The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

nn1ER . The Secret Lifecf Walter Mitty 167 of trial and error, of generating better and better ideas by evaluating-selecting or rejecting-ideas and options. I

The rote of Providence is evident in the Ghost!. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

This is much better, and it could stimulate ideas for an interesting essay. Let’s as- sumethe writer rereads the play, looking f<brfurther evidence, arid comes to be- lieve that the Ghost is only one of several manifestations of Providence. The writer may stay with the Ghost or may (especially if the paper is long enough to allow for such a thesis to be developed) alter the thesis thus:

The role of Providence is not confined to the Ghost but is found also in the killing ofPolonius, in the surprising appearance of the pirate ship, and in the presence of the poisoned chalice.

Strictly speaking, the thesis here is given in the first part of the sentence C’The role of Providence is not confined to the Ghost”), the rest of the sentence provides an indication of how the argument will be supported.


Every literary work suggests its own topics for analysis to an active reader, and all essayists must set forth their own theses, but if you begin by seeking to examine one of your responses, you will soon be able to st:l~e aura topic and to formulate a thesis.

A suggestion: With two or three other students, formulate a thesis about Kate Chopin’s “The Stann” (in Chapter 3). By practicing with a group you will develop a skill that you will use when you have to f rmulate a thesis on your own.

Analyzing a Story If a story is short enough, you may be abl to examine everything in it that you think is worth commenting on, but even if it is short you may nevertheless decide to focus on one element, such as t e setting, or the construction of the plot, or the connection between two characters, or the degree of plausibility. Here is a story by James Thurber (1894-1961), the American humorist. It was first published in 1939.


“We’re going throughl’lThe Commander’s vo ce was like thin ice breaking. He wore his full-dress uniform, with the h;~ braid d white cae pulled dow!!.gki~h!Y_Q.~~r_ one cold gray eye. ~Wecan’t ma e it, sir. It’s ;poiling for a hurricane, if you ask me,”

J’rm not askirig-xo~~utenant B~/’ said he Commander.~~ on the p~r lights! Rev her up to 8,5001 We’re going tltro ghl” The pounding of the cyliriders in- creased:ta-poCKeta-pOCketa-poc exs-poc eta – ocketa. The Commander stared at the ice forming on the pilot window. He walked over and twisted a row of complicated dials. “Switch on No.8 auxiliary!”.he shoute I. “Switch on No.8 auxiliaryl” repeated Lieutenant Berg. “Full strength in No. 3 turret!” shouted the Commander. “Full strength in No. 3 turret!” The crew, bending to their v rious tasks in. the huge, hurtling eight- engined Navy hydroplane, looked at each 0 Lerand grinned. ‘~Old Man’ll aet us .

~Y sajd to one an?ther. “The Old M;ln ain’t afraid of Hell!” … “Not so fast! You’re driving too fast!” sald Mrs. Mitty.”Wnat are you driving so

fast for?” . I . .

168 Chapter 7 Reading Literature Closely: Analysis

“Hmm?” said Walter Mitty. He looked at his wife, in the seat beside him, with shocked astonishment. She seemed grossly unfamiliar, like a strange woman who had yelled at him in a crowd. “You were up to fifty-five,” she said. “You know I don’t like to go more than forty. You were up to fifty-five.”Walter Mitty drove on toward Waterbury in silence, the roaring of the SN202 through the worst storm in twenty years of Navy flying fading in the remOte, intimate airways of his mind. “You’re tensed up again,” said Mrs. Mitry,”It’s one of your days. I wish you’d let Dr. Renshaw look you over:

Walter Mitty stopped the car in front of the building where his wife went to have her hair done. “Remember to get those overshoes while I’m having my hair done,” she said. “I don’t need overshoes,” said Mitty, She put her mirror back into her bag. “We’ve been all through that”;””she said, getting out of the car. “You’re not a young man any longer.” He raced the engine a little. “Why don’t you wear your gloves? Have you lost your gloves?” Walter Mitty reached in a pocket and brought out the gloves. He put them on, but after she had turned and gone into the build- ing and he had driven on to a red light, he took them off again. “Pick it up, broth- er!” snapped a cop as the light changed, and Mitty hastily pulled on his gloves and 1Urchecraneactrredrove arOun~ts aiffi1e.5s1yfora~e;·and·thenhed~-;ve

~SPital on his way to the parking lot. 5 . . . “It’s the millionaire banker, Wellington McMillan,” said the pretty nurse.

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