• Madison White

A Story a Day #35: James Thurber

March 19th, 2020

"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"

James Thurber

A man and his wife go into town. She is getting her hair done and while this happens he's supposed to run some errands. As he accomplishes some very boring tasks, he daydreams various exciting scenarios. In one, he's flying an airplane, in another, he is on trial. He seems to distantly trail off into these and is interrupted by others during his daydreams. His wife thinks he should see someone. He trails off into another daydream.

My first thought when starting this story was whether it would be anything like the movie. I've seen the movie a couple of times, and though I'm not really a movie person, I think it is beautiful. In it, this boring, daydreaming man impulsively decides to go to Iceland on a journey to find this one elusive photographer. In this story, far less happens. Yes, a man daydreams, but he doesn't appear to actually change his life at all. In fact, he just seems to resent other people interrupting his daydreams rather than resenting his actual life.

Don't crucify me for saying this, but I preferred the movie. The short story is really short and nothing really happens. There doesn't seem to be any character development or action or anything. There isn't a whole lot that makes me invested in this Walter Mitty. In the movie, however, we see his desires and self-doubts and root for him. There is growth and story and, yeah, sorry to book nerds everywhere for this one.

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