Footnote on the future – James Thurber
James Thurber’s “Footnote on the future” is a first person limited narrative written as an account of the author on the topic of science and the future. The piece is written with the aim of entertaining the reader; many elements in it – comedy, colloquial and conversatonal language, irony, personification and unusual imagery - reflect this unified effect. It is important to remember that although the author criticises scientists, himself and the human race in general, he does so weakly and in an amicable and comical way. The theme of the piece is humour and this is achieved in several ways. One method used by Thurber is to include deliberately implicitly sadistic ideas into the piece. Thurber writes as if he were disappointed when he finds out that “neither the sun nor the mind of man is, after all, going out.” This achieves humour because it seems as though Thurber is in opposition to mankind and its future even though he is a human himself. In addition, amusing and ridiculous personification is included in the text: the universe is said to have “quit shrinking”; Thurber wishes that Halley’s Comet “deals California a glancing backhand blow before it goes careening off”; the sun-spots spread as said to have been “spreading as rapidly as ulcerative gingivitis”. Humour is also accomplished by Thurber when he ridicules himself in the opening paragraph of the piece. Whilst attempting to make himself seem important and chiefly intelligent, he implies that information is delievered to him rather than searched by him as shown in the quote: “word is brought to me”. However, following on from this forementioned quote, Thurber reveals that it is his “pageboys” that deliver information to him. The fact that page boys do not normally deliver “information”, but instead deliver wedding rings to a priest, implies that Thurber may have mistaken the function of page boys and has therefore ridiculed himself in an...
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