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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Study Guide

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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Study Guide

1. In the first paragraph, Walter Mitty imagines himself as the commander of a Navy hydroplane. What effect does this have on what he is really doing?

2. Who brings Mitty out of this initial daydream?

3. Thurber never reveals Mitty’s real occupation. Why do you think it is better that you are without this information? What occupation would you assign to Walter Mitty?

4. Why does Mitty fantasize the name Renshaw in the operating room episode?

5. Who is Wellington McMillan, and who is his close personal friend?

6. At one point during the operation fantasy, Dr. Renshaw says, “Coreopsis has set in.” Why is this phrase funny? (Look up coreopsis in the dictionary for help.)

7. Does Mitty’s memory of removing tire chains from his car change in any way your impression of Mrs. Mitty? If so, how?

8. At one point Walter Mitty has forgotten “the what’s-its-name.” Find the statement that links the following courtroom scene to the forgotten item.

9. Mitty finally remembers that “the what’s-its-name” his wife asked him to buy is a puppy biscuit. What jogs Mitty’s memory?

10. What sound effect does Thurber use more than once during the story to emphasize the silliness of Walter Mitty’s fantasies?

11. When Mr. and Mrs. Mitty meet again toward the end of the story, what does Mrs. Mitty say that shows she is rarely satisfied with her husband?

12. What do all of Walter Mitty’s fantasy occupations have in common?

13. What is Walter Mitty’s last fantasy? Do you think he will go on to have others? Why or why not?

14. This is a very famous story, and the name Walter Mitty has even entered the dictionary. Why do you suppose this story is so popular?


1. It causes him to drive his car too fast.

2. Mrs. Mitty

3. By not revealing Mitty’s occupation, Thurber never allows the reader to envision him as competent at anything. Perhaps something that has rigidly defined tasks that do not require much concentration.

4. Because his wife has mentioned that she’d like Dr. Renshaw to look him over.

5. He is a millionaire banker and a close personal friend of Roosevelt

6. because a coreopsis is a kind of flower

7. Yes. Mitty is, in fact, incompetent in some ways. Mrs. Mitty tries to protect him from himself, as a mother might a young child.

8. “Perhaps this will refresh your memory.”

9. his calling the District Attorney a “miserable cur”

10. “pocketa-pocketa-pocketa”

11. When Mitty states that, as his wife had requested, he has bought overshoes, she answers, “Couldn’t you have put them on in the store?”

12. They all place him in a position of great personal responsibility, involving risk. Other people are very dependent upon his knowledge and expertise to save the day.

13. His own execution. Answers will vary.

14. Answers will vary, but should mention that most of us can identify with daydreaming.

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