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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

by James Thurber

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Is "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" based on a true story?

Quick answer:

"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" is not based on a true story. However, Walter Mitty's character is loosely based on Walter Mithoff, a friend of the author.

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"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" is a fictional story written by James Thurber and published in 1939. The story is about a man named Walter Mitty, who has extremely vivid daydreams that serve as an escape from his mundane real life. While Mitty is a fictional character, James Thurber said that he loosely based the character off of a friend from his own life named Walter Mithoff, who was prone to frequent daydreams.

While Walter Mitty is a fictional character, one could argue that he represents the way in which all people try to use their minds to escape reality from time to time. For instance, consider how Mitty gives himself powerful traits in his imagination, like bravery and strength. These are traits that he lacks in real life. Like Mitty, many people imagine an idealized version of themselves in their mind. People also frequently imagine scenarios that make their life more exciting and dramatic, like Mitty's vision of being a bomber pilot. Mitty’s experience with constant daydreams is certainly an exaggeration of what most people experience, but the story does prompt the reader to reflect on ways in which they see themselves or the people around them who are also escaping from reality.

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