The Night the Bed Fell

by James Thurber

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Which lines in the story tell us that the narrator's family has a tendency to jump to dramatic conclusions?

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One such line in the story is the following:

The racket, however, instantly awakened my mother, in the next room, who came to the immediate conclusion that her worst dread was realized: the big wooden bed upstairs had fallen on father.

In the aftermath of the almighty great crash, the narrator's mother has immediately jumped to the conclusion that a large wooden bed has fallen right on top of her husband. Mother is in a state of panic; she immediately calls out for her son Herman to go with her to help his "poor father." But Herman keeps on trying to assure her she's alright, thinking that she's experiencing a bout of hysteria.

But it would seem that jumping to conclusions runs in the family, as the narrator's nervous first cousin Briggs Beall also gets the wrong end of the stick. Woken by the sound of Herman yelling at his mother that she's alright, Briggs is convinced that he's suffocating and that everyone else is trying to bring him out of it.

Briggs has a glass of spirits of camphor by his bedside that he can sniff in order to revive himself. This is because he's worried that he'll die of suffocation in his sleep if he isn't woken up at regular intervals. When he hears the sound of Herman yelling, he immediately thinks that his time has come and uses the glass of spirits of camphor in a completely different way to how he originally intended:

Briggs, awakening in the midst of loud shouts of fear and apprehension, came to the quick conclusion that he was suffocating and that we were all trying to “bring him out.” With a low moan, he grasped the glass of camphor at the head of his bed and instead of sniffing it poured it over himself.

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