Sredni Vashtar

by Saki

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What is the significance of the final paragraph to the whole story of "Sredni Vashtar"?

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The short story "Sredni Vashtar" is one of the few examples of macabre stories by H.H. Munro, also known as Saki. It is included in Saki's Chronicles of Clovis. In a fashion that detours from Saki's usual comedic style, "Sredni Vashtar" tells the story of a small boy of a peculiar nature,Conradin,  who is mistreated by his living relatives. As his way of venting his frustrations, he transfers all his anger and, perhaps, his supernatural abilities to a ferret that lives in the shed.

The boy's wish is for the ferret, whom he names Sredni Vashtar, to attack his guardian, whom Conradin dubs as "The Woman". This becomes his obsession. He basically prays to the ferret to do "that favor for him". In the end of the story, the ferret kills the Woman. The last paragraph reads:

Tea is ready,'' said the sour-faced maid; ``where is the mistress?'' She went down to the shed some time ago,'' said Conradin. And while the maid went to summon her mistress to tea, Conradin fished a toasting-fork out of the sideboard drawer and proceeded to toast himself a piece of bread. And during the toasting of it and the buttering of it with much butter and the slow enjoyment of eating it, Conradin listened to the noises and silences which fell in quick spasms beyond the dining-room door. The loud foolish screaming of the maid, the answering chorus of wondering ejaculations from the kitchen region, the scuttering footsteps and hurried embassies for outside help, and then, after a lull, the scared sobbings and the shuffling tread of those who bore a heavy burden into the house.

Basically this is the paragraph that describes how the Woman was found in the shed, how crazy the entire house became, and how little Conradin cared. So little he cared, in fact, that the story ends with him making a piece of toast.

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