Monday, June 27, 2011

"A Box to Hide In" by James Thurber

James Thurber always manages to bring a smile to may face. It's been a couple of years since I read "The Unicorn in the Garden" (my post is here), so I was delighted to find Thurber's "A Box to Hide In" featured as last week's Library of America story.

This story opens with a man asking a grocery clerk for a box - one large enough to crawl into and hide. When none is available,  the question is posed (unsuccessfully) at several other groceries.  One confused clerk asks "Whatta you mean?" and our narrator responds,

"It's a form of escape, hiding in a box. It circumscribes your worries and the range of your anguish. You don't see people, either."

The next morning as the cleaning lady arrives, our narrator imagines a scenario (think Walter Mitty) in which he barks or laughs from inside the box as the unsuspecting woman walks past... precipitating her fatal heart attack.

As the story closes, a box has yet to be located.

"I haven't found one yet, but I still have this overpowering urge to hide in a box. Maybe it'll go away, maybe I'll be all right. Maybe it will get worse. It's hard to say."

In just three pages, Thurber has created a story with universal appeal. Haven't we all dreamed of escape at one time or another?

The story may be read here. Short Story Monday is hosted by John Mutford at The Book Mine Set.


  1. Sounds like a great short story.

  2. This sound good and yes, I've dreamed of escaping on more than one occasion!! :D

  3. I sure have dreamed of escaping but it best to face life's problems head on. I have this story on my Kobo to read.

    I reviewed the same short as John this week. LOL!

  4. Kathleen - It is... fun, very short, and something everyone can relate to!

    Staci - Sometimes it's fun to dream of escape :-)

    Teddy Rose - You and John have made me curious...I'm going to have to read that story!

  5. It's interesting that we can all relate to the wanted to escape bit, but hopefully none of us have wanted to do so by crawling in a box. It seems Thurber is pointing out our folly for not always following Teddy's advice.

  6. John - Definitely! Teddy's got it all together :-)

  7. I read this one last week. Good little story, isn't it?

  8. Julie - It is! I missed Short Story Monday last week... off to look at your post.


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