"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," first published in 1941, is one of James Thurber's most
well-known and beloved stories. Its famous protagonist holds a place in the cultural lexicon,
meriting his own entry in English-language dictionaries. In 1947, Norman McLeod directed
an MGM Technicolor musical with the same title based on Thurber's story. The film, which
extends Mitty's imaginary adventures over a two-day period, stars Danny Kaye as the affable
"We're going through!" The Commander's voice was like thin ice breaking. He
wore his full-dress uniform, with the heavily braided white cap pulled down rakishly
over one cold gray eye. "We can't make it, sir. It's spoiling for a hurricane, if you ask
me." "I'm not asking you, Lieutenant Berg," said the Commander. "Throw on the
power lights! Rev her up to 8,500! We're going through!" The pounding of the
cylinders increased: ta-pocketa-pocketa-pocketa-
. 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 shouted. "Switch on No. 8
auxiliary!" repeated Lieutenant Berg. "Full strength in No. 3 turret!" shouted the
Commander. "Full strength in No. 3 turret!" The crew, bending to their various
tasks in the huge, hurtling eight-engined Navy hydroplane, looked at each other and
grinned. "The old man will get us through" they said to one another. "The Old Man
ain't afraid of Hell!" . . .
"Not so fast! You're driving too fast!" said Mrs. Mitty. "What are you driving so
"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. Mitty. "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,"