What is a good quote from "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"?

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A good quote from "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" would be the one which occurs early in the story when Mitty is driving his wife to town and starts speeding up the car because he is fantasizing about piloting a powerful hydroplane.

“Not so fast! You’re driving too fast!” said Mrs. Mitty. “What are you driving so fast for?”

This quote is good because it shows how the opening episode was nothing but a fantasy. It also characterizes Walter Mitty's wife as a nagging, irritating woman. She has a particularly annoying way of repeating the same thing several times. A moment later she does the same thing.

“You were up to fifty-five,” she said. “You know I don’t like to go more than forty. You were up to fifty-five.”

The fact that Mrs. Mitty does not like to go more than forty miles per hour suggests she might be the wrong mate for a secret daredevil like Walter Mitty, who would like to go so fast that the car would sprout wings and take right off into the sky. In fact, Mitty becomes an ace pilot in World War I in a later daydream. 

James Thurber has his character make obvious mistakes in his dialogue within his fantasies. These have a humorous effect, but they are also apparently intended to remind the reader that these are fantasies and not reality. For example, when Mitty imagines himself to be a famous surgeon, a lot of medical talk is exchanged which is pure gobbledegook. As examples:

"Obstreosis of the ductal tract. Tertiary."

“I’ve read your book on streptothricosis,” said Pritchard-Mitford, shaking hands. 

“Coreopsis has set in,” said Renshaw nervously.

Read the study guide:
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

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