Style and Technique
Saki developed a “high” style in his prose and became famous for his ability to undercut the authority of his characters with well-chosen phrases that reveal subtle nuances of class or social position. For example, when Mrs. Quabarl becomes aware that Lady Carlotta is not impressed by her family’s wealth, she reveals to the reader her social insecurity as well as her class pretensions. Lady Carlotta naturally does not notice the Quabarls’ riches, as a real governess might, because she has grown up around similar trappings of wealth. Her discussion of wines at the dinner table further establishes her position and undermines that of her employers.
Lady Carlotta always thinks or speaks with a demeanor that reveals her confidence. On the other hand the Quabarls, through their hesitancy and confusion, expose their own lack of confidence. Even Lady Carlotta’s quiet acquiescence at being swept up by Mrs. Quabarl from the railroad station reflects her absolute self-confidence. Nothing that she does or experiences can diminish her aristocratic bearing and class position. Mrs. Quabarl would be mortified to be mistaken for a governess because her own sense of self is based largely on surface appearances, not on internal assurance or birth. In “The Schartz-Metterklume Method,” Saki makes the point that one may purchase a manor, but truly to have the manner, one must be born to it.