The Secret Life of Walter Mitty


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Year Published

Book Review

The Secret Life of Walter MItty by James Thurber has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine.

Plot Summary

Walter Mitty and his wife take their usual trip into town so she can get her hair done. She complains he’s driving too fast and that he seems tense. She wishes aloud that he would go see the doctor. She doesn’t realize she’s just rousted him from a daydream in which he was commanding a Navy hydroplane in near-hurricane conditions. As Mitty drops off his wife at the hairdresser, she reminds him to get overshoes. She silences him when he insists he doesn’t need them. Mitty pulls away, daydreaming, and annoys other motorists with his inattentive driving.

Passing a hospital sends Mitty into another daydream. This time, he’s the only one out of a panel of elite doctors who can save a dying man. Barely avoiding a car wreck, Mitty returns to reality. The garage attendant who parks his car has to remind him to leave the keys. Mitty remembers, with irritation, how his wife always makes him take his car to the shop to get chains off after he flubbed the job once.

Walking down Main Street to look for a shoe store, Mitty tries to recall the other item his wife asked him to buy. Overshoes in hand, he plunges into a daydream where he’s on the witness stand. He’s being questioned for murder because he’s a crack shot with any type of gun. A beautiful young woman even falls into his arms before he suddenly remembers and says aloud, “puppy biscuits.” People nearby snicker at him as he heads to the store to buy dog treats.

Mitty returns to the hotel where he’s to meet his wife. He waits in a chair and reads a magazine story about Germany conquering the world. He daydreams that he alone can fly the bomber that will bring victory in the war. Just then, Mrs. Mitty strikes him on the arm and says she’s been looking all over for him. She starts to nag him and ask a lot of questions. He asks if it ever occurred to her that he was thinking. She responds by saying she’s going to take his temperature when they get home. As Mrs. Mitty purchases one last thing at the drug store, Mitty waits outside with a cigarette. He imagines himself erect and proud, preparing to face a firing squad.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Mrs. Mitty nags and complains, attempting to control all of her husband’s actions and behaviors.

Profanity & Violence

The words h— and d–n appear.

Sexual Content


Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at

Additional Comments

Movie tie-in: Producers often use a book as a springboard for a movie idea or to earn a specific rating. Because of this, a movie may differ from the novel. To better understand how this book and the movie differ, compare the book review with Plugged In’s movie review for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

You can request a review of a title you can’t find at [email protected].

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book’s review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

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