How do the morals of the bachelor’s tale and the aunt’s story connect to the works of some of the most respected and renowned philosophers through the ages, like St. Augustine, Kant, and Nietzsche?
The difference is nothing less than a philosophical divergence on the issue of morality. In its own modest way, “The Storyteller” is a meditation upon much more immodest conceptions of the nature of ethical behavior upon which entire volumes have been written by such distinguished figures from the world of philosophy as St. Augustine, Kant, and Nietzsche. The moral of the story told by the aunt is that good acts shall always be rewarded in the end. By contrast, the bachelor’s story strongly suggests that even those endowed with the highest ethical character are every bit as much at risk for coming to a bad end as the worst kind of amoral scoundrel.
The bachelor’s offer to take over the storytelling duties from the children’s aunt seems to be based on an intention to keep the children from becoming unruly, but what might be another less charitable intent?
While the darker aspect and more realistic insight into the nature of morality in his story is clearly chosen as a way to capture and maintain the attention of the bored children, those very same elements seem to have been chosen specifically as a means of goading the aunt. The fact that the bachelor’s story essentially upends the entire philosophical view toward morality and ethical behavior which the aunt struggles vainly to get across in her story can be viewed less as a genuine insight into the bachelor’s perspective on the same issue and more as insight into the nature of his character. He may simply find the aunt’s insistent moral-mongering so distasteful that he decides to relate a story that tears it to pieces solely for the mischief of dragging her lofty ideals back down to earth in full view of the children.
Identify the conflict in this story and justify an opinion on the ultimate victor in this conflict.
The conflict that provides the dramatic tension in “The Storyteller” is clearly between the aunt and the bachelor, or more precisely, between the aunt’s rather obvious view that stories told to children require a definite moral and the bachelor’s apparent view that the entertainment value of stories trumps any lesson they might teach. “The Storyteller” thus becomes an example of how dramatic tension created by the conflict between two people can end with one side irrefutably vanquished yet with no physical harm done. The bachelor is the winner in this conflict of opposing ideologies on the most reasonable basis for judgment: the children are enraptured by his story after being left restless and bored by the story told by their aunt.
How is the ending of the bachelor’s story an example of irony?
The story-within-the-story of Bertha and her medals is an excellent example of irony. The entire point that the bachelor is trying to make with his story is that the aunt’s insistence that good deeds will always result in reward is misguided. Bertha becomes the very iconic symbol of a good person: she actually receives a number of medals honoring this very facet of her personality. In any story told by the aunt, Bertha would come to a rewarding end by virtue of her demonstrable moral superiority. Therefore, the ending actually possesses two levels of irony. There is the irony of Bertha as a model of the aunt’s moral view coming to a horrific end regardless and there is the irony that Bertha’s horrific end comes about directly as a result of being awarded medals for her high standards of goodness.
How does Saki create symbolism through colors in "The Storyteller"?
In "The Storyteller," Saki uses colors to create themes and further draw out the symbolism of animals in the bachelor's story. When the bachelor describes the park, he pays special attention to the beautiful, colorful animals, writing, "There were ponds with gold and blue and green fish in them, and trees with beautiful parrots that said clever things at a moment's notice, and humming birds that hummed all the popular tunes of the day" (6). In contrast, other animals in the park - the pigs and wold - have dark, less pleasant colors: black, white, and gray. These animals represent the darkness of reality, in contrast to the paradisical atmosphere of the park created mostly by the description of colors. The dark colors of the wolf also contrast with the white of Bertha's dress, representing her innocence and purity. Thus, Saki shows innocence being destroyed not only by having an animal devour a proper female child, but also by symbolically showing the color black dominate the color white.
How did H. H. Munro's early life influence his writing in terms of content and style?
H. H. Munro was born in Burma when it was under the British Raj. However, when his mother died in a tragic, sudden event, he was sent to live in England with his siblings and his aunt. He found the English education system oppressive and highly disliked the way his aunt behaved toward him and his sisters, especially with regard to desired behaviors and discipline.
The author's antipathy toward English education and parenting is clear in the short story "The Storyteller" where a bright, aloof man (who can be seen as a representation the author) questions the authority of an aunt attempting to control three children. Indeed, many of the major themes of the story have to do with childhood, education, and the moral values instilled (or not) in children such as curiosity and imagination. Thus, one can gather that his upbringing had a large influence on the content of his stories.
Furthermore, Munro's alienation and dissatisfaction in his childhood likely influenced his witty and satirical style, which has garnered him international and enduring fame.
In what ways do the two main stories in "The Storyteller" (the frame story of the people on the train and the bachelor's story) parallel one another?
Parallels can easily be drawn between the characters in the train car and those in the bachelor's story. In the train car, the bachelor takes over the responsibility of storytelling from the aunt and tells the children a story which excites them but instills values that are against those of their aunt and perhaps their society as a whole. Within the bachelor's story, Bertha is a good little girl who was found and eventually eaten by a wolf, questioning the point of all her moral learning. Furthermore, her innocence and purity are symbolically destroyed by the dark wolf ripping up and leaving behind her white dress. The wolf can be seen to parallel the bachelor, and Bertha the children, which calls into question the bachelor's callous behavior. Through this parallel, Saki shows that he questions not only the aunt's methods of raising children, but also the bachelor's responsibility and involvement with them.