What type of story is "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" and please explain.

Expert Answers
pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although this story is entertaining and funny, it is also a cautionary tale. In "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," the author is giving the reader a chance to see a life wasted on daydreaming.  In fact, Walter Mitty daydreams so much, that he is emotionally absent from his present-moment living. 

"He is constantly being upbraided by policemen, parking lot attendants, and his wife for his erratic, distracted behavior."

Perhaps, if Walter Mitty stopped daydreaming, he could actually becomes a doctor, navy pilot or sharpshooter.  The author is suggesting that Mitty is lazy and disconnected from real life.

Although this is a funny story, especially when you factor in the nagging wife, Walter Mitty is a sorry fellow who has let life pass him by.  His condition, constant daydreaming, qualifies him for psychiatric analysis.

"Thurber suggests that this ordinary man who hates the reality of middle-class life and his own shortcomings prefers to live in his imagination." 

Walter Mitty is headed for a breakdown, and, will end up in a mental hospital at some point in his disappointed life.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

James Thurber's most famous story, "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," is a fantasy escape story.  The main character, Walter Mitty, escapes from his normal life in which he is hen-pecked and stressed out by his inadequacies to fantasy situations in which everyone loves him, expresses their faith in him, and where he is the hero.  This is Walter's way of surviving and bouying his character and spirit in order to get through life with his very critical and nagging wife.

Read the study guide:
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question