Why doesn't Mr. Fitweiler believe Mrs. Barrows' version of the story in Thurber's "The Catbird Seat"? What behaviors make her less credible?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As the main character in James Thurber's short story, "The Catbird Seat," Erwin Martin is an old fuddy-duddy who is a creature of habit and set in his ways. His boss, Mr. Fitweiler--though enamored with Ulgine Barrows--cannot believe the stories that she has to tell about Martin. Martin is a loyal, if not extraordinary, employee; Ms. Barrows is still relatively new to the company and has a habit of being somewhat flamboyant in her speech and actions. Although Ms. Barrows has risen quickly within the ranks, it is Martin's longevity and predictability which makes him more reliable in Fitweiler's eyes. It is absolutely impossible for the boss to believe the stories about drugs, booze, cigarettes and murder that Ms. Barrows presents. Martin is intelligent and, surprisingly, crafty enough to recognize this fact, and the plan that he quickly concocts works perfectly. When Martin explains to Fitweiler that the strain of the job has affected the woman, it seems plausible. When Ulgine flies into a rage, the boss assumes that she has suffered a nervous breakdown, and Martin is now in the catbird seat--and rid of his nemesis.

henry-leyx | Student

I am not sure, but I guess that the focus point in Thurber's "The Catbird Seat" is the men's incapability to understand what's not obvious. Fitweiler cannot see through his vision of reality, even if it's not the right one.

Ultimately Mr. Fitweiler is not able to call what he believes in question and doesn't even check out if what Mrs. Barrows says it's true.

People have no interpretative skill towards the reality and this is where Thurber's humor take place from.