, Research Paper
“The ghost that got into our house on the night of November 17, 1915, raised such a hullabaloo of misunderstandings that I am sorry I didn’t just let it keep on walking, and go to bed.” Humor is writing intended to evoke laughter. A writer can use many techniques to make his work amusing. James Thurber creates events in the story that make the reader realize how ridiculous the situation is and laugh. The main three situations that appear to be funny are: The boys mother throwing a shoe through a window, the grandfather chasing the policemen out of the attic, and the boy talking to the police in nothing but a towel, or his mothers blouse.
“She flung up her window of her bedroom which faced the bedroom windows of the house of a neighbor, picked up a shoe, and whammed it through a pane of glass across the narrow space that separated the two houses.” Here the mother is unable to call the police because she is afraid of the “buglers” that are downstairs so she throws a shoe through the neighbor’s window and breaks it. The neighbor comes running to the widow shaking his fist, mother finally makes him realize that there are burglars in the house and he goes and calls the police. This is funny because mother is hysterical and she is trying to get the neighbor to understand the seriousness of what is happening. Then mother starts to through another shoe “not because there was further need of it, but, as she later explained, because the thrill of heaving a shoe through a window glass had enormously taken her fancy.” This makes the situation even more humorous because she forgets all about the burglar.
” The cops must have realized at once that the indignant white-haired old man belonged in the house, but they had no chance to say so. ‘back ye cowardly dogs!’ roared grandfather. ‘Back t` the lines, ye yellow, lily-livered cattle!’ with that, he fetched the officer who found the Zither a flat-handed smack alongside his head that sent him sprawling. The others beat a retreat, but not fast enough; grandfather grabbed Zither’s gun from its holster and let fly.” Here grandfather believes that the policemen are deserters form Meade`s army, trying to hide in his attic. The ridiculousness of the situation makes it funny. The grandfather is making his dreams into reality by making himself believe that the cops are deserters. Another thing that makes it funny is the fact that grandfather does not remember what de did in the morning.
The narrator throughout the story is wearing nothing but a towel until the last part of the story when he puts on one of his mother’s blouses because he could not find anything else. After he puts on his mothers blouse a reporter comes up to him and asks what is going on. “I decided to be frank with him. ‘We had ghosts,’ I said. He gazed at me a long time as if I were a slot machine into which he had, without results, dropped a nickel.” (Page 821) When the reader pictures the boy standing there in his mothers clothes trying to be serious telling the reporter that there are ghosts in his house. This is humorous because the boy can not be taken seriously by the reporter because of his condition.
The situation in the story could have all been avoided if the young boy would have told his mother that is was not a burglar and that it was a ghost. “Herman and I hadn’t dared to tell her that is was not burglars but ghosts, for she was even more afraid of ghosts than burglars.” Mother would not have reacted in the way that she did if the boys would have told her. Mother would not have taken the boys seriously if they would have told her that it was a ghost she would have told them to go back to bed and not to worry about it. The boys knew that there was nobody downstairs but they let everything happen because they thought that their mother was afraid of ghosts.