James Thurber

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James Thurber was an innovator of using humor in writing. He took everything he did to a whole new level. These idea's came from his unique childhood and his very humerus family. It was mainly these things that shaped his writing. Thurber's writing style was made unique by his handicap, his families unique sense of humor, and his uncommon view on life.

Thurber was a normal child who did all of the things that a normal child would do. All of this changed one day when he was partially blinded by an arrow. His brother William was responsible for this tragic accident. R.E. Morsberger says, " When James was unable to participate in games and sports ( due to his childhood accident ) with other children, he developed a rich fantasy life, which would serve to inspire his later fiction" (22). This kind of accident would be devastating to any kid.

Not being able to play games and sports would leave you and your mind ample time to come up with very interesting topics. That is exactly what Thurber did. In fact, " Thurber's poor eyesight gave several times basic for misunderstandings" (Morsberger 22). As Thurber became older his eyesight became steadily worse. In the last 10 years of his life he became totally blind. His blindness did not keep him from his true love, which was writing. In all, his handicap affected his writing style a great deal. Without this handicap he probably would not have had such a vivid imagination. Without his imagination his writing would have been totally different. All in all though Thurber's family affected his writing just as much as his handicap did.

As much as Thurber's family affected his writing the two that did the most of this in his family were his mother and father." Mary Thurber, his mother, was a strong minded woman and a practical joker " (Morsberger 15). James' close family were all practical jokers. This is probably were he got his humoristic kind of writing style. He even uses his family in his stories. R.E. Morsberger says, " Thurber's father, who had dreams of becoming an actor or lawyer, was said to have been the basis of the typical small, slight man of Thurber's stories" (15). Mary Thurber was the biggest practical joker of the family. She often used jokes that involved elaborate disguises and sudden changes in identity. "Thurber often wrote about incidents in his own life" (Bryfonski 428).

One thing that was all ways around Thurber's life was confusion. Most of the confusion came from his mother. He used confusion to keep the readers attention and to keep them interested but most of all it was because he had been around confusion his whole life. He came to know and love it and that's why he incorporated it into his writing style. Dedria Bryfonski says, "Thurber also was inspired by confusion with language as in the story The Black Magic of Barney Haller, where his handyman Haller's gibberish leads Thurber into a linguistic wonderland" (428). It is pretty obvious that Thurber's family had a substantial impact on his writing. If he would have had a different family it would be easy to say that he would not have been considered "The outstanding American humorist of his century" (Riley 532).

Thurber also liked to write about the frustrations of the average man without stepping over the line. Dedria Bryfonski says, "Thurber was the author of many successful books that focus on the frustrations of average men faced with the overwhelming pressures of everyday modern life" (429). Many of these frustrations he saw through his father, which then transferred directly into his writing. This becomes overwhelmingly obvious when you take a closer look at his characters frustrations.

There were very many different views on Thurber's writing but more often then not someone had something good to say about his writing.

Comedy is his chosen field, and his range of effects is deliberately limited, but within that range there is nobody who writes better than Thurber, that is, more clearly and flexibly, with a deeper feeling for the genius of language and value of words. (Bryfonski 428).

There wasn't anyone else that lived in Thurber's time period that could write a humorous story the way that he could. When you read it, it's almost like he's sitting in front of you telling the story directly to you, using graphic facial expressions and different tones in his voice. James Thurber was a great American writer. His writing was mainly focused on pure humor most of time. His very unique style was imprinted on him through the earlier years of his life. Becoming partially blinded by a childhood accident played a key part in his writing style. The other key factor in his unique style was his family. Without his family's kind of antics and jokes there wasn't anyway his writing would have been the same. It's safe to say that Thurber's family left an indelible mark on his soul, as well as, his writing.

Outline Thesis: James Thurber's writing style was made unique by his handicap, his family's unique sense of humor, and his uncommon view on life.

I. Handicap A. Thurber was partially blinded by a childhood accident 1. couldn't play games so he developed a rich fantasy life 2. poor eyesight gave basis for misunderstanding 3. writing became sadder and more fatalistic in tone as career progressed 4. became totally blind in the last 10 years of his life but continued to work II. Family A. Thurber's family influenced his writing a great deal 1. Mary Thurber, his mother, was a strong-minded woman and a practical joker 2. Thurber's father, had dreams of being an actor or lawyer was the basis of the typical small, slight man of Thurber's stories 3. Mary Thurber was addicted to practical jokes involving elaborate diquises and sudden shifts of identity 4. Thurber often wrote about incidents in his own life 5. Thurber also was inspired by confusion which came from his mother III. Writing Style Bell ii A. Thurber liked to write about the frustrations of the average man without stepping over the line 1. "James Thurber was the unique, unpredictable wild card of American humorist, at once whimsical and the chronicler of everyday absurdities." 2. "I am not sure what poetic sensitivity is, but I am paretically certain Thurber has got it."