Language, Dialogue, And Imagery In The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty

Better Essays
Language, Dialogue, and Imagery: In and Out the State of Daydream in ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ American Author James Thurber's “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” recounts a day in the life of a contemporary daydreamer living in the mid-twentieth century. The short story follows Walter Mitty, the protagonist, driving around town to run errands for his wife, but is sidetracked by his daydreams several times. Through the power of his imagination, Walter transports himself to alternative realities where he is a fighter pilot or a world-renowned surgeon. The more he daydreams, the more he forgets about his reality and its responsibilities, which leads him to near-mishaps. This essay will focus on how dialogue, language, and the use of imagery…show more content…
While driving his car, Walter’s first daydream begins where he is a Navy Pilot flying through a dreadful storm (Thurber, 1). Navigating around town, Walter sights a hospital that triggers his second daydream of being a distinguished surgeon heading an operation on a rich banker (1-2). His third daydream as a Murder Suspect on trial is prompted upon hearing a newsboy shout about the Waterbury Trial (3), and looking at news pictures of bombing planes precipitates his fourth daydream as a bomber pilot in the Second World War (3). Finally, Walter’s last daydream of being heroically executed by a firing squad is provoked by him smoking in the rain (4). As Sundell states: “Thurber accentuates Walter's confusion of his public and secret life by making him borrow objects from the real world and use them as props in his dreams.” (Sundell, 1287). In addition to imagery, while Walter’s daydreams are heavily depicted with visual cues, the second most common cue manipulated is sound, which links all of his daydreams. Though the sound of “pocketa-pocketa-pocketa” is not employed by real objects, it has portrayed the sound of the plane engine (Thurber, 1) the ‘anaesthetizer’ (2) and the flamethrowers (4) in three of Walter’s daydreams. Nonetheless, the sound reminds readers that…show more content…
After dropping off his wife, Walter attempts not leave his reality for a while until a cop snaps “Pick it up, brother!” (Thurber, 1) at him once the stop light changes. There is another instance where draws himself out of his third daydream, exclaiming “Puppy biscuit” upon recalling to buy them for his wife, only to be laughed at by a passerby who relays “He said puppy biscuit, that that man said puppy biscuit to himself” to her companion (Thurber, 3). This indicates that Walter may feel alienated by the real world, separate from others, even when he attempts to coexist and fit in. Where “Walter’s lack of interest in reality is not the only reason why he daydreams so often, it is also “antipathy for the real world” where “ society seems to reject him” (Sundell, 1287). And while that might be the case, the people in Walter’s reality in the story, for the most part, serve to draw him out of his daydreams and by context, it is only Walter’s mind that shapes his view of reality and his daydreams (Heitman, 3) No one outside his daydream state, even his wife, is knowledgeable on the content of his daydreams correlating with how Mrs Mitty was perceived as a stranger by Walter (Thurber,
Get Access