The Night the Bed Fell

by James Thurber

Start Free Trial

What are the contrasts between the aunts' beliefs and reality?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Old Aunt Clarissa Beall can not only whistle like a man, with two fingers in her mouth, but also subscribes to the firm conviction that she is destined to die on South High Street. Her rationale for this strange notion is that she was born on South High Street, got married on South High Street, and so will one day die on South High Street. We never get to find out if Aunt Clarissa's premonition ever comes true. But the fact that the narrator describes her belief as a "crotchet" or quirk would seem to suggest that it doesn't.

Then there's Aunt Gracie Shoaf, who's got it into her head that burglars have been creeping around her house for the last forty years. If so, they must be the world's most incompetent burglars, because they never actually steal anything. But Aunt Gracie has an answer for that: she says that she always scares them off before they can take anything. Apparently, she does this by throwing shoes at them down the hallway.

Aunt Sarah Shoaf deals with the fear of burglary in a rather different way. She piles up all her valuable belongings outside her bedroom door with a note attached saying "This is all I have. Please take it and do not use your chloroform, as this is all I have." Aunt Sarah's worried that as well as being burgled, she'll have chloroform blown at her through the door. That neither this terrible experience nor the theft of her goods appears as yet to have happened would seem to suggest that Aunt Sarah's fears are somewhat exaggerated, to say the least.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team