"Justice Prevails" Critique of THE CATBIRD SEAT by James Thurber

Essay by sum1writingUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, April 2004

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Justice Prevails

In The Catbird Seat, James Thurber tells the story in a way that encourages the reader to take the side of the "villain." Normally, the victim of a given circumstance is the person who is "wronged." However, this particular story makes the reader appreciate Mr. Martin's character, agreeing with the idea that Ulgine Barrows must, at all costs, disappear. Although it is Martin who is deceiving in the end, the reader ultimately feels relieved to see him thinking fast and turning the table when unusual situations arise. Thurber's careful use of language, along with the imaginary jury trial, convinces readers that Martin's Murder plan is justified.

Thurber's choice of wording throughout the story persuades the reader away from having any sympathy for Ulgine Barrows. As soon as the first encounter between Martin and Ulgine is revealed, the reader instantly gets a feeling of annoyance for Ulgine: "He had given her his dry hand, a look of studious concentration, and a faint smile.

'Well,' she had said, looking at the papers on his desk, 'are you lifting the oxcart out of the ditch?'"(pg. 368) She does not appear to be trying very hard to reveal friendly qualities, only criticism toward a man that she is meeting for the first time. Another way that Thurber makes Ulgine appear less appealing is the descriptive way that her words are told: "Her quacking voice and braying laugh had first profaned the halls of F&S on March 7, 1941..."(pg.368).

With the use of the imaginary jury trial, Thurber keeps the reader convinced that Barrows is a bad person with nothing but the most unkind intentions: "A gavel rapped in Mr. Martin's mind and the case proper was resumed. Mrs. Ulgine Barrows stood charged with willful, blatant, and persistent attempts to destroy...