The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Readers Reflection
English 125 Introduction to Literature
Instructor Clinton Edwards
April 21, 2014
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Readers Reflection
Walter Mitty, who in this story, is an imaginary character however, his character does remind me of myself and many other individuals that I know. The main focus of the story is Walter's imaginary behavior or day-dreaming. Walter tends to get distracted from the real world and his normal life, sent into day-dreams in which he is more important. Walter uses his everyday interactions to make a fantasy world in which he is the main character during a drastic time, making him feel more important. While Walter goes in and out of day-dreams throughout the story he is not totally disconnected from reality but uses these day-dreams to cope with everyday situations.
This literary work captured my interest because Walter , who is introduced as an average American, would escape his ordinary everyday life by resorting to elaborate day-dreams and fantasies. The overall theme of this literary work was imagination, in which we, as the reader, dove into Mitty's day-dreams. This literary work reminded me of many of times that I have jumped into a day-dream during a particular event that was happening in the real world. While Mitty's everyday life seemed bland and mundane, his day-dreams were fantastic and interesting enough to keep the story going. While jumping into the real world of Mitty's life, I was constantly interested and awaiting his next day-dream to see what was going to happen next.
Another way to look at the character’s actions is to consider that this may not be so much a case of daydreaming, but a matter of escapism. Escapism is known as one’s tendency to seek distraction from the unpleasant realities or situations of their life. Mitty's daydreaming provides escape from the frustrations of his real life and puts him in situations where he is respected, well known and feared by his peers contrary to how he might be treated in reality. In his mind he is a genius and somewhat dangerous; a hero and gentleman by any means. I love how he regards himself in high standards, according to his imagination, regardless of what his realistic character might be. “The greatest pistol shot in the world thought for a moment”, suggests his imaginative perspective of himself. (Clugston, 2010, p.7)
One literary approach that is used in critical essays is the reader-response approach."This approach is a widely used perspective in literary criticism. But, as explained above, you must not depend solely on your feelings and opinions as you develop a critical essay: you must account for your feelings by finding specific aspects of the literary work that make you feel as you do." (as cited in Clugston, 2010, section 16.2) Reader-response theory recognizes the reader as an active agent who imparts "real existence" to the work and completes its meaning through interpretation. Reader-response criticism argues that literature should be viewed as a performing art in which each reader creates their own, possibly unique, text-related performance. Using the Reader-Response approach, I find it easy to understand the character Walter Mitty and connect with the story. When I was a child, I found myself playing outside more and with other neighborhood kids or on my own. In doing so, we were forced to use and broaden our imagination. Whether it was playing cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians or, I would even throw a tennis ball at a wall imagining that I was Andy Petite of the Yankees in a Word Series game. Using my imagination be broaden my mind and creative thinking. Dr. Evan Kidd even confirmed that imagination would increase a child's creative thinking in his 2009 research of children’s imaginary friends in the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s film “Imaginary Friends”. “Evan has found that adults who remembered having an imaginary friend performed better on personality tests for creativity. They were also more achievement-oriented and more empathetic.” ("Imaginary friends," 2009) even though this may sound strange or worrisome for parents, Kidd also concluded that children who had playtime with imaginary friends increase a child's language and communication skills. in conclusion, James Thurber did an outstanding job of plunging into the world of an enthusiastic daydreamer. He easily shows how Walter Mitty holds himself in appreciation by imagining himself as a naval officer, a famous surgeon, a great gunman, a war plane captain, and a man bravely facing the firing squad. As a reader, we were able to open ourselves to imagination, placing ourselves in the head of the main character and relating to that person on some levels. It is my belief that most of us daydream at some point in our lives, if not daily, and place ourselves as the main focus in the imaginative plot or in matters of high regard, although most of us will not admit to letting their mind wander.
Reader-response criticism retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reader-response_criticism Clugston, R. W. (2010). Journey into literature. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc Imaginary friends [Web]. (2009). Retrieved from http://digital.films.com/PortalPlaylists.aspx?aid=18596&xtid=47745