Style and Technique (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
One admirable component of the story is Thurber’s keenly observed, often ironic, small detail of human action that reveals personality. Almost imperceptible is the detail of Mitty racing the car motor when told by his wife that he needs overshoes because he is no longer a young man—a response that suggests Mitty’s furtive defiance. Another such detail is Mitty’s reaction to a police officer’s curt command “Pick it up, brother” at a traffic signal that has changed. Mitty first put on his gloves in the car as ordered by his wife, took them off when she was out of sight, but now puts them back on, suggesting that he equates the traffic officer with his wife as an authority figure, to whom he has been guiltily disobedient in the matter of his gloves. Though merely ordered to move on now that the traffic signal has turned green, Mitty (whose last name recalls the sort of gloves imposed on children) acts to rectify all misbehaviors. Mitty’s subdued rebellion is also glimpsed in carrying his new overshoes out of the store in the box rather than wearing them, for which his wife later scolds him.
Still another unobtrusive detail is Mitty’s going not to the first A & P grocery store available but to a smaller one farther up the street in his quest of puppy biscuit (a particularly unheroic task). Earlier, Mitty was embarrassed by a woman’s laughter at his isolated utterance “puppy biscuit” on the street and thus wants to gain as much...
(The entire section is 497 words.)
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Compare and Contrast
Topics for Further Study
What Do I Read Next?
Bibliography and Further Reading
Bibliography (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Fensch, Thomas, ed. Conversations with James Thurber. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1989.
Grauer, Neil A. Remember Laughter: A Life of James Thurber. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1994.
Holmes, Charles S. The Clocks of Columbus: The Literary Career of James Thurber. New York: Atheneum, 1972.
Kinney, Harrison. James Thurber: His Life and Times. New York: Henry Holt, 1995.
Kinney, Harrison, and Rosemary A. Thurber, eds. The Thurber Letters: The Wit, Wisdom, and Surprising Life of James Thurber. New York: Simon &...
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