In the famous short story "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" by James Thurber, a mild-mannered, unassuming man compensates for his dreary normality by creating vivid daydreams within which he lives for much of the time. In the story, the daydreams alternate with the real world as Mitty accompanies his wife on a shopping trip.
In the first daydream, while he is driving a car, Mitty self-identifies as the Commander or the Old Man. He is in the Navy, in full-dress uniform, and he is leading the crew of a hydroplane "through the worst storm of twenty years of Navy flying." As ice collects on the pilot window, the members of the crew reassure each other that Mitty will get them safely through the storm.
The second daydream is brought on by Mitty taking his gloves on and off and then driving past a hospital on his way to a parking lot. In this fantasy, he is a highly respected surgeon operating on a millionaire banker. The other surgeons all flatter Mitty, and before he begins operating, he repairs an important machine with a fountain pen. The patient is fading fast, and the other doctors plead with Mitty to take over.
The third daydream is inspired by a newsboy walking by shouting about a trial. Mitty is sitting at the witness stand during a murder trial. The District Attorney shows him a gun and asks if he is a "crack shot." Mitty confesses that he is an expert shot with his right or his left hand. When the District Attorney takes a swing at Mitty's woman, "a lovely, dark-haired girl," Mitty hits the District Attorney "on the point of the chin."
Mitty's fourth daydream comes on as he is sitting in a hotel lobby perusing an old copy of Liberty, a magazine, about aerial warfare. Mitty is a fighter pilot who decides to take his plane up alone when none of the other men are capable of flying. He drinks several brandies before leaving to fly his plane "forty kilometers through hell."
The fifth daydream comes on while Mitty lights a cigarette and stands up against the outside wall of a drugstore his wife has entered. He imagines he is a condemned man smoking his last cigarette while facing a firing squad. He refuses to have a handkerchief tied over his eyes and faces the firing squad "erect and motionless, proud and disdainful."