My Lessons and Links on The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
James Thurber—The more James Thurber became blind, the wilder his fantasies became. Snoopy was originally based on Walter Mitty’s character and several of his daydreams correspond to Mitty’s dreams in the story.
Distraught (troubled, anxious)
Haggard (having a very exhausted appearance)
Duct (a tubular structure in the body through which substances pass)
Craven (very fearful, cowardly)
Vault (an underground room or cave with an arched ceiling)
Insolent (bold in a reckless way)
Insinuating (arousing doubts and suspicions)
Pandemonium (wild noise and disorder)
Questions to consider while reading:
1. Characterize Walter Mitty using the concrete details and elaboration method.
2. Something from life would always spark Mitty’s daydreams, what caused at least three of these. Give a brief description of the dream and what caused the reality.
3. Describe Mrs. Mitty. Use the same form that you did on Walter. Do you think that she intended to act the way that she did?
4. Why did Walter Mitty imagine himself facing a firing squad? Evaluate what he was saying about his life with such a statement.
5. Compare and contrast the movie and short story. Which did you prefer? What made the movie more interesting and comical than the story? (omit this question if the school board forbids the viewing of the movie)
Walter Mitty is driving so fast so he thinks he is a 1) pilot. Mrs. Mitty brings him back to reality. The noise (pocketa, pocketa, pocketa) is repeated in most of his daydreams. Mrs. Mitty is characterized mostly through her interaction with Walter and his jolting back to reality. She is going to the beauty parlor and Walter is going to get overshoes and have the chains taken off the tires from winter.
Dr. Renshaw is Walter’s doctor. Mrs. Mitty wants his to go and have a check-up because he is acting so strangely.
Walter drives around a while and passes a hospital. Then he begins to fantasize that he is fixing a machine in the hospital with a broken piston with a fountain pen. 2) He is a famous doctor.
The garage attendant jolts him back to reality. The attendant makes fun of Walter and embarrasses him. He said that next year he would wear his right arm in a sling. Then leaves to get the overshoes. He had forgotten the other item that Mrs. Mitty had wanted him to get.
3) On the street he hears about a trial and fantasizes that he is on trial for murder. Finally during the fantasy, he remembers the puppy biscuits and said it out loud. A woman passing on the street laughed at him because he was talking to himself. He goes in the A & P and buys the biscuits whose name he has also forgotten. All he remembered was that “Puppies Bark for It” was on the box.
His wife would be finished in 15 minutes, so he goes to the hotel where he meets her and begins to read an old magazine…probably published during WWII. 4) He dreams that he is a general in the war. His dream is shattered by the arrival of his wife who begins immediately to nag him about hiding from her and not putting on his overshoes. She thinks he is ill because he is acting strangely. She is going to take his temperature when he gets home. She has forgotten something and darts in the drugstore to get it.
5) Walter’s final dream is he is facing the firing squad. Mysterious to the last, no handkerchief, and smoking a cigarette.
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