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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 Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. "Walter Mitty" was published in 1939, the year after World War II began. Can you see the influence of this major event in the story at all?
  2. Is "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" ultimately a funny or tragic story? Does it have to be one or the other?
  3. One point of view on this story is that it's not meant to be analyzed or picked apart in terms of symbols or metaphors. Instead, it's just a cute story that reflects something we've all experienced at one time or another in our lives: the need to escape into fantasy. What do you think of this argument?
  4. Scholar Carl Sundell says that the reader identifies with Walter the way they do with Salinger's hero Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye. What do you think of the comparison between these two characters? (Source: "The Architecture of Walter Mitty's Secret Life," by Carl Sundell.)
  5. What makes "Walter Mitty" such a famous and well-loved short story? Why is it so special?
  6. Does Walter Mitty remind you of other classic literary heroes?

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