Sredni Vashtar

by

Saki

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Mrs. De Ropp Character Analysis

Mrs. De Ropp is Conradin’s cousin and the epitome of early twentieth-century British respectability. She is the guardian for the sickly boy, and while she is ostensibly watching out for his health, her concern frequently becomes overbearing or even sadistic. Although she is short-sighted, she is always watching, and she forces Conradin to spend most of his time in a dull garden where there is little to do and where she can see him through a window (which she can open to yell at him if he does something wrong). Eventually, Conradin discovers that he can escape Mrs. De Ropp’s watchful eye by spending time in an abandoned toolshed. Mrs. De Ropp decides that for some reason this must not be good for Conradin, so she searches the toolshed herself and discovers the Houdan hen, which she promptly sells, only telling Conradin about it the next morning. She is surprised when Conradin doesn’t react to the selling of the hen and even offers him toast that afternoon, perhaps out of remorse (since usually she doesn’t allow him to have toast with tea). Still, if Mrs. De Ropp does regret her actions, it’s short-lived, because she soon notices that Conradin is continuing to spend time in the shed, so she makes plans once again to stop him. Ultimately, this leads to her discovering the cage of Sredni Vashtar. It’s ambiguous what happens to Mrs. De Ropp once she enters the toolshed, but Conradin imagines that because she is short-sighted, she probably got up close to the straw where Sredni Vashtar was hiding, giving the ferret an opportunity to strike. What is clear is that Sredni Vashtar escapes alive, while Mrs. De Ropp’s body is discovered by one of her servants. The servants debate about how to break the news to Conradin, but judging by his reaction (calmly toasting some bread), it doesn’t seem that he’s too concerned.

Mrs. De Ropp Quotes in Sredni Vashtar

The Sredni Vashtar quotes below are all either spoken by Mrs. De Ropp or refer to Mrs. De Ropp. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Cambridge University Press edition of Sredni Vashtar published in 2018.
Sredni Vashtar Quotes

Mrs De Ropp would never, in her honestest moments, have confessed to herself that she disliked Conradin, though she might have been dimly aware that thwarting him ‘for his good’ was a duty which she did not find particularly irksome.

Related Characters: Conradin, Mrs. De Ropp
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:

And one day, out of Heaven knows what material, he spun the beast a wonderful name, and from that moment it grew into a god and a religion. The Woman indulged in religion once a week at a church near by and took Conradin with her, but to him the church service was an alien rite in the House of Rimmon. Every Thursday, in the dim and musty silence of the tool-shed, he worshipped with mystic and elaborate ceremonial before the wooden hutch where dwelt Sredni Vashtar, the great ferret.

Related Characters: Conradin, Sredni Vashtar, Mrs. De Ropp
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

The Houdan hen was never drawn into the cult of Sredni Vashtar. Conradin had long ago settled that she was an Anabaptist. He did not pretend to have the remotest knowledge as to what an Anabaptist was, but he privately hoped that it was dashing and not very respectable. Mrs De Ropp was the ground plan on which he based and detested all respectability.

Related Characters: Conradin, Sredni Vashtar, Mrs. De Ropp
Related Symbols: Houdan Hen
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

Something perhaps in his white set face gave her a momentary qualm, for at tea that afternoon there was toast on the table, a delicacy which she usually banned on the ground that it was bad for him; also because the making of it ‘gave trouble’, a deadly offence in the middle-class feminine eye.

Related Characters: Conradin, Mrs. De Ropp
Related Symbols: Toast
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

And presently his eyes were rewarded; out through that doorway came a long, low, yellow-and-brown beast, with eyes a-blink at the waning daylight, and dark wet stains around the fur of jaws and throat.

Related Characters: Conradin, Sredni Vashtar, Mrs. De Ropp
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:

And while the maid went to summon her mistress to tea, Conradin fished a toasting-fork out of the sideboard drawer and proceeded to toast himself a piece of bread. And during the toasting of it and the buttering of it with much butter and the slow enjoyment of eating it, Conradin listened to the noises and silences which fell in quick spasms beyond the dining-room door.

Related Characters: Conradin, Maid , Mrs. De Ropp
Related Symbols: Toast
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:

‘Whoever will break it to the poor child? I couldn’t for the life of me!’ exclaimed a shrill voice. And while they debated the matter among themselves, Conradin made himself another piece of toast.

Related Characters: Maid (speaker), Conradin, Mrs. De Ropp
Related Symbols: Toast
Page Number: 96
Explanation and Analysis:
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Mrs. De Ropp Character Timeline in Sredni Vashtar

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. De Ropp appears in Sredni Vashtar. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Sredni Vashtar
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
...is pronounced sickly by the local doctor, who says he won’t live another five years. Mrs. De Ropp , Conradin’s older cousin and guardian, endorses the doctor’s opinion. To Conradin, she represents “three-fifths... (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
Mrs. De Ropp , who would never admit to herself that she dislikes Conradin, nevertheless is willing to... (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
British Colonialism Theme Icon
Conradin spends his time in a dull garden overlooked by the windows of the house. Mrs. De Ropp is always nearby, ready to open a window to tell him what not to do.... (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
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...also his most valued possession. The Woman (a nickname that Conradin uses for his guardian Mrs. De Ropp ) doesn’t know that the animal is being kept in the toolshed, and Conradin tries... (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
...Sredni Vashtar is a fierce, impatient god—which seems to Conrad to be the opposite of Mrs. De Ropp ’s religion. On important “festival days,” Conradin steals nutmeg and spreads it in front of... (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
...has no idea what an Anabaptist is, but he hopes it’s not “respectable.” His cousin Mrs. De Ropp is very respectable, and that is why Conradin detests respectability. (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
British Colonialism Theme Icon
Eventually, Mrs. De Ropp begins to notice that Conradin is spending time in the toolshed. She decides that it... (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
That afternoon, at tea, Mrs. De Ropp puts toast on the table (a delicacy she usually bans on the grounds that it’s... (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
British Colonialism Theme Icon
...in the toolshed, Conradin repeats the same prayer: “Do one thing for me, Sredni Vashtar.” Mrs. De Ropp notices that his visits to the tool shed haven’t stopped, even after the Houdan hen... (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Conradin tells Mrs. De Ropp nothing about what’s in the toolshed, so she searches his bedroom until she finds the... (full context)
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Conradin watches Mrs. De Ropp enter the shed. He imagines her opening the door of Sredni Vashtar’s hutch and peering... (full context)
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Conradin expects that Mrs. De Ropp will come out of the shed with a pursed smile on her face, and then... (full context)
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The maid informs Conradin that tea is ready and asks where Mrs. De Ropp is. Conradin informs the maid that his cousin went down to the shed some time... (full context)