The Open Window

The Open Window Video

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Watch the illustrated video summary of the classic short story, "The Open Window," by H.H. Munro.

Video Transcript:

H.H. Munro, who wrote under the pen name “Saki,” authored “The Open Window” in 1911, during the Edwardian period in England. The “Open Window” takes place in an English country home and tells of a young girl outsmarting her adult counterparts with her clever storytelling. In this story, as in many, Saki subverts the traditional setting of the Edwardian sitting room with macabre imagery and a surprise ending.

When the story opens, Framton Nuttel, a single man, has moved to a country town to cure his nervous condition. His sister has arranged for him to meet several of her acquaintances to prevent him from becoming lonely. On an October day, he pays a visit to Mrs. Sappleton, but she is not immediately available to greet him. Instead, Mr. Nuttel is entertained by her 15-year-old niece, Vera.

Confident and self-possessed, Vera directs the conversation, finding out that Nuttel is new to town and knows nothing about her aunt. Pointing to a large, open, French-Style window, Vera proceeds to tell Nuttel of her aunt’s “tragedy.” Three years ago to this day, she says, her aunt’s husband and two young brothers exited through that window to go snipe-shooting. All three men drowned in a bog that day, their bodies never recovered.

Since then, her aunt has kept the window open during the evening, ever-hopeful that her husband and brothers will one day return. Vera relays her aunt’s memories: Mr. Sappleton’s white raincoat slung over his arm; the spaniel at their heels; and her younger brother, Ronnie, singing “Bertie, why do you bound?” Vera says that sometimes she has an eerie feeling that the men will appear at the window.

Right at that moment, Mrs. Sappleton enters the room, apologizing for the open window and explaining that she’s left it open for her husband and brothers, who are hunting. Framton listens, aghast. He attempts to change the subject to his illness, but Mrs. Sappleton stifles a yawn.

Suddenly, Mrs. Sappleton remarks that the hunting party has returned. Framton sees the silhouettes of three men and a spaniel, walking towards the house. One of them has a white coat draped over his arm and as they enter, another sings out “Bertie why do you bound?”

Framton flees the house. The adults don’t understand and Mrs. Sappleton remarks that Framton looked as though “he had seen a ghost.”

Vera tells them that that Framton was likely afraid of the spaniel. She then spins an extravagant story: a pack of dogs once chased Nuttel through a cemetery along the Ganges River in India and forced him to hide away all night in a freshly-dug grave. He’s had a horror for dogs ever since.