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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: The Downside of Walter Mitty's Imagination

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Kohl Rowcliffe

Mrs. Daniel-Kopp

English 3U1-04

February 26th, 2016

The Downside of Walter Mitty’s Imagination

In the short story “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” by James Thurber, Walter Mitty is described as a person living a somewhat ordinary, boring life when compared to his vast imagination. Patrick Jones once said: “The nail that sticks out the farthest will get hammered the hardest,” most likely referring to the people who stray off the path of being normal, onto the path of being unique. In this short story, Mitty can be related to Jones’s quotation, as his imagination gets the best of him, so much so that he appears to be incompetent, is criticized for his actions, and being mistreated by his wife for his daydreaming. Mitty’s incompetence that is displayed in the beginning of the short story becomes much more clear when it is revealed that he cannot take the chains off of his car tires without winding them around the axles. Normally, taking the chains off of the tires is a simple task, but Mitty is very unsuccessful at removing them. Since Mitty has to go to a garage to get help with taking them off, normally an embarrassing request to ask someone, he thinks to himself, “I’ll have my right arm in a sling and they’ll see I couldn’t possibly take the chains off myself” (Thurber 35). Mitty believes that he could take advantage of appearing to be crippled so that people will not seem the least bit confused as to why he asks for help with such a simple chore any average person can do. Mitty shows he is an incompetent person by his lack of wanting to learn how to properly remove the chains from the tires since he does not know how to, meanwhile other, ordinary people are completely capable of completing such a task. Subsequently, Mitty finds himself entering another daydream that he is snapped out of after a man in his dream sequence called him a miserable “cur,” an older word meaning “dog.” Mitty says “Puppy biscuit” out loud in public, and a woman passing him on the streets said to her companion, “That man said Puppy biscuit to himself,” criticizing a man for a small, insignificant action (36). In this short story, as mentioned before, Mitty takes on the appearance of a unique man living an ordinary life, but since he appears to be unique due to

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