James Thurber-Humor in Fiction

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James Thurber was one of the most influential and unforgettable writers of his kind. He made modern-day problems seem preventable in the minds of people, and he tried to make them realize that the problems had to have a source. Thurber wrote of people struggling with day-to-day life that was once trouble-free and drew his ideas of humanity losing the direction it once had in the past. He attributed this change to wandering minds and ignorant actions on man's behalf. James Thurber used his artistic and creative abilities to make a point of human shortcomings through ingenious writings and comical sketches.

James Oliver Thurber, a satirical, Ohio-born writer, was born in Columbus on December 8, 1894. Thurber wrote of himself that he "was born on a night of wild portent and high wind…The house, which is still standing, bears no tablet or plaque of any description, and is never pointed out to visitors" (Barbieri 8:18). The Thurber family was never seen as the typical American family. They always found themselves in peculiar situations. Thurber's father had a passion for politics but no talent for holding an office for any length of time. His mother could have been called the comedian of the family before James came along. In front of guests she came down the stairs explaining that she had been locked up in the attic since she was in love with the mailman, for instance (Barbieri 8:18). Luckily, Thurber had inherited the ability to see the hilarity in the odd predicaments that characterized him throughout his life. Once when he was six, Thurber's older brother shot a stray arrow during a game of William Tell that took the vision in his left eye.

After high school, he went to Ohio State University in 1913; however, he took three years off during his course of study: one for reading and two for war service. Because of his eye injury during his childhood, the Army refused to accept him. Not wanting to return to school but being unable to join the military, he spent...
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