The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Study Guide

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty By James Thurber

Walter Mitty is a mild-mannered, vague, and somewhat spineless man who isn't particularly find of his life. One week, like he has for every week he cares to remember, he drives his wife on their weekly shopping run, and for his wife's visit to the beauty parlor. This mundane life, what with his wife's constant doting and the abuse he receives from authority figures, isn't particularly suiting him, so he escapes into fantasy several times over the course of the day.

First, Mrs. Mitty complains that he is driving too fast, which leads him to dream of piloting a U.S. Navy hydroplane through a storm. Then, as he dons his driving gloves while cruising past a hospital, Mitty is transformed into a magnificent surgeon brilliantly performing a unique and famous surgery.

Later, while he struggles to remember what his wife asked him to buy, the line "perhaps this will refresh your memory" drifts across his consciousness, prompting him to become a stonefaced assassin testifying in court. Having stumbled upon on old magazine about the early days of World War One, Mitty embarks on a stint as an RAF pilot volunteering for a daring bombing run on an ammo dump.

Finally, as he leans against a wall and lights a cigarette, Walter becomes a prisoner facing a firing squad. He is smoking his last cigarette and maintaining his demeanor, determined to remain inscrutable to the last.

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