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In "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" what is the main conflict? Why?

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suite1 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 19, 2009 at 1:21 PM via web

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In "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" what is the main conflict? Why?

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 19, 2009 at 3:42 PM (Answer #1)

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The main conflict is found in Mitty's relationship with his wife. She hovers, nags, controls, and directs every aspect of his daily life; he resents it. We can interpret this as the main conflict for several reasons. First of all, this is the only continuing conflict in the story and the only one that is rooted in reality. It is introduced quickly into the story, and it is the conflict to which the story returns at the end. Mitty's conflict with his wife provides the frame of the story, with his various, unrelated fantasies making up the rest.

Even his daydreams, however, support the idea that his conflict with Mrs. Mitty is the major problem. Mitty fantasizes in order to escape his life--and his wife--but even in his fantasies, parts of his real life intrude. He can't get away completely. Mitty's final fantasy in the story is both humorous and ironic. When he is back in his wife's company, she sends him outside to wait for her. As he does what he is told, standing in the rain waiting, he daydreams again, this time about standing in front of a firing squad. This particular fantasy makes Mitty's conflict with his wife very clear; Facing a firing squad is preferable to dealing with Mrs. Mitty.

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