What sort of person is Walter Mitty, and what is Walter's relationship with his wife like in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" by James Thurber?

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Walter Mitty is average and normal in every sense of the words.  He is so unremarkable that he is practically invisible in his daily life.  To combat this, Walter Mitty has an above average imagination.  He is constantly imaging himself as essentially the complete opposite of how he is in real life.  Whether he is imagining himself as a heroic pilot, gifted surgeon, or ace lawyer, his characters always share some common traits.  They are always alpha males at the center of everybody's attention.  Each character is pivotal to some dire situation, and without Walter's help everything will fail.  

Because Walter is married in real life, his role and personality in his marriage fit with his real life self.  He is not the alpha leader of the marriage.  Mrs. Mitty is the head of the house.  She is domineering and nags much of the time at Walter, which paints a bit of an unloving marriage.  On the other hand though, without Mrs. Mitty doing these things, the reader gets the impression that Walter would never take any sort of adult responsibility of any kind.  He would simply be lost in his daydreams all of the time.  

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Walter lives in his dreams.  Specifically set with his daydreams, Walter uses these as a vehicle for excitement, passion, intensity, and adventure.  A life that is steeped in the routine and the mundane, Walter Mitty sees his dreams as a way out of this crushing monotony.  The relationship with his wife reflects this, as she is one who is not very responsive to his needs and constructs a world of monotonous drudgery and denigration.  To a great extent, Walter's construction and passion for his daydreams is because of his marriage which represents a world without heart and intensity.  The dreams are his only way out of a world where escape is so needed.

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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

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