What effect does Thurber create with his short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty? How has he achieved this?

Essay by will_fangJunior High, 8th gradeA, May 2008

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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a short story written by James Thurber and describes the ‘average’ American. The short story must be important in conveying its message because of its brevity. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty has created its effect on the reader through a variety of ways. James Thurber has used characterisation, limited characters as well as action to achieve this effect.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty describes the life of an American. The main characters are Walter Mitty and his wife. Characterisation has been used to contrast the different characters of Walter and his wife. Thurber has shown Walter to be a typical American man, and describes him as a dreamer, who imagines what his life would be if it were more interesting and active than his current status. Also, the dreams of Walter Mitty portray his life as miserable and boring, as his dreams of a much more commanding and hero-like career are a definite contrast to his current conditions in America.

Furthermore, Thurber has used a limited number of characters to keep the story short, and the detail of the characters more precise and interesting. He has used only two or three characters to allow the readers to venture into the characters minds and action, rather than having many characters and losing track of the story. It is through this way that The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is effective in conveying its message to the audience.

Finally, the use of action allows the readers to engage in the story. James Thurber has used the dreams of Walter Mitty as well as the contrasting actions of Walter’s wife to interest the reader. Thurber has used the imaginations of Walter Mitty to contrast his reality with his imaginations of himself as a hero.