From The Inside Out Essay, Research Paper
From the Inside Out
James Thurber?s short story ?The Catbird Seat,? begins in medias res. Thurber introduces us to Mr. Erwin Martin, a structured individual entertaining thoughts of casual lunacy amongst his otherwise pedantic existence. The suspense in the short story is triggered even before the plot unfolds for it is clear that Mr. Erwin Martin, an efficient twenty year employee at F&S, is varying from his normal everyday routine.
The suspense is set in motion the moment Mr. Martin purchases a pack of Camel cigarettes, as it was known at F&S that he ?did not smoke and never had.? (632) The suspense is magnified when Mr. Martin?s plan to ?rub out? Mrs. Ulgine Barrows is revealed. (632) It is not known at this time why he desires to take such an insane and drastic measure.
Mr. Martin?s animosity towards Mrs. Barrows is exposed when he ponders the first day he met her. He recalls from that day forward how she has consistently beleaguered him for almost two years. It is only through this flashback that Mr. Martin reveals the origin of his hatred for Mrs. Barrows. Her attacks on the integrity of F&S, her offensive manner and inappropriate use of meaningless jargon motivate the bizarre trial in the mind of Mr. Martin.
In the midst of the story, it is revealed just how a woman with such erratic behavior became a part of the team at F&S. It was Mrs. Barrows that rescued Mr. Fitweiler, president of F&S, at a party from a drunken chap who had mistaken him for a retired football coach. This unexpected meeting is the end for Mrs. Barrows.
It is clear that Mr. Fitweiler supports Mrs. Barrows activities. Mr. Fitweiler not only terminates members of his staff but also defends her ideas with ?the greatest faith.? (634) Mr. Martin, although unhappy with the changes initiated by Mrs. Barrows, knows complaining about her will accomplish nothing. It is not until her personal attack on his department that the plot to murder Mrs. Barrows unfolds.
On the day Mr. Martin plans to murder Mrs. Barrows, conflict turns to climax. In retrospect, it is understood now why Mr. Martin purchased the pack of Camels cigarettes. With the exception of sharpening an already sharpened pencil and polishing his glasses more than usual, Mr. Martin had a routine day, only sighting his victim once. When his attempt to murder Mrs. Barrows failed, given that he was unable to find an appropriate murder weapon, he amazes himself with his ability to quickly divert his plan to a less drastic measure. While the new plan still assures the end of Mrs. Barrows, it certainly relieves him of the insane desire to murder her.
Mrs. Barrows gets extreme pleasure in watching Mr. Martin smoke and drink. Mr. Martin?s suggestion that Mr. Fitweiler was an ?old windbag,? offended Mrs. Barrows just as he had expected. (636) He continued to harass her with the absurd idea that he uses drugs and plans to kill Mr. Fitweiler. Mrs. Barrows, being loyal to Mr. Fitweiler, demands that Mr. Martin leave immediately. Mr. Martin knows that his plan will be successful and uses her jargon ?sitting in the catbird seat? to proclaim his success. (636)
Mr. Martin?s prediction that Mrs. Barrows will immediately inform Mr. Fitweiler of Mr. Martin?s insane plot to murder him insures the end of all confusion at F&S. Mr. Fitweiler is certain that Mrs. Barrows has gone crazy, after all everyone at F&S knows that Mr. Martin is incapable of the acts accused.