The Open Window

The Open Window Literary Elements


Short Story, Period Fiction

Setting and Context

Rural Countryside, Edwardian England

Narrator and Point of View

Omniscient Third-Person Narrator

Tone and Mood

As the story features two levels--a main story and a story-within-a-story--the tone and mood oscillate between comically light and eerily dark. The story ends with a tone of the absurd as Framton makes his escape and Vera spins one more tale, this one more outlandish than the first.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Vera (Protagonist); Adulthood (Antagonist)

Major Conflict

Mrs. Sappleton has delusions that her husband and brothers will return from a hunting trip so she leaves the window open until dusk. However, according to Mrs. Sappleton's niece, Vera, the party will not be returning because they tragically died during their last hunting trip. In apparent denial, Mrs. Sappleton leaves the window opens and waits expectantly for the return of the hunting party.


The hunting party approaches the window and Mrs. Sappleton exclaims gleefully. Pitying the poor woman's delusions, Framton turns towards Vera who is looking towards the window in shock. When Framton sees three figures approaching the house he takes them for ghosts and quickly bolts from the sitting room.


When Mrs. Sappleton first enters the room she says to Framton, "I hope Vera has been amusing you?" (226.) This is one of a few clues that Vera is playing the trickster in the story and that the reader ought not believe everything she says to be true.






Saki uses imagery to create an eery feeling as the hunting party returns. Saki employs images like "deepening twilight," noiseless walkers, and a hoarse voice that comes out of the dusk in order to keep the reader guessing about whether the hunting party is a part of the living or the undead (227).


Framton finds it paradoxical that the rural countryside should be anything but a retreat. When he learns of the supposed tragedy Mrs. Sappleton experienced, he thinks, "somehow in this restful country spot tragedies seemed out of place" (225).



Metonymy and Synecdoche



In the story's last scene, the dogs that supposedly hunted down Framton are said to be grinning as they look down on him in the newly dug grave. Readers may imagine that Vera gives the dogs of her story the human characteristic of grinning at someone's misfortune because she herself is amused at her successful trick on Framton.