In the literature class, we have read a short story called “Sredni Vashtar” by Hector Hugh Munro(“Saki”), and we have analyzed it carefully together. Then, our teacher divided us into 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. I worked with Matías Ripoll, Sol Santayana, Abril Terán Frías and Mora Lemos.
Sredni Vashtar – Paragraph 14
Bautista Buljevich, Matías Ripoll, Abril Terán Frías, Sol Santayana and Mora Lemos
Conradin shut his lips tight, but the Woman ransacked his bedroom till she found the carefully hidden key, and forthwith marched down to the shed to complete her discovery. It was a cold afternoon, and Conradin had been bidden to keep to the house. From the furthest window of the dining-room the door of the shed could just be seen beyond the corner of the shrubbery, and there Conradin stationed himself. He saw the Woman enter, and then he imagined her opening the door of the sacred hutch and peering down with her short-sighted eyes into the thick straw bed where his god lay hidden. Perhaps she would prod at the straw in her clumsy impatience. And Conradin fervently breathed his prayer for the last time. But he knew as he prayed that he did not believe. He knew that the Woman would come out presently with that pursed smile he loathed so well on her face, and that in an hour or two the gardener would carry away his wonderful god, a god no longer, but a simple brown ferret in a hutch. And he knew that the Woman, would triumph always as she triumphed now, and that he would grow ever more sickly under her pestering and domineering and superior wisdom, till one day nothing would matter much more with him, and the doctor would be proved right. And in the sting and misery of his defeat, he began to chant loudly and defiantly the hymn of his threatened idol:
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.
In this paragraph, Mrs De Ropp finally finds the shed´s key, which would lead her to discover Conradin´s ferret. Meanwhile, Conradin, who was asked to stay inside the house, was in the corner of the dining-room, from where he could see the door of the shed. When the guardian finally entered, Conradin saw her and imagined the woman opening the door of the shed and seeing the bed made of straw where his god lay (Sredni Vashtar). She would push the sacred bed, due to her clumsy impatience. He was powerless and could do nothing, she was about to behead his god. So Conradin prayed the ferret one last time, asking for something he did not believe it would be possible to happen. He knew Mrs. De Ropp would come out of the shed, and after some hours the ferret, a divine creature for him, would have gone, as it happened with the hen. He knew that his only chance of escaping from the house’s voice and authority wouldn’t be there anymore. He knew that she would triumph again, and, therefore, he would continue growing and living under his guardian authority, until what the doctor had predicted would be real. But he mainly realized that this was his end, and Conradin, feeling misery of being the loser again, started repeating the hymn of his god.
The narrator in this paragraph is third person limited to Conradin. This means that we perceive the situation through Conradin’s point of view and feelings. The narrator focuses on Conradin. On the other hand, we are not able to see what happens to Mrs. De Ropp, not what she discovers inside the shed. Consequently, we are aligned with Conradin. We perceive the world and context through the main character’s senses. We can identify Conradin sees Mrs. De Ropp enter the shed, and how he feels towards her discovery. She comes out victorious because her objective was finally find out what kept Conradin busy, which is what happens. Moreover, this paragraph is the climax of the story. It is the moment of more tension which represents Conradin’s misery and loss again. In the paragraph Mrs De Ropp’s discovery is seen by Conradin as a great victory for her; “he knew that the Woman, would triumph always as she triumphed now”, we can see how, for the kid, the discovery of the hidden ferret represents her victory which, from his viewpoint, was his loss and misery. He feels beaten, because the discovery of the guardian means the sell of the creature, which was really special to Conradin. The little boy knows she would find his ferret, ”and that in an hour or two the gardener would carry away his wonderful god…”, he believes his guardian discover would culminate with the sell of the animal, which makes him feel even worse. We can see all this through Conradin’s point of view.
In this paragraph, we can see through Conradin’s pain and suffering what happens in the climax, how he undergoes the terrible situation of seeing the always victorious and cousin of him, Mrs de Ropp, always get away with it and be constantly his authority.
Another literary device showed in the paragraph is oxymoron. This is showed in the end when the writer expresses “triumph” and “defeat”. This device shows how Conradin feels beaten and that Mrs de Ropp will take pleasure in his suffering and pain, as she would kill the god and continue being the authority of the house and Conradin a prisoner of this one.
The reason why it is in third person limited is because we need to see Conradin’s point of view and what he thinks, his imagination to realize who is the real authority and how is the tension created in the story. This paragraph shows it clearly, as the tension is built up in his mind, while he imagines a series of acts. For example, “He knew that the Woman would come out presently with that pursed smile he loathed so well on her face, and that in an hour or two the gardener would carry away his wonderful god”. This quote shows Conradin´s feelings and reaction to the situation(creating tension), which wouldn´t be seen if the point of view was 3rd person omniscient and not limited to his view of scenes.
In addition, in this paragraph, Conradi’s imagination is essential, as well as in all the story. In this part of the story, he imagines the horrible reaction that Mrs de Ropp would have when she would open the door and would see the bed made of straw where his god, Sredni Vashtar, laid. This story without Conrad’s imagination would not be the same, because as the point of View is limited to Conradin, we can perceive his feelings, and thoughts, which are very important in this tale.
Talking about the style used by the writer, we can see the author uses literary devices, as oxymoron, and expresses ideas and emotions through a complex and strong vocabulary. He uses a very descriptive style in this paragraph which helps readers imagine and understand the situation. Along all the story the writer uses a macabre style expressed and developed by the characters. In this paragraph, Conradin’s imagination and feelings are expressed in macabre style, because he imagined that Mrs de Ropp’s reaction was going to be a horrible one “Perhaps she would prod at the straw in her clumsy impatience”, here is a quotation from where we can realize what does Conradin thought when Mrs de Ropp opened the door. Conradin´s fantastic own world makes him believe and think Mrs De Ropp actions are only to bother him, as with the sell of the hen.
In this paragraph we can see how the author led us to infer that the story would end with the victory of Mrs De Ropp. Conradin expresses his deep feelings of pain and misery which makes us think the guardian would achieve her objective. However, as we read the story we know Mrs. De Ropp is the loser.
In this paragraph we can see that Conradin felt defeated by his guardian again, he had been beaten. He thought that she would do the same as she did to the hen. It was the feeling of not winning, he felt that his guardian had passed over him. “He knew that the woman would come out presently with a pursed smile”, with the great feeling of being the winner. “The Woman would triumph always as she triumphed now”, as he also felt miserable because of knowing that the guardian had power over him, and he felt inferior. The feeling that we could see the most in this paragraph is Conradin’s pain. He felt like this because the Woman discovered the shed, she entered there, she might see the ferret laid on the bed made of straw. The ferret was a very important thing in conradin’s life, because the ferret( sredni Vashtar) was his god, the one who conradin made offers and prayed to. With Sredni Vashtar he felt accompanied and also he felt that he had someone in his life.