A Journey Through the Life of James Grover Thurber

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James Thurber is widely regarded as the most prolific humorist of the 20th century. His literary works, which include a multitude of forms from essays to novels and cartoons, were based mainly on human frailties, gender inequalities, and people’s issues with the new technologies of that time. Thurber was able to see humor in most situations, even though he lived during a very chaotic age, which included a world war and the Great Depression, and had physical limitations which made for a difficult life. This ability to find humor in the midst of sadness was one reason why he is universally recognized as the successor to Mark Twain’s title as the greatest American humorist. Unlike Twain, however, Thurber was also known for his cartoons, which he saw as his second career. James Grover Thurber was born in Columbus, Ohio on December 8, 1894. He was the son of Charles and Mary Thurber and had two brothers, William and Robert (“Thurber, James (Grover),” 432). The woman who delivered him was a major figure in his life. “Aunt Margery,” as she was known to Thurber, took the role of his mother for most of his childhood. She was such a major influence on him that he mentioned her in the preface of one of his pieces called The Thurber Carnivals (Bernstein, 14). When Thurber was only 6 years old, his brother William accidentally shot him in his left eye with an arrow during a game. Sadly, the incident left him blind in that eye (“Thurber, James (Grover),” 433). Because of Christian Science, his family did not want to go to an official doctor. Due to poor treatment, the wounded eye was left in its socket, causing Thurber’s right eye to suffer from a condition called Sympathetic Ophthalmia years later (Grauer, 5-6). He began to lose vision in his right eye. The condition stopped becoming worse until many years later and he became legally blind. (Morsberger, 602). Thurber
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