Laura by Saki
In Laura by Saki we have the theme of marriage, reincarnation, unhappiness, acceptance, mortality and selfishness. Taken from his The Complete Short Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Saki may be exploring the theme of marriage. Laura’s marriage to Egbert is not one that could be called loving. It is as though they are constantly at loggerheads with Laura doing the best that she can to spoil or disturb the quieter Egbert. This may be important as by placing the spot light on the marriage between Laura and Egbert Saki may be suggesting that some people at the time the story was written may have married out of convenience or class rather than out of love. Something which seems to be the case when it comes to Laura and Egbert’s marriage. Laura appears to be willing to upset Egbert and to disturb his routine. Which may leave some reader to suggest that Laura may not necessarily be happy in the marriage. To Laura her actions are games to irritate Egbert but to Egbert they are a little more personal and malicious.
There is also no mistaking that Laura is dying and that she appears to accept the fact that she is dying. Her only concern is as to what type of animal she will be reincarnated into. Her preference is to become an otter and after she has been killed to become a Nubian boy. Two things that in Amanda’s eyes come true. Though it is difficult to say if Laura has been reincarnated. Amanda does try and save the otter from being killed. If it is a case that Laura has been reincarnated as an otter. The havoc she wreaks may be justifiable in her eyes for how Egbert may have treated her throughout what cannot be described as a loveless marriage. Regardless of this Amanda is protective of the otter and the reader is left assuming that she will also be protective on the Nubian boy. For Amanda it is just too coincidental what is happening. However it may be important to remember that Amanda is latching on to stories that Laura has told her. The ability to be reincarnated is not one that an individual can do for themselves.
How loveless Laura’s marriage may have been to Egbert is noticeable by the lack of grief that Egbert shows. At times he is been more preoccupied with the family of speckled Sussex. Than he is with Laura. For Egbert things must carry on as normal. Something that may leave some readers to suspect that Egbert may be a cold and selfish man. His main priority is not to grieve Laura but to kill the otter (which Amanda assumes is Louise). All of this becomes too much for Amanda and she has to leave England and take some rest in Cairo. Something that is understandable considering how strongly Amanda feels about what is happening. For her own sanity Amanda also knows that she cannot confront Egbert and tell him that the otter is in fact Amanda. It would just sound ludicrous to Egbert (and possibility to others). If anything the close connection that Amanda and Laura had while Laura was alive remains. There is no way of Amanda letting it go due to the conversations that she had with Laura. Though some critics might scorn the idea of reincarnation the point that Saki may be attempting to make is that Amanda due to close friendship with Laura. Cannot let go of Laura’s words.
The end of the story is also interesting as Amanda is in total shock and (seriously ill) considering that she believes that the Nubian boy is the second reincarnation of Laura. Though this is highly unlikely. The point that Saki might be attempting to highlight is that a person can be influenced by their circumstances. Amanda stayed by Laura’s bedside and listened to everything she said to her, It is a moment that she will never forget. Seeing her friend pass away in front of her eyes. Laura’s words take on extra significance because Amanda longs to see her friend again. She does not consider everything that has happened to be a coincidence. However it might likely is a coincidence should a person be reincarnated they may not necessarily come back as the animal or person they wish to be. In Laura’s case and in Amanda’s eyes this is what has happened. However an otter lives by stream and will take food from wherever it can. Likewise the Nubian boy works in the hotel as too do other Nubian boys. He is expected to be there. A tragic loss of a close friend has put Amanda’s mind into overdrive. Linking things that Laura said to her and presuming them to be fact after Laura has died. In reality Amanda is finding it hard to let go of Laura.