Where is the symbolism in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Walter Mitty's wife emasculates and infantilizes him in several ways. She insists on him wearing overshoes, the way a mother would in 1939 when James Thurber published this story. When she tells him to wear his gloves, as well, he thinks about defying her until a policeman speaks sharply to him, and he puts them back on. Mitty has become childlike and trained to defer to the authority of others. He can't even park his car competently and must defer to the parking lot attendant by giving him the key. Mitty waits for his wife in a chair when she is at the beauty salon, and he takes care to ensure that he is sitting where she can see him, just as a mother would insist of a child. The last item he picks up for her is "puppy biscuit," a term a child would use. When he speaks up for himself she promises to take his temperature when they get home, as one would do for a child.

The overshoes and gloves, the handing over of the car key, buying puppy biscuits, and waiting for her with docility all...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 698 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team