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Transcript of Sredni Vashtar
Figurative Language and Plot Devices
Major Topics, Ideas, and Themes
Conradin is a 10 year old boy. The doctor says that he will only live for five more years.
He lives with his cousin, they both greatly dislike each other
Conradin is demented, devious, and imaginative.
Mrs. De Ropp is Conradin's cousin and Guardian.
She is strict, dull, boring.
Mrs. De Ropp is Conradin's cousin and Guardian.
She is strict, dull, boring and arrogant
Conradin and his Cousin (Mrs. De Ropp) both greatly dislike each other. Conradin isn't allowed to have it, but he comes across a ferret, which he hides in his shed, with the risk of his cousin finding the ferret.
Mood is the feeling a piece of literature arouses in the reader.
Conradin is a 10 year
old boy who lives with his cousin (Mrs. De Ropp), they greatly dislike each other. Conradin worships a ferret named Sredni Vashtar, which he hides in his shed, as he isn't allowed to keep animals.
"Conradin was ten years old, and the doctor had pronounced his professional opinion that the boy would not live another five years."
As the days go on, closer to the time he was scheduled to meet his end, Conradin begins to worship Sredni Vashtar more and more.
Every day, Conradin would visit Sredni Vashtar and say
Mrs. De Ropp confronts Conradin about spending so much time in the Tool-Shed. She searches his bedroom for the key to the tool-shed, and makes her way there.
Conradin watches Mrs. De Ropp from his window, and chants:
Sredni Vashtar went forth
His thoughts were red thoughts and his teeth were white
His enemies called for peace, but he brought them death.
Sredni Vashtar the beautiful.
Sredni Vashtar emerges from the shed several minutes after Mrs. De Ropp enters.
"And presently his eyes were rewarded: out through that doorway came a long, yellow-and-brown beast, with eyes a-blink in the waning daylight, and dark wet stains around the fur of jaws and throat."
The maid enters the tool-shed only to find the body of Mrs. De Ropp
"...and proceeded to toast himself a piece of bread. And during the toasting of it and the buttering of it with much butter and the slow enjoyment of eating it..."
Conradin refuses to eat his toast, which was a rare thing to have in his dull life.
A major theme in the story, is the capacity of evil that one being can hold is surprising. Conradin is a young boy, you wouldn't expect him to act with such evil. People are cruel and evil.
There are multiple feelings that get aroused while you are reading "Sredni Vashtar". Out of those feelings some are, eerie, depressing, imaginative.
Saki was himself subjected to cruelty by a sadistic aunt during his childhood. Many of his stories have cruel and uncaring adults and suffering young children. For Conradin, the tool shed is a haven to which he can escape when life becomes too oppressive outside. His guardian denies him simple pleasures in the name of doing him good. In the shed he has hidden two living things, a hen and a caged ferret. While he loves the hen, he worships the ferret as a god as it symbolizes power. There are several things that the boy long for but cannot attain. He suffers from a dreadful illness that is sure to kill him soon. The cousin keeps even the mediocre fruits in the garden out of his reach. Hot buttere toast, which is denied to him, becomes a symbol for the freedom that has been denied to him. In the end when Mrs De Ropp is dead and he is free, he helps himself to hot buttered toast, he has been freed.
Saki wrote stories that were deceptively simple. He rarely uses complicated metaphors or unnecessary sentences. Everything isto the minimum. The only thing exotic here is the title. Sometimes the things that Saki leaves unsaid are more eloquent. For example, after the hen is taken away and Conradin appears distraught, the guardian offers him toast. He refuses to have it. “I thought you liked toast”, she says. “Sometimes” replies Conradin. That one word expresses so much. Later, when he fervently prays to Sredni Vashtar, he asks for “one thing” without specifying what it is. Gods are supposed to know everything. Only at the end we know that he had prayed for Mrs De Ropp’s death.
1. "Mrs De Ropp was Conradin’s cousin and guardian, and in his eyes she represented those three-fifths of the world that are necessary and disagreeable and real; the other two-fifths, in perpetual antagonism to the foregoing, were summed up in himself and his imagination" Saki says that the larger part of the world stands for those things that are required and are there but that is the part that is unpleasant too. Ranged against this majority was the minority made up of Conradin and his imagination. He was constantly battling a larger enemy.
2. "In the dull, cheerless garden overlooked by so many windows that were ready to open with a message not to do this or that or a reminder that medicines were due, he found little attraction. Conradin feels spied upon all the time. A bank of windows opens out into the garden and any of them could be flung open and admonitions thrown out. The garden itself was not a pleasing one. Conradin was as though in prison with no place where he could do what he pleased."
"Do one thing for me,
Evidence Part Two
3. And one day, out of Heaven knows what material, he spun the beast a wonderful name and from that moment it grew into a god and a religion. Conradin’s secret refuge was the abandoned tool shed in which he kept his two pets – a Houdan hen and a caged pole-cat ferret. They were his pride and joy. On them he lavished the love that had no other outlet. The ferret, he feared too as it had sharp fangs and a lithe body but it was a treasured possession. One day he gives it a name spun from his imagination and it gets transformed instantly into a powerful god that the boy prays to every Thursday.
4. On one occasion, when Mrs De Ropp suffered from toothache for three days, Conradin kept the festival during the entire three days, and almost succeeded in persuading himself that Sredni Vashtar was personally responsible for the toothache. As days go by, for Conradin, the ferret assumes the persona of a real god capable of causing pain and misfortune to Conradin’s enemies. Mrs De Ropp’s toothache would have been a real god-send as he would have escaped the constant monitoring that he was subjected to usually. Conradin’s festival was usually on Thursday but on this occasion, he had a three-day celebration.
5. Do one thing for me, Sredni Vashtar.Conradin’s frequent trips to the tool shed did not escape his guardian’s gimlet eyes. One night, without his being aware, his precious hen is taken away and sold. This news affects him profoundly. His only refuge now is his god, Sredni Vashtar. He implores the god for a boon without specifying what he wants. After all, gods are omniscient.
6. And while they debated the matter among themselves, Conradin made himself another piece of toast.
By the end, ten year old Conradin has an adult nonchalant air. The entire household is in tumuly following Mrs De Ropp’s death. The maids believe that the boy will be shattered by the news and don’t want to be the ones who will break it to him. But ironically, Conradin knows just what has happened and he exults in it.
The setting is the shed for tools that Conradin keeps Sredni and the Houdan hen. The tool shed is the only place where Conrad seems to feel free and safe.
"however, almost hidden behind a dismal shrubbery, was a disused tool-shed of respectable proportions, and within its walls Conradin found a haven, something that took on the varying aspects of a playroom and a cathedral. He had peopled it with a legion of familiar phantoms, evoked partly from fragments of history and partly from his own brain, but it also boasted two inmates of flesh and blood."