What did you learn from The Catbird Seat?

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lynnebh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The more important question is, what did YOU learn?

This story, like many of Thurber's stories, presents the conflict between men and women in a humorous and ironic way. So, perhaps you may have learned that "Men are from Mars, women are from Venus." Do you think this story would have had the same impact if the two main characters, Mr. Martin and Mrs. Barrows, were of the same sex? Part of the tension involved in this story is directly related to the fact that one is a man and the other is a woman. In many of Thurber's stories, the man is weak and the woman is the seemingly stronger antagonist, and yet, somehow, the weaker character either outsmarts the seemingly stronger woman/antagonist or triumphs in other ways.

In this story, Mr. Martin is able to rid himself of the annoying Mrs. Barrows who has obviously been trying to rid herself of him in the workplace, but the outcome is not as we expected.

Is there a lesson in this story? I think it depends on your personal viewpoint, but for me, it is a warning to treat everyone with respect, even people that are not like you, even people that may not treat you with respect -- kind of "turn the other cheek" instead of seeking revenge. I don't think Mr. Martin would agree with me because he will go back to life as it was before Mrs. Barrows was hired, a happier man now that she is gone.

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