...Onumajuru Period 3B 9/2/12 The CatbirdSeat The CatbirdSeat to me was a somewhat intriguing story that is sure to make you ponder after reading it. However, the end left me confused, in the beginning, it started off good, and I understood the plot and the characters so far. With the story written in third person point of view, I like how the author didn’t give too much information based on the characters thoughts. From the thoughts, I understood somewhat of what was going on, but I didn’t know everything and was still puzzled, so it made me want to keep on reading. In the beginning of the story, I thought Mr. Martin was a boring, ordinary person that lives a redundant lifestyle. He had a regular routine that he followed every day. Mr. Martin doesn’t drink or smoke and he had never drunk anything stronger than ginger ale. I would never have thought he would ever try something daring or anything out if his comfort zone. Because of this, I was surprised when he actually drank and smoked in Mrs. Barrows’ house. Thurber gave me quite a shock with that, and I liked how he changed Mr. Martin’s character, giving his readers a surprise. Just when I thought I had Mr. Martin all figured out, the author throws something else in the mix changing my viewpoint on Mr. Martin. At first, I didn’t know what the story meant by “the catbirdseat”, but after reading it over, I finally understood the...
The well-known James Thurber drawings of women in the act of seducing, menacing, attacking, or intimidating men are matched in his short stories by accounts of the ongoing war between the sexes. Armed with sex appeal, defiant illogic, physical strength, and their institution of marriage, Thurber’s women seem to have the odds on their side. When a man as meek as Walter Mitty or Erwin Martin must deal with a female antagonist, only his imagination can bring him the victory.
In the battle recounted in “The Catbird Seat,” each side uses characteristic weapons. Mrs. Ulgine Barrows has gained her job initially by strength and sex appeal. At a party, she rescued the elderly Mr. Fitweiler from a large drunk and then charmed him into offering her the job. Once committed to her, he gives her complete control; he is completely at her mercy, playing Samson to her Delilah.
Initially, Mr. Martin intended to destroy Mrs. Barrows by brute force, hoping to avoid suspicion by such detective-story devices as the use of gloves, the choice of a weapon from the victim’s own apartment, and the deceptive clue of the partially smoked cigarette. He realizes, however, that violence is not his best weapon; indeed, that he cannot win in a game where the hefty Mrs. Barrows is at her best. It is his imagination, a talent that fortunately has remained hidden, which can defeat her. Therefore, like Walter Mitty, he becomes another person, but he reveals that personality only to Mrs. Barrows, who is therefore trapped into a seeming lie that can only be interpreted as madness. The silent self-control that makes Mr. Martin a good file clerk ensures his victory, for he is too disciplined ever to tell anyone what he has done, ever to reveal his secret self.
Although Thurber, like George Bernard Shaw, suggests that women are the stronger sex, it is clear that men can sometimes triumph if only they use the weapons that have always been available to the oppressed: craftiness, imagination, and the ability to keep a secret. Armed only with these, Mr. Martin has attained his victory.