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the catbird seat summary (by James Thurber) - cat bird seat by James Thurber (short story)

Mr Martin is working a firm called F & S for twenty-two years. He is known to be a very concentrated and efficient worker, who never smokes nor drinks, and has two assistants, Miss Paird and Mr Hart. All his life, he has been devoting himself to the company F & S.


One day, a new worker, who was the special advisor of one of the presidents Mr Fitweiler, was employed. It was a woman of the name Miss Barrows. She has been reordering the whole firm and that’s why, many people have been fired or quitted their work, there. Mr Martin sees her as a threat to the company and he made a plan, a very well-thought-out plan (he went over it hundredth of times and took every possible risk into account) to kill Miss Barrows.

One late evening, he was at her apartment, ready for the kill. But when he got there, he realized that his plan is crazy.
Miss Barrows was preparing him and herself a drink and Mr Martin let it be and took a sip of his vodka-soda mixture. He also took out his cigarettes (he smokes secretly) and lit one. He began to tell weird things to Miss Barrows, such as blowing up Mr Fitweiler, insulting him and so on.
Miss Barrows was shocked by the things she heard him say and told him to go home. At the door, he made untypical gestures like placing the index finger in front of his mouth and saying to her she must not say anything to Mr Fitweiler.

The next day, Miss Barrows told everything to Mr Fitweiler. Of course, he did not believe her as she was speaking very nervously and Mr Martin is his best worker and the things she told to him are too untypical for Mr Martin.
Mr Martin went to Mr Fitweiler's office. The president of the company told Mr Martin what weird things Miss Barrows was claiming he did. He asked Mr Martin where he has been last night and he answered that he was at Mr Scharfft’s (who was the other president of the company F & S), which he really did and that he had a walk, read a magazine and fell asleep early last night (before 11 p.m.). Mr Fitweiler believed him with no doubt and excused for her manner.

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He told Mr Martin that Miss Barrows is suffering from psychological stress and that he also called his friend who was a psychiatrist that she should see him.
Miss Barrows burst into the room, yelling that Mr Martin is lying that he was playing a game etc. She was taken out of the buildings by three people and was fired (most probably).

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rawan on May 02, 2015:

But why he said that its crazy plan

Slaven Cvijetic (author) from Switzerland, Zurich on December 03, 2013:

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thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Do on November 23, 2013:

I am married to a Mr. Martin type. What power to come across as such a predictable personality and in truth, no one is so innocent in life. Very much like the Pollos manager in Breaking Bad. Those personalities can literally get away with murder. The smartest people do stay out of prison for a reason. The ability to stay quiet is the most difficult skill, especially when others are annoying or cross you.

Slaven Cvijetic (author) from Switzerland, Zurich on May 08, 2013:

Hi englishteacher! I wrote this summary a really long time ago, where I was quite busy with other stuff and I ought to have read through it one more time... I am grateful for your remark. I will correct the incorrect information and the confusing sentences. Thanks again!

Slaven Cvijetic (author) from Switzerland, Zurich on May 08, 2013:

Thanks, I will correct the mistake.

englishteacher on May 08, 2013:


I am a high school English teacher, and have a few corrections. Some of your information is incorrect. Also, it was difficult to understand what you were attempting to say at times. Just a recommendation...

Thank you in advanced

lalalalala on May 08, 2013:

hi, just a correction, Mr. Fitweiler did not go to Mr. Martin's office to address the current situation with Mrs. Barrow's. Instead, Mr. Martin was sent down to Mr. Fitweiler's office.

Slaven Cvijetic (author) from Switzerland, Zurich on December 18, 2012:

you're welcome!

mamoun on December 18, 2012:

thanks, that helped me so much

Slaven Cvijetic (author) from Switzerland, Zurich on September 01, 2012:

Thanks for the comment garage-remotes!

Rob Reel from Los Angeles, California on August 08, 2012:

what a great short story, I really enjoyed this.

Slaven Cvijetic (author) from Switzerland, Zurich on August 08, 2012:

@ dahoglund Thanks for sharing!!

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on August 08, 2012:

I haven't read thurber for a long time. A great humor writer. sharing.

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