The Schartz-Metterklume Method Themes


Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The main purpose of this story is to deflate the pretensions of the overbearing Mrs. Quabarl by exposing her middle-class values and ignorance to the better informed and aristocratic behavior of Lady Carlotta. Such social satire was the stock in trade of Saki, who wrote dozens of such stories for fashionable periodicals such as the Westminster Gazette, in which this story first appeared. He attacked most of the institutions of his Edwardian era including Parliament, modern styles of dress and behavior, and various religious, political, and social beliefs.

The character of Mrs. Quabarl is a typical target for Saki’s derision. Overbearing, pretentious, and newly rich, she cannot maintain her self-assurance when faced by the comfortable style and confidence that is bred into Lady Carlotta. In their confrontation Munro pits the traditional savoir faire of the aristocracy against the affectations of the newly arrived. There is really no contest, however, as autocrats are seldom a match for aristocrats in Saki’s fictional world. Lady Carlotta knows more about how to carry off the lifestyle to which Mrs. and Mr. Quabarl aspire, and she refuses to be distracted by the trappings of their wealth, such as the Quabarls’ fancy new car, in the assertion of her superiority. Quabarl Mansion might impress a real governess, but not Lady Carlotta, for whom such places appear false.

Like his fictional Quabarl children, Saki was educated with his...

(The entire section is 408 words.)