Tobermory Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Nature (Motif)

The opening of the story invokes many images of nature, including the weather and the landscape. Tobermory is also more a part of nature than of man-made society, and illustrates how nature and animals (particularly wild ones) display more authenticity than the human characters in the story.

Innovation (Motif)

Saki mentions the industrial revolution and includes a character in the story that is devoted to innovation and experimentation. Innovation is mankind’s unique contribution to the universe. Ironically in this instance, innovation serves to lower humankind and elevate a pet cat. In short, innovation puts the humans in the story in the uncomfortable position of being on an equal plane with an animal.

Tobermory (Symbol)

Tobermory may be a symbol for the voiceless communities in Saki’s society. These included women, gay people, racial and ethnic minorities, and colonized peoples. Like Tobermory, these groups were beginning to resist their prescribed roles in society and to voice the injustices they’d experienced. Tobermory’s fate suggests that these groups have considerable challenges ahead of them, especially if their movements challenge the statuses of those currently in power.

Lady Blemley’s Car/'Envy of Sisyphus' (Symbol)

Lady Blemley’s broken car is symbolic of Edwardian social norms that require people to continually interact with those they find ‘dull’ and uninteresting. Indeed, it is unclear whether Lady Blemley actually enjoys the company of any one of her party guests. Saki satirizes this cultural norm by comparing it to Sisyphus' eternal battle to do something that causes one great distress with little reward.