Introduction & Overview of The Catbird Seat

This Study Guide consists of approximately 34 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Catbird Seat.
This section contains 215 words
(approx. 1 page at 400 words per page)
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The Catbird Seat Summary & Study Guide Description

The Catbird Seat Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Bibliography on The Catbird Seat by James Thurber.

First published in the November 14, 1942, issue of the New Yorker, "The Catbird Seat" also appeared in Thurber's 1945 collection, The Thurber Carnival. Since that time, the story has been published in dozens of anthologies for high school and college students, and Thurber has been called America's most important twentieth-century humorist.

The story chronicles a battle of wills between the fussy Erwin Martin, head of a filing department, and Ulgine Barrows, the firm's efficiency expert who threatens to bring change into Martin's wellordered existence. With comic irony, Martin uses his reputation as a meek and pleasant man against the flashy Mrs. Barrows. The character of Martin is typical of what critics have called Thurber's "Little Man," a common working man who is baffled and beaten down by life in United States in the twentieth century.

The title "The Catbird Seat" derives from the speech patterns of Red Barber, the radio announcer for the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team in the 1940s. Thurber, a devoted baseball fan, was among those who enjoyed the colorful expressions Barber sprinkled throughout his commentary. As Joey Hart, Martin's assistant explains, sitting "in the catbird seat" means being in an advantageous position. Although it is Mrs. Barrows who seems strong and bold and powerful, it is Martin who wins in the end.

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This section contains 215 words
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The Catbird Seat from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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