“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” Story by J. Thurber Report (Assessment)
Updated: Dec 31st, 2020
From where do Walter Mitty’s ideas of heroism seem to come from?
The brain is the media in which the heroism of Walter Mitty’s ideas was derived. The short story takes us through a roller-coaster ride by changing at the beginning of different scenes caused by interruptions. It is impossible for one to be in a fighter jet and later be in his car, driving the wife to the beauty parlor. The scenes that portray Walter Mitty as a hero are happening in his imagination. In the first heroic scene, he is powering a navy hydroplane.
However, in the second scene, he becomes a brilliant surgeon and helps repair a broken machine. In the third scene of heroism, he is in a courtroom answering for a trial. The fourth scene presents him as he wants to volunteer, taking off a warplane so that he can fight the war against Germany. All these scenes are in his imagination, and they are triggered by his surroundings.
Why does Walter Mitty pretend?
There can be two possible reasons as to why Walter Mitty pretends. The first is because he has a mental challenge. This can be proved when the wife suggests that he sees Dr. Renshaw, and while waiting for her in the lobby, she wanted to check his temperature as soon as they got back home. Additionally, he feels he is unworthy in the real world, and the environment around him trigger his actions. Flying a hydroplane was triggered by driving. The ideology of being a brilliant surgeon was triggered by wearing gloves. The scene in which Walter is answering to a trial case was triggered by his forgetfulness of the things his wife sent him and volunteering to fight Germany is triggered by a newspaper with the headline “Can Germany Conquer the World through the Air?”
What do we expect to happen that doesn’t happen in this story?
Our expectations concerning the ending of the imaginary stories are all incomplete. As a result, they are also affected by interruptions in the real world. As he was powering the navy hydroplane, they were ready to launch out missile number 8.
As soon as they are about to launch, the scene is switched back. Another example is shown as he was about to start a surgery procedure. He had his coat on, and the nurse was about to hand him a shining tool. Another unexpected end was in the courtroom when he answered a question, and pandemonium broke in the courtroom. He was about to say something, and the scenes changed back to the store. As he was facing the firing squad, it is totally unclear whether he survived or died in the process. It is also uncertain if the last scene was also part of his imagination.
What is the dissonance that needs to be resolved in this story?
Dissonance is a discomfort that is caused by holding emotional reactions and ideas. Being in this state, a person might be feeling angry, embarrassed, or surprised. As much as Walter Mitty is living in the real world, he cannot help himself become a hero in his imagination. Circumstances and situations that make him feel inferior are counteracted by thoughts that are playing in his mind.
People that have encountered him think that his behavior is weird, but the daydreams bring fulfillment to his life. I believe there are three ways that the dissonance is resolved. The first is by the wife, always keeping him in check of his well-being. The second is when he is rudely interrupted by the policeman and the parking-lot attendant. The order makes him regain his sanity. Lastly, for his wife to suggest a doctor’s idea, it indicates that all his rationality was being restored.
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