Summary of Story: H.H. Munro's (Saki) "The Open Window" brilliantly portrays how one's nerves affects his/her personality. As Framton embarks on a trip intended as a "nerve cure," he finds himself in an unfamiliar situation that ultimately has a negative effect on his seemingly nervous personality.
Frampton Nuttel suffers from a nervous condition and has come to spend some time alone. His sister sets up introductions for him with a few members of the community. His first visit is to the Sappleton house where he meets fifteen-year-old Vera, the niece of Mrs. Sappleton. Vera keeps Nuttel company while he waits. Upon hearing that Nuttel has not met the Sappletons, Vera tells Nuttel some information about the family. Vera says that three years ago to the date, Mrs. Sappleton's husband and two younger brothers went on a hunting trip and never returned. Vera goes into detail about the clothes they were wearing, the dog that accompanied them, and the song that Mrs. Sappleton's brother sang upon their return. Vera says that her grief-stricken aunt watches out the window expecting their return. When Mrs. Sappleton enters, she tells Nuttel that she expects her husband and brothers to return at any moment. Nuttel listens, thinking that Mrs. Sappleton has in fact gone crazy. Suddenly, Mrs. Sappleton brightens as she tells Nuttel that they have returned. Nuttel turns only to see the "dead" hunters. He becomes frightened and leaves in a rush. Mrs. Sappleton doesn't understand Nuttel's strange behavior, but Vera replies that he is deathly afraid of dogs.
Not until the end of the story does the reader realize that Vera has tricked Mr. Nuttel. This is revealed with the last line of the story: "Romance at short notice was her [Vera's] specialty."
snipe - a type of wading bird
rectory - a home occupied by a minister or clergymoor - a broad area of open land, often high but poorly drained, with patches of heath and peat bog
bog - soft, waterlogged ground; a marsh
spaniel- a breed of dog
falter - to be unsteady in purpose or action, as from loss of courage or confidence; waver
infirmities - frailties; disabilities
imminent - about to occur; impending
pariah - member of lowest class in India; a social outcast
Framton Nuttel’s Sister
Framton Nuttel’s sister once spent time in the same town to which Framton has come for relaxation. She has given him a number of letters of introduction with which he is to make himself known to a number of people in the town. Mrs. Sappleton is the recipient of such a letter, and it is this that brings Nuttel to her home.
Mr. Framton Nuttel
Mr. Framton Nuttel suffers from an undisclosed nervous ailment and comes to the country in hope that its atmosphere will be conducive to a cure. He brings a letter of introduction to Mrs.
Sappleton in order to make her acquaintance for his stay in her village. While he waits for Mrs.Sappleton to appear, her niece keeps him company and tells him a story about why a window in
the room has been left open. He believes her story, that the window remains open in hopes that Mrs. Sappleton’s husband and brother, who the niece says are long dead, will one day return. Later, when Nuttel looks out the window and sees figures approaching who match the descriptions of the long-dead hunters in the niece’s story, he suffers a mental breakdown and flees the house.
Ronnie is Mrs. Sappleton’s younger brother, who, with Mr. Sappleton, has been away on a hunting expedition.
Mr. Sappleton is Mrs. Sappleton’s husband. He has been away during most of the story on a hunting expedition with Mrs. Sappleton’s younger brother, Ronnie.
Readers are first led to believe that Mrs. Sappleton is a widow, keeping vigil for her departed husband and brother, who have disappeared during a hunting trip. She lives with her young
Vera is the niece of Mrs. Sappleton, the woman to whom Framton Nuttel plans to give a letter of
introduction. She is a teller of tales, a young woman whose forte is “romance at short notice.” She is an exquisite and intuitive actress, equally skilled at deceit and its concealment. While Nuttel waits with her for Mrs. Sappleton to appear, Vera relates an elaborate story surrounding a window in the room that has been left open. It is this story, of the death of some relatives who
went hunting long ago, that eventually causes Framton Nuttel’s breakdown. She tells Nuttel that the window is left open as a sign of her aunt’s hope that the dead hunters will one day come
home and provides a detailed description of the men, their behavior and attire. After Nuttel flees upon seeing these men return, just as Vera has described them, Vera invents a story
explaining his departure as well. Saki refers to Vera as “self-possessed,” which literally means that she has self-control and poise. In the context of this story, it is clear that this is the quality
that allows her to lie so well — Vera’s self-possession allows her to maintain a cool head and calm believability while relating that most outlandish of tales.
Framton Nuttel has presented himself at the Sappleton house to pay a visit. He is in the country undergoing a rest cure for his nerves and is calling on Mrs. Sappleton at the request of his sister.
Though she does not know Mrs. Sappleton well, she worries that her brother will suffer if he keeps himself in total seclusion, as he is likely to do. Fifteen-year-old Vera keeps Nuttel company while they wait for her aunt. After a short silence, Vera asks if Nuttel knows many people in the area. Nuttel replies in the negative, admitting that of Mrs. Sappleton he only knows her name and address. Vera then informs him that her aunt’s “great tragedy” happened after his sister was acquainted with her. Vera indicates the large window that opened on to the lawn. Exactly three years ago, Vera recounts, Mrs. Sappleton’s husband and two younger brothers walked through the window to go on a day’s hunt. They never came back. They were drowned in a bog, and their bodies were never found. Mrs. Sappleton thinks they will come back some day, along with their spaniel, so she keeps the window open. She still talks of them often to her niece, repeating the words of one of her brother’s favorite songs, “Bertie, why do you bound?”
Vera herself admits to sometimes believing the men will all come back through that window. She then breaks off her narration with a shudder. At that moment, Mrs. Sappleton enters the room, apologizing for keeping him waiting and hoping that Vera has been amusing him. Mrs. Sappleton excuses the open window, explaining that her husband and brothers will be home soon, and she continues to talk on quite cheerfully about shooting. Nuttel finds this conversation gruesome and attempts to change the subject by talking about his rest cure, a topic which bores Mrs. Sappleton tremendously. But she suddenly brightens up, crying ”Here they are at last!” Nuttel turns to Vera to extend his sympathy, but Vera is staring out through the open window with a look of horror in her eyes. Nuttel turns around to the window and sees Mrs. Sappleton’s husband and brothers walking across the lawn, a spaniel following them, and hears a voice singing “Bertie, why do you bound?” Nuttel grabs his hat and walking stick and flees from the house. Mr. Sappleton comes through the window and greets his wife. Mrs. Sappleton muses over
Nuttel’s departure that was so sudden it was if he had seen a ghost. Vera says that she believes it was the spaniel that frightened him; she tells her aunt and uncle that Nuttel is terrified of dogs ever since being hunted into a cemetery in India by wild dogs and having to spend the night in a newly dug grave.
As Saki remarks at story’s end, making up stories that add a bit of excitement to life, “romance at short notice,” is Vera’s specialty.
Part A: Vocabulary.
Read each definition. Choose the letter of the word that best fits the definition.
1. a broad area of open land, often high but poorly drained, with
patches of heath and peat bogs
2. about to occur; impending
3. soft, waterlogged ground; a marsh
4. frailties; disabilities
5. member of lowest class in India; a social outcast
6. a type of wading bird
7. to be unsteady in purpose or action, as from loss of courage or
8. a home occupied by a minister or clergy
SELECT YOUR ANSWER FROM THE WORDS GIVEN BELOW:
Part B: Literary Terms.
Read each question carefully, making sure that you answer the
9. _______________ is the protagonist in the story.
10. _______________ is the antagonist in the story.
Part C: Story Comprehension and Reasoning.
Answer each question in a complete grammatically correct sentence:
11. Describe the setting of the story, including the time of year and approximate year.
12. Why does Framton “need” to take a journey?
13. Contrast Vera and Framton.
14. Summarize the story that Vera tells Framton upon his arrival.
15. What causes Framton’s sudden departure? What explanation
does Vera offer?
16. In your opinion, is Framton or Vera the more likeable character?
DIRECTIONS: For each question, you may look back at “The Open
Window” as often as necessary.
Choose the correct option:
1 The niece uses Nuttel’s lack of knowledge about his new environment to
A establish his trust in her.
B get him lost in the bog.
C set her trap.
D make him feel comfortable.
2 The niece stares in “dazed horror” because she
A needs to strengthen the credibility of her story.
B worries she will be caught in her lie.
C fears for her aunt’s safety.
D questions what she is seeing.
3 How does the niece use the truth to make her story believable?
A The doctor has ordered rest for Nuttel.
B The men really are out hunting.
C The aunt is very worried.
D The hound is badly wounded.
4 How is Nuttel’s behavior influenced by his imagination?
A It helps him to make sound decisions.
B It enables him to face the facts.
C It allows him to let fiction become the truth.
D It encourages him to use his sense of humor.