Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Saki Short Stories

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My English Draft

Discussing Saki’s Sympathy For The Underdog and his Dislike for aunts and such like privileged people

I think that Saki’s life immensely affected his short stories. He himself was an underdog in a life of cruelty and no reward. His Mother died and Saki was sent to live with his aunts in England. He was treated cruelly and so this explains the underdog’s life in his stories. The domestic tyrants in the stories are based a lot on his aunts, as being cruel unkind and completely abusing their power over the children.

The three short stories I will be discussing are, ‘The Story Teller’, ‘Sredni Vashtar’ and ‘The Lumber Room’. These three stories are about underdogs that are treated with cruelty yet in the end, ‘get their own back’ it seems.

Many parents with children know how hard it is to travel on long trips with them. In the short story ‘The Story Teller’ by Saki, an aunt was travelling with three little children. When she tries to get the children’s attention, the children don’t respond to her and continue to disobey her. The aunt is portrayed throughout the story, by Saki, as being unable to control the children or keep their attention for longer than a minute. As she can’t do this she tells the children to look out the window at the fields with grass in. She then tells the children answers to their questions, but they persist to get an answer when she doesn’t have an answer, when they keep persisting she quickly draws their attention to something that has been there all along. This shows that she isn’t capable of handling children. When a bachelor who is travelling in the same carriage as them starts to tell the children a story, the children, with hesitation at first, start to listen to him with excitement.

The story is seen as the bachelor as being both the underdog and the tyrant. He embarrasses the aunt and dismisses her authority and realises her made up relationship with the children.

The short story that I have chosen is ‘Sredni Vashtar’ by Saki. I chose this story as it appealed to me, and kept me thinking through out about the themes of revenge and imagination. “Sredni Vashtar” is a questioning story, as some parts of it may seem different to others according to the person’s imagination. The real turning part in this story is the death of Mrs.Deropp (who is Conradins cousin), by my assertion. This is why the story interested me so much; therefore I thought that it would be a good short story to write about.

In ‘The Lumber Room’ there is a tyrannical aunt who likes to give out trips to the good so the bad would be punished. So Nicholas, who is the underdog, is being punished for something that actually happened, ‘There was actually a frog in his bread and milk he knew this because he put it there himself’. This is an unrighteous punishment by the aunt, the domestic tyrant, as it portrays that she thinks she is always right and never wrong. She deliberately tells him not to go into the gooseberry garden as to make him want to go in their so she can punish him even more. This as being the evil and hated person she is. Saki uses his wording well as to get our dislike for the tyrant, such as, the ‘aunt by assertion’ and ‘soi-disant aunt’. He also shows her way of thinking and telling lies to help herself. The aunt is seen by Saki and Nicholas to be cruel, unfair, frail, old and tyrannical.

Nicholas sees this as an opportunity for Nicholas to put his long thought of and revised plan into action. He needs to get into the ‘Lumber Room’. The primary interest of the story is the conflict, the battle and struggle between two different worlds. The world of children on one hand and that of grown-ups on the other. The main character’s personality (Nicholas) also determines the type of story in which he is involved. I identified with the character because he wants to claim for children’s rights and he is ready to show that adults can be wrong.

The savagery of ‘Sredni Vashtar’ is missing, but the best stories here ‘The Story-Teller’ and ‘The Lumber Room’ are also about child psychology and adult incomprehension of childhood. It is probably the attention-grabbing, Nietzsche title which has ensured the survival of this collection, though it would at least serve as a good introduction to Sakis writing.

By K.Moore 10C

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