The Lumber Room and The Storyteller


In “The Lumber Room” and “The Storyteller,” Saki explores the relationship between children and adults. Describe these relationships and discuss how the writer creates his characters.


In both “The Lumber Room” and “The Storyteller,” Saki creates interesting relationships between children and adults. In most of Saki’s stories he tends to favour the children rather than the adults. This makes his stories humorous and interesting.


In “The Lumber Room,” Nicholas is portrayed as quite a stupid little boy after telling his aunt that there was a frog in his breakfast. But soon we discover that he put it there himself and as the story develops we see that Nicholas is much smarter than his aunt. He uses his punishment to his advantage by deciding to go into the lumber-room. Nicholas prepares every aspect of his plan so he won’t get caught; he even practises turning the key in a lock and leaving everything the way he found it. This shows that Nicholas is able to outsmart his aunt.


Nicholas was told by his aunt not to go into the Gooseberry garden so he followed her instructions, therefore making her think she has power over Nicholas, even though he is spending his time in the lumber room, “he had no intention of trying to get into the gooseberry garden, but it was extremely convenient for him that his aunt should believe that he had.” When the aunt is looking for him, she goes and looks in the gooseberry garden, thinking that he has disobeyed her, even though he hasn’t. When she falls into the rainwater tank, and tells him to come and help her, Nicholas replies by telling her that he is not allowed in the gooseberry garden. Nicholas twists all his aunt’s words and he describes her as “the Evil One” that is tempting him so he will get into trouble. The aunt tries to manipulate Nicholas, but he ends up manipulating her because he senses her weaknesses and uses it to his advantage.


Saki creates Nicholas’ character so effectively by making him so perfect, yet so mischievous. The reader is drawn to his character because it reminds us of what the reader was like as a child and so we feel close to him. He constantly twists his aunt’s words and makes her seem like the bad one. The aunt seems like a boring person and very stuck in her own ways. She doesn’t have time for Nicholas’ games and she doesn’t have any sympathy or compassion when Nicholas’ cousin hurts herself, “she’ll soon get over that.” There doesn’t seem to be any trust between Nicholas and his aunt regarding the gooseberry garden and she doesn’t tend to listen to the children, “you often don’t listen when we tell you important things.” Saki doesn’t describe Nicholas’ physical appearance so that the reader can imagine what he would look like.


Nicholas is also a very determined and intelligent character and this is shown when he makes his plans to get inside the lumber-room. He knows his aunt will think, he will try and get into the gooseberry garden and so he can deceive her, “I was told I wasn\'t to go into the gooseberry garden.” Nicholas also seems to be able to appreciate things for someone of such a young age, “Nicholas was in an unknown land, compared with which the gooseberry garden was a stale delight, a mere material pleasure...a storehouse of unimagined treasures.”


In “the Storyteller,” the aunt finds it difficult to occupy and control the children. She tries to direct their attention to things outside the carriage, “Come look out the window…look at those cows!” The children are very impatient and demand a good story, the aunt tries to tell a good story but the children don’t like it. When the man in the same carriage tells them a story, the children finally calm down. "The story began badly," said the smaller of the small girls, "but it had a beautiful ending." The children tell the man that it was so good that it was “horribly good.” The aunt is very jealous and angry that he could control the children and that she couldn’t, “a most improper story to tell young