The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty Belonging Analysis

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Comparative Essay

The word belonging is defined as “hav[ing] the right personal or social qualities to be a member of a particular group” by The Oxford Pocket Dictionary. The Black Balloon and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty are two narratives that deal with the theme of belonging and acceptance. The Black Balloon is a 2008 independent Australian film directed by Elissa Down about Thomas Mollison, a teenager who, though the conflicts in the film, accepts his autistic and attention deficit disordered brother with the help of his girlfriend, Jackie. Meanwhile, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a short story depicting the life of an old man surviving his mundane life by escaping into vivid fantasies in which he is the hero. These narratives
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For example, Walter Mitty becomes lost in elaborate fantasies in which he is the hero of the story and can do no wrong, these include becoming a high class doctor or a commanding officer in “full dress uniform, with the heavily braided white cap pulled rakishly over one cold gray eye”. In these situations he is completely in control, always using imperatives and people (mostly young men) listen to him. However, they are cliched and unrealistic, showing the depth of his imagination but lack of experience. For example, a commanding officer would never wear full dress uniform to do work (they are generally ceremonial) and there is no such thing as “streptothricosis” or “obstreosis”. This is then juxtaposed by his real life, where he is bossed around by his wife (this was published in 1942 when women were seen as weaker than men -making this power imbalance even more significant) and young men ‘grin’ mockingly at him, he has very little control and is always making mistakes. While Mitty has a small amount of control in this escapism, Thomas has almost none. Thomas has very little control in his life. Cutaway edits are used throughout the film to emulate the fast paced change in Thomas’ life and the lack of certainty for the future. This is also seen when an ordinary trip to the supermarket ends with Charlie having a tantrum that is extremely embarrassing for Thomas. Thomas is able to get away at only one point in the film, when he, his girlfriend and his brother sneak into a military base to have a break from reality. There is a sweet feeling montage here, with lots of shots of the three having fun and playing together with happy music over. While this is a small escape from the stress of his alienation at school and home, one of the sources of his frustrations, his brother Charlie, comes with him, showing how even the smallest escapes from his life is impossible.
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