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

The Open Window

by Saki

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1. Compare and contrast Saki's portrayal of English country life with depictions by such writers as E. M. Forster and P. G. Wodehouse.

2. When and how do we know that Mrs. Sappleton's niece has been lying? Once you know that she has been lying, can you find anything earlier in the story that, in retrospect, might seem like a clue to her deception?

3. Discuss the ending of the story in relation to such works as "The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry, and other works that involve ironic twists and surprise conclusions. What makes a trick ending successful? When does it fail to satisfy the reader?

4. Research the life of the cultured, leisure class who occupied stately English country homes in the period before World War I. What aspects of this life are satirized by Saki in "The Open Window"?

5. Compare the tall tale told by Mrs. Sappleton's niece with another example of the type, such as "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" (1865) by Mark Twain.

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