Mrs. Packletide’s Tiger by Saki


Mrs Packletide’sTiger

Mrs Packletide’s Tiger by Saki (HH Munro) is a short story in which one character’s disloyalty to another proves the crux ( root) of the plot. Set mostly in Colonial India, the author aims to highlight and ridicule the pretentious nature of the upper classes of Edwardian society. With sophisticated language we are encouraged ingeniously (skillfully) to dislike Mrs Packletide who endeavors to shoot a tiger in order to upstage (outdo)  her rival Loona Bimberton. The satirical tone employed throughout the story enables us to applaud her comeuppance ( retaliation/ reward) at the hands of her paid companion, Miss Mebbin.

From the beginning the satirical tone employed increases our dislike of the petty Mrs. Packletide whose motive for shooting a tiger was that her rival Loona Bimberton had recently flown in an “aeroplane by an Algerian aviator.” This feat in those times was considered not only a daring and brave feat (because aeroplanes had just been invented and were nothing like the comfortable, reliable modes of transport they are today) but Saki’s tone also shows us his repulsion of these classes by implying that this feat of Loona Bimberton’s was only a show of bravery. The word “carried” suggests she had to be helped and coaxed( persuaded)  along the way and in the end it was only her greed for the fame it would bring her that made her do it. The alliteration highlights Mrs Packletide’s outrage at being battered ( abused) by a rival and we see her petty nature emerge from beneath her mask of society’s fashion.

Our dislike of Mrs Packletide’s character increases as the story continues along with Saki’s sarcasm. The word “ostensibly” used by the author to describe how Mrs Packletide is planning to show off the tiger skin rug to her friends seemingly in order to honour Loona Bimberton, is really an excuse to show off to her rival and upstage her. Similarly her offer of a thousand rupees for the chance to shoot a tiger “without overmuch risk or exertion” shows the extravagance of this ridiculous expedition on which she is intent and reminds us of her shallow nature. This detail allows the author’s theme to grow, showing us the stupid side of Mrs Packletide. She has no sense of the value of money or the actual excitement of hunting: the hunt, the chase, the kill.

Saki then introduces Mrs Packletide’s paid companion, Miss Mebbin as having a:“morbid(gloomy) dread of performing an atom more service than she had paid for.”This statement of Miss Mebbin’s nature immediately creates in our minds a stingy, strict, sneering(sorrowful), cold-hearted woman.  It also suggests she is observant and cautious, not for others but for herself. The title “Miss” combined with the detailed description of her thrifty nature creates an image of a mean old spinster. The idea that she is greedy is highlighted in the way he writes that she: “adopted a protective elder-sister attitude to money.”

Saki is suggesting that on the surface she is unthreatening but in truth she cares for money so much she treats it as a person, a sibling even. This revelation prepares us for her betrayal of Mrs. Packletide.

On the night of the shoot Mrs. Packletide reassures Miss Mebbin of the lack of danger showing that Mrs. Packletide knows how much of a farce (mockery) this expedition really is. Miss Mebbin wasn’t actually mortally afraid but rather was concerned in case she missed a bonus in her pay. The shooting’s absurd nature is highlighted even more when Saki introduces the added detail of Mrs. Packletide playing “Patience” with cards as she awaits the old decrepit tiger to go for the obvious bait. In the end Mrs. Packletide misses the stationary tiger – and kills the bait instead! However, the tiger dies of a heart attack because of the loud gun report. Mrs. Packletide ignores this fact and claims she shot the tiger, assuming Miss Mebbin will not say a word as she is merely a “paid companion.” The villagers keep quiet so as not to jeopardize their reward.

Upon returning to England Mrs. Packletide has her revenge and gains admiration from everyone except, of course, Loona Bimberton. Once the fuss has died down we begin to see Mrs. Packletide enjoying happiness and we beg for repercussions. Saki answers our plea. Miss Mebbin returns to her old boss to blackmail her into paying for an idyllic cottage, which she does, promptly. We cheer enthusiastically!

In my view Saki achieved his goal superbly. By making Mrs. Packletide such a fake show-off with his sardonic(mocking) tone and extravagant language, we grow hateful of her. Her petty, selfish nature annoys us and the extremes she will go to achieve her aims are deplorable. Although Miss Mebbin is a nasty piece of work herself, we still support her disloyalty towards Mrs. Packletide because it results in her comeuppance. The betrayal of Mrs. Packletide gives us the ending we want to this humorous story and leaves us in no doubt as to Saki’s feelings towards the upper classes.

  1. 4. a. Why did Mrs. Packletide wish to kill a tiger?

Answer-The vehement desire of Mrs. Packletide to kill a tiger is an embodiment of envy towards Looona Bimberton, her friendly enemy. The stunning act of Loona Bimberton i.e. a flying in an airplane for 11 miles with an Algerian aviator, caused Mrs. Packletide to be restless and sleep deprived. To give the perfect jab(injection) she had decided upon the point of killing a tiger and exposing to all and especially Loona Bimberton.

  1. b)What made her decide to give a party in Loona Bimberton’s honour? What did she intend to give Loona on her birthday? 

Answer- Loona Bimberton’s exposing works of flying in the airplane forced Mrs. Packletide to answer accordingly. To answer she planned to kill a tiger and make a great affair. She planned to present herself in all the newspapers and magazines with the snaps and the story. Apart from publishing those in newspapers she had also planned to organize a luncheon party. With pretention she wanted to arrange the party in Loona Bimberton’s honour. Her sole motto was to dip Loona Bimberton in the ocean of envy.

            She was desirous to present  a tiger claw brooch(badge)  on Loona Bimberton’s birthday.

  1. c) How was the tiger shooting arranged? What kind of a tiger was chosen for the purpose?

Answer- Mrs. Packletide, a superannuated woman, was not at all desirous to go for risk or hard work to kill a tiger. So she declared the reward of one thousand rupees for a person or group who would arrange the killing. Fortunately Mrs. Packletide got a village arranging the same.

            The tiger was ill, old and weak. It was chosen for easy killing and less risk.

  1. d) In what way did the villagers help Mrs. Packletide shoot the tiger?

Answer- The villagers, keen to grasp the money, arranged the shooting of the tiger. They chose an adjacent forest with an old and weak tiger living in it. They kept tiger alive with poor quality of goats and a group of young boys guarding the forest. On the day of shoot they had kept tethered a  goat and had arranged a platform on the trees for a convincing shoot.

  1. e)   Who was Miss Mebbin? Was she really devoted to Mrs. Packletide? How did she behave during the tiger shooting?

Answer-  Mrs. Packletide being a lonely old lady, had hired Miss Mebbin, a  paid attendant .

No, Miss Mebbin was a woman who had only a right match with money. Without any doubt she was not at all devoted to  Mrs Packletide.

During the shooting of the tiger, Miss Mebbin had been a good judge to accumulate the money paid in proportionate to service accomplished. She had a super parsimonious(stingy) attitude towards money irrespective of tiger and villagers.

  1. f) Packletide was a good shot. Discuss

Answer-Mrs Packletice was an amateur. This is beyond doubt when we see her to miss a mile and to shoot the goat instead. A dot of salt it was for her in her rejoicing when it was discovered that her shot was in vain. So good (!) was the shot resulting in damage of her money and an unending anxiety.

  1. g) What comment did Miss Mebbin make after Mrs Packletide had fired the shot?
    Why did Miss Mebbin make this comment? How did Mrs Packletide react to this comment? 

Answer- Apart from being a spendthrift Miss Mebbin was fault finder too. After a perfect spotting the shoot she, out of habit discovered the wrong i.e. the killing the goat instead of the tiger. Later Miss Mebbin commented “ How amused everyone would be if they knew what really happened”.

        Mrs. Mebbin got Mrs. Packletide in uneasy state after she found the unnoticed thing.

Her motto was to abuse the sentiment of Mrs.Packletide and make a little property.A paid woman Miss Mebbin didn’t feel to support Mrs Packletide .Rather she contrived to utilize the chance & co-incidence.

Mrs. Packtotide at the beginning tried to overrule her blackmail but soon she understood that she had no other way but to comply with the conditions of Miss Mebbin. She was very much annoyed with her..

  1. h) How did the villagers react to the tiger’s death?

Answer- The villagers  with the sole target of acquiring money on the event of the tiger’s death was rejoicing in chorus. They managed the fact that Mrs Packletide could not kill the tiger and made her understand that she was only the reason for the death of the tiger and hence she had only been the killer. They, both in the forest & village had been merry & rejoiced beating tom – toms.  

  1. i) Do you think Mrs. Packletide was able to achieve her heart’s desire? Give reasons for your answer.

Answer-Mrs Packletide was successful in creating a galore of jealousy in Loona Bimberton after having the pictures in the newspaper and magazine. Loona Bimberton forced by social etiquette had to answer the letter of Mrs. Packletide but declined the luncheon party owing to the danger of spilling emotions.

  1. j) How did Miss Mebbin manage to get her week-end cottage? Why did she plant so many tiger lilies in her garden?

Answer- Miss mebbin, perfect example of selfishness and narrow-mindedness, made unfair advantages of chance and coincidence appeared due to the failure of Mrs. Packletide in killing the tiger. She blackmailed Mrs. Packletide of leaking out the sensational truth and became the owner of the cottage.

Symbolic is the tiger lilies in her garden referring to her unexpected ownership of the cottage due to the killing of the tiger.

  1. k) “The incidental expenses are so heavy,” she confides to inquiring friends. Who is the speaker? What is she referring to here?
    Answer-Mrs. Packletide is the speaker of the above quoted lines. She is referring to the burdens of expenses she had to endure owing to the blackmailing of Miss Mebbin. She was compelled to cut loose a handsome amount of money to meet with the desires of Miss Mebbin.
  2. ) (a):Do you think the tiger shooting organized by the villagers was a serious affair? Give reasons for your answer.
    Answer-Tiger shooting arranged by the villagers was a serious affair. The whole village got indulged in the process of making the shooting of the tiger a fruitful one. They guarded the forest to ascertain the presence of the tiger in the forest, provided food in the form of poor quality goats and took active part in group to see wild beast a lifeless one.
  3. b) Do you think the writer is trying to make fun of the main characters in the story i.e. Mrs. Packletide, Miss Mebbin and Loona Bimberton? Pick out instances from the story that point to this fact.

Answers-Yes, the above quoted characters are ironically satired. Mrs. Packletide is mocked for her sense of jealousy towards Loona Bimberton through her activities to undermine her friendly enemy. On the contrary Loona Bimberton had been even a sufferer of inferiority complex which is unfolded in her meaningless act of flying in an airplane to make Mrs Packletide jealous .Miss Mebbin is also mocked by the narrator as she is delineated as a money minded spend thrift lady.

5.c) (c):A person who is vain is full of self importance and can only think of himself/herself and can go to great lengths to prove his/her superiority. Do you think Mrs Packletide is vain? Give reasons in support of your answer.

Answer- Aptly Mrs. Packletide was lady of vain. She had decided to a big extent to fulfill her biased target. She was totally taken up by the increasing jealousy against Loona Bimberton. She had a sacrifice of a handsome amount of money fanatically only to create a little sense of enmity in Loona Bimberton. She was though partially successful; her superiority was totally crushed and questioned by Miss Mebbin.

  1. d) (d):Sometimes writers highlight certain negative aspects in society or human beings by making fun of it. This is called satire. In your groups discuss whether you would classify this story as a satire. Give reasons to support your answer.

Answer- This story is an apt example of satire. The narrator through the fun made in the story highlighted the negativities of the society. People in the society mainly the rich are controlled not by love and hunger but by money, status, and jealousy. The story is to hint narrow minded and rich people and their habit paranoia.

  1. e) How does the writer create humor in this story?

Answer- The writer made extensive use of humour to make to story to be lively one. The character like Miss Mebbin and the activities of Mrs. Packletide and Loona Bimberton added a new flavor to the main story. The players, satires, the moves of the story, and main twist of shooting the wrong animal added a true aroma to the story.

Question 9-(b1:

In groups of four construct the dialogues and enact the following situations from the story:

Mrs. Packletide and the headman of the village/other villagers discussing the details of the tiger shooting

Answer :

Note: This question is to be answered on the basis of your own understanding, experience and thoughts. It is strongly recommended that you prepare the solution on your own. However, sample solutions have been provided for your reference.

Mrs.Packletide: I want to shoot a tiger. I will give you a thousand rupees to make necessary arrangements for tiger hunting. I want to shoot a tiger but without any risk or exertion.

Village Headman: There is an old tiger in the jungle who has given up hunting because of old age. He will be right for this hunt.

Mrs.Packletide: That will be perfect! I will make other arrangements. You let me know when the time is right.

Question 9-(b2:

In groups of four construct the dialogues and enact the following situations from the story:

Miss Mebbin blackmailing Mrs Packletide into gifting her a cottage

Answer :

Note: This question is to be answered on the basis of your own understanding, experience and thoughts. It is strongly recommended that you prepare the solution on your own. However, sample solutions have been provided for your reference.

Miss Mebbin: What would everyone say if they got to know the truth?

Mrs.Packletide: What do you mean?

Miss Mebbin: The truth Mrs. Packletide! How you shot the goat and frightened the tiger to death!

Mrs. Packletide (shocked): No one would believe it!

Miss Mebbin: Loona Bimberton would.

Mrs. Packletide: You wouldn’t tell the truth to Loona.

Miss Mebbin: I wish to buy a weekend cottage at Darking, its just that I don’t have the money.

Mrs.Packletide: If I buy you the cottage, would you promise not to tell our little secret to Loona Bimberton.

Miss Mebbin: Oh yes! Yes!

Question 9-(b3:

In groups of four construct the dialogues and enact the following situations from the story:

Loona Bimberton and a lady-friend discussing Mrs Packletide’s hunting success

Answer :

Note: This question is to be answered on the basis of your own understanding, experience and thoughts. It is strongly recommended that you prepare the solution on your own. However, sample solutions have been provided for your reference.

Lady-friend: Did you see the newspapers today?

Loona Bimberton: Why? What happened?

Lady-friend: Didn’t you see pictures of Mrs. Packletide with a dead tiger!

Loona Bimberton: Oh that! Yes I glanced at it.

Lady-friend: Isn’t it amazing!

Loona Bimberton: Yes, yes, of course. Did I tell you about my experience in the Algerian aviator?

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