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What is the irony in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"?

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crnak | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 13, 2009 at 8:49 AM via web

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What is the irony in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"?

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 13, 2009 at 9:22 AM (Answer #1)

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It isn't especially ironic that poor Walter would escape momentarily from his dull life and nagging wife in daydreams. In fact, we might expect him to do something to relieve his misery. It is ironic, however, that mousy Mr. Mitty can weave such colorful and incredibly detailed romantic adventures. For a man who shows no signs of creativity in his real life, the richness of his imagination is remarkable. It is ironic (situational irony) that in order to engage his talents and enjoy his life, Mitty has to stop living it from time to time.

Another type of irony found in the story is dramatic irony. We understand much more about her husband's activities than does Mrs. Mitty. For example, in the beginning of the story, Mrs. Mitty demands to know why Walter is driving so fast. This is amusing because we know Commander Mitty is driving fast because he is powering a navy hydroplane through stormy winter seas trying to escape an impending hurricane! 

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msschroder | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 24, 2009 at 5:53 PM (Answer #2)

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The story shows situational irony when Mitty goes into a daydream whenever he
passes a place or hears something. For example, as he leans against a brick wall smoking a cigarette, he imagines himself facing a firing squad.  While driving his wife to appointment he imagines he is trying to beat an imminent hurricane. 

It is ironic as well that Walter is only able to be significant in his imagination.

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