The secret life of Walter Mitty - Sample Essay

 

 

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He is shopping in town while his wife is at the hairdressers. He has five daydreams during the story; he imagines that he is the commander of a warship (while driving), he imagines he is a surgeon who saves a millionaire’s life (while driving), a defendant in a courtroom who is accused of shooting someone (after reading a newspaper report on a similar trial), he imagines he is a pilot in the Second World War (whilst reading a ‘Liberty’ magazine), and he imagines he is in front of a firing squad (whilst he is waiting for his wife).

This story mentions the armed forces on more than one occasion, as an important part of American culture is the military. Americans are proud of their technological advances in the sea, in the air and on land. This story has reference to a US navy vessel, an ‘eight-engined Navy hydroplane’. Walter Mitty is the captain of this until his wife informs him that he is going too fast. Navy vessels are an important part of American culture as they rely on them heavily, they helped them to win both world wars, and are important in reminding the world who the most powerful country in the world currently is.

In conclusion, the Americans like weapons to be mentioned, as they show Yankee genius. This story, like ‘My Father,’ illustrates dominant women, although both are set in completely different periods. Walter Mitty’s wife keeps ordering him about, and complains to him whenever he does anything wrong, e. g. ‘Why don’t you wear gloves? ‘ ‘I’ve been looking all over the hotel for you. Why do you have to hide in this old chair? ‘ There are many other similar quotations in this story that demonstrate that Mrs. Mitty keeps bossing Walter Mitty around.

This shows the fact that in American society, the women are often generally strong characters (as they are descended from women who were pioneers and had to spent a lot of the time travelling across unknown territory) Walter Mitty’s third daydream is in a courtroom, after he read a headline about the Waterbury trial. In his daydream, Walter Mitty is accused of murder by shooting them. This illustrates the gun culture that is and was present in the United States. Many people in America have the opportunities to get a gun, and many have done this and used it to result in deaths.

This is what the trial is about. The author is illustrating the gun culture operating in America. Walter Mitty’s fourth daydream is about a heroic captain in the air force who is brave enough to try and fly an aircraft that needs two pilots in order to destroy a German ammunition dump. The heroes of any war that America fought in are still important in American culture today, as they are proud of what they achieved. They are so proud of their fellow countryman who have fought for their country, they have made numerous films on the subject, most of which are based on true stories.

In many cases, they often change the nationality of the heroes in the film to American. ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ shows us culture in the Second World War in America and how it has affected the modern American culture. A couple of Hamburgers, by James Thurber This story is about a man and his wife who are travelling by car over a long distance, and the wife wants to stop at a diner. The man finds a few diners, but she does not approve of them, and a disagreement breaks out. Throughout the whole journey they have been annoying each other.

They find a suitable diner, but then the wife discovers that this is not suitable, and her husband becomes even more annoyed at her for this. He refuses to leave this diner, so orders ‘a couple of Hamburgers’, while she smokes in the car. To annoy her further he starts singing to her in the car as they continue their journey and the story ends. This story again illustrates strong women, although to a less extent than in ‘The secret life of Walter Mitty’ and ‘My father’. The wife in this story (who is nameless) firstly says that she is hungry, implying that she wants him to stop, which he agrees to do.

Any of the places that he finds are not suitable, for various reasons, e. g. because the diners have nicknames, or if they are owned by Greeks. They do not stop here, as she does not want to, as she is a strong woman. The couple in this story do not get on particularly well. They argue about many things, e. g. she keeps hearing ‘a funny sound’ in the car, which they argue over, they argue over where to stop to eat, he starts singing to her songs that she detests. This illustrates that perhaps many married couples in the USA are not happy with their life, and the hint of perhaps divorce lurks in the air.

Divorce in America has now become very common, in fact nine out of ten marriages in the USA end in divorce, so it is very important. Divorce probably started to become more popular in the period that this story is set (post Second World War). This story, like ‘Jeremy Rodock’ and ‘My Father’ has references to pioneers, both the husband and the wife have ancestors who are pioneers, and the husband likes to use pioneer expressions that she thinks are crude, such as ‘sow belly’, ‘sticking to your rib’, ‘dog wagons’, and ‘stay our stomachs’.

He likes to use these expressions, as he is very proud of his ancestry, and likes to remind people of this fact. She is too, although to a less extent. The car is very important part of American culture, as it is to most countries, but the USA especially. The United States is a very large country, and many people need to travel from one part of the country to another. Before aircraft were commercialised, and even afterwards, the car was the main way to travel interstate.

In this story, the couple are on a long journey and are travelling by car, without the invention of the motorcar; this journey would not have been possible. The interstate roads are also very important, unlike many European countries, the roads are mostly straight and direct as the towns grew up on the roads, then mainly used by horses. This story does exemplify that America grew with immigration, people from all over the word migrated to the USA to lead a better life. As a result, the diversity of culture in the USA is enormous. This story mentions Greeks particularly; the wife will not stop at a Greek diner.

The hamburger, mentioned in the title of this story is not of American heritage, it is, as the name suggests, from the German city of Hamburg. People from Hamburg migrated to the US and spread their Hamburgers around, and the idea spread, and the Americans developed it to a national food. People from most countries in the world have immigrated to the USA, creating a unique country with unique cultures. The story is about Hamburgers. Hamburgers are fast food, which has become a major part of American culture, and a massive industry in the USA and worldwide, due to chains such as ‘MacDonald’s’, etc.

Fast food is such an important part of US culture as the Americans like food very quickly, and they like the taste of the food, and as many do not have much time to spare, they need food quickly, and as fat food satisfies all of these requirements, it has become very popular. There is not much slang or difference in language to the English language in this story, as the wife speaks quite good English, as well as the husband, but he does use pioneer expressions already mentioned. There is the use of American terms in this story that are presumably not of Pioneer origin, e. g. ‘diner’, ‘tumbler’, ‘slosh’, ‘folks’, etc.

The only slang used in this story are: ‘ain’t’, and ‘swell’, (which is used in a different context to its proper meaning). The language difference in this story illustrates the difference in culture between the USA and the UK In conclusion, ‘A couple of Hamburgers’ sheds light on culture in post war America. By reading these four stories, we have discovered the diversity of culture in the United States of America, in the periods between 1850-1960; we have seen cultures from pioneers to fast food and the difference of the role of women in society, among many other important factors.

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