 2020, 11:31 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

The Open Window

Vera may be adept at making up vivid stories on the spot, but she knows that if she's going to play a trick on the unsuspecting Framton Nuttel, she's going to have to incorporate an element of...

Latest answer posted October 15, 2020, 11:38 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

The Open Window

As Framton is talking to Mrs. Sappleton about his health, she remarks that the men of the household have returned from their shooting expedition just in time for tea. Vera has told Framton that the...

Latest answer posted October 15, 2020, 11:46 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

The Open Window

Framton Nuttel and Vera are alike in that they are both self-absorbed people who don't take much time to consider how their behavior affects other people. Framton needs to go to the country as a...

Latest answer posted October 15, 2020, 11:50 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

The Open Window

In "The Open Window," Vera skillfully ascertains that Framton Nuttel knows nothing about her aunt and that even his sister has not seen the Sappletons for years. She then tells him that, three...

Latest answer posted October 15, 2020, 11:22 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

The Open Window

The tone of "The Open Window" is typical of Saki: detached, witty, and urbane. Saki was much influenced by Oscar Wilde, who said that in matters of vital importance, "style, not sincerity is the...

Latest answer posted October 15, 2020, 12:21 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

The Open Window

Vera knows full well that her uncle and his brothers-in-law have gone off on a hunting expedition and that they'll be back at any moment. This gives her the opportunity to play a wicked prank on...

Latest answer posted October 15, 2020, 11:27 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

The Open Window

The main character in Saki's short story is Framton Nuttel, an incredibly nervous man who has come to the countryside in search of peace and relaxation on his doctor's orders. Thanks to the story's...

Latest answer posted October 15, 2020, 11:44 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

The Open Window

One main conflict in “The Open Window” is that between Framton Nuttel and society, as represented by all the other characters in the text. First, Framton’s thoughts reveal his conflict with his...

Latest answer posted October 15, 2020, 11:43 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

The Open Window

Framton Nuttell is an anxious, easily startled man given to talking about his "ailments and infirmities." He seems virtually incapable of relaxation, especially in the company of others, and has...

Latest answer posted October 15, 2020, 11:30 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

The Open Window

In "The Open Window," Framton Nuttel is paying a social call on Mrs. Sappleton, a lady whom he has never met but who knows his sister. Mrs. Sappleton is busy when he arrives and sends her niece,...

Latest answer posted October 14, 2020, 11:18 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

The Open Window

Once she's figured out what kind of a person Framton Nuttel is, the wicked young Vera immediately puts her prank in motion. Having sensed that Framton is incredibly nervous and learned that he...

Latest answer posted October 14, 2020, 11:25 am (UTC)

1 educator answer
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Summary