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Themes

The title character of "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" retreats into fantasy as an escape from his mundane reality. In the real world, he is ordinary, passive, and sometimes inept. In his fantasies, Mitty is strong and decisive, and possesses every good quality he lacks in reality. The story offers a somewhat comic perspective on the matter: adorable old Walter Mitty and his endearing, amusing fantasies. On the other hand, there may be a darker element to this tale, as we know that poor Walter Mitty will never achieve that of which he dreams.

Questions About Versions of Reality

  1. Does Walter learn anything from his imaginings?
  2. What does Walter want in life? Does he expect to get these things through his fantasy world?
  3. What do all of these fantasies actually do for Walter Mitty?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The story's plotline is dominated by Walter's fantasies and merely interrupted by real life.

The story's plotline is dominated by real life and merely interrupted by Walter's fantasies.

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