2 Meet James Thurber 1894-1961 Born in Columbus, Ohio BEFORE YOU READMeet James ThurberBorn in Columbus, OhioLost an eye in a childhood accidentIn 1927, he joined the staff of The New Yorker, a famous magazine of the timeWas also a talented cartoonistFrom , he wrote a book every year or twoBest known for his short story, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” about a timid man who daydreamed of taking part in heroic adventuresHis later years were marred by unhappiness and ill health (also lost sight in his remaining eye)Click the picture to learn about the author.
3 Does everyone embrace new technologies with open arms Does everyone embrace new technologies with open arms? In Thurber’s story, cars and electricity are relatively new technologies. Before you read the story, think about the following questions:Why might people fear a force or machine that they do not fully understand?What technologies have been introduced in your lifetime?
4 Building BackgroundIn the early twentieth century, cars were viewed as exotic and unpredictable machines. Early cars ran on steam and inspired fears about explosions. Later cars had to be started manually, using a crank that the motorist inserted into the front of the engine and turned forcefully until the engine started.
5 Building BackgroundIf the car backfired, the crank could kick back with enough force to break bones. In addition, early cars regularly got flat tires and lacked automatic transmissions, which allows the driver to simply put the car into drive. Early cars were so unreliable that many people made jokes about them, and numerous laws required drivers to signal warnings to others on the roads.
6 Setting Purposes for Reading As you read this selection, think about why some of the characters choose to try to trick another character rather than deal with issues directly.
7 Setting Purposes for Reading DialogueDialogue is conversation between characters in a literary work. Besides adding interest, dialogue can contribute to characterization by revealing aspects of a character’s personality. As you read “The Car We Had to Push,” notice how the characters’ dialogue reveals aspects of their personality and attitudes.
8 Making Generalizations About Characters When you generalize about a character, you draw upon various details to make a general statement about that character. Such conclusions can enhance the richness and meaning of a story. As you read, pay attention to details that lead you to make generalizations about characters.
9 repercussion n. an effect or result of some action (p repercussion n. an effect or result of some action (p. 112) The repercussions of cheating can be very serious.exhortation n. a strong appeal or warning (p. 113) The exhortations of the crowd spurred on the runners.Click a vocabulary term to listen to the definition.
10 contend v. to declare or maintain as a fact; argue (p contend v. to declare or maintain as a fact; argue (p. 114) My mother contends that I ate raw turnips as a child.lucid adj. clear-headed, mentally alert (p. 116) My father is lucid even when half-asleep.Click a vocabulary term to listen to the definition.
11 SummaryThe narrator describes his family’s coming to terms with technological advances. His mother was superstitious of telephones, and his grandmother thought electricity leaked into the house. His family had a car that had to be pushed. One day his brother rigged the car so that a bundle of kitchen items would fall out and told his father the engine had fallen out. The car was finally destroyed when a street car ran into it.