Essay PreviewMore ↓
In comparing August Wilson's play "Fences" and James Thurber's short story "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," it can be seen that the main characters in each of these stories face a similar universal human conflict. Both Troy, of "Fences," and Walter Mitty live lives in which they, like most everyone, are limited to some extent by forces beyond their control as to how they live their life. These limitations, unfortunately, cannot be avoided throughout life and can be very stressful at times. When a person experiences stress, they're future reactions to stress tend to be magnified even more (Carpi). Therefore, it is best to find a way to cope with stress to prevent from falling apart. Some people, like Troy, are unable to deal with these limitations and eventually do indeed, fall apart. Others however, like Walter, create ways of overcoming these restraints that life throws at us and learn to become better people in the process.
In Troy's situation, the responsibility of providing for his family places great limitations on his life. Troy must give most of his money up to his family to provide for his wife Rose and son Cory. In one example, Troy hands Rose money he has just received from work while saying to his friend Bono, "There it is. Seventy-six dollars and forty-two cents. You see this, Bono? Now, I ain't gonna get but six of that back," and again later, Rose requests money from Troy saying, "You can hand yours over here too, Troy," in which Troy remarks, "You see this Bono. You see how they do me." Troy would obviously like much better to keep all of his hard earned money for himself so that he can do things that he wants to do.
In one argument with his son Cory, Troy says, "A man got to take care of his family. You live in my house sleep you behind on my bedclothes fill you belly up with my food cause you my son. You my flesh and blood. Not cause I like you! Cause it's my duty to take care of you," clearly indicating that if it was not for the fact he were his son, he could care less about him and wouldn't be giving him anything.
As for Walter Mitty, he tends to be limited by the overpowering and demanding personalities of the people around him, the biggest of which is his wife.
How to Cite this Page
"Life Lessons in August Wilson's Fences and James Thurber's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty." 123HelpMe.com. 20 Feb 2019
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” as written by James Thurber is an interesting short story. Walter Mitty, the protagonist of the story, is in a constant battle with his wife, the antagonist of the story. Mr. Mitty is, simply put, a daydreamer with a creative mind. His wife does not appreciate this aspect of Mr. Mitty and is constantly nagging him and bringing him back to reality. Mr. Mitty’s character is flat, as he is never portrayed as a deep and unknown character with some type of third dimension to his personaility.... [tags: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Fiction]
1098 words (3.1 pages)
- James Thurber's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty In James Thurber's wonderful short story, "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty", I get the feeling that he may be a victim of Attention Deficit Disorder, rather than just being a daydreamer. Throughout the story, Walter changes personae several times. He flips back and forth between reality and fantasy so much he may have a problem with his attention span. Walter needs Mrs. Mitty to keep him on track. By being a daydreamer, his head is in the clouds and this irritates her.... [tags: Secret Life Walter Mitty Essays]
519 words (1.5 pages)
- The Role of Fantasy in James Thurber's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty In "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," James Thurber tells the story of a henpecked old man who escapes his monotonous life with frequent excursions to fantasy. In the real world, he is a forgetful old man who must obey his wife's every whim. But, in his fantasies, Walter Mitty is intelligent, brave, and the epitome of manliness. He makes up for the characteristics he lacks in the real world through the heroic characters he embodies in his fantasies.... [tags: Secret Life Walter Mitty Essays]
1423 words (4.1 pages)
- A Deconstruction of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty In the short story “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” we see the main character as a rejected misfit in society. He is often unaware of the world around him and reacts in what others would call a negative way to those situations he actually responds to. However, close examination of the text used by James Thurber to portray him prompts a need to deconstruct the character Walter Mitty. In doing so, we find that, far from being a misfit, he is actually the one member of society that is truly sound.... [tags: Secret Life of Walter Mitty Essays]
807 words (2.3 pages)
- Fantasies are what people go through on a daily basis. People love talking themselves away from reality and putting themselves into a world of their own with no limitations to where they could go. People get so into their fantasies that sometimes it may help build confidence or even cause them to lose track on what they were supposed to do or time. Fantasies become a love—hate relationship because at one point, you’re in love with the fact that you’re doing something out of your character and for your own pleasure, but it’s a hate relationship because you know that it will most likely not happen or come to an end soon enough.... [tags: walter is married, canterbury]
1405 words (4 pages)
- The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty - Character Study of Walter Mitty In the short story, "The secret life of Walter Mitty," a man by the name of Walter Mitty goes into town with his wife to get some things done. Throughout this story Walter Mitty shows that he is very forgetful and a really stubborn man with a vivid imagination. He is constantly being distracted, and starts to day dream often. There are a few hints in this story that show Walter Mitty is very forgetful. Most of this is probably caused by his constant day dreaming throughout this trip into town and not concentrating too hard on what he's doing. Once Walter Mitty had dropped of... [tags: The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty]
458 words (1.3 pages)
- ... Mitty as a scape-goat which allows Walter to use Mrs.Mitty fall into his dreams(Cheatham 608). Walter uses Mrs.Mitty as a reason to be able to dream. Ferguson explains how Mrs. Mitty is the reason that Walter is driving into town in the first place; he has to wait outside the drugstore and in the hotel lobby for her(432). In both scenarios Walter falls into his fantasies while escaping errands and waiting on Mrs. Mitty. Walter uses his dreams as a way for him to ignore his wife. Ferguson tells how Walter uses his dreams to block his wife out of his mind(433).... [tags: escaping reality, story, character analysis]
977 words (2.8 pages)
- James Thurber, one of America’s best known humorists, is mainly known for “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” The story was first published in 1939 in the New Yorker magazine, for which he worked in, and received much appraise for it. Although Thurber did not receive much education, he had a talent of hiding the themes of his stories, which some critics considered “dark,” underneath the humorous plots. In “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” Thurber uses his comical character and settings, along with other elements of his stories, to fully express his views on society.... [tags: routine, dull society, realism]
1193 words (3.4 pages)
- James Thurber is the author of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. He feels inferior to his wife throughout his marriage. He learns to express these feelings through writing short stories and illustrating cartoons. This is a way for him to escape his everyday life with his wife. Critics have acknowledged Mitty motif, which is used to describe his two major themes in many of his major works such as “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (Morsberger 66). “The Secret Life of Walter Witty” is one of the most well know short stories by James Thurber (Morsberger 44).... [tags: disharmony, escaping, rountine, sexes, marrt]
1029 words (2.9 pages)
- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, the author, James Thurber, contrasts that real life of the character, Walter Mitty, to the fantasy world he has created. Mr. Dykes ========= In the story, "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," the author, James Thurber, contrasts that real life of the character, Walter Mitty, to the fantasy world he has created. Walter Mitty, unhappy with his everyday life and his nit-picking wife, fades in and out of reality. To escape reality, he envisions himself as a brave, strong hero who is admired by others.... [tags: English Literature]
635 words (1.8 pages)
In addition to his wife, Walter deals with a "cocky" parking-lot attendant, who parks his car for him, and a passing woman who laughs at him after he mumbles a few words to himself. The attitude of Walter's wife, along with these people, is something that Walter cannot control, and it certainly affects the way he lives.
While both Troy and Walter's desire for freedom is limited, they choose to cope in different ways. Troy slowly becomes more and more stressed out with his life and can't handle everything that life is throwing at him. It seems the more stressed out he becomes, the more he does things that cause him more stress. This may be due to the fact that Troy had a rough childhood and was abandoned by his father at an early age. In John Carpi's article "Stress: It's Worse Than You Think," Dr. Jean King says that "we have known that losing a parent when you are young is harder to get over than if your parent dies when you are an adult," and "what we now believe is that a stress of that magnitude occurring when you are young may permanently rewire the brain's circuitry, throwing the system askew and leaving it less able to handle normal, everyday stress."
Troy's story begins with an argument between himself and his son Cory over football. Troy forbids Cory to play football because he doesn't think he will succeed in a racially segregated society. This leads to many rough fights between the two and eventually to Cory essentially being kicked out of the family. Troy also has a secret affair throughout a large portion of the play and eventually decides to tell his wife that he is going to be the father of another woman's baby. The baby is raised by Rose, but Troy has, in essence, lost his wife. By this time, Troy is all alone and becomes more depressed, to the point where he sits in his back yard awaiting death to come take him away.
Walter on the other hand, deals with his problems in a much more beneficial way. Throughout the story, he is constantly daydreaming and making up imaginary worlds, with the help of the environment around him, where he is usually a very successful person. In one dream he is the commander of a Navy hydroplane. In others, he drives past the hospital and suddenly becomes a well known doctor who has published a book on streptothricosis and is trying to save a wealthy banker, he hears a newspaper boy yelling about a trial and becomes a murder suspect being put on trial, he views pictures of bombing planes and views himself as a courageous captain/bomber pilot in World War I. All of Walter's daydreams are related to things he is doing at the time. This is because daydreams are usually started by a cue, visual or audile (Klinger, 2).
Many people may believe that Walter was just going crazy, but it can be seen that these daydreams are Walter's way of escaping his everyday life where he feels he is mistreated and deserves more respect. In Eric Klinger's article "The Power of Daydreams," he states that "people who are given to fantasy may even have special psychological strengths. Psychologist Roni Beth Tower found that in general, imaginative children [those who pretend easily and comfortably] are more lively, concentrate better, are more attractive to others, tolerate frustration better, [and] tend to show less fear.'" Instead of becoming stressed out and doing things he may regret, such as Troy did, Walter ignores everything and views himself as a more successful person via daydreams, ultimately making things better for him rather than collapsing under pressure.
In conclusion, there are many different circumstances in life that may create limits on the way we live and slow down our quest for freedom and self-expression, only a handful of which are illustrated by the experiences of Troy and Walter in these stories. When life throws out things beyond your control that keep you back, the best thing to do is learn to deal with it because life isn't easy and if stress overwhelms, you may end up like Troy in the end.
Carpi, John. "Stress: It's Worse Than You Think." Psychology Today Jan/Feb 1996.
22 May 2005 < http://cms.psychologytoday.com/articles/pto-19960101- 000027.html>.
Klinger, Eric. "The Power of Daydreams." Psychology Today Oct. 1987. 22 May 2005
Thurber, James. "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty." Reading and Writing from Literature. Ed. Suzanne Phelps Weir et al. 3rd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005. 617-21.
Wilson, August. "Fences." Reading and Writing from Literature. Ed. Suzanne Phelps Weir et al. 3rd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005. 911-61.