Vera vs Nicholas in the Open Window and Lumber Room by Saki


Saki is the pseudonym of Hector Hugh Munro who was born during the era of English imperialism in Akyab, Myanmar on December 18, 1870 to British parents. At the age of two, following the death of his mother he went to live with his aunts near Barnstaple, Devon, England. It was heard that the aunts were quite strict and authoritative. The open window and Lumber room are his best known works illustrating how gullible adults are outwitted by young children like Vera and Nicholas.

Vera is found in the short story the Open Window who is an ingenious and assertive girl of fifteen years old who easily duped Mr. Framton Nuttel who is a gullible, naïve and neurotic adult who has retreated to a rural setting to soothe his nerve disease. Vera fabricates a horror story about her aunt, Mrs Sappelton’s tragedy. Her husband and two brothers went out for day’s shooting and were swallowed by a treacherous piece of bog and their bodies were never recovered. The aunt keeps the French widow open believing one day they will return. To Mr. Nuttel’s horror he sees they return through the window making him flee for his life.

Nicholas is found in the Lumber room where a young boy tactfully plans to enter the store room deceiving his aunt. He makes several moves to cover up his mission and makes the aunt allow him to enter the Lumber room. During the process the aunt is fallen into the rain water tank.  

If we juxtapose the two characters Vera and Nicholas in both short stories, we can see visible parallel characteristics shared by both of them. Let’s examine what they are:


Young Kids

Vera is a teenager of fifteen and Nicholas probably should be a boy from 6 to 8 according to the clues in the story. Most distinctive feature of both characters are their level of maturity. Their appearance is so deceiving, though they are children, they both possess a sound personality that sharply contrasts with the adults in the story. They are defiant, outspoken, tactful surpassing the level of adults. They are too much for any adult to digest.


Story Tellers

Both Vera and Nicholas are good story tellers. They can promptly device stories that are seemingly realistic. Vera’s story about Mrs. Sappelton’s tragedy is well composed and realistic even the reader thinks that the story to be a true one even after the end. She quickly fabricates a story about Mr. Nuttel’s departure telling that he had a nightmare experience with dogs. On the other hand, Nicholas’s story about the frog in his wholesome breakfast and his consistency in asserting its viability shows the feature of a vibrant story teller. His quick association with devil and aunt voice again shows that he can quickly invent stories like Vera did.


Cruel and less sympathetic liars

Both Vera’s and Nicholas’s behavior might irritate the elders who read the stories. Both the characters are seemingly much self-possessive children who amuse themselves by taunting and pranking elders. Vera has no worry about giving a horror experience to a nerve broken patient like Mr. Nuttel. He perfectly states that violence and excessive physical or mental torment can harm his state adversely; yet Vera did that. On the other hand, Nicholas twists aunts very words who is stuck at the rainwater tank helplessly, his intention is clear that he wanted to give aunt a punishment. A young child punishing an adult is quite a disturbing picture. The critical aspect in both the characters, though they are smart, both of them are liars which would harm the moral conduct expected from a child.



No one can argue about the power of creativity displayed by both the children. Vera’s story is filled with imageries making it a realistic experience to the listener. (both the stories) When Mrs. Sappelton’s family arrives over the French window, she acts showing intense horror in her eyes, making Mr. Nuttel to flee away like a steam engine. Nicholas too demonstrate his power of imagination sitting in front of the fire screen imagining a living breathing story out of the painting on it. His inclination to aesthetically rich objects in the lumber room is too a portrayal of his creative power. Though dark, his association of the devil, and cheating aunt mentioning strawberry jams again shows his creative power.



Both Vera and Nicholas are master-minded planners who plans something before act. They do a background test before entering to the plot.  Vera, before deceiving Mr. Nuttel checks whether he knows about Mrs. Sappelton’s family and the area. Knowing he is a complete stranger to the area, she starts spinning her web around him.  Meanwhile, Nicholas seems to plan ahead to enter the lumber room, at the end the reader can understand his every action is targeted to achieve his final goal.  He putting a frog into his milk, arguing with aunt, getting grounded, making the aunt glued at Gooseberry garden are all a strand of webs in his plan.


Saki’s intention in using powerful children in both his short stories can be a warning to the adults not to underestimate the power of children. Though they are physically small, their mental capacity can surprise adults. They are more dangerous as they act without care about consequences. Using children to punish adults might be a result of his tough childhood with aunts. 

You may read the character of Nicholas here.

What are your ideas about the characters of Vera and Nicholas? When you write answers at the exams, by mentioning cross references from other works of the writer can make your answer more reliable and give better marks.  Therefore, it is a good practice to read other works of the same writer to expand your scope. Please share the post if you find it useful to others. Leave a comment below to enrich this post more.



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