Daydreams in the Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber

In our present World. life can become routine and everyday activities can become dull especially if your life is dominated by other people. Reading a comedy lightens up the day. “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” by James Thurber. is a humorous portrayal of a pathetic. timid man who would daydream to escape the conflicts of the real world. He has a nagging Wife and life situations never go his way, He used his daydreaming as a way of looking into himself and imagining experiences that would allow him to be in control, adventurous and heroic.

This short story is so ielevant. even though it was written in 1939. because so many people today. live Vicariously through characters on television, books. and movies. This paper will identify some of the techniques used by the author to convey his message to his audience and will explain what each of the daydreams possible meant to the character. James Thurber‘s genre for this short story is comedy With a writing style that is a creative use of imagination and humor to develop a theme of adventure and escapism for the character.

We all know someone that spends a lot of time daydreaming and in constant thought about life so we can relate to the character of Walter Mitty.

The other characters in this story are: the domineering Wife. parking attendant. policeman. pedestrian. Dr. Renshaw. and the garage man Each of these characters has some kind of control of Walter’s life. all telling him what to do, While reading this story.

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you soon notice that Walter needs to work on his communications With people and in his marital relationship (ClugstonZOlO). There are five heroic daydreams during this story, The first daydream occurs when Mitty and his wife are driving to Waterbury. Connecticut He is a commander of an 87engine Navy hydroplane. He is shouting commands and at the end of the daydream he states. “The old Man ain‘t afraid of hell!” (Clugston. 2010). You can tell by the dialog that his crew admires him then he is awakened by his Wife‘s voice. she is saying, “Not so fast! You‘re drivmg too fast!”

He was drivrng 55 miles an hour and she likes to only drive 40 miles per hour. It is obVIous that his drivmg has led to this daydream. The second daydream begins after he has dropped his Wife off in front of the hair salon. She is nagging at him about not wearing his gloves to drive and reminds him to not to forget to buy his overshoes. While at a traffic light. he is putting on his gloves and does not notice the light turn green. A policeman yells at him for stalling at the light. As he starts off. he sees a hospital and his second daydream begins. In this fantasy. Mitty is a surgeon who Will be operating on a millionaire banker. Wellington McMiIlian. The banker is a friend President Roosevelt. All the doctors and staff are pleased to have Mitty there to assist and in the end. Mitty steps in and saves the day. This daydream shows the need to show he has the ability to master tough situations under stress and he is a hero.

This daydream is interrupted because a boy is yelling at him to back up. He has entered the parking lot through the exit lane. The attendant gets frustrated and tells Mitty to Just leave the car and he Will park the vechicle. Mitty thinks as he leaves the lot that “They are so damn cocky; They think they know everything.” (Clugston.2010). This triggers a thought about another time when he tried to take the chains off his tires and got them tangled. The mechanic grinned at him the same way. He also remembers that he is embarrassed because noW his Wife makes him take the car to the mechanic to have the chains put on or off. He has an idea that he will wear a sling so the think he is hurt instead of incompetent of putting or taking off tire chains. This situation. Mitty is helpless so much so that he makes up a reason to save face in front of men. The third daydream is triggered by a news boy shouting the headlines about a trial.

The typical courtroom drama clich/S©, “Perhaps this Will refresh your memory,” he is a great pistol shooter being interrogated in a courtroom. He states he is as good a shooter with his left hand as with his right hand. In this daydream. he is capable of handling himself by shooting accurately with both hands. Nnot week in this in abilities to shot. The Fourth daydream happens as he is waiting for his Wife in the hotel lobby. He notices a copy of Liberty magaZine with pictures of German bombers on it. Mitty thinks he is a captain in a war plane facing heavy enemy artillery. Again his Wife interrupts him by scolding him for not putting on his overshoes. He finally responds to her by saying.” Iwas thinking,” Does it ever occur to you that I am sometimes thinking.”  She repsonsed that she is gomg to take his temperature when they get home.

Here he finally responds back to her nagging and she feels something is wrong With him. He is sticking up for himself. His final daydream occurs when his wife leaves to go to the drugstore and leaves him standing next to a wall outside. He imagines he is standing before a firing squad and he is bravely facing his shooters. This final daydream he is brave and will not cower in front of the firing squad, In all of the daydreams .Mitty is admired. brave. and heroic which in real life none of these characteristics exist. His daydreaming is definitely an escape from the situations of society and his life. In today‘s society, Mitty would be considered someone of interest. Someone that represses Violence. As of late, we have seen people like Mitty go into the workplace and shoot coworkers or they find the Wife shot at home. All of his daydreams involve Violence or blood and the last daydream, could Mitty be ready to visit the psychiatrist and ask for help With his problems or is the forgetfulness a sign of aging?

When this was written. Mitty would have just continued daydreaming and lived his life out with his nagging Wife. James Thurber also uses wordplay in this short story. Examples of this a is nonsense words such as “tarpocketarpocketarpocketa.”; “obstreosis of the ductal tract”: “streptothricosis”: “coreopsis has set in”. This all adds to the humor in the story. In usmg the formalist approach to this essay, I revealed the setting in Waterbury, Connecticut, discussed the characters, espeCiaIIy Mitty and his Wife, and discussed how the wordplay made the daydreams seem more real and humorous. This story was told in the point of view of Mitty, third- person point of View. Mrs, Mitty‘s views are given through her speech in the story. I described the daydreams and how they revealed the opposite of Mit‘ty’s life. This is a stow that needs to be read many times to truly understand its many meanings.

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Daydreams in the Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber. (2022, Dec 11). Retrieved from

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