This story puts forward many confusing scenarios, all of which are humorous in their own way. These interrelated anecdotes serve to provide a very interesting and confusing evening in James Thurber’s household. It is only right at the end that the confusion gets sorted out. The resolution begins when James’s father asks, “What in the name of heaven is going on here?” He is the first person to have thought to ask this question, and from here, the happenings of that crazy night are “put together like a gigantic jigsaw puzzle.”
The confusion that had reigned supreme had peaked when James fell out of his bed, causing a loud thudding sound. His mother had been terrified that his father, who had chosen to sleep in a rickety old bed up in the attic, would fall during the night. When she heard the sound of James falling, she panicked, thinking that her husband had indeed fallen. James himself, being a deep sleeper, takes some time to realize what is happening, and his rather paranoid cousin, Briggs Beall, takes some time after waking up amid the pandemonium to realize that he is not in fact suffocating. In the midst of all this, the dog tries to attack Briggs, and it becomes one of those scenarios where there’s so much happening that no one can really understand what’s going on.
It is a simple question that puts everything right. When James’s father asks what is going on, all the pieces fall into place and, presumably, everybody explains their perspective on what happened in order for everything to be “put together.”