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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 feel about real life? Does he hate, or does it scare him?

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The short story "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" by James Thurber tells of an unassertive man who is on a shopping trip with his wife. At the various stages of driving, dropping her off, parking, picking up some items, and waiting for her in a hotel lobby, he has vivid daydreams of exciting interludes in which he is a hero. In these fantasies he is a naval officer in a hydroplane, a talented surgeon, a witness in a courtroom, a bomber pilot, and a prisoner in front of a firing squad.

The protagonist of the story, Walter Mitty, does not hate life, and he is not scared of life. He has these daydreams that cause him to fantasize of exciting adventures because he is bored with life as it is and because he is so unlike the heroes that he imagines himself to be. In reality, he is quiet, unassuming, absentminded, and withdrawn.

His wife seems to consider the vague aspects of his personality as flaws, and as a result, she acts domineering. The fantasies are the means that Mitty uses of escaping from the boredom and insignificance he usually feels. When he fantasizes, he feels empowered and in control. One reason that this story attained such great popularity is that many people can identify with Mitty in having grandiose daydreams that offset their ordinary lifestyles.

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