illustration of a young girl looking out a window at ghostly figures

The Open Window

by Saki

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Was Vera's joke in "The Open Window" funny? Why?

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The prank Vera plays on Mr. Nuttel is, if anything, creative and calculated.  Vera appears to be a precocious, young teenager bored with staying at her aunt’s house.   She is a smart girl who has found a way to entertain herself by playing a joke on an unsuspecting stranger. Saki describes Vera as “self-possessed”, indicating that she is self-centered and perhaps doesn’t care about other people’s feelings.  When Mr. Nuttel says he doesn’t know anyone in the area, Vera pounces on the opportunity to fray the nerves of the already jumpy Mr. Nuttel who has come to the country to seek a cure for his anxious behavior and “moping”.

The story that her aunt keeps the window open thinking her dead husband and brothers will return from hunting makes the man uneasy, and when the husband and brothers do return (and aren’t really dead), Mr. Nuttel freaks out and runs away for he thinks they are ghosts.

Vera’s prank is funny if you think it’s okay to fool an emotionally sick man who is about to “go off the deep end” already. Vera is a “mean girl”, but, personally, one I can’t help but like a little for her creativity and spirit.


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