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The Open Window

by Saki

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In "The Open Window," what does Mrs. Sappleton discuss with Framton and how does he react?

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In "The Open Window," Mrs. Sappleton discusses with Framton about her husband and brothers' return from hunting, unconsciously playing into the terrifying tale her niece, Vera, has spun. Unaware of the prank, Framton, who believes they are long dead, is filled with horror and sympathy for Mrs. Sappleton, trying to steer the conversation away from the 'tragic' topic. The sight of the men's return terrifies Framton to the point of a hasty exit, leaving Vera to revel in her successful hoax.

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In "The Open Window," Mrs. Sappleton begins having a conversation with Framton. She explains why the window is open. She is expecting her husband and brothers at any moment. They have been hunting and are due to return at any minute:

I hope you don't mind the open window," said Mrs. Sappleton briskly; "my husband and brothers will be home directly from shooting, and they always come in this way. They've been out for snipe in the marshes to-day, so they'll make a fine mess over my poor carpets. So like you men-folk, isn't it?"

While Mrs. Sappleton is making small talk with her new acquaintance, she does not realize the trick Vera has played on Framton. Vera has told Framton a tall tale. Framton believes Mrs. Sappleton's husband and brothers died three years ago by drowning in the bog. Framton's nerves are set on edge as Vera shares how Mrs. Sappleton expects her husband and brothers to return at any moment. 

When Mrs. Sappleton makes conversation with Framton, Framton feels particularly sorry for Mrs. Sappleton. He thinks she is mentally touched. Framton tries to change the subject to a less tragic one:

He made a desperate but only partially successful effort to turn the talk on to a less ghastly topic; he was conscious that his hostess was giving him only a fragment of her attention, and her eyes were constantly straying past him to the open window and the lawn beyond. It was certainly an unfortunate coincidence that he should have paid his visit on this tragic anniversary.

When Mrs. Sappleton sees her husband and brothers approaching, she is delighted. Framton is terrified. He makes a run for it. He quickly leaves the house:

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.

Vera surely had a good laugh about the whole story she had made up. It will be weeks before Framton recovers. 

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In "The Open Window," what is it about Mrs. Sappleton’s niece that causes Framton additional distress?

Mrs. Sappleton's fifteen-year-old niece, Vera, causes Framton Nuttel additional mental distress by telling him an eerie tale about the tragic deaths of her uncles, who she knows will soon return from their hunting trip and walk into the open French window. Vera is described as a self-possessed young lady with a vivid imagination and an affinity for "Romance at short notice." Upon meeting Framton Nuttel, Vera asks him several questions and discovers that he is an extremely neurotic, timid man, who knows nothing about Mrs. Sappleton and is unfamiliar with the region. Vera views Mr. Nuttel as an easy victim and proceeds to fabricate a tragic, unnerving story, which explains why the French window is left open. Vera knows that her uncles will return shortly from their hunting trip and gives Mr. Nuttel a look of horror once he witnesses them walking toward the open window. Framton believes that Vera's uncles are ghosts and becomes overwhelmed with fear. Framton becomes so frightened that he bolts out of the house before the men arrive. Vera's capacity for fabricating stories, her ability to maintain her composure, and her talent for reading personalities allow her to frighten Framton Nuttel.

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In "The Open Window," what is it about Mrs. Sappleton’s niece that causes Framton additional distress?

In short, Vera (Mrs. Sappleton's niece) causes Framton Nuttel additional distress by telling a story that causes "mental excitement." This is exactly the stress poor Framton Nuttel is trying to avoid. He has moved to the country in order to calm his "nervous condition" and is trying to introduce himself to the neighbors without much incident.

Unfortunately for Framton Nuttel, Mrs. Sappleton's neice is the first person he comes in contact with in the neighboring household. Vera is a mischievous liar with a full imagination. As soon as she meets Framton Nuttel and is asked to "entertain" him for a bit, Vera makes up a story about the open window in the house.  

The tall tale concerns Mrs. Sappleton being a "widow" who lost her husband and his brothers in a hunting accident. According to Vera's story, the window stays eternally open in case the men come back someday. The story is a lie. Mr. Sappleton is on a hunting trip at that very moment and returns through the open window. A thoroughly distraught Framton Nuttel runs from the household in fear.

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In "The Open Window," what is it about Mrs. Sappleton’s niece that causes Framton additional distress?

In the story, Mrs. Sappleton's niece, Vera, accompanies her story with acutely expressive facial and bodily expressions. It is these dramatic theatrics that cause Framton additional distress.

After telling Framton the Gothic story of how Mrs. Sappleton's husband and two brothers died, Vera shudders noticeably. Her dramatic action adds to the eerie nature of the story; being of a gullible nature, Framton becomes convinced of the truth of what he's hearing. He begins to see Mrs. Sappleton in a new light and thinks she is deluded. Poor Framton is thoroughly terrified but still remains seated, possibly because of his ingrained social training.

While Mrs. Sappleton continues talking about welcoming her husband and brothers, Vera further distresses Framton by resorting to more dramatics.

Framton shivered slightly and turned towards the niece with a look intended to convey sympathetic comprehension. The child was staring out through the open window with a dazed horror in her eyes. In a chill shock of nameless fear Framton swung round in his seat and looked in the same direction.

When the men do appear, poor Framton is terrified beyond endurance, and he flees the scene altogether. So, Vera uses Framton's trusting and gullible nature against him. By resorting to dramatic expressions, she is able to imbue her story with spine-chilling authenticity, an accomplishment that later causes Framton extreme distress.

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In "The Open Window," why does Framton look towards Vera with sympathy after Mrs Sappleton announced the arrival of her husband and her two brothers?

Framton looks at Vera in this way because Vera has told him, before her aunt enters, that Mrs. Sappleton's husband and brothers actually died in a hunting accident and that she has never been able to get over her grief and constantly expects them back. This is why the narrator describes Framton's actions to Vera:

Framton shivered slightly and turned towards the niece with a look intended to convey sympathetic comprehension. The child was staring out through the open window with dazed horror in her eyes. In a chill shock of nameless fear Framton swung round in his seat and looked in the same direction.

Framton turns towards Vera with "sympathetic comprehension" in his face because he wants to register with her that he understands that this is just Mrs. Sappleton's grief as she talks about her husband and brothers. What he is not expecting, however, is Vera's own look of "dazed horror" as she gazes out of the open window. It is only at the end of the story that the reader understands how Vera has cruelly created a fabrication in order to trick the impressionable Framton for her own amusement.

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What did Framton think of Mrs. Sappleton in "The Open Window"?

It is important to remember how Framton's opinion of Mrs. Sappleton, a woman he has never met before, has been coloured completely by Vera's account of why the window is open and what supposedly happened to Mrs. Sappleton's husband and brothers one day. Therefore it is understandable that Framton finds meeting Mrs. Sappleton a horrible experience when she talks about her husband and brothers as if they were still alive. Note the following quote:

She rattled on cheerfully about the shooting and the scarcity of birds, and the prospects for duck in winter. To Framton it was all purely horrible.

Framton therefore thinks that Mrs. Sappleton is so deranged by her grief and the tragic accident that happened that she is completely unable to accept the reality of the tragic accident that Vera told him about. Framton's opinion of his host is therefore a direct result of Vera's manipulation, which it is only the reader who comes to realise, as Framton leaves far too rapidly to discover the way he has been tricked.

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In "The Open Window," what is Framton's reaction to the arrival of the hunting party?

The setting of this story is extremely important. The three men have been out shooting birds. Vera sets Framton Nuttel up to believe that they are ghosts when he sees them returning out of the gathering dusk and heading towards the open window. But he wouldn't be quite as terrified by these figures if he thought they were only ghosts. What gives the ghost story an additional "turn of the screw," to borrow from Henry James, is that these three "ghosts" are all carrying guns. The guns present more of a threat than the ghosts. What could the ghosts do to him if they were not armed? They don't even know him. They have nothing against him. They are simply coming home for tea. It is the fact that they are avid hunters that makes Vera's ghost story so effective. They are carrying shotguns because they have been out shooting, and it is the fact that they have guns, rather than the fact that they seem to be ghosts, what makes them so terrifying to poor Framton Nuttel. He feels he has to run for his life and keep on running because he needs to cover a long distance before he will be safely out of shotgun range.

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In "The Open Window," what is Framton's reaction to the arrival of the hunting party?

As he nervously awaits the appearance of Mrs. Stappleton, to whom he will present his letter of introduction, Framton Nuttel converses with the precocious niece, Vera, who asks him if he knows much of her aunt. When Nuttel replies in the negative, Vera confidently launches into her tall tale, a tale of tragedy that accompanied by the openness of the window and the "undefinable something...to suggest masculine habitation," seems so plausible to him that Nuttel is horrified and suffers a nervous setback when he witnesses the three men returning from the hunt:

In a chill shock of nameless fear Framton swung round in his seat and looked...grabbed wildly at his stick and hat...

and fled down the gravel drive and out through the front gate without learning what the reader does; namely, that "Romance at short notice" is, indeed, a talent of Vera. For, ironically, the readers, who have grown to trust the author Saki in his tale, have also been tricked.  However, Saki allows the readers to regain their composure and declare that they knew all along that a trick was being played. And, whence comes a second irony: the witty Saki has had his fun disarming the high society of the Edwardian Era, even if he does grant them easier treatment than that of Framton Nuttel.

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In Saki's "The Open Window," why does Framton go visit Mrs. Sappleton?

In Saki's "The Open Window," Frampton Nuttel is in search of a "restful country spot" in an attempt to cure his fragile nerves. According to his doctors, he is to have "complete rest, an absence of mental excitement, and avoidance of anything in the nature of violent physical exercise." Frampton visits the home of Mrs. Sappleton at the advice of his sister who feels that he should make acquaintances while there.

Frampton's first encounter as he arrives at the home of Mrs. Sappleton is her niece, Vera. Described as a "very self-possessed young lady of fifteen," Vera discovers that Frampton knows little of Mrs. Sappleton. Taking advantage of an opportunity, she proceeds to share news of her aunt's misfortune. Unfortunately for Frampton, Vera's story and the events to follow are not what the doctors ordered.

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In Saki's "The Open Window," why does Framton go visit Mrs. Sappleton?

Framton Nuttel, the protagonist of Saki's "The Open Window," goes to visit Mrs. Sappleton upon the advice of a doctor and his sister. Frampton has been diagnosed with a nerve problem and has been advised to go out on a trip visiting complete strangers as a "nerve cure" for his illness.

Essentially, Frampton is a nervous man. A trip is "what the doctor ordered." Upon the advice of his sister, who had previously visited Mrs. Sappleton, Framton includes her home as one of the formal visits he takes in order to both rest and keep himself from seclusion.

Although the trip is meant to calm his nerves, it does everything but do just that. In "reality," Frampton leaves the Sappleton home more nervous than he was when he arrived.

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In "The Open Window," how does Framton react when Mrs. Sappleton arrives, and why?

This event occurs in the short story after Framton Nuttel has spent some moments with Vera, the niece of Mrs. Sappleton. Vera uses this time to astutely gauge the fact that Framton Nuttel would be an excellent victim for a story, and thus whilst Mrs. Sappleton prepares herself, she weaves a tale of ghosts and death to Framton Nuttel. Vera just breaks off her narrative by saying she can almost imagine her family members returning back from the grave when Mrs. Sappleton enters:

She broke off with a little shudder. It was a relief to Framton when the aunt bustled into the room with a whirl of apologies for being late in making her appearance.

We do know that Framton Nuttel is in this part of the country for a "nerve cure", and thus the ghost story that Vera tells him would perhaps terrify him more than others, thus it is a relief to have the story interrupted by Mrs. Sappleton and to focus on "normal" conversation, even though Framton begins to believe that Mrs. Sappleton is overwhelmed and deranged by grief, based on the story he has just heard from Vera.

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