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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

by James Thurber
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How does James Thurber use fantasy to convey ideas about reality in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" ?

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Thurber's use of fantasy is a reflection about reality.  For Walter Mitty, the need to retreat to fantasy is triggered by his conditions around him.  Thurber uses fantasy as a way to address components about Mitty's world.  For example, in the conformist world around Mitty, fantasy enables him to retain individuality.  Thurber's employment of fantasy is reflective of a Modernist point of view.  In a world in which homogeneity and materialism have reduced individuals to a common experience, it is fantasy that enables distinction to emerge.  

At the same time, Thurber is able to use fantasy to assert Mitty's sense of self.  When Mitty is dominated by his wife or repressed by the perceptions of the world around him, it is his entry into fantasy that enables him to be more and represent more than what is around him. It is here in which Thurber uses fantasy to convey ideas about Mitty's own reality.  Thurber's use of fantasy is meant to reflect the shortcomings in the world that envelops Mitty.  If Mitty's world validated his own experience, the flight into fantasy might not be as needed.  Yet, it is because Mitty's world is one in which his own voice is negated, the need for fantasy is presented.

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