English Literature, the Secret Life of Sir Walter Mitty-James Thurber

Topics: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Walter Mitty, James Thurber Pages: 7 (1559 words) Published: March 22, 2013
Secret Life of Walter Mitty- James Thurber
***************************************************************** By P.Baburaj, Senior Lecturer, Dept. of English, Sherubtse college, Bhutan Author of: Language and writing, DSB Publication Thimphu

Communicative English, P. K. Books, Calicut
A perception on Literary Criticism, P.K. Books, Calicut
******************************************************************* -A popular American writer, humourist and cartoonist.
-A classical story.
-Traditional realistic fiction.
-A third person narration.
-Mixture of fantasy and realism.
-Can be called a best example of magical realism.
-Explores the concept of the “American Dream”.
-Introduces an average American male namely Mr. Mitty.
Average Americans try to escape from the world of reality and “try to live in the world of fantasy”.
To make life a successful one, one should keep a balance between reality and fantasy.It is difficult to live always in the world of reality and also it will be impracticable to fly always from the world of reality and resort always there in fantasy. As Robert Frost said in his eminent poem “Birches” one should be a swinger of the Birches therefore keep balance between reality and fantasy. Otherwise life will be painful and will be a total failure. Day dreams are equal to Mitty, Mitty escapes from his mundane life (dull and uninteresting) by resorting to elaborate fantasies.

The name Walter Mitty has become synonymous for day dreams. Mitty becomes a symbol for a person who enriches his private life with dynamic day dreams while working or while listening to every day conversations.Story focuses on escapism from mundane life into the world of fantasies.The theme of success and failures in life is examined through Mitty‟s inability to live an external life, which results in going back to an internal life full of dangers and heroism. -Stereotypical male and female roles.

Mrs. Mitty appears as a practical woman (women are more practical than men in America). This aspect of women‟s character is established in the story.Man has become weak ineffectual and overly in aggressive.

1. Five day dreams of Mitty.
1. In the first day dream, which comes in the outset of the story Mitty is presented as the Pilot of US navy hydroplane.
2. In the Second day dream, Mitty is a wonderful doctor performing a serious surgery (appears as a world famous author of a medical book titled “Streptothricosis”). -An expert mechanic to solve any problem within no time.

-Even not worried when he hears from the team of doctors that „A coreopsis‟ is formed on Mr.McMillan the patient.
3. In the third day dream Mitty is presented as a sharp shooter, a cool assassin, a convict who faces a great trail.
4. In the fourth day dream, Mitty is presented as a Royal Air force pilot -volunteering for a suicide mission to the ammunition dump and proudly says ‟We have only one life‟. 5 In the fifth day dream, Mitty is presented as an eminent soldier fearlessly facing a firing squad –inscrutable, disdain and proud to the last.


-Five triggers that stimulate Mr.Mitty.

1. Mitty‟s speed of the car above 55 km/phr.
2. Mrs. Mitty‟s reference about Dr.Renshaw; hospital, Mrs. Mitty‟s enquiry about „‟gloves‟‟.
3. Newspaper boy shouting at the top of his voice about the water Bury trail. 4. “Liberty” magazine with glossy pictures of war.
5. Smoke goes up from the cigarette.
3.Mitty brought back into reality by1. His wife‟s timely intervene when Mr.Mitty was driving his car above 55km/phr speed (Mitty was in hydroplane).
2. Parking -lot attendant warns Mitty when he is driving his car in wrong lane (Mitty was imagining he is a great doctor).
3. Sudden remembrance of “Puppy biscuits” (Mitty was in the imaginary scene of trail). 4. Mitty is brought back by his wife (Mitty imagines that he is a member of a suicide squad).
Mitty with his wings of fantasy moves in the realms of fantasy-story ends here, story begins and ends in fantasy, so...
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