The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – James Thurber

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a short story written by James Thurber. The story follows a trip to town by rural man Walter Mitty and his wife. Walter struggles to get the things done which his wife wants him to do, as he is prone to daydreaming. The story begins in daydream, “We can’t make it, sir. It’s spoiling for a hurricane, if you ask me.” Walter is dreaming about being a commander of a navy hydroplane, heading into a great storm. The problem is that hes driving at the same time. “Not so fast! You’re driving too fast!” Walters wife yells at him as he starts speeding up to cope with the winds, but he snaps out of it.

I believe that Walter’s daydreaming is caused by 2 things. The first is because he lives in a remote rural area his life/work could be quite boring. This boredom causes him to put himself into exciting, or dangerous, situations in his mind. “It takes two men to handle that bomber and the Archies are pounding the hell out of the air.” Walter imagines himself again as a war commander off to do something daring. I think Walter daydreams like this to give his life some interest. The second reason I think Walter daydreams is because of his wife. From the text we can tell that Walter’s wife seems to be ‘wearing the pants’ of the relationship, “You know I don’t like to go more than forty … Why don’t you wear your gloves. Have you lost your gloves?… I’ve been looking all over this hotel for you.” Seeing as Walter doesn’t have much of a say in his own life he turns to daydreams. “‘If you would take over, Mitty?’ Mitty looked at the uncertain faces of the two great specialists. ‘If you wish.'” Walter dreams himself as a great doctor who saves the live of a wealthy billionaire. Walter always puts hims in a place of authority in his dreams, being the one to lead or to save the day. I think he does this to make up for not being in control of his life.

I can relate to this short story because school days can be pretty monotonous. I sometimes find myself staring out the window thinking about nothing. The difference is that I can find joy in my friends at school, whereas Walter’s wife doesn’t sound very exciting. This story also relates to the real world as the working class makes up around 30% of the population. People in the working class can often find them in repetitive, low difficulty jobs that can be pretty boring. These people may try to seek ways of escaping their everyday lives such as Walter does with his daydreams

One Reply to “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – James Thurber”

  1. Billy, this was an interesting story to choose. You could strengthen this response by extending what you have learned by these details in the story. An additional aspect of the text, discussed in detail, would have also strengthened the discussion overall.

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