Louise by Saki
In Louise by Saki we have the theme of selfishness, materialism, connection and class. 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 selfishness. Jane appears to be more concerned about how her day has gone that she is in finding Louise. She lists off to Lady Beanford the places she has been to and has a story for each location. It is as though Jane’s number one priority is not on finding Louise but rather she remains focused on herself. Which may leave the reader suspecting that Jane is in reality a selfish sort of person. Though the reader does not know Louise’s age. It is would seem that she is not old enough to be left alone. Something that is clear to Lady Beanford but lost on Jane. It is also possible that Saki through Jane’s character is highlighting how self-absorbed some among the upper classes may be. With their main priority being themselves and what they can get out of life. Something which is very much the case when it comes to Jane.
The fact that Jane loses Louise while she is out shopping may also highlight the importance of materialism to Jane. She shops in the best shops in London. Which many people who live in London would not be able to do. It is as though Jane is not really connected to the real world. The simple task of minding Louise becomes a chore to Jane. A chore that she fails at. With the reader left suspecting that Louise made her own way to Lady Beanford’s home. The only one who shows any real concern for Louise is Lady Beanford who might be worried due to the facts that she realises how dangerous it is for a young girl to be lost in London. It is also interesting that Jane only makes the phone call to Lord Carrywood on Lady Beanford’s instruction. It is as though Jane is more preoccupied with the things she herself has done for the day (shopping). Which may leave the reader to suspect that Louise may in fact be a hindrance to Jane. A hindrance that she does not necessarily like but one that she might feel obliged to perform.
Throughout the story the most important person in Jane’s life is Jane herself. It is only when she is pushed by Lady Beanford that Jane starts the process of looking for Louise. Though it might also be important that Jane still continues talking about her day rather than showing any genuine concern for Louise’s well-being. Which may be the point that Saki is attempting to make. He may be suggesting that some people are more focused on themselves than those who they might have a responsibility for. For most people if they lost a child they would panic. Jane doesn’t. She remains calm when talking to Lady Beanford and ends up discussing how her day went rather than showing any genuine concern for Louise. It may be a case that Louise is judged to be a burden by Jane. Someone who gets in the way of how she wants to live her life. If anything Louise may feel like work to Jane when the reality is that Jane just seems to want to enjoy herself. Something that is clearer to the reader by the fact that Jane makes mention of the two tickets Mornay gave her for the Happy Sunday Evenings.
Again it would seem that the most important person in Jane’s like is herself. She really doesn’t take the fact that Louise is missing very seriously. At least not as seriously as one would expect the guardian of a child to take the matter of a child being missing. In reality Jane does not appear to live in the real world or at least she shows traits that would lead the reader to believe that she lives in the real world. Throughout the story Jane’s primary concern has been herself and the people she has meet. All assumed to be upper class like Jane. If anything Saki may be criticizing the upper classes and the fact that they appear to live in a world that is unreal to others. It is also interesting that Jane praises herself at the end of the story. She remembers that she has told Louise to read a story to Emma and the only two things she has forgotten are the silks and two theatre tickets. This may be important as the reader suspects that Louise (again) is not the most important thing to Jane but rather having her day disturbed by forgetting materialistic things plays more important on Jane’s mind. In reality the only person that Jane thinks about throughout the story is herself.