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The Open Window

by Saki

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Discussion Topic

An analysis of Vera's characteristics, personality, and indirect characterization in "The Open Window."

Summary:

In "The Open Window," Vera is characterized as clever, manipulative, and imaginative. Her personality is marked by a mischievous and deceitful nature, as she invents a dramatic story to unsettle Mr. Nuttel. Indirect characterization reveals her intelligence and quick thinking, as she convincingly crafts and delivers her fabricated tale without hesitation.

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Describe the character Vera from "The Open Window" by H. H. Munro.

Vera is the fifteen-year-old niece of Mrs. Sappleton. In contrast to the high-strung and anxious Framton Nuttel, Vera is described within the narrative itself as "self-possessed," and as the story unveils, she swiftly displays an imaginative and creative personality, as she fabricates the story of how her aunt's husband and brothers had perished hunting three years earlier. These details combine to have an agitating effect on Nuttel, which will become even more pronounced when the hunters actually do return. At this point, Nuttel's nerves become too much for him, and he flees the house. Vera then proceeds to invent another fabrication, as she explains away Nuttel's reaction with another imaginative tale.

At the same time, even as Vera can be called a storyteller and a liar, she can also be labeled enigmatic, given that we don't actually know what motivates her to lie in the first place. Is it created out of boredom, with Vera using these lies and stories as a way to amuse herself? Is her lying habitual? Is it actively malicious, aimed with the purpose of unsettling Nuttel? Is there some other explanation altogether? Saki does not tell us. From this perspective, much of her personality is left a mystery. We know that she lies. What we do not know is why.

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Describe the character Vera from "The Open Window" by H. H. Munro.

We learn quite a bit about Vera in this short story. Vera is a bright, imaginative, and self-possessed fifteen-year-old who can spin a good tale. She also defies the expectations of the adults around her—and the reader—by being an accomplished liar.

Vera uses her lying to manipulate events to amuse and benefit herself. She and her aunt, who has to repress a "yawn" when Mr. Nuttel starts talking about his medical problems, are bored with this houseguest. Vera shows a wicked resourcefulness and ingenuity when she gets Mr. Nuttel to believe a fantastic tale that causes him to flee the house. There's more than a touch of malice in Vera, too, as she manipulates and frightens a man with a nervous disorder into thinking he is seeing ghosts.

Vera reveals herself to be a poised and cool character, too, when she concocts yet another fantastic tale on the spot to explain Mr. Nuttel's sudden flight from the house.

The nature of Vera's stories, one a gothic ghost tale, the other a fantastic story set in India in which Nuttel supposedly cowers in a freshly dug grave all night while a pack of dogs hover over him, tell us something about her reading habits, which appear to veer toward sensationalistic genre literature. We can intuit that she injects versions of these stories into her real life because she enjoys the amusement and power it gives her.

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Describe the character Vera from "The Open Window" by H. H. Munro.

In H.H. Munro's (also known as Saki) short story of teenage mischief "The Open Window", the main character is Vera; a fifteen year old young lady who is also the niece of Mrs Stappleton. The latter is the woman whom Mr. Frampton Nuttel comes to visit as a formal guest to be able to spend some time away after having suffered a nervous breakdown.

Vera's characters is well-foreshadowed in the very beginning after he meets Mr. Nuttel. When she welcomes him in, Saki describes the following:

MY aunt will be down presently, Mr. Nuttel," said a very self-possessed young lady of fifteen; "in the meantime you must try and put up with me.

Here we see that Vera is "self-possessed" which means that she has the manners, the attitude, and the persona of someone who is well-under control of herself. This, when compared to the present state of Frampton, serves as an indicator that the two contrast greatly. However, it tells us also that, out of the two, it is Vera who has the potential of controlling the entire situation to her wishes. This is why she subtlety adds that one sentence which foreshadows her:

You must try and put up with me.

From that alone, we can sketch Vera as a cunning, mischievous (she is not necessarily a "bad" kid, just a mischievous, trying, and curious one), and as quite much wiser than we think.

During her story about the open window, which is false and calculated to scare Frampton, Vera shows a myriad of well-planned mannerisms that account for her love of mischief: She dramatizes, elaborates, embellishes, takes away truths, adds lies, and controls her story just for the sake of driving Frampton crazy. She does this for no other reason than to please herself. This helps us sketch Vera further as dramatic, creative, inventive, artistic, and of course, a bit perverse.

After witnessing the arrival of the three - MUCH alive- house men coming from hunting, Frampton has become so enthralled with Vera's story that, when he saw the supposedly dead men arriving back to the manor he blasted off in panic.

Vera does not acknowledge nor makes much of the situation. She simply explained to her aunt how curious Mr. Frampton was in coming and going this way. This seals the deal: Vera is a girl who may have become so bored with life in the country (as many other country Victorian estate young ladies did), that she has excelled at the art of storytelling. We cannot take away the hint that Saki gives us with Vera: She, her wit, her storytelling techniques, and her bit of malice reminds us of another witty, malicious storyteller: Saki, himself!

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How would you describe the character Vera in "The Open Window"?

Vera is the most interesting character in "The Open Window." Without her, the story would not have happened. Framton Nuttel might have arrived for tea and spent an hour or so with the adult members of the family, boring them with his imaginary ailments, and finally leaving. But Vera creates an uproar. She is intelligent, imaginative, and mischievous. She is also terribly bored in this household where nobody ever talks about anything but shooting birds. She is a fifteen-year-old girl. There is nothing for her to do but sit around and feel bored. She obviously does a lot of reading because there was nothing else for girls her age to do in those times. She could never have made up that story about Framton Nuttel being pursued by a pack of feral dogs if she hadn't read some such actual event in one of her books. We can well imagine what kinds of books she likes to read. She resents being used as a hostess-in-training because she knows she is being prepared for a life such as that of her ding-a-ling Aunt Sappleton. Instead of playing the good junior hostess, Vera plays the hostess from hell with poor Framton. If he were a handsome young man, her reception would have been different. But we can imagine Framton as skinny and nerdy and much too old to interest Vera. 

"Do you know many of the people round here?" asked the niece, when she judged that they had had sufficient silent communion.

Framton is shy, reclusive, and socially awkward. That is why his sister gave him those letters of introduction and insisted on his trying to meet some people in the country where he would be staying.

"I know how it will be," his sister had said when he was preparing to migrate to this rural retreat; "you will bury yourself down there and not speak to a living soul, and your nerves will be worse than ever from moping. I shall just give you letters of introduction to all the people I know there. Some of them, as far as I can remember, were quite nice."

Vera realizes that she is going to have to do most of the talking, so this motivates her to make up a wild story just to entertain herself. She uses material drawn from her personal life in her story. Her aunt leaves the window open for the men and sits waiting for them to return for tea. One of the men always sings, "Bertie, why do you bound?' as he approaches the big house. She is telling the truth except for the part about the three hunters being sucked into a bog three years ago. Maybe she wishes the three hunters would get sucked into a bog. The girl has talents but never gets to use them because girls were stuck at home and could do nothing but wait to get married and become mothers and housekeepers. She seems self-possessed, but inwardly she is seething with frustration and resentment. She doesn't mind taking some of it out on poor Framton.

Vera, in truth, is not much different from a lot of fifteen-year-old girls. They have to be ladylike, but secretly a lot of them would prefer to be witches and ride around on broomsticks howling at the moon. Vera's two stories reveal some of her darker side. She resembles the thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis in Ian McEwan's novel Atonement (2001). Briony is another girl who creates troubles by telling stories. These two girls must represent common types to be found in upper-class English country homes in earlier times.

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What are Vera's characteristics in "The Open Window"?

A chief characteristic of Vera—and the one that drives the story—is malice, which is the trait of doing evil for pleasure. Vera tells elaborate lies for the sense of enjoyment it gives her. This goes along with her cruel streak: when she finds out, for example, that Nuttel is suffering from a nervous disorder, she does her best through her lying to exploit that weakness in him, play on it, and drive him further into anxiety—so much so that he flees the house in terror.

Vera seems to have a strong desire for power, which perhaps reflects her sense of a being a powerless adolescent in her aunt's house. She gains power and control over others through telling lies. She can feel superior to those around her through her lying, because it leaves her knowing truths they don't and playing them for fools.

Vera's behavior shows she is passive aggressive. Her upbringing as a lady with good manners means she can't outwardly say that she finds Mr. Nuttel a bore who has been thrust on her or her aunt and uncle a fool, so she manipulates them using lies as her outlet.

We like Vera, however, on some level, because she poised, creative, intelligent, quick-witted, expert at her ploys, and very daring and audacious—perhaps the epitome of the artist. Our shock comes in the slippage between our expectations of how a well-brought up and polite teenage girl should act and her malicious behavior.

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What are Vera's characteristics in "The Open Window"?

The name Vera means "true" in Latin, a spectacular irony, since Vera's most outstanding characteristic is her mendacity. Vera does not tell lies to benefit herself or to escape punishment. She does not tell small, practical, evasive lies. She tells huge, elaborate baroque lies, because she is a master of the art of making things up. Since this is also a characteristic of the author, it is natural that Saki shares her perspective and her enjoyment.

Apart from her relish in lying, Vera is described as "a very self-possessed young lady." This establishes her social class (at least upper-middle, possibly higher) and the fact that she has excellent manners and poise. Her initial remark that Framton "must try and put up with" her while he is waiting for her aunt establishes the elaborate and completely insincere self-deprecation which has been regarded as a mark of good manners in England since the Victorian era. It is clear that Vera has a good opinion of herself. She is certainly well aware that she is more entertaining company than Mrs. Sappleton, but her social training leads her to open with this false modesty.

Finally, Vera is extremely intelligent and artful, a fine actress as well as a gifted storyteller. The details with which she embellishes her story and her final improvisation concerning Framton's fear of dogs after a traumatic experience in India are related by Saki with the relish and respect of a kindred spirit and a fellow artist.

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What are Vera's characteristics in "The Open Window"?

Vera is the most important character in "The Open Window." Saki needed someone who would prepare Framton Nuttel for a big shock when the three supposedly dead hunters returned at dusk. It couldn't be Mrs. Sappleton because it would be completely out of character for her to play such a trick. It had to be a mischievous child--but not too young because a young child couldn't bring it off convincingly. A boy or a girl? A girl would be best because a boy would probably be off hunting with the other males. She couldn't be too old, either. An older girl probably wouldn't have that same mischievous spirit. Fifteen was the best age for the author's purposes. He twice describes Vera as "self-possessed."

"My aunt will be down presently, Mr. Nuttel," said a very self-possessed young lady of fifteen; "in the meantime you must try and put up with me."

"Then you know practically nothing about my aunt?" pursued the self-possessed young lady.

Throughout the story Vera acts completely self-possessed--calm, cool, collected, poised, self-assured. Saki's purpose in emphasizing that Vera was "self-possessed" was to make it possible for her to terrify Framton at the end when the three hunters appear outside.

The child was staring out through the open window with dazed horror in her eyes.

Vera pretends to lose all her self possession, and the contrast, the sudden loss of her poise and self-assurance, convinces Framton that she is really looking at three ghosts. It seems possible that Vera gets a stronger reaction out of the nervous guest than she expected. She is perhaps a better actress than she realized. But she quickly recovers her habitual "self-possession" and makes up a weird tale to explain Framton's abrupt departure.

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What are Vera's characteristics in "The Open Window"?

Vera is a fifteen-year-old girl who has a vivid intelligence and must do a lot of reading. She is mischievous, but she is not too much different from girls her age who like to play practical jokes on people. On the surface she is very polite and “self-possessed,” but underneath she has a secret sadistic streak which strangers and even close relatives would not suspect. No doubt she finds her life very boring at the age of fifteen, since the story is set in a time when women in general had little freedom and girls her age had even less. Judging from the characters described in Saki’s story, there is no one even approximately Vera’s age for her to relate to. She must spend a great deal of time by herself and probably indulges in all sorts of fantasies. She is a shrewd judge of people. She senses immediately that the visitor Framton Nuttel is a bundle of nerves and a hypochondriac. She foresees how he would react to a ghost story and invents one on the spot to watch his reaction and prvide herself with some welcome amusement. There is a similarity between this story and Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” For some reason, we don’t feel sorry for Nuttel, just as we don’t feel sorry for Ichabod Crane.

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What are Vera's characteristics in "The Open Window"?

Vera's main characteristic is that she is bored. The fact that she is obviously very intelligent as well as imaginative only adds to her boredom. She is confined to a household in which the same exact things happen every day. The three males go out hunting and are expected back at tea time. They are always accompanied by the spaniel. They always enter by the tall window which is left open for them. She knows that Bertie always sings the same song--"I said, Bertie, why do you bound?"-- as a way of announcing their arrival. Her aunt has become so accustomed to the monotonous routine in this stereotypical English country setting that she always talks about the same subjects, based on information derived from the three men, who provide just about the only conversation she ever hears.

She rattled on cheerfully about the shooting and the scarcity of birds, and the prospects for duck in the winter.

Vera's boredom inspires her to create some excitement by making up a story which will be substantiated by the repetition of all the boring events of daily life she is so familiar with. Her aunt and the three hunters are like living symbols of the girl's utter boredom. They are completely dependable in their routine existences. She knows exactly what they will all do and say. It is no wonder that "romance at short notice was her specialty," since her only escape from boredom is in her imagination.

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What are Vera's main characteristics in Saki's "The Open Window"?

Vera might be compared with adolescent Briony Tallis in the novel Atonement by Ian McEwan, published in 2001. The novel was made into an excellent motion picture in 2007 and won many prestigious awards. It won an Academy Award for Best Original Score and was nominated for six other Academy Awards, which is quite unusual for a foreign film. The photography, costuming, and settings are all exceptionally good. Both Vera and Briony appear innocent and ingenuous, but both have hidden mean streaks. Vera's transgression is comical, but Briony's is very serious. Both girls tell untrue stories, but Briony's story gets an innocent man sent to prison.

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What are Vera's main characteristics in Saki's "The Open Window"?

Mrs. Sappleton has completely accepted and adjusted to her role as a housewife and hostess in a big country home. But Vera is only fifteen years old. She is restless and bored. Being a girl, she can't go hunting with the men and probably has no desire to do so anyway. She wouldn't want to get all cold and muddy, and she wouldn't want to kill innocent birds. Mrs. Sappleton probably sends Vera to greet Framton Nuttel because the older woman wants the girl to get some experience acting as a hostess and preparing herself to become something like Mrs. Sappleton herself. But Vera doesn't want to be another woman whose life revolves around men who think about and talk about nothing but hunting. Vera obviously wants more freedom and excitement in life, but she only gets it through reading and fantasies. Saki chose a fifteen-year-old girl because she is just old enough to be convincing and just young enough to be full of mischief. 

Vera and Framton make good contrasting characters, or "foils." Vera is young, Framton is middle-aged. Vera is female, Framton is male. Vera is relaxed and "self-possessed," Framton is a nervous wreck. Vera wants excitement, Framton wants to avoid all excitement. Vera is imaginative and articulate, Framton has little to talk about except his nervous troubles. Vera also contrasts with her aunt when Mrs. Sappleton arrives in the living room. They are both females, but they are entirely different types. Mrs. Sappleton looks forward to the men's return, while Vera is bored with the sameness of their talk and behavior and decides to use it for her ghost story. Mrs. Sappleton can only seem to talk about one subject--shooting birds. The fact that Framton complains about his bad nerves only serves Vera as an inspiration. She would not tell the same story to a different type of visitor. 

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What are Vera's main characteristics in Saki's "The Open Window"?

This short story contains an absolutely fascinating character who is the mastermind behind the story of "The Open Window." Vera, of course, is the storyteller without equal, who is quickly able to seize on details and weave convincing tales to horrific effect. Note how she dominates the story - it begins with her words and ends with them. We are told in the first sentence that she is "a very self-possessed young lady of fifteen". It is clear that she sees in Framton Nuttel an object for one of her stories, as she is quick to establish that he knows nobody from the area and thus she is free to use her excellent wit and intelligence to create a fable that will shock Framton Nuttel for her own amusement. She shows herself to be an excellent actor as well as a storyteller. Consider how the author narrates her duping of Framton Nuttel:

Here the child's voice lost its self-possessed note and became falteringly human... She broke off with a shudder.

She is not only creative, but quick, intelligent and able to fool others into believing her words. This is demonstrated yet again at the end of the tale when, nonchalantly, she creates another tale to explain Framton Nuttel's swift escape from the house to trick her family, telling the tale "calmly" with complete equanimity. Clearly this tale celebrates the power that a good storyteller can have over a susceptible audience, with Vera presented as the master storyteller, and everyone else her ignorant and naive victims.

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What are Vera's characteristics in "The Open Window"?

All the adult characters in the story would regard Framton Nuttel as a terrible bore, a nuisance, and a pain in the neck. The fact is that nobody likes to hear about other people's aches and pains, or doctor visits, or diagnoses. He is imposing on these total strangers, and he must be aware that he is doing it. They hardly knew his sister, and they don't know him at all. The sister is imposing on them because she had a relationship with their local vicar. Vera is the only one who is still not "civilized," and we instinctively like her because we identify with her feelings, her rebellious spirit, and her bizarre sense of humor. The unique thing about this particular story is that it is actually very funny but none of the characters laughs. The adults don't understand what is going on. Vera understands but she can't betray her amusement. Poor Framton Nuttel is only observed in his headlong flight by the reader.

Framton grabbed wildly at his stick and hat; the hall-door, the gravel-drive, and the front gate were dimly-noted stages in his headlong retreat. A cyclist coming along the road had to run into the hedge to avoid an imminent collision.

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What are Vera's characteristics in "The Open Window"?

Frampton Nuttel suffers from a nervous condition.  He travels to a rural community to seek a treatment, his path ostensibly being paved through the well-intentioned intervention of his sister, who has lived in this particular community and knows its inhabitants.  H.H. Munro’s (Saki) protagonist is clearly an individual on edge, his mental stability a matter of some concern.  As Munro’s introduction to Frampton indicates, his is a lonely and anxious existence, with human interaction kept to a self-imposed minimum.  His sister provides him letters of introduction to the town’s people so that Frampton will not be without resources:

“I’ll just give you letters to all the people I know there,” his sister had said.  “Otherwise, you’ll bury yourself and not speak to a soul and your nerves will worse than ever from moping.”

That the first person Frampton encounters should be the precocious and mischievous Vera, then, can only be considered a cruel twist of fate.  Vera is quick and not afraid to play practical jokes on total strangers.  A hint of this occurs early in these two characters’ meeting.  Conceding that he knows nobody in town, including Vera’s aunt, the young girl immediately senses an opportunity:

“Then you know practically nothing about my aunt?” pursued the self-possessed young lady.

We do not yet know of Vera’s nature, let alone her intentions, but Munro’s description of her as “self-possessed” indicates that she will play an important role in the story, and that that role will not necessarily be beneficial to the story’s outcome.  Vera’s manipulation of the adults for her own gratification and entertainment may be the innocent jocularity of an immature child, but it could also be indicative of a deeper psychological condition on her part.  Inferences that could be drawn regarding Vera, then, can run the gamut from innocent playfulness to psychotic tendencies towards duplicity.  The extremely rapid rate at which she adapts to changing situations or environments with false testimony suitable for the moment can suggest a propensity towards deception that will manifest itself in more grave situations as she matures as an adult.  The jokes she plays on Frampton and on her aunt are humorous, and she’s too young (presumably) to appreciate the consequences of her actions, but there is something troubling about her ability to navigate her deceptions so fluidly and without any sense of remorse.  Such is the stuff of which psychopaths are made.

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What are Vera's characteristics in "The Open Window"?

All the characters in "The Open Window," like most characters in short stories and novels, were created by the author in order to suit the needs of his plot. They are not real people, so it is a mistake to try to analyze them too deeply, as if they were flesh-and-blood human beings. Saki needed someone to tell Framton a wild story about how three men were killed by being sucked into a bog while out hunting, and how Mrs. Sappleton, who lost her mind when that tragedy occurred, is still waiting for them to return home for tea after three years. Saki decided to have an adolescent girl tell the visitor the story. Framton is an ideal victim, or "patsy," because he is a complete stranger to the region and therefore will accept Vera's story at face value.

Vera is just young enough to want to engage in such mischief and just old enough to be convincing. She is described as being very "self-possessed." Being a Victorian girl, she has very little freedom. She is bored with hearing the same stories about shooting birds and bored with her aunt's conversation, which centers on the activities and interests of the three men in her life. Vera must spend a great deal of her time reading, since there is little else for her to do. Because the men dominate the household, it would seem that the library must contain many books on travel and adventure that would interest men. No doubt Vera has read many of these books and feels even more bored with her life because of the contrast between her reading material and her dull existence. Poor Framton Nuttel will become the victim of this girl's frustrations.

When the men return from shooting and Mr. Sappleton asks his wife, "Who was that who bolted out as we came up?", the self-possessed Vera comes up with an explanation she must have taken straight out of a book about adventures in India.

"He was once hunted into a cemetery somewhere on the banks of the Ganges by a pack of pariah dogs, and had to spend the night in a newly dug grave with the creatures snarling and grinning and foaming just above him. Enough to make anyone lose their nerve."

Vera is a character created to fit the plot of "The Open Window." She is smart, imaginative, self-possessed, bored with life, entering a stage of teenage rebelliousness, addicted to escapist reading, and secretly wishing she could create a little uproar in this stereotypical English country manor. She might be compared with thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis in Ian McEwan's novel Atonement. 

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How would you describe Vera in "The Open Window"?

The author describes Vera as being self-possessed. This would be about the same as being poised, relaxedself-assured, self-confident, and sophisticated. The author emphasizes these qualities to prepare the reader and Framton Nuttel for a shock when she fakes a look of dazed horror while staring out the open window.

The girl is obviously intelligentimaginative, and creative. She is shrewd about judging people. She is cautious, as she shows by questioning Framton Nuttel before telling him her story about the hunters being accidentally killed three years ago while walking on the moor.

We can assume that Vera is bored and restless. As a young girl in Victorian times she has no freedom. She cannot go hunting with the men because that just wasn't done. She seems like an avid reader. Since she is bored and restless in her confinement in this big old house, she probably favors escapist-type reading about travel and adventure. She must have gotten that story about the man being pursued by pariah dogs from a book.

One of her outstanding character traits is that she is mischievous. She keeps this trait a deep secret and pretends to be a polite, well-bredconventional young lady. But underneath her self-possessed exterior, she is a young rebel. She doesn't like being used as a substitute hostess, because she realizes that her aunt is training her to become another dumb country housewife like herself--and Vera doesn't want to become another Aunt Sappleton.

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What three words do you think best describe Vera from "The Open Window"? Give reasons. 

Vera is creative. After she learns that Mr. Nuttel does not know anything about her aunt, Vera knows she can say anything and he will not be the wiser. She quickly comes up with her elaborate story about the tragedy of Mrs. Sappleton's husband, two brothers, and their dog. She tells the story compellingly and with acute acting skills: 

Here the child's voice lost its self-possessed note and became falteringly human. "Poor aunt always thinks that they will come back someday, they and the little brown spaniel that was lost with them, and walk in at that window just as they used to do. That is why the window is kept open every evening till it is quite dusk." 

Vera is also quick to create a story about why Mr. Nuttel ran away upon seeing the men return. 

Vera is bored. This is an assumption, but she is fifteen years old, stuck in a house in the middle of the country. She has her aunt and uncles, but there is no mention of a friend her age or a companion nearby. Boredom is one possible cause for her habit of making up stories. If you add boredom and creativity together, she has two reasons to make things up. 

Vera proves herself to be manipulative or simply put, a liar. Again, she may be making these things up out of boredom and as a way of exploring her creativity. But lying about something so tragic is inappropriate to say the least. She seems to enjoy the creating aspect of lying but the stories she comes up with are morbid. So, either she is exploring morbid things in the act of being creative or she is actually being quite malicious. 

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What do Vera's interactions in "The Open Window" reveal about her personality?

Vera's interactions with Mr. Nuttel and her aunt, Mrs. Sappleton, show that Vera is an intelligent and observant young woman with a strong imagination and an undetected malicious streak.

Vera enjoys deceiving people. For example, she takes spiteful pleasure in concocting a false tale to frighten the boring Mr. Nuttel, who is suffering from a nervous disorder and is in the country for a rest cure. She quickly ascertains that he knows nothing of the area or of her aunt's family. She uses this information to concoct a particularly wicked story.

Using her sharp memory of exactly what her uncle and her aunt's two brothers are wearing, she is able to convince Mr. Nutley that the figures he sees coming toward the open window of the dining room are ghosts of dead people. This sends him fleeing from the house.

When her aunt wonders why Mr. Nutley ran off so suddenly, the imaginative Vera quickly concocts another story, telling her aunt that he has a fear of dogs, saying that he developed it in India when he had to spend a night in a newly dug grave to escape a pack of snarling and foaming strays.

Vera projects an innocence that deceives people and prevents them from discovering her malicious intentions. People don't expect her to have such a vivid imagination or such a capacity for spinning lies for no reason except to amuse herself and to exert power over people.

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How does Vera exhibit traits of an actress and a storyteller in "The Open Window"?

Mrs. Sappleton's fifteen-year-old niece Vera is depicted as a clever, intelligent girl with an affinity for "Romance at short notice" in Saki's short story "The Open Window." After a brief introduction with Framton Nuttel, Vera instantly discovers that he is a gullible neurotic, who is not familiar with anyone in the region and is a mentally troubled outsider. She proceeds to demonstrate her storytelling and acting abilities by telling Framton a fabricated, elaborate tale about why her aunt's French window is kept open. Vera's story is particularly unsettling, and its dark subject matter makes Framton extremely nervous. Vera's ability to fabricate an involved tale on such short notice is impressive, as well as her talent for creating a shocking story to describe a seemingly typical situation pertaining to an open French window. Even after Framton bolts from Mrs. Sappleton's home, Vera once again reveals her expert storytelling abilities by fabricating a tale about Mr. Nuttel's terrifying history with a pack of pariah dogs in India. Vera also reveals her impressive acting abilities by maintaining her composure while she tells the story and stares out the window with a look of "dazed horror in her eyes" when her uncles return from their hunting trip. Her combined storytelling and acting abilities allow her to shatter Mr. Nuttel's delicate nerves as he sprints from her aunt's home in fear when Vera's uncles return.

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How does Vera exhibit traits of an actress and a storyteller in "The Open Window"?

Vera is an actress in that she's pretending to be a harmless, inoffensive young girl. There's nothing about her appearance or demeanor that would suggest that she represents a threat to Framton's fragile nervous system. However, appearances can be deceptive, and Vera expertly hides behind her sugar-and-spice persona to play a cruel prank on her unfortunate guest.

In Vera, the roles of actress and story-teller are combined. She's very good at telling stories, which give her the opportunity to allow her vivid imagination free reign. And as she spins Framton her spooky yarn, she's completely convincing in giving the impression that something terrible really did happen on that fateful hunting expedition. Vera's acting skills are much in evidence later on when the supposedly dead men return from their day's hunting. She stares through the open window at the approaching figures, a look of dazed horror in her eyes. It's all just a show, of course, to keep the prank going. But Framton's completely taken in by Vera's prodigious acting and story-telling skills, and immediately runs for the hills, his nerves shattered to pieces.

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How does Vera exhibit traits of an actress and a storyteller in "The Open Window"?

When Saki was plotting "The Open Window" he must have given considerable thought to creating the character who would tell the spooky story to Framton Nuttel. He chose to give the role to Vera, a fifteen-year-old girl. He may have decided against using a boy because a boy would have been more likely to go off bird shooting with the three men. A girl is more convincing because girls generally appear to be better behaved, although they may harbor all sorts of mischievous thoughts. Vera had to be young enough to play such a trick on a visitor and to take a risk of getting found out after the fact. But she had to be old enough to be entirely credible. Fifteen seems like exactly the right age. She is described as very "self-possessed." Saki uses the term "self-possessed" twice. We picture her as calm, cool, relaxed, quite sophisticated for her age. This is for the sake of contrast with Framton Nuttel, who is just the opposite of calm, cool, and relaxed. Vera's description as self-possessed will also serve as a contrast with the way she behaves when she sees the three men approaching the open window.

Framton is seated with his back toward the open window when Mrs. Sappleton cries, "Here they are at last!" Instead of looking at the window, Framton turns and looks at Vera. The girl is anything but self-possessed.

The child was staring out through the open window with dazed horror in her eyes.

Vera is a good actress as well as a good story-teller. She must have been planning to fake a look of "dazed horror" from the start. It is the look of horror on her innocent young face that frightens Framton more than anything else. All he needs is a glimpse of three men approaching with guns to make him flee in blind panic.

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What indirect characterization does the author use for Vera in "The Open Window"?

Indirect characterization is when a character is not explained explicitly. Another way to say it is that the reader must use inference to figure out the personality or description of a character based on implied clues. A question about Vera in Saki's "The Open Window" might be posed in order to obtain the correct inference needed to nail down who she is: What type of person would tell a stranger such a tragic lie about her uncles dying out in a bog, knowing full well that they would be returning soon after?

Not only does Vera set up Mr. Nuttel with the tragic tale, but when the men come back from hunting, she plays the scared little girl role perfectly. She acts out her own horror to close the deal on the story and really frightens Mr. Nuttel! The reader is left to infer whether or not Vera is malicious or simply a practical joker--and that is indirect characterization. One might argue that she's young and was simply playing a really good joke on Mr. Nuttel. On the other hand, the tale doesn't show her running after him to apologize or explain the joke.

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How does "The Open Window" reveal Vera's characteristics through her speech, thoughts, actions, and appearances?

Saki invented Vera to suit the needs of his plot. He wanted to have a character who would tell the neurotic visitor a wild story about three men being sucked into a bog and her aunt leaving the French window open for three years because she expected them to come home from their hunting excursion. Saki could have used Mrs. Sappleton herself for this purpose. He could have invented some eccentric family servant or a demented old family member who escaped from confinement in an upstairs room and slipped into the living room to tell Framton the story while the nervous visitor was waiting for Mrs. Sappleton to arrive. But Saki's choice of a precocious and mischievous fifteen-year-old girl was the best. Vera had to be old enough to be convincing but young enough to take a sadistic delight in scaring their guest with a ghost story.

Saki emphasizes the two aspects of Vera's character by the descriptive terms he uses. 

"My aunt will be down presently, Mr. Nuttel," said a very self-possessed young lady of fifteen; "in the meantime you must try and put up with me."

Here she is introduced as a young lady. Who would suspect this self-possessed young lady of making up such a horrible story? She not only fools Framton Nuttel, but she fools us readers completely. 

But when Mrs. Sappleton cries, "Here they are at last!" and Framton turns to look at Vera with "sympathetic comprehension":

The child was staring out through the open window with dazed horror in her eyes.

Vera is neither a child nor an quite an adult: she is an adolescent. As such, she is practicing being an adult but still capable of doing childish things, such as frightening a nervous visitor who is a complete stranger half to death. If Saki had made her a bit older, she would have been less likely to think of such a zany stunt; and if her creator had made her a bit younger, neither Framton nor the reader might have been so thoroughly taken in by her ghost story and by the girl's imitation of dazed horror. Necessity is said to be the mother of invention. By inventing a character to suit a very specialized need, Saki created one who is realistic, memorable, amusing, and engaging. 

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How does "The Open Window" reveal Vera's characteristics through her speech, thoughts, actions, and appearances?

The character of Vera is conveyed through the way in which she sizes up Framton Nuttel very carefully, checking his knowledge of her family, before launching into her tale and tricking him. It is clear from this that she is very intelligent and also incredibly bright. Note how this is shown through the following question, that is repeated in a different form two times in order to ascertain Framton's precise level of knowledge of the family:

 "Then you know practically nothing about my aunt?" pursued the self-possessed young lady.

The description of Vera as "self-possessed" clearly indicates the kind of young lady that Vera actually is. The ease with which she manages to trick Framton and to play a joke on him, that she does not even share with others suggests very strongly that she is very much in control of the situation around her and is able to trick and manipulate both strangers and her own family with ease in a very creative and flexible manner. She is certainly presented as a force to be reckoned with, as Framton finds out to his cost.

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