The Catbird Seat

by James Thurber

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Topics for Further Study

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If ‘‘The Catbird Seat’’ were set today instead of in 1942, who might play the Red Barber role? Name a few famous entertainment or sports figures that use unusual language or unique ways of expressing themselves. Give an imitation of these distinctive qualities.

Interview someone who works in a business office. How has the office environment changed since Mr. Martin worked for F&S? How has it remained the same? You might consider relationships between bosses and employees, relationships between employees, and hiring and firing procedures.

Mr. Martin is an oddity because he does not smoke or drink. Does the story ultimately present Martin’s abstinence as a weakness or a strength?

Investigate the psychological phenomenon of the ‘‘persecution complex.’’ Does Mr. Fitweiler’s explanation for Mrs. Barrows’s behavior seem plausible?

Search for the phrase ‘‘catbird seat’’ using two or three Internet search engines. How many different publication titles and product names include the phrase? Which of these uses seem to be based on an understanding of the phrase’s origin?

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