The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

For people who read a lot they will probably know this was an important short story in

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From Wikipedia

American Literature.  It’s first inception was not a film though two films have been made of this story, neither kept to the plot.

It was written by the wonderful author James Thurber.  I love his tales. I have read him off and on for years and he had such a creative, humorous imagination. He was born in 1894, the same year my maternal grandparents were born though they were a few months older than him. He was a cartoonist, humorist, journalist, playwright, children’s book author and wit. He was best known for short stories and cartoons published in the New Yorker. (Wikipedia).

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was first published in The New Yorker magazine March 18, 1939. It is a story about a man who day dreamed his life away.  How often do we do that? I was a great day dreamer especially as I sat in school classes and it never really disappeared much into adulthood.

The story begins in Connecticut with Walter driving his wife into the city to do the shopping and have her hair done. Walter doesn’t pay much attention to the real world, but instead lives in a dreamlike state of heroic antics.

As they drive into town his wife tells him to quit driving so quickly. He goes into his imagination and sees himself as a pilot of a US Navy flying boat in a storm. There is a brief description of this episode of heroism. As they drive past a hospital he suddenly turns into a wonderful surgeon performing the trickiest of operations to save the life of his patient.

Screenshot 2Once past the hospital something else catches his imagination and he becomes a deadly assassin testifying in a courtroom. Soon afterwards he is a Royal Air Force pilot volunteering for a secret suicide mission to bomb an ammunition dumb.

Once the trip into town is complete he sees him self standing against a wall facing a firing squad. Each imaginative event is inspired by some detail of his hum drum life.

James Thurber’s stories and cartoons often displayed meek mannered men dominated by overweight, domineering wives. It seems to be a joke repeated often over time, especially in cartoons.

I remember the discussions of the story as far back as high school as his short stories, this one as well as The Catbird Seat were often taught in high school English classes. I wonder if they still are. I loved him and his stories. Screenshot 4

This story begins the exploration of the book, Funny Ha Ha, I talked about in a previous post.

 

 

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