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

The Open Window

by Saki

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Vera's motivations for lying in "The Open Window"

Summary:

Vera's motivations for lying in "The Open Window" are primarily for amusement. She enjoys using her vivid imagination to concoct elaborate stories that manipulate and unsettle others, finding entertainment in their reactions. Her deceit is driven by a desire for control and the thrill of creating a dramatic and believable narrative.

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Does Vera in "The Open Window" lie for reasons other than enjoyment?

Vera's behavior in Saki's "The Open Window" suggests that she frequently makes up stories since she does so twice within the tale.  When she lies to Framton Nuttel, Vera may be trying to prevent the man who is recovering from a nervous breakdown from staying at her aunt's home.  Vera, the only female child in the home, may feel that the newcomer's presence may threaten the amount of attention she may receive from the family.  Since Vera lives with her aunt and uncle, it is probable that she is an orphan and, as such, may crave the attention of others.  This seems to be demonstrated in the tale she tells her aunt, Mrs. Sapleton, about Mr. Nuttel's supposed terrible experience with a dog.  It is filled with exaggeration, and Vera seems to captivate the family with her descriptions.  Their reaction and the narrator's subsequent comment about how Vera is quite good at creating "romance at short notice" suggests that she is successful in drawing the attention she craves.

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Does Vera in "The Open Window" lie for reasons other than enjoyment?

Vera lies and makes up the story because she is good at it and it is entertaining for her.  She is quite skilled as an actress and as the author tells us quite skilled at "romance at short notice". Vera is a confident character so her story seems even more believable to poor Framton Nuttel.  Ironically enough, Vera's name is very close to the word "veracity" which means truth.

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What is Vera's intention for lying to Nuttel in "The Open Window"?

In Saki's celebrated short story "The Open Window," Mrs. Sappleton's niece, Vera, is introduced to the neurotic Framton Nuttel, who arrives at Mrs. Sappleton's country home in hopes of resting his nerves. After Vera asks several probing questions and learns that Framton is not familiar with her aunt or the region, she proceeds to tell Mr. Nuttel an unsettling fabricated story about why her aunt keeps her large French window open. Vera tells Mr. Nuttel that three years ago, Mrs. Sappleton's husband and two brothers went out shooting in the forest and tragically drowned in a treacherous bog. According to Vera, her aunt never got over their deaths and, since then, has always kept the French window open, hoping that one day they will return.

Framton believes the story, as Vera anticipates the arrival of her uncles. When Vera's uncles begin walking toward the French window, Framton is overcome with fear and thinks that ghosts are approaching the home, which is exactly how Vera wanted Framton to react. He sprints out of the home. When Mrs. Sappleton inquires about Framton's erratic behavior, Vera tells another fabricated story to explain his reaction. Saki's final line explains Vera's intention behind lying to Framton. Saki writes,

Romance at short notice was her [Vera's] speciality.

Essentially, Vera has an affinity for making up stories and causing mischief as a way to entertain herself. Vera simply found Framton an easy target and took pleasure in making up a tale that would hopefully frighten the neurotic stranger. She saw an opportunity to exercise her impressive storytelling skills and desired to entertain herself, which is why she lied to Framton Nuttel.

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Why does Vera lie in "The Open Window"?

Saki doesn't tell us precisely why Vera tells lies in this spare, very short short story, but he does leave clues. Mr. Nuttel, who has come to stay with Vera's family for some rest, isn't a friend, but has arrived with a letter of introduction. This means he is a friend of a friend, so the family is more or less obligated to be hospitable. He "could only talk about his illnesses" and appears to be a bore. Mrs. Sappleton has apparently left Vera to entertain him as she herself wants to put off facing him.

It's not hard to understand how the 15-year-old Vera would feel resentful at this guest being imposed on her and want to get rid of him. What better way than to make up a malicious story that will send him running away in terror? By telling her lie, she both amuses herself and relieves the family of an unwanted guest.

However, she also lies to her family at the end, indicating that this a form of control and enjoyment for her, a habit that goes beyond getting rid of Mr. Nuttel.

Saki enjoyed creating characters who were not all sweetness and light, but quite capable of lying and cruelty.

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Why does Vera lie in "The Open Window"?

Vera's an inveterate teller of tales. We find this out in the very last line of the story:

"Romance at short notice was her speciality."

She doesn't just spin a yarn to poor old Framton Nuttel; she also tells her family a likely story to explain Framton's sudden, terrified departure. Clearly, Vera likes telling stories and the attention it brings her. She proves herself to be very good at acting, whether it's in the role of a demure young lady or as the terrified girl gripped with horror as she sees the three men returning from their day of shooting.

We should never forget that Vera's a fifteen year old girl. As such, she still has a huge sense of fun, if a tad immature, and is always looking for ways to enjoy herself. And putting one over on adults is something she obviously enjoys greatly. The question we need to ask ourselves, however, is if this is something she'll eventually grow out of, or whether it indicates that Vera has rather more sinister character traits.

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Why does Vera deceive Mr. Nuttel in "The Open Window"?

Saki’s short story “The Open Window” features a literary technique called dramatic irony. A writer creates dramatic irony when he/she reveals information to the reader that one or more of the characters in the story does not know. It's a good way to create suspense and make a reader think about how characters will react to the circumstances of the story. 

When Vera tells Mr. Nuttel about the missing men, the reader eventually discovers that this story is a lie. Because Mr. Nuttel does not know it is a lie, we have an instance of dramatic irony.

Why does Vera have to lie? Well, for Saki to create the intended effect (dramatic irony) the reader needs to learn something that the character does not, and the lie makes this possible.

Notice that Vera does not only tell one lie. After Mr. Nuttel runs away, she lies about the reason he left, saying that he was afraid of their dog:

"I expect it was the spaniel," said the niece calmly; "he told me he had a horror of dogs.”

This lie shifts the focus from Mr. Nuttel’s situation to Vera's behavior. Saki’s theme now becomes clearer. Instead of a central message about a man who is trying to deal with a nervous disorder, the reader is presented with a girl who deceives impulsively, and apparently just for the fun of it. The second lie forces us to confront the question: what does Vera’s deceitful behavior say about humanity?

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Why does Vera deceive Mr. Nuttel in "The Open Window"?

In the story The Open Window, Vera (a fifteen year old girl) is waiting in her home for some relatives when she receives he visit of Mr. Frampton Nuttel, who was visiting the country side as a way to cure his nerves, and was going to spend time with them.

Vera tells him a story about tragedy and romance, drama, and suspense about her relatives that totally enthralls Mr. Nuttel. Yet, to answer your question, Vera did not have to deceive Mr. Nuttel: She simply did it because, as Saki says at the end of the story, Vera's specialty was to tell stories which were "romances at short notice."

In other words, Vera simply could not resist. She saw that the man was, in essence weaker than herself. She saw in him a potential good listener to a made up story, and since she loved telling such stories, she also saw in him a victim of her little pranks.

Hence, to answer your question Vera didn't much HAD as much as she WANTED to deceive Mr. Nuttel as a young, picaresque and creative, dramatic teenager that she is.

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Why does Vera deceive Mr. Nuttel in "The Open Window"?

Vera doesn't have to deceive Framton Nuttel, but she does so anyway. She's a fifteen year old girl, and she still has a certain youthful exuberance and sense of fun about her. As we discover in the very last line of the story, she has a real gift for making up tall tales on the spot. In order to make such tales convincing it's essential to have someone around who's quite gullible and prone to believing just about anything. Enter Framton Nuttel. He's the perfect mark for Vera's cruel little prank; he's nervous, he's a hypochondriac, and he's totally unfamiliar with the local area. Vera can't believe her luck, and she simply cannot resist this golden opportunity to take her legendary yarn-spinning talent onto the next level. As she quickly gets the full measure of the unfortunate Mr. Nuttel, she knows that she's in for a lot of fun.

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Why does Vera lie to Framton in "The Open Window"?

In Saki's "The Open Window" the author writes with his usual sparkling wit and irony; he offers a frame story for Vera's humorous manipulation of Framton Nuttel. Saki's mischievous narrator is perspicacious enough to identify people's vulnerabilities while seizing on details around her and quickly weaving a convincing tale that can deceive her listener and exploit his weakness with her subtle ridicule and practical jokes. Perhaps, too, because she is sent to entertain guests by her aunt far too often, Vera conjures such tales in order to entertain herself.

When Vera notices that Framton is nervous and ambivalent as he

...endeavored to say the correct something that should duly flatter the niece of the moment without unduly discounting the aunt that was to come...

she decides to amuse herself by fabricating a tale that will end at Nuttel's expense. The fabrication that she uses is initiated by Framton himself because he asks about the open window: "...but has that window got anything to do with the tragedy?" Knowing that the men will return through this window just as they have departed by passing out its opening, Vera decides to weave her tall tale around the hunting expedition. And, because "[R]omance at short notice" is her forte, Vera succeeds at her practical joke; after seeing the "dead" return through the window, Framton races away, to Vera's satisfaction.

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