Foothill College Spring Quarter
The Genius Within
“The Catbird Seat” by James Thurber is a short story about a battle of wills between Mr. Martin, head of the filling department at F&S firm, and Mrs. Barrows, the firm’s efficiency adviser to the President, Mr. Fitweiler. Mr. Martin is quietly apprehensive about Mr. Barrow presence; she has threatened to reorganize Martin’s precious and efficient department. Mr. Martin uses his quiet and unassuming reputation to plan the perfect masterpiece to get rid of Mrs. Barrows. By relying on his stereo-typical behavior, Mr. Martin's victory results from both chance and careful planning. “In The Catbird Seat', Mr. Martin’s coworkers and boss are complacent about his seemingly predictable and calm behavior, a factor that become part of his planning. Thurber makes us believe we can anticipate Mr. Martins every move. Throughout the story, Thurber gives us Mr. Martin's daily routine of walking home from work every day and having dinner at Schrafft. At work, he always maintains an outward appearance of polite tolerance; anything different in his behavior would be suspicious to Mr. Martin’s peers. His coworkers, along with his boss, Mr. Fitweiler, believe that Mr. Martin is flawless, Fitweiler says, “Man is fallible, but Martin isn’t.” Even in staff meetings Martin he is praised as a model employee: Fitweiler says, “Our most efficient worker neither drinks nor smokes.” Since Mrs. Barrows has been hired as advisor, she has chipped away at long-time employees and fearing that he is next, Mr. Martin creates a plant to murder her. For the past two years, she has bait him yelling unprofessional idioms at him to catch him off guard; like, “Are you lifting the oxcart out of the ditch? Are you tearing up the pea patch? “Are you scraping around the bottom of the pickle barrel?” “Are you sitting in the catbird seat?” If you were a baseball fan the rhetorical question would have...
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