H.H. Munro, writing under the name of Saki, was first introduced to the London literary scene in 1899, and only a year later, he was becoming well-known as a witty social critic. This reputation has stayed with him until the present-day, more than eighty years after his untimely 1916 death on the battlefields of World War I. Saki took his pseudonym from a reference in the poetry of Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat, which was translated into English in the 1850s. It is perhaps ironic that Saki should have drawn his name from this book of poetry which so captivated the attention of the generation ready to take charge of England in the Edwardian Age, for a main thrust of Saki’s work was to make fun of the elite who inhabited Edwardian England.
Saki’s reputation as a master of the short story, earned during his own lifetime, places him in a class along with Guy de Maupassant and O. Henry. But even though his fiction has drawn commentary from such notables as Graham . . . Read More
“The Open Window” is the story of a deception, perpetrated on an unsuspecting, and constitutionally nervous man, by a young lady whose motivations for lying remain unclear.
The most remarkable of Saki’s devices in “The Open Window” is his construction of the story’s narrative. The structure of the story is actually that of a story-within-a-story. The larger “frame” narrative is that of Mr. Nuttel’s arrival at Mrs. Sappleton’s house for the purpose of introducing himself to her. Within this narrative frame is the second story, that told by Mrs. Sappleton’s niece.
The most important symbol in “The Open Window” is the open window itself. When Mrs. Sappleton’s niece tells Mr. Nuttel the story of the lost hunters, the open window comes to symbolize Mrs. Sappleton’s anguish and . . . Read More
Though it is a remarkably short piece of fiction, “The Open Window” explores a number of important themes. Mr. Nuttel comes to the country in an attempt to cure his nervous condition. He pays a visit to the home of Mrs. Sappleton in order to introduce himself, and before he gets to meet the matron of the house, he is intercepted by her niece, who regales him with an artful piece of fiction that, in the end, only makes his nervous condition worse.
Appearances and Reality
It is no surprise that Mrs. Sappleton’s niece tells a story that is easy to believe. She begins with an object in plain view, an open window, and proceeds from there. The window is obviously open, but for the reasons for its being open the reader is completely at the mercy of Mrs. Sappleton’s niece, at least while she tells her story. The open window becomes a symbol within this story-within-a-story, and its appearance becomes its reality. When Mr. . . . Read More
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 the 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 . . . Read More
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 . . . Read More
Richard Connell’s short story “The Most Dangerous Game” is fairly well known to American audiences even if his name is not. Connell began writing professionally in 1919 and continued to do so until his death thirty years later. He was a prolific writer, and his more than 300 short stories appeared in such respected American magazines as the Saturday Evening Post and Colliers, and were translated into foreign languages. He was a commercial success, publishing in a span of 15 years four novels and four short-story collections. The Saturday Review of Literature, commenting on Variety, the collection of stories in which “The Most Dangerous Game” was reprinted, found the stories “easy to read, [with] all displaying facility and versatility.”
Several of Connell’s early stories were well-received critically—”A Friend of Napoleon” and “The Most Dangerous Game” won the O. Henry Memorial Award for short . . . Read More
American Interest in Central America and the Caribbean
By 1924, the year “The Most Dangerous Game” was published, the United States was firmly committed to Latin American politics. Military concerns and economic interests, including banking, investments, and the exploitation of natural resources, tied American interests to Latin America and resulted in expansionist legislation. The Platt Amendment of 1901 provided for American intervention in Cuba in case an unstable new government failed to protect life, liberty and property; this was written into Cuba’s constitution. In 1905 President Roosevelt urged European nations to keep out of Latin America. He believed the United States was the only nation that should interfere in their politics. This paternal, interventionist attitude was typical of much of the United States’s Latin American foreign policy. Such policy, highlighted by the construction of the Panama Canal, created . . . Read More
“The Most Dangerous Game,” a gripping tale that pits man versus man in a South American jungle, includes elements that recall several literary genres, including Gothic, action-adventure, and horror.
In “The Most Dangerous Game,” Richard Connell provides an ominous setting typical of the Gothic genre. Horrible sounds and dismal sights fill the background of this story, and the details become more frightening and typical of both the horror and action-adventure genres as the story progresses. When he falls off the yacht, Rainsford immediately finds himself in the “blood warm waters of the Caribbean sea”—an indication of worse things to come. He fights through the surf, listening to gunshots and the screams of dying animals he later finds out were humans. Rainsford passes over rocks that he could have “shattered against” only to leave “the enemy, the sea” for . . . Read More
Rainsford, a noted hunter, falls off a ship and swims to a foreboding island. He finds there the evil General Zaroff who, with the help of his brutish assistant, hunts humans for sport. After three days of fighting for his life in the jungle while Zaroff hunts him, Rainsford surprises Zaroff and kills him. At the story’s end, it is not clear if Rainsford will leave the island or take Zaroff s place.
Violence and Cruelty
Essentially an action-packed thriller, Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game” builds around explosions of violence. The violence of his malicious host, General Zaroff, initially shocks Rainsford, but as he fights to stay alive he becomes caught up in Zaroff’s game. Zaroff attempts to justify his violence with “civilized”‘ arguments. He poses as a modern rationalist and argues against “romantic ideas about the value of human life” and then scolds . . . Read More
Ivan is the deaf and dumb assistant to General Zaroff. He is extremely large and seems to enjoy torturing and murdering helpless captives. Indeed, Zaroff uses the threat of turning his huntees over to Ivan if they will not comply with his desire to hunt them; the huntees invariably choose to be hunted rather than face the brutal Ivan. Ivan, like Zaroff, is a Cossack—a Russian who served as a soldier to the Russian Czar in the early 1900s. Ivan dies as the result of one of Rainsford’s traps.
After hearing gunshots in the darkness, Sanger Rainsford falls off a yacht into the Caribbean Sea. “It was not the first time he had been in a tight place,” however. Rainsford is an American hunter of world renown, and is immediately recognized by General Zaroff as the author of a book on hunting snow leopards in Tibet. While he shares both an interest in hunting and . . . Read More