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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

by James Thurber
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In "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," how does Walter Mitty's performance in the operating room differ from his real performance in the parking lot? 

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In each daydream (as the commander, doctor, trial witness, and pilot), Walter Mitty is calm, cool, collected, and able. In his real life, he is awkward and self-deprecating. It stands to reason that if he were not so distracted by his own imagination, he might be reasonably confident and maybe even well coordinated in his daily life. But since his daily life is so mundane, he feels it necessary to daydream. It is a catch-22. Is it his clumsiness in his mundane life that leads him to daydream or is it his daydreaming that leads to his clumsiness? 

In the operating room, Mitty takes charge and knows exactly what to do. He fixes the anesthetizer and then, at the request of the doctors, takes over the operation: 

"Coreopsis has set in," said Renshaw nervously. "If you would take over, Mitty?" Mitty looked at him and at the craven figure of Benbow, who drank, and at the grave, uncertain faces of the two great specialists. "If you wish," he said. 

Startled out of his daydream by the parking-lot attendant, Walter Mitty realizes that he is in the wrong lane. Frustrated with how inept Walter had been driving, the attendant orders him out of the car and the attendant parks it for him with relative ease. Walter is brilliant in his daydreams and blundering in his real life. 

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