Mrs Packletide's Tiger
Saki (Hector Hugh Munro)
This story is written by Saki (Hector Hugh Munro). This story is set up in the colonial period in India. The main topic of this story is ‘tiger hunt’ but the tiger hunt has been used to satirically depict the sense of grandeur which the British people had while their stay in India.
This story is about one Mrs. Packletide who wants to kill a tiger so that she can tell her tales of bravery and glory. She also plans to display her prized possessions; like tiger skin and items made from various parts of a tiger. She has an experienced assistant who has worked on similar assignments in the past. She also has villagers who are willing to work in the hope of getting paid in cash.
The story shows various details of all the preparations which used to go on before the actual hunting. The author tries to make a fun at selection of an old tiger which has lost its vigour to hunt a suitable prey.
The story ends with an irony because the bullet hits the goat; instead of hitting the tiger. But the tiger dies in spite of not being hit by the bullet. But Mrs. Packletide plans to come up with suitable stories of her gallantry. Her assistant Miss Mebbin blackmails her and extracts enough money to buy a nice cottage. Loona Bimberton is does not appear to be happy at Mrs. Packletide’s achievement.
Answer the following questions in your own words:
Question 1: Why did Mrs. Packletide wish to kill a tiger?
Answer: Loona Bimberton became the subject of too much attention and became quite famous because of her exploits of tiger hunt. Mrs. Packletide did not want to be left behind. She wanted to outshine Loona Bimberton. Hence, she wished to kill a tiger.
Question 2: What made her decide to give a party in Loona Bimberton's honour? What did she intend to give Loona on her birthday?
Answer: She wanted to give an impression that the party would be in Loona Bimberton’s honour. But she wanted to show that she was as good as; if not better than Loona Bimberton. She wanted to make a statement of style and achievement by throwing the party so that she could tell the tales of her exploits. She intended to gift a tiger-claw brooch to Loona on her birthday.
Question 3: How was the tiger shooting arranged? What kind of a tiger was chosen for the purpose?
Answer: She offered to pay Rs. 1000 for an opportunity to shoot a tiger without taking too much risk. For the purpose; and old tiger was chosen. The tiger was too old to catch a prey and hence often sneaked into nearby villages to catch some domestic animals to eat. Mrs. Pickletide was sure that the old tiger would not be much of a threat and it would be easier to kill. She did not want to take risks involved in hunting a ferocious tiger.
Question 4: In what way did the villagers help Mrs. Packletide shoot the tiger?
Answer: The villagers were motivated by the prospect of earning a thousand rupees and hence many of them quickly engaged into various support activities. Children were given the duty of spotting the tiger. Women began to talk in hushed tones so as not to disturb the tiger. A goat was arranged to be used as bait for the tiger. A platform was made at a suitable place.
Question 5: Who was Miss Mebbin? Was she really devoted to Mrs. Packletide? How did she behave during the tiger shooting?
Answer: Miss Mebbin appears to be a professional because she is offering her services in lieu of money. She tries to show too much eagerness while on job. She is a miser and tries to save every single penny. She plays it safe while investing her hard earned money; as shown by the fact that she bought a cottage.
Question 6: Mrs. Packletide was a good shot. Discuss.
Answer: Mrs. Packletide was not a good shot. When she aimed and shot for the tiger, the bullet hit the goat instead. The poor tiger probably died because shock from hearing the gunshot. Mrs. Packletide does not appear to be a hunter. She went on for the hunting spree only out jealousy and a sense of competition.
Question 7: 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: Miss Mebbin pointed that the goat had been killed by the bullet and the bullet never hit the tiger. Miss Mebbin; being a miser; probably was worried for the loss of money on the goat. Had it been alive; she could have helped in saving some money. Mrs. Packletide did not want the outside world to know the truth. She wanted to project that it was she who had killed the tiger.
Question 8: How did the villagers react to the tiger's death?
Answer: The villagers were worried that they might lose the prospect of earning a thousand rupees. Hence, they made a story of Mrs. Packletide killing the tiger.
Question 9: Do you think Mrs. Packletide was able to achieve her heart's desire? Give reasons for your answer.
Answer: All Mrs. Packletide wanted to be a proud owner of tiger’s skin. She never wanted to take the risks involved during real hunting of a tiger. She became a proud owner of tiger’s skin and with villagers’ help; she was able to project the image of a brave hunter. It can be said that Mrs. Packletide was able to achieve her heart’s desire.
Question 10: How did Miss Mebbin manage to get her week-end cottage? Why did she plant so many tiger lilies in her garden?
Answer: Mrs. Packletide was afraid that Miss Mebbin would disclose the real story. Miss Mebbin played on that fear. Mrs. Packletide bribed Miss Mebbin to keep her mouth shut. Thus, Miss Mebbin was able to get the required money to buy the cottage. She could buy that cottage because of tiger. After that, she must have developed some respect for tigers. Hence, she planted tiger lilies in her garden.
Question 11: "The incidental expenses are so heavy," she confides to inquiring friends. Who is the speaker? What is she referring to here?
Answer: Miss Mebbin is the speaker in this case. In this case, she is referring to the price she had to pay; in terms of telling a lie and suppressing the truth.