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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

by James Thurber

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Analysis

Literary Devices in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

We first hear this sound in reference to the "Navy hydroplane" that Walter steers through a violent storm; he imagines it's the "pounding of the cylinders" (1). Later, in Walter's fantasy surgery,...

Setting

Of course, Walter's fantasies take us elsewhere, but we'll get to that in a minute. Waterbury is a pretty big city in Connecticut. Though Thurber never mentions the state, just the city, we can tak...

Narrator Point of View

"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" is told by an uninvolved third person narrator, though that point of view is limited to Walter Mitty. We follow Mitty through his day, and we only get to see or kn...

Genre

It's hard to deny the comic element in "Walter Mitty." Endearing, bumbling Walter Mitty, imagining himself a hero or surgeon or crack shot – it's funny. The over-the-top romanticism of his fa...

Tone

As we discuss in "Genre," there is a clear comic element to this story. Just think about all the melodrama of Mitty's fantasies. There's definitely a sense of authorial amusement to be found here,...

Writing Style

Fittingly, we might add, since this is a story about playful imagination. In "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory," we talk about the effect of Mitty's colorful, made-up jargon: a disease called "coreopsis,...

What's Up With the Title?

The title of this story reminds us that, not only does Walter Mitty spend a good part of his life fantasizing, but that his dreams are very much a secret from the rest of the world. Consider the co...

What's Up With the Ending?

As Mrs. Mitty steps into the drugstore to grab some last minute item, Mitty stands against the wall outside and imagines that he is standing before a firing squad. This is the last of his five fant...

Plot Analysis

This is the story of a naval commander.James Thurber tricks us in his opening paragraph; this sounds like a story of fantasy.It's actually the story of an ordinary man in conflict with the ordinary...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Booker's discussion of comedy doesn't include the same easily-discernible stages of his other type of plots. Instead, he examines a few different types of comedies and the typical traits they featu...

Three Act Plot Analysis

"Walter Mitty" does not fit the three-act plot breakdown. Act I ends when the hero is fully committed to his journey, yet Walter Mitty never fully commits to any journey. You could argue that his "...

Trivia

Superman was introduced to the world the same year Thurber created Walter Mitty. (Source)"Mittyesque" can be found in the dictionary! (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Four...

Steaminess Rating

Yes, feel free to use this as a bedtime story for those kids you babysit. "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" is sex-free and all-ages appropriate.

Allusions

Liberty Magazine (12) Franklin D. Roosevelt (6)The Waterbury trial of 1938 (9)"Auprès de ma Blonde" (13)

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