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The Open Window ESSAY

Saki or Hector Hugh Munro (1870-1916)
‘Saki’ is the pen name of the famous short story writer Hector Hugh Munro. He was born in
Burma in 1870. He went to England after the death of his parents and was brought up by two strict and
severe aunts. After some time in the colonial army, he started working as a journalist. He wrote his best
work for newspapers such as The Westminster Gazette, The Bystander and The Morning Post
Saki’s stories reflect the manners and attitudes of the Edwardian society. They are witty,
mischievous and at times marked by shades of black humour. His tales resolve with a surprise twist at
the ending. Some his popular stories, are ‘Mrs. Packletide’s Tiger’, ‘The Storyteller’, ‘The Background’,
‘Tobermory’ and ‘The Unrest Cure’. ‘The Open Window’ brilliantly portrays how one’s nerves affect
his/her personality. As Framton embarks on a trip intended as a “nerve cure,” he finds himself in an
unfamiliar situation that finally has a negative effect on his nervous personality.
Framton Nuttel’s Nervous Condition
Framton Nuttel goes to the countryside to recover from a nervous condition. His sister had lived
in the area and worked at the rectory four years ago. She is worried that he will suffer if he is alone.
Hence, she gives him letters of introduction to his new neighbours. He visits to the home of one of these
neighbours, Mrs. Sappleton, who is the first to receive such a letter.
Nuttel Meets the Imaginative Vera
Mr. Nuttel meets Mrs. Sappleton’s niece, fifteen year old Vera, who keeps him company while
they wait for her aunt. Vera is mischievous and has an overactive imagination. After a short silence,
Vera asks if Nuttel knows anyone in the area. Nuttel replies that he only knows Mrs Sappleton’s name
and address. Once she determines that Mr. Nuttel knows nothing about the family and is a very simple
fellow, Vera recounts her aunt’s “great tragedy”.
Mrs. Sappleton’s “Great Tragedy”
Vera points out the French window that opened on to the lawn and begins the story. Exactly
three years ago, Mrs. Sappleton’s husband and two younger brothers along with their spaniel had
walked through the French window to go on a day’s hunt of snipe shooting. They never came back.
They had drowned in a bog. Their bodies were never found. The aunt, disturbed by grief and loss,
always left the window open, expecting that they would come back some day. Vera shudders and admits
to sometimes believing the men would come back through that window.
Mrs. Sappleton’s Husband and Brothers Return
Mrs. Sappleton then enters, apologizing for keeping him waiting. She asks him to excuse the
open window, explaining that her husband and brothers would be home soon. She continues to talk
cheerfully about shooting. Nuttel finds this conversation shocking. He talks about his nervous disorder
and his need to avoid “mental excitement.” Mrs. Sappleton is bored but brightens up when she sees her
husband and brothers returning from their hunt. Nuttel turns to Vera to extend his sympathy, but she is
staring out through the open window with horror in her eyes.
Nuttel Runs Away in Horror
Nuttel turns to the window and is terrified to see Mrs. Sappleton’s husband and brothers walking
across the lawn with a spaniel following them. He grabs his hat and walking stick and flees from the
house. Mr. Sappleton comes through the window and greets his wife. Mrs. Sappleton talks about
Nuttel’s departure and that it was so sudden as if “he had seen a ghost”. Vera says that she believes it
was the spaniel that frightened him
The explanation is that the men had gone hunting only that day. Vera’s tale was purely
imaginary. She does not explain Nuttel’s odd behaviour to the others. She invents another story that he
had once been hunted into a cemetery in India by wild dogs and had to spend the night in a newly dug
grave. Therefore, he had fled at the sight of the dog. At the end, it is revealed that Vera had tricked
Nuttel. “Romance at short notice, was her specialty”.