James Thurber's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

James Thurber's The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

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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. She Reminds him to get "those overshoes while I'm having my hair done." (88) She has to nudge and prod him to actually get the pair of overshoes. Normally, this shouldn't be a problem, but with Walter, She has to double check that he bought them. Consider him having been diagnosed with A.D.D., his wife would then be a little better at understanding him when he goes off on one of his "spells." For example, him buying the overshoes, but not wearing them in the slushy weather. Mrs. Mitty should take a little more active role with his condition. She would go with him to the store to pick up his overshoes so that she knows it was taken care of properly.

The weekly trips into town are somewhat of a disaster each time. once, he had tried to take the chains of of his tires and they got them "wound around the axle" and had to have a man come from a garage to unwind them. Mrs. Mitty leaves Walter on his own so that he can run errands, while she goes to the beauty parlor to get her hair done. Because of his daydreaming, he ends up loosing himself in a court battle in his head. How can anyone expect to remember to buy puppy biscuits with something like that happening? A.D.D. is not something to be treated lightly. instead of going to the beauty parlor, Mrs. Mitty should go with Walter to help him stay on track with his errands. By running their weekly errands together, Mrs. Mitty would come to better realize the problems that Walter faces on a daily basis. This would also help to alleviate some of the troubles that they have had in the past to make future trips more tolerable.

Does Walter have a problem? Yes, he does. Whether it is being a day dreamer or someone afflicted with A.

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D.D., is a tough call. Since this story was written long before the diagnosis and discovery of Attention Deficit Disorder, one would have just assumed that he was just a daydreamer with an overactive imagination. I would like to think that Walter has a little bit of both. In my all honesty, A.D.D. is just a big medical word for a person who has an overactive imagination. Some peoples heads are in the clouds most of the time and I think that suites Walter just fine.


Works Cited

Thurber, James, "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" Literature for Composition. Ed. Sylvan Barnet et al. 5th ed. New York: Longman, 200. 87-90
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