What is the conflict in the story “The Open Window”?

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What is the conflict in the story “The Open Window”?

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In the story “The Open Window,” the conflict is between Framton Nuttel and Vera, Mrs. Sappleton’s niece. A nervous man, Framton retreats to Mrs. Sappleton’s rural rectory following his doctors’ orders for

complete rest, an absence of mental excitement, and avoidance of anything in the nature of violent physical exercise.

Hoping to find peace and respite, Framton is dismayed to learn from the fifteen-year-old girl that the rectory is possibly haunted and that her aunt (the rectory’s proprietress) is crazy. As the pair sit by an open French window, Vera tells Framton that three years earlier, her aunt’s husband, her two brothers, and her spaniel disappeared in a bog while hunting … and that the aunt leaves the window open in case they ever return. She then shudders,

Do you know, sometimes on still, quiet evenings like this, I almost get a creepy feeling that they will all walk in through that window.

Vera is lying though; the three men and dog are alive and well. When they do return, Framton thinks they are ghosts returning from the dead and frantically runs out into the street.

Framton’s desire for relief directly conflicts with Vera’s desire to get rid of or at least taunt him. She takes advantage of his fragile, neurotic state and concocts this apocryphal tale to scare him away. She even plays along by pretending that the returning men and dog are apparitions. When Framton tries to show Vera solidarity at how ridiculous Mrs. Sappleton is for believing that her husband and brothers will return despite supposedly being dead, the girl stares

out through the open window with dazed horror in her eyes. In a chill shock of nameless fear Framton swung round in his seat and looked in the same direction.

So Framton meets the opposite of what he came for; he does not get rest, but endures mental excitement (fright) and vigorous physical exercise (dashing nearly “headlong” into a cyclist).

Vera wins this conflict as she successfully causes him to flee even before he has a chance to settle into Mrs. Sappleton’s home.

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