The purpose of any story is to reflect the author's message about life or the human condition, but some stories are written to entertain the reader.
One of the most important themes of this story is the age-old struggle of men and women to understand one another. Many of Thurber's stories explore this theme in a couple's marriage, but this story takes place in the workplace of the two main characters. Another difference in this story is that the traditional roles of men and women are reversed. Mrs. Barrows is depicted as more masculine than Martin in that she smokes, drinks, and likes baseball. She is a woman who exhibits a commanding presence. Martin is the total opposite of her, portraying a meek, timid, quiet man. An integral part of the battle-of-the-sexes theme is Thurber's belief that all people are essentially alone, unable to communicate with either men or women. We see this at the end when Martin, who has won out over Mrs. Barrows, is unable to celebrate his victory with anyone because he's totally alone.