Theme and corresponding works in the short stories Secret Life of Walter Mitty and I’m Going!
August 24, 2012
Gender roles and marriage have been stereotyped for years. The husband earned a living while the woman stayed home did the cooking and laundry and raised the kids. Today, however, roles have reversed in many households. The husbands stay home and take care of the children, do the cooking, and run the errands while the wife earns the income. The biggest change over the years is that the husband and wife both work to make-ends meet. In comparing and contrasting James Thurber’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and Tristan Bernard’s, I’m going! I will show differences and similarities in the content, form, and style how these different stories both have the same theme. “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” by James Thurber is a short story that was originally written in 1939. This story revolves around the lives of two characters Mr. and Mrs. Walter Mitty and Mrs. Mitty’s constant henpecking toward Mr. Mitty. Mr. Mitty daydreams to remove himself from his wife’s badgering, He imagines himself in heroic scenes as the center of attention, as US Navy Pilot flying his crew out of a hurricane, then as renowned surgeon performing delicate surgery on a billionaire banker and a Royal Air Force pilot who has volunteered to be a suicide bomber in an effort to blow up an ammunition dump. “I’m Going” by Tristan Bernard is a short play written between 1866 and 1947. This play also revolves around two characters Henri and his wife Jeanne. Is a comedy that focuses on Henri and Jeanne arguing whether Henri should go to the races with Henri. Jeanne doesn’t really want to go to the races she just wants to give Henri a hard time about leaving her behind, lonely. Jeanne already has plans to do some sewing on her hats but she still gives poor Henri a hard time about leaving her and gambling away their money. I chose these two stories because they are comedies and comedy is my favorite genre. Both stories show how times have changed over time in regard to gender roles and marriage. In the story “I’m Going!” the wife’s role seems more traditional with the husband going out while leaving his wife at home. In “the Secret Life of Walter Mitty” Mrs. Mitty seems pretty much in control of things and more the head of the marriage. She is not only going with Mr. Mitty she is telling him everything to do, including telling him to put on his driving gloves. Throughout most of the 20 century the United States was characterized by a male-dominated labor force. The increase of women in the paid labor force has caused “public support for a child care to fade” (Brewster, 2000). The psychological wellbeing in the effects of marital status and martial quality are in question with the dramatic changes in gender roles and family structure over the past 30 years. “Rates of labor force participation among married women with young children almost doubled between 1970 and 1990” (Williams, 2003). No marriage is perfect. All marriages have their ups and downs through the years. “As couples experience stressful life events, addressing how couples adapt to stress is imperative for understanding marital development” (Neff and Broady, 2011). Men and women have different likes and dislikes and different interests. Both short stories discuss the theme of gender roles and marriage in the era they were written. These two stories have similarities and differences. One obvious difference is the content. “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” is a short story to be read by a reader; whereas, “I’m Going!” is written in the form of a play to be viewed by and audience. Both literary works could be acted out in front of an audience. James’ short story is the life in a day of the Mitty’s and Bernard’s play takes the form of a conversation between Henry and his wife. Both women are...
References: Brewster, Karin L., (2000). “change in gender-ideology, 1977-1996; The contributions of intracohort change and population turnover,” Journal of Marriage and the Family. Minneapolis:May 2000. Vol. 62, Iss. 2:pg.477, 11 pgs. Retrived from Ashford.edu/library on July 29, 2013.
Gina B., (2012). “Gender Role Reversal in relationships-Have Women Become the Men they want to Marry?” Retrieved from the internet at www.chicgonow.com/.../gender-role-reversal-in-relationships-have-Hodder
Clugston, R., Wayne (2010). Journey Into Literature. San Diego, CA, Bridgepoint Education
Thurber, J. (1942, March 18). The secret life of Walter Mitty. My world and welcome to it. New York: Hartcourt, Brace. (Original work published 1939)
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