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Narrative Essay Example on Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber



The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber

The story set in Waterbury Town during the 1900s presents Water Mitty as the main protagonist. In his daily activities, Walter Mitty is engaged in a wide range of daydreams that happen in different settings. First, he is on the Navy Ship that is fighting to survive the hurricane as Mitty is being yelled at by the general. In the second incidence, he imagines that he is a surgeon. He reports at work and goes straight to the operation room. He meets four other doctors who want him to perform an operation. This is followed by a daydream while in a courtroom.

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He imagines himself as a defendant and hero in a murder case. In the fourth incident, he is in confusion of World War I, where he appears as a pilot. He becomes the country’s hero when all soldiers are sick and injured. Ultimately, he meets his wife at a hotel in Waterbury after accomplishing all his errands around town. His life is set a bit bland, which has got a direct effect on the theme of the story. He imagines these dreams to make his life a little bit more fascinating.

The writer of this short story uses symbolism to bring to surface the theme of identity. The main character is used to portray how useless and desperate older people in society become when they retire. This happens, because the strict schedule of their daily lives is replaced by idle hours and long boring days. They feel unproductive and wish they could go out of their hand to add value to the society. This is depicted many times in Walter Mitty’s daydreams. The hallucinations are so perfect that they even seem real. Within that psychic nature, the main character is always a great man of importance, expertise, and experience. Beautiful women surround him at all times, and the other people look forward to him for guidance. This is contrasted with his real life when he cannot even park a car without help.

The author tactfully uses symbolism to build upon this theme. At one incident, after having a daydream, Walter says, “puppy biscuits” when a lady overhears him and laughs. The protagonist remembers that he has to purchase the biscuits and hurries to buy them anyway. At the shop, he is asked to specify the brand, something that makes him feel reduced to a low level. The writer uses the puppy biscuits to symbolize that demeaning and low life of Walter that appears boring at the moment. When taking a close look at the plot of the play, it is clear that Walter Mitty lives a simple life with an overbearing wife who tries to control every aspect of his life. This makes his life even more boring.

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The moment he drifts into daydreaming, Walter is seen associating with very important people who highly admire his life. This is a quest for identity. For instance, when he is a surgeon in his daydreams, he is surrounded by many pretty nurses and doctors complementing his work. The daydreams are as well symbolic. They may represent that life that Walter Mitty wished to have but never achieved. Thus everything remains just a dream. Furthermore, the daydreams may symbolize his wants and secret inhibitions based on what is happening in his life.

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