What is the resolution in the story 'The Catbird Seat'?

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Ulgine Barrows' powers depend entirely upon her relationship with the head of the firm, Mr. Fitweiler. Mr. Martin is clever enough to see that he can save his beloved filing department from Ulgine Barrows' ravishment if he can disrupt her relationship with Mr. Fitweiler. Martin achieves this by making her look like a lunatic. He visits her unannounced one evening and puts on an act that convinces her he is a dope addict and a potential murderer.

"Here's nuts to that old windbag, Fitweiler," he said...."Really, Mr. Martin," she said, her voice and posture changing, "you are insulting our employer." "I am preparing a bomb," said Mr. Martin, "which will blow the old goat higher than hell." "Do you take dope or something?" Mrs. Barrows asked coldly. "Heroin," said Mr. Martin. "I'll be coked to the gills when I bump that old buzzard off." "Mr. Martin!" she shouted, getting to her feet. "That will be all of that. You must go at once."

The next morning Mrs. Barrows comes storming in and spends forty-five minutes with Mr. Fitweiler, telling him about Mr. Martin's behavior the night before. When Martin is called on the carpet, he is his usual respectful, mild-mannered self. Ulgine Barrows cooks her own goose when she bursts in on the two men and repeats the accusations she had been making shortly before. Then she suddenly realizes she has been tricked. She tries to make her employer see it too. But Fitweiler has known Martin for twenty-two years, and Ulgine Barrows hardly knows him at all. 

She glared at Mr. Fitweiler. "Can't you see how he has tricked us, you old fool? Can't you see his little game?" But Mr. Fitweiler had been surreptitiously pressing all the buttons under the top of his desk and employees of F & S began pouring into the room.

Fitweiler has decided that the woman's usefulness to the company is at an end. He has already been talking to his psychiatrist on the phone and has tentatively diagnosed Mrs. Barrows as having had a nervous breakdown due to overwork and that as a result she is suffering from a persecution complex accompanied by hallucinations. 

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vnessawong21's profile pic

vnessawong21 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

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The story "The Catbird Seat" is resolved with Mr. Martin triumphing in his conflict with Mrs. Barrows. 

Mr. Martin's plan works to perfection. All the odd uncharacteristic things he did such as having a smoke, drinking and claiming to do heroin come together to formulate the perfect plan. Mrs. Barrows truly seems insane when she confronts Mr. Fitweiler and claims Mr. Martin intends to blow up the office. This story is likened to insanity when she states Mr. Martin told her this when he was at her house drinking and smoking. Mr. Fitweiler immediately assumes Mrs. Barrows has snapped and has her removed from her position. So, the story concludes with Mr. Martin's ingenious plan to remove Mrs. Barrows. 

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