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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

by James Thurber

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Where would you suggest Walter Mitty live and why?

Expert Answers

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In "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" the main character, Mitty, must have lived near a fairly urban, metropolitan area considering that the entire story is framed by Mitty and his wife driving and running errands in a populated, bustling city. There is some belief that Mitty lived near Waterbury, Connecticut as Waterbury is mentioned several times throughout the story; geographically, Waterbury, CT is near the tri-state area (New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut) and was the only true metropolitan Waterbury of that time. However, we cannot know this for certainty as the author, James Thurber, does not give us any further information. Regardless, it seems likely that Mitty and his wife lived outside of this Waterbury as the narrator says that they "[drove] on toward Waterbury in silence" at the start of the story. They were driving there to do relatively mundane activities--visiting the hairdresser, going to the convenience store, etc.--so it seems likely that their hometown was very small and rural as they did not have access to these things there.

Although it is pure speculation, I could see the Mittys living on a rural, isolated home site without a lot of visual interest. His visions are sparked by sites that he would not see at home (speeding on a trafficked road, a hospital, a newsboy, and so on), which would be exciting to Mitty. The exciting, not-seen-every-day scenery could explain both why these places/sites trigger Mitty and why his visions are so grandiose and magical; they are mimicking his own experience of urban newness and the daily adventures of city-folk.

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