The Catbird Seat By James Thurber

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 11th grade February 2008

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James Thurber?s The Catbird Seat focuses on the battle between Erwin Martin and Ulgine Barrows. The Catbird Seat was published twice. It was first published in the November 14, 1942 issue of the New Yorker, and then in Thurber?s 1945 collection of The Thurber Carnival (Kenney 60). The story was chosen for Best Stories of 1943 (Holmes 227). Thurber is very well known for publishing children?s books full of fairy tales and fables. In The Catbird Seat, Thurber employs the structure of comedy with the battle between the two sexes. Thurber?s subject in this story is of a little man in a baffling and alien world where aggressive women threatened the masculine identity. His show of fear toward women where the little man prevails and is forced to fight back is also seen in many of Thurber?s stories, and especially in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Joyce 410).

Both of the protagonists in this two stories struggle to maintain a sense of self-value with the use of imagination that creates a fantasy. In The Catbird Seat the protagonist attentively defeats his opponent with dullness and imagination.

The structure of The Catbird Seat focuses on a revenge comedy of Erwin Martin, the head of the filing department at F & S (Black 61). The story opens with an uncharacteristic action by Mr. Martin. Mr. Martin is buying a pack of Camel cigarettes in a crowded cigar store in New York City (Thurber 11). The narrator points out that Mr. Martin does not smoke nor drink, and yet he is surreptitiously buying a pack of cigarettes (Thurber 11). Thurber also points out that Mr. Martin?s reason for the purchase is part of a plan that he has calculated a week before the opening of the story, to kill Mrs. Ulgine...