LIterature; full analysis of paragraph 5 of «Sredni Vashtar».

In the literature class, we have read a short story called «Sredni Vashtar» by Hector Hugh Munro(«Saki»), and we have analysed it carefully together. Then, our teacher divided us in groups of four and asked each group to make a full analysis of one of the paragraphs of the story in every literary aspect possible(that we know). I worked on behalf of Tomas Braun, Olivia Obligado and Francisco Montoya, and we worked on the fifth paragraph of the story.


‘After a while Conradin’s absorption in the tool-shed began to attract the notice of his guardian. “It is not good for him to be pottering down there in all weathers”, she promptly decided, and at breakfast one morning she announced that the Houdan Hen had been sold and taken away overnight. With her short-sighted eyes she peered at Conradin, waiting for an outbreak of rage and sorrow, which she was ready to rebuke with a flow of excellent precepts and reasoning. But Conradin said nothing; there was nothing to be said. Something perhaps in his white set face gave her a momentary qualm, for a tea that afternoon there was a toast on the table, a delicacy which she usually banned on the ground that it was bad for him; also because of the making of it “gave trouble”, a deadly offence in the middle-class feminine eye.’.


All throughout this paragraph we can see through Conradin’s point of view that he feels dared by his guardian, Mrs De Ropp.  As she sold his Houdan Hen she expected Conradin to misbehave or yell to her. But he did not, Conradin did all the opposite. He continued taking his tea.  In this paragraph we can also see how Conradin’s cousin starts to become suspicious of his time spent in the shed. We still have the same question we have all throughout the story about it’s diegesis being Conradin’s fantasy. This doubt can be reflected in this paragraph because Mrs. De Ropp sells the Houdan Hen, and Conradin believes she did it on purpose to upset him, but we can never be sure if she did it aiming to bother and provoke Conradin, or if she just did it for any other reason that had nothing to do with him. Conradin thinks she wanted him to have an “outbreak of rage and sorrow” (emotional breakdown)in front of her, so she could then inquire him. However, as conradin thought she did it on purpose, he didn’t want her to taste the pleasure of him being sad. Therefore, he repressed his anger and feelings. In addition, he says nothing because “there was nothing to be said”, however, as we go on reading the story, we can realize that there was nothing to be said, but something to be done. He finds satisfaction in her suffering and displeasure, and he believes she finds pleasure in his sadness. Here we can see Conradin’s repression, as he behaves quietly and does as he is told by his cousin, he doesn’t express himself, he shows respect to her although that he has an inner feeling of hatred towards her. He does not show how he feels or the evil thoughts he has, he keeps it all in his mind. Moreover, we can see that inside the house, Mrs. De Ropp has the authority, and when she is inside, Conradin shows her respect, although that’s not what he truly feels towards her. He can understand that when she’s inside the house, he has no power at all, in any way, but that changes when either he’s in the shed, or when he is in the house, and she isn’t. This paragraph introduces us to the symbol of the toast, which is Conradin’s unattainable object of desire, which Mrs. De Ropp deprived him of, as we can see that “that afternoon there was toast on the table, a delicacy which she usually banned” mainly because his cousin said it was bad for him and that the making of it gave too much trouble. The toast symbolized freedom and celebration for Conradin, which he gets at the end when his cousin “dies”(we can never be sure if she actually did, or if it’s just his imagination), as he “made himself another piece of toast” after he listened the maids and servants screaming and wondering how to act upon what had “happened”. In this paragraph we can also see how Mrs. De Ropp oppresses Conradin telling him what to do whether what not, and keeping a close eye on him; as seen when she tells him about his time spent in the shed; “It’s not good for him to be pottering down there in all weathers”. She constantly challenges Conradin. For instance, she sells the Houdan Hen, so that when he finally bursts out, she can rebuke him, but he never lets her have that satisfaction. This extract of the story is written in 3rd person narrator limited and focalized to Conradin’s mind, as everything we see is from Conradin’s point of view, such as his non-stop belief that his cousin hates him. The fact that the story is written in this narrator gives us the doubt that the realm of the story can be Conradin’s fantasy(inner reality), or if it is true (outer)reality. In this paragraph there’s also characterization of Mrs. De Ropp as someone evil who finds pleasure in a kid’s sadness(Conradin) because she constantly wants him to have emotional breakdowns so she can rebuke him, as we can see here; “she was ready to rebuke with a flow of excellent precepts and reasoning.”, she was ready to give him a lecture of what is wrong and what is right, how children should behave, and that he(Conradin) misbehaves. Moreover, in this extract we can see Conradin’s personality. He is a persuasive, imaginative boy, who lives his life inside his imagination, and not in reality. He always makes his own interpretation about the real world and that interpretation is what Conradin takes as reality, the only reality he lived in was in his imagination. Finally, we can appreciate Saki’s style when writing. He uses a macabre and fantastic style, which shows through the character of Conradin and the actions he takes, as well as the thoughts he has. He thinks that Mrs De Ropp sold the Hen to bother him. When she waits for a reaction from Contadin, he said nothing because there was nothing to be said, but to be done.

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