Symbolism In The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty

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In the short story of "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty", James Thurber used symbolism to grasp the overall theme of powerlessness in Walter Mitty's life through his car, the overshoes, and the cigarette.

Thurber uses symbolism of the car to portray masculinity. Usually cars and racing is associated with masculinity and power. However, Mitty doesn’t have the best luck with cars. Walter Mitty got the the tire chains wrapped around the axles, so he needs to take the car to a garage for help. He waits too long at a traffic light, so a police officer had to tell him to hurry up. He also could not park his car properly either, so he needed a younger parking attendant to help him. Not to mention, Mrs. Mitty does not trust him around his car either, she repeatedly yells at him when he drives. The only way he could display masculinity came through this quote, "He raced the engine a little", this is a quotation from the story that symbolizes Walter’s life in the state of his car. When he races the engine, it means that he is pushing the limits in his life and trying to control his own life. It was a simple way to deal with his wife’s nagging and overprotectiveness. The only way he could show his masculinity was through
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“Walter Mitty lighted a cigarette...He put his shoulders back and his heels together. To hell with the handkerchief.” This quotation demonstrates Walter’s recklessness. As he starts to gain control of his life in reality, he cares less of what people in his life have to say to him. He does not care about the consequences of his actions. At one point he might have obediently listened to all of his wife’s demands, but by the end he had started to think for himself.

In conclusion, the short story, "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty", James Thurber used the car to represent Mitty’s lack of power, the overshoes to represent his weaknesses, and his cigarette to represent
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