The Catbird Seat Essay

Omar Montenegro English 1b Foothill College Spring Quarter Ms.

Ogle Essay #1 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.

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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 meaning but each annoying question pushes Mr.

Martin to his boiling point. Mr. Martin knows no will suspect a polite, milk-drinking man, one who hasn’t been known to drink nor had a cigarette in the past 22 years, of murdering Ms.

Barrows. He sweats over the details, going over them while drinking his glass of milk every night before going to bed.On the night of the murder, due to what can be considered as part of plan or just straight dumb luck, Mr. Martin changes his motive of killing Ms. Barrow. Finally the day has arrived. He is nervous, sharping pencils that already were sharpen, polishing his glasses more than once. After dinner at Schraffts, Mr.

Martin visits Ms. Barrow’s apartment. Again, he’s nervous, going over the details of his perfect plan .

While in the apartment, Ms. Barrows is in the kitchen making drinks (highballs) while Mr. Martin is looking a murder weapon but fails find anything useful.When Mrs. Barrows reappears with the drinks, Mr. Martin realizes that instead killing her, he can frame her. The planet were aligned, the drinks made, the pack of smoke in is coat, it was to perfect.

He decides to behave out of his well-known character, realizing Mrs. Barrows will report him to their boss. Mr. Martin tells Mrs. Barrows that he is going to blow up Mr. Fitweiler; as he manages to down the whisky and soda drink and having a cigarette. He tells her, “I am preparing a bomb which will blow the old goat higher than hell. ” Is Mr.

Martin suffering from alcohol poisoning? No, this is all part of the plan; he continues to alarm her by pretending to have a heroin addiction. Mr. Martin says, “I’ll be coked to the gills when I bump that old buzzard off. ” Ms. Barrow is outraged by Mr. Martin and kicks him out of her apartment. Mr.

Martin hopes no one believes his outrageous story would, when, Mrs. Barrows to reports everything to Mr. Fitwieler.

The following morning Mr. Martin gets to the office at eight-thirty as usual. A quarter to nine arrives, and as predicted by Mr.

Martin, she bolts into Mr. Fitwieler’s office to unravel his plan to kill him. Mr. Fitweiler has the option to either believe Mrs. Barrows or Mr. Martin on what had transpired between the two in determining which one will remain employed at F ;amp; S.

But Fitweiler knows better. “I regret that this happened,” he tells Martin. Mr. Fitweiler can’t believe that neat, quiet, attentive Mr. Martin might capable of such a horrifying act. Mr.

Fitwieler tells Martin, “I shall ask you to dismiss it from your mind. ” Mr. Fitwieler decides Mrs.

Barrows needs psychological help and terminates her employment at F;amp;S, and Mr. Martin has won the battle of wills. By relying on both chance and careful planning or dumb luck, Mr.

Martin, head of the filling department at F;amp;S, victorious over Mrs. Barrows when she has threatened to reorganize Marten’s department. Martin’s plan kept us guessing, is he really going to killer her? How is story going to end now? But, Mr. Martin can now relax for this beloved filling department will not be chip away, for he is seating “the Catbird Seat. ”


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