Johnny Bear And The Catbirdseat

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James Thurber's "The Catbird Seat" and John Steinbeck's "Johnny Bear" both commit similar actions. The two main characters in these stories are Steinbeck's "Johnny Bear" and Thurber's "Mr. Martin. Both of these characters commit similar actions throughout the story.

Johnny Bear and Mr. Martin both act in an underhand manner. Mr. Martin buys a pack of Camels even though he does not smoke. No one had seen him, and he didn't want anyone to see him. He was lucky that his co-workers from F & S didn't see him, for ". . . they would have been astonished, for it was a known fact that Mr. Martin did not smoke, he never had.(p.221)" After deceiving Mr. Fitweiler in the end of the story, Mr. Martin walked ". . .across the room to the W20 file, wearing a look of studious concentration. (P.228)" He was up to no good.

Johnny bear also does something in secrecy. He waits for darkness to fall upon the innocuous town, and sits under windows and eavesdropping on the conversations of the townspeople. "No one sees or hears Johnny Bear when he's on business. He can move like no movement at all. (P.300)" Johnny Bear is practically invisible as creeps around town mischievously.

Johnny Bear and Mr. Martin also do something harmful to another character. Mr. Martin deceives Mrs. Barrows, a staff member of F & S. He impersonates someone completely opposite from his personality. He then denies any of it ever taking place, leaving Mrs. Barrows to look like the prevaricator. He purposely uses Mrs. Barrow's saying of "sitting in the catbird seat" in her presence to make the story sound inaccurate, hence the title of the story. "I'd think you'd planned it all. Sticking your tongue out, saying you were sitting in the catbird seat, because you thought no one would believe me when I told it!. . . (P.228)" After gathering up all the secrets of the town, Johnny Bear relays everything he hears to the crowd in the saloon. He mimics their voices so accurately, and repeats their exact words. Not only does he mimic their words, he mimics their pain and agony as well. He defamed the Hawkins sisters and caused much anguish throughout the town.

Mr. Martin and Johnny Bear also differ in their actions. Mr. Martin concocts his plan to harm someone deliberately. He has a reputation for being flawless and is very respected. He had a precise schedule for practically everything he did, he created a platonic conception of himself. On the other hand Johnny Bear's harmful actions are unintentional. He does not know right from wrong, he doesn't know when he is hurting someone. The community doesn't take him seriously, they use him as a source of amusement.

Johnny Bear and Mr. Martin are two completely different people with opposite intentions. Steinbeck portrays Johnny Bear to be a barely human, whisky fan who commits harmful actions unintentionally. Thurber illustrates Mr. Martin to be a subversive businessman who is well aware of his actions. Even though they have different motifs for achieving what they desire, Mr. Martin and Johnny Bear share similar aspects of characterization. They both perform similar actions.