The Secret Life of Walter Mitty1 is a short story that should be taught in ninth grade for several reasons. One important aspect is that it is thought-provoking. Almost every paragraph grips the reader and makes them wonder certain things about the story. Whether inferences are made or re-reading occurs, this story will challenge the student. They will be able to break down the story by analyzing the daydreams and asking questions about the text. This will make them an overall better reader.
Another reason Walter Mitty should be taught is so ninth graders can be exposed to good literature. For a short story, it really has strong literary power, per say. Imagery flows throughout, especially in Mitty’s daydreams. Thurber also has a clever way of transitioning between the dreams and reality—an ellipsis. Although Mitty’s secret life and average life are beautifully woven together, the reader is hinted by the three transitioning dots.
The fact that Walter Mitty is a classic is an imperative reason for being part of the ninth grade curriculum. It has been around since 1939 and was even made into a 1947 film (later remade featuring Jim Carrey in 2005). The word Mittyesque was derived from the story, meaning “An ineffectual person who spends more time in heroic daydreams than paying attention to the real world, or more seriously, one who intentionally attempts to mislead or convince others that he is something that he is not.” All of these reasons explain why The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a great story to be taught in ninth grade.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber↩︎