Sredni Vashtar

by

Saki

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Toast Symbol Icon

Toast, in “Sredni Vashtar” represents all the little pleasures that Mrs. De Ropp denies her ward Conradin over the course of the story. Mrs. De Ropp often does not serve toast with tea because she deems it bad for Conradin and because it takes some effort for her to make, something that Saki writes was “a deadly offence in the middle class feminine eye.” As a regular church-goer with a house full of servants, Mrs. De Ropp is the epitome of middle-class British respectability. The toast shows how petty and hypocritical middle-class Britons like Mrs. De Ropp can be and also how puritanical: it seems that the reason why she thinks toast is bad for Conradin is precisely because it gives him pleasure and because she has to do more than the bare minimum to make it. Notably, Conradin himself doesn’t begin to eat toast until after Mrs. De Ropp is already dead, further cementing the idea that her very existence was an obstacle to Conradin’s pleasure. When Conradin begins toasting bread at the end of the story, it shows that he isn’t saddened at all by the death of Mrs. De Ropp, despite all the servants in the other room who are worried about how to break the news to him. In fact, Conradin even seems to be celebrating—he is quite literally “toasting” the death of his oppressive cousin.

Toast Quotes in Sredni Vashtar

The Sredni Vashtar quotes below all refer to the symbol of Toast. 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

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 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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Toast Symbol Timeline in Sredni Vashtar

The timeline below shows where the symbol Toast appears in Sredni Vashtar. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Sredni Vashtar
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 bad for... (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
British Colonialism Theme Icon
...time ago. While the maid goes down to fetch Mrs. De Ropp, Conradin begins to toast himself a piece of bread. He draws the process out, using a lot of butter... (full context)
Imagination vs. Reality Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
British Colonialism Theme Icon
...of the dining room debate what to do next, Conradin makes himself another piece of toast. (full context)