The Night the Ghost Got In by James Thurber Short Summary
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‘The Night the Ghost Got In’ is a humorous narrative by the American author and wit, James Thurber in which he narrates an imaginary account of an incident that took place one night during his childhood. This short story, inspired by events that happened on the night of November 17, 1915, is Thurber’s recollection of the amusing situation that they found themselves in, caused due to the misconceptions of the author and his unusual family.
Appearing at first as a horror story, the story soon takes on a humorous style as the events evolving one after the other lead to a complete disaster with shoes being thrown, windows being smashed and policemen being attacked. Adding to the comedy are the peculiar characters such as the narrator’s emotional mother, his bizarre grandfather, the useless cops, his overly terrified brother, and the strange neighbors.
- The narrator : James Thurber, the main protagonist as well as the one who narrates the incident.
- Herman Thurber : Narrator’s brother who generally sleeps uneasily, always afraid that something would “get him” in the night.
- Mother Thurber : The narrator’s mother is a sensitive woman, disorganized in some regards yet practical when she needs to be.
- Grandfather Thurber : The narrator’s grandfather whose bedroom is in the attic and is going through a phase where he imagines being in a war.
- Mr. & Mrs. Bodwell : The neighbors next door. Mr. Bodwell is subject to mild attacks, like most people whom the family knows.
- Joe : The only policeman referred to by name, He examines an old zither with another policeman
The narrator hears the sound of mysterious footsteps in the middle of the night
The story revolves around a situation where the narrator (standing in for Thurber as a young man) hears the sound of footsteps, downstairs around quarter past one in the night when everyone except the narrator is deeply asleep. Having just come out of his bath, he hears the sound of rushed footsteps coming from someplace near the dining room table.
Believing that those sounds might belong to his father and brother who were assumed to return home sometime soon from their visit to Indianapolis, the narrator steps out of his room with just a towel wrapped around his waist and examines the dining room area to make sure that it isn’t a burglar.
The narrator and his brother couldn’t figure out who was walking downstairs
Unable to see anything in the darkness of the night, he decides to wake up his brother Herman. As they both head towards the stairs leading to the dining area, the sound of the steps seemed to have faded. But then again, they hear the sound of someone running downstairs, and when they check they see nothing coming and assume it to be a ghost. Herman being horrified runs away and locks himself inside his room, slamming the door loudly, while the narrator shuts the door at the staircase, opening it a minute later to find no further sign of anyone he now surely suspects it to be a ghost.
Mother wakes up and calls for cops
All this commotion wakes up the mother. Turns out, she too heard the footsteps and assumed it to be the burglars. She decided to call the police. As their phone is downstairs, she throws a shoe at their neighbor’s bedroom window which awakens them and Mr. Bodwell, finally calls the cops. While the narrator and Herman were certain that the sound of the footsteps belonged to a ghost and not burglars, they hid the fact from their mother as she might get more agitated.
The police couldn’t find any suspects either
The police arrived straight away along with some journalists, and after surrounding the entire house, break through the front doors, searching for any sign of the reported burglar. The search did not help in finding any evidence of burglars. Determined to find something at least, the police continued the investigation, desperate for anything that they could have missed.
One of the officers managed to find an old instrument called a zither which Roy had won in a pool tournament and suspecting it to be something dodgy, questions the narrator regarding the same. However, it turns out to be quite pointless as the narrator reveals that it was just the place where their old guinea pig used to sleep!
Grandpa attacks a policeman
The policemen then hear the narrator’s grandfather turning in his bed and not knowing who it was set out to the attic looking for him before the narrator could explain. The narrator informed his readers that grandfather was going through a phase, he believed that he was at war in which General Meade’s army after being defeated by Stonewall Jackson, had begun to withdraw and leave.
As he was resting in the attic, the police barge in on him, thinking that they were the deserters of Meade’s army, he tried to attack and yell at them. Though the policemen immediately recognize him to be a family member, it was too late. The grandfather, in his alarming state, slapped one cop on the head and grabbing the gun of the one who found the zither, shoots at him as the others begin to pull back.
The police and reporters leave as they didn’t find anything
The policemen somehow managed to lock grandfather in his attic again and return to the dining area safely. Therefore, the entire night proved to be a terrible failure for them and though reluctant, the police finally decided to end their investigation. Feeling that something was still not quite right, they examine around a little more but then, after the narrator reveals to a reporter that the cause of all the commotion was ghosts and not burglars, after knowing this the reporters as well as the police, decided to finally call it a night and leave.
The actual reason for the commotion caused last night
The next morning, everything seemed to be normal. Grandfather, completely fresh and without any trace of the events of the previous night, questions the narrator about the presence of cops, scolds all the family members for not leaving a water bottle near his bed due to which he had to roam around in the night in search of water.
What they all thought to be the footsteps of ghosts and burglars, was the grandfather trying to look for water in the house. The main cause of the fiasco was nothing but the result of their misunderstanding and panic.
The Night the Ghost Got In is an excellent example of how a little thing can turn into a very big problem. This storyline teaches us that too much imagination will mislead the situation. Though the theme is trivial, the story provokes all elements of a horror drama that turns out to be a comedy instead.
The Night the Ghost Got In
46 pages • 1 hour read
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“The ghost that got into our house on the night of November 17, 1915, caused such a hullaballoo of misunderstanding that I am sorry I didn’t just let it keep on walking, and go to bed. Its advent caused my mother to throw a shoe through a window of the house next door and ended up with my grandfather shooting a patrolman. I am sorry, therefore, as I have said, that I ever paid any attention to the footsteps.”
The first paragraph of the story informs the reader exactly when the events of the narrative take place and summarize what transpires. Thurber keeps a casual and comically regretful tone that creates intrigue for the reader.
“I suspected next that it was a burglar. It did not enter my mind until later that it was a ghost.”
“Since the phone was downstairs, I didn’t see how we were going to call the police—nor did I want the police—but mother made one of her quick, incomparable decisions.”
Thurber’s mother displays an initial desire to apply rationality to the situation but realizing the option to do so is out of reach, she quickly turns to an impulsive decision. His mother’s actions escalate the already high emotions of their neighbor.
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The Night the Ghost Got In Essay
"Dis morning bime by," said his hired man Barney Haller, "I go hunt grotches in de voods." Such a statement set Thurber's mind on fire. "If you are susceptible to such things, it is not difficult to visualize grotches. They fluttered into my mind: ugly little creatures, about the size of whippoorwills, only covered with blood and honey and the scrapings of church bells." The grotches turn out to be nothing more than crotched branches of trees, but a world without grotches is a duller place. "There is no person," wrote Thurber, "whose spirit hasn't at one time or another been enriched by some cherished transfiguring of meanings"; and he gave as an example the youngster who thought that the first line of the Lord's Prayer was, "Our Father, who art in Heaven, Halloween be thy Name." "There must have been for him in that reading a...
The Night the Ghost Got In | by James Grover Thurber - Answer the questions | 10th English: UNIT 2 : Prose: The Night the Ghost Got In
Chapter: 10th english: unit 2 : prose: the night the ghost got in, answer the questions.
While reading questions:
a. Where was the author when he heard the noise?
The author was in the bathroom when he heard the noise.
b. What did the narrator think the unusual sound was?
At first, the narrator thought the unusual sound was a burglar. Later he felt it was a ghost.
c. What were the various sounds the brothers heard when they went downstairs?
When they went downstairs the brothers heard the footsteps circling the dining-room table like a man running and it started up the stairs towards them.
d. Who were the narrator’s neighbours ?
Mr. Bodwell and his wife were the narrator’s neighbours.
e. How did the Bodwells react, when a shoe was thrown into their house?
When a shoe was thrown into their house, Mr. Bodwell was shouting angrily. Mrs. Bodwell said that they would sell the house and move to Peoria.
f. What did the Bodwells think when they heard the mother shout?
The Bodwell’s thought that there was a burglar in their house.
g. What was the grandfather wearing?
The grandfather was wearing a long flannel nightgown over long woolen pants, a nightcap, and a leather jacket around his chest.
h. What conclusions did grandfather jump to when he saw the cops?
Grandfather thought that the cops were the deserters from General Meade’s army.
i. Were the policemen willing to leave the house?
No, the policemen were not willing to leave the house.
j. What made the reporter gaze at the author?
A. Answer the following questions in a sentence or two.
1. Why was the narrator sorry to have paid attention to the footsteps?
The narrator was sorry because his imagination of considering his Grandfather as a ghost
2. Why did Herman and the author slam the doors?
Herman and the author slammed the door because of their fear of the ghost.
3. What woke up the mother?
Slamming of the doors by the narrator and his brother woke up their mother.
4. What do you understand by the mother’s act of throwing the shoe?
Author’s mother did not want to take risk by getting down. At the same time, she wanted the police to come there. So, she threw the shoe at neighbour’s home to seek help.
5. Why do you think Mrs. Bodwell wanted to sell the house?
Mrs. Bodell wanted to sell the house because she was disturbed often.
6. How did the cops manage to enter the locked house?
The cops broke the front door. Thus they manged to enter the locked house.
7. Why were the policeman prevented from entering grandfather's room?
Grandfather mistook the police as General Meade’s men who were retreating. With that thinking, he harmed them. So, the police were prevented.to enter grandfather’s room.
8. Who used the zither and how?
The narrator’s pet Guinea pig used the zither. It used to sleep on it.
9. Mention the things that the grandfather imagined.
Grandfather imagined that the cops were General Meade’s men. He thought that they were beginning to retreat and even desert
B. Answer the following questions in about 100-150 words.
1. Describe the funny incident that caused the confusion in the house.
Prose : THE NIGHT THE GHOST GOT IN
Author : James Grover Thurber
Theme : Chaos in the house
Characters : The narrator’s family, Mrs. Bodwell, Joe, Reporter, Herman
Outline : Narrator - strange sound - thought - burglar or ghost - Mother - seek help -Bodwell - called police- Grandfather misunderstood - General Meade’s men - shot - grand father - walked - for water
It was about a quarter past one o’ clock in the morning. The narrator was in the bathroom. He heard a strange sound. He was scared. He thought it was a burglar or a ghost. So, he went to his brother, Herman’s room. They came out and looked downstairs. Nothing was there. They heard the footsteps circling the dining-room table like a man running and it started up the stairs towards them. So they rushed to their rooms and slammed the doors. The narrator’s mother was aroused by the sound. They thought that there was a burglar in the house. So she threw her shoe at their neighbour, Mr.Bodwell’s window to seek help. Mr. Bodwell called the police. When the police broke into the door, the narrator’s grandfather mistook them as General Meade’s men who were retreating. So he grabbed the gun from them and shot at the police. The police left the house empty handed finally. Next morning, grandfather told that he came to the dining room for water, the previous night. These are the incidents that caused the confusion in the house.
• A strange sound
• Call for the police
• Entry of the police
• Mystery behind the chaos
James Grover Tburber was an American cartoonist, best known for his cartoons and short stories. This lesson clearly tells that too much of imagination will, mislead the situation. Though the theme is trivial, the story provokes all elements of a horror drama.
A strange sound
It was about a quarter past one o’ clock in the morning. The narrator was in the bathroom. He heard a strange sound. He was scared. He thought it was a burglar or a ghost. So, he went to his brother Herman’s room. They came out and looked downstairs. Nothing was there. They heard the footsteps circling the dining-room table like a man running and it started up the stairs towards them. So they rushed to their rooms and slammed the doors.
Call for the police
Their mother was aroused by the sound. They thought that there was a burglar in the house. So she threw her shoe at their neighbour Mr.Bodwell’s window to seek help. Mr. Bodwell called the police.
Entry of the police
When the police broke open the door, the narrator’s grandfather mistook them as General Meade’s men who were retreating. So he grabbed the gun from them and shot at the police. The police left the house empty handed finally.
Mystery behind the chaos
The next morning grandfather told that he had walked in the kitchen to have some water the previous night.
It finally becomes clear that the narrator mistook his grandfather walking in the dark for a burglar and then a ghost. Their imagination rewarded them a sleepless night of chaotic activities.
Moral: What you see can be a lie; what you hear can be a lie;
what you investigate is real/true
2. Narrate the extensive search operation made by the policemen in the house.
Theme : Supernatural
Characters : Mr. Bodwell, Mrs. Bodwell, Joe, Reporter, Herman
Prose outline : police broke - opened - main door- search - operation - ruined - spilled - objects - drawers- furniture- ransacked - tom - suitcase- zither - Guinea pig - sleep-Chaos -grandfather misunderstood - deserters of general Meade’s army- grab -shot - Pitty - old man- great disappointment- cops - empty handed
The narrator and his family heard a strange sound at his home. They thought that there was a burglar in the house. They called for the police with the help of their neighbour. The police broke open the main door. During the search, the police ruined the whole house. They spilled all the things from the drawers, the windows were shut up and pulled down, furniture fell with dull thumps. The floor was ransacked and clothes were tom. While pulling a suitcase, they found a zither. Five or six policemen sprang for the attic door, where the narrator’s grandfather was sleeping. Chaos came when Grandfather mistook the police as General Meade’s men who were retreating. He managed to grab a gun from the police and shot at them. It led to crack the rafters. Smoke filled the attic. They all finally got downstairs and locked the door against the grandfather. It was a pity that the police could not get the gun from the old man. With great disappointment, the cops left the home empty handed.
• Search of the police
• Chaos in the attic
• Disappointed policemen
The narrator and his family heard a strange sound at his home. They thought that there was a burglar in the house. They called for the police with the help of their neighbour.
Search of the police
The police broke open the main door. During the search, the police ruined the whole house. They spilled all the objects from the drawers, the windows were shot up and pulled down, furniture fell with dull thumps. The floor was ransacked and clothes were tom. While pulling a suitcase, they found a zither
Chaos in the attic
Five or six policemen sprang for the attic door where the narrator’s grandfather was sleeping. Chaos came when Grandfather mistook the police as General Meade’s men who were retreating. He managed to grab a gun from the police and shot at them. It led to crack the rafters. Smoke filled the attic.
They all finally got downstairs and locked the door against the grandfather. It was a pity that the police could not get the gun from the old man. With great disappointment, the cops left the home empty handed.
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Forget Halloween, Bring Ghost Stories Back to Christmas
If your idea of festive joy is being haunted by past memories or driven insane by mysterious specters, have we got the tradition for you.
By Isabella Kwai
Reporting from London
At the most wonderful time of the year, there is one tradition that John Maguire remembers fondly: his Liverpudlian grandmother trying to scare the daylights out of him.
Without much money for Christmas celebrations, he and his family leaned instead on a centuries-old form of festive entertainment on the cold and dark evenings.
“We’d turn all the lights off, and put the candles on, and she’d tell us a story,” Mr. Maguire said. Not nice stories — ghost tales and other myths. “It used to keep me awake at night.”
Now a grown-up, 46-year-old creative director at Arts Groupie, a group that promotes theater and other arts, he wants more people to have that painful pleasure. This year he revived the tradition , popularized during Victorian times, of sharing ghost stories at Christmas. He and other authors read chilling Victorian tales aloud to a quiet, dim library, lit by (electronic) candles.
“Dickens didn’t have the luxury of television,” he said. He still holds a belief that, at a time when green screens can manifest every potential horror, “nothing is more chilling than your own imagination.”
Christmas can be a time of cheery joy, family fun and romantic high jinks, as many a Hallmark Christmas film suggests . But if that doesn’t do it for you — Bah! Humbug! — there is another way. Perhaps your idea of a getting into the holiday spirit is the haunting of past memories, a glimpse of a specter or being driven mad by former wrongdoings.
Families in Victorian England, where written ghost stories flourished in periodicals at Christmas, would have agreed. You know the most famous of them: the 1843 Dickens classic “ A Christmas Carol ,” in which ghosts help a miserly man change his ways. Its popularity is clear in the countless retellings onscreen and in theaters (including by The Muppets ).
But his other stories, many published specifically to be read at Christmas, may now feel more appropriate for Halloween. There is “The Signal-Man” (a railway worker is troubled by an apparition); “The Haunted House” (a group of friends renting a rundown manor realize they are not alone); and “The Trial for Murder” (the ghost of a man seeking justice haunts jurors at his own murder trial).
Plenty of others have contributed to the genre, including writers like Elizabeth Gaskell , Henry James and Montague Rhodes James. Editors populated their periodicals with stories of gothic horror, dreams and eerie events.
Though the origins are misty, experts say the tradition of telling ghost stories in the winter predates the Victorians. But mentions of the supernatural at Christmas became popular in the 19th century, as literacy rates improved and the traditions of the season as we know it were emerging — Christmas trees and cards were both introduced to Britain at the time. What else to do, on the long and dark nights as winter solstice closed in?
”The family would come together, they would play games, they would end the evening with a storytelling around the fire,” said Jen Cadwallader, a professor of English at Randolph-Macon College in Virginia.
The success of “A Christmas Carol” helped shift Yuletide ghost stories from the family parlor into the mainstream, and its publication prompted a flurry of Christmas novellas and short stories for a thirsty audience.
“It just reminded people that, hey, ghosts really sell at Christmas time,” said Tara Moore, a professor at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania.
(Though Americans share the fondness for “A Christmas Carol,” historians say Christmas ghost stories did not quite cross over with the same fervor, perhaps because such spookiness became more associated with Halloween there.)
Since 2005, the BBC has produced adaptations of ghost stories at Christmas; this year’s Christmas Eve entry stars Kit Harington of “Game of Thrones” in an adaptation of a tale by Arthur Conan Doyle. Theater companies have adapted ghost stories for stages like Shakespeare’s Globe .
But do people still want Christmas to be scary?
George Hoyle, who runs the South East London Folklore Society, thinks they do. Mr. Hoyle discussed the history of the tradition before reading a famous tale to audiences at a local cafe this month.
“It is a scary place, but it’s safe at the same time, because we are all together,” he said of contrasting the coziness of a warm cafe with the spooky tales. Mulled wine and minced pies were served.
Several of Mr. Maguire’s ghost story nights sold out, and the company also hosted a competition for locals to submit their own ghost tales to be performed.
“It’s mankind’s oldest form of entertainment,” he said. “It’s cold, it’s dark, and people want to have that kind of fear factor.”
Ghost stories tend to remind people to reflect on their morals, values and how precious time is spent, something that still resonates in today’s working world, said Professor Cadwallader. “We are as busy as the Victorians were — and we still find it comforting to step out of time for a little bit.”
So, gather some friends. Draw the blinds. Read some tried and tested chillers, like Elizabeth Gaskell’s “The Old Nurse’s Story,” or Montague Rhodes James’s “The Mezzotint.” Listen — what was that sound? A whisper? A guilty conscience? Or the sound of Christmas on its way?
Isabella Kwai is a breaking news reporter in the London bureau. She joined The Times in 2017 as part of the Australia bureau. More about Isabella Kwai
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‘ghost’ spotted haunting historic cemetery on google street view — see the spooky images.
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Call it Google un-Earthly.
An observant New Hampshire woman had online paranormal buffs quaking in their boots after seemingly spotting a ghost in a graveyard on a popular mapping service.
“I think I might have just found, like, a ghost, or Google Maps’ first ghost,” the footage’s uploader Amy Pendleton intoned in a suddenly viral TikTok clip that shows off the alleged map-parition, Jam Press reported.
Pendleton instructed viewers to Google the Gilson Cemetery in Nashua New Hampshire — apparently a veritable mecca for ghosthunters and other believers in otherworldly activity.
Pendleton toggles Google to a 360 panorama view and takes a stroll down the road, revealing a spooky figure with a blurred out face lurking behind a set of stone walls.
Zooming in reveals what looks like the head and torso of a middle-aged man leering at the viewer like something out of an occult horror movie.
And that was just the tip of the supposed paranormal ice-berg; In a followup clip , the footage shows another, more abstract shadowy entity standing behind the wall to the left of the original “ghost.”
“Wait is that another one? That’s a ghost for sure,” she exclaims as the iconic theme song from “Ghostbusters” kicks in.
The apparent search engine spectre caused a stir among paranormal activity adherents in the comment section.
“That’s what they call the grave keeper. He very fast,” postulated one viewer.
Another wrote, “I’ve seen this I think!!! Nice.”
Others speculated that the explanation was more rooted in reality. “May have just been someone walking,” theorized one realist while another wrote, “Are you sure that’s not just a blurry guy?”
Even Pendleton questioned the veracity of the so-called spectral event, writing: “Google often edits out a person caught by the Google car. The Street View blurring guy did a half-ass job. I mean is it a bush?”
Legitimacy of the sighting notwithstanding, Gilson Cemetery has long been a hub for so-called haunted phenomena, according to local media.
Fright-seers have reported everything from glowing lights to fog rolling in out nowhere like something out of “Dracula”; others said they heard screaming while some claim they were pushed by an unknown entity.
Some even claimed they saw some spooky passersby, including a woman in a white dress and a baby wandering around the tombstones.
Among the strangest sighting is an alleged hole in the center of the grave of Walter Gilson, who died on Aug. 28, 1811 at five years old.
Some have speculated that the crater was made by a bullet, while others believe it was drilled into the stone.
In November, social media sleuths were left baffled over an eerie Google Street View image that appeared to depict a nearly naked, floppy-armed creature in Utah.