What distraction jars Mitty out of his first daydream in James Thurber's "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"?

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Insofar as one need only read the first two paragraphs of James Thurber's short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty to discover the source of the interruption in the protagonist's daydream, the answer is pretty simple to find. As Thurber's classic tale of a man routinely escaping his dreary daily existence through the use of his very active imagination begins, the reader is immediately placed inside of a military aircraft, a Navy hydroplane, during a dangerous maneuver. The plane's crew, including "the Commander" and "Lieutenant Berg," is battling hostile conditions, their lives clearly in danger from the brutal, winter weather that is causing ice to form on the pilot's window. The scene is frightening, and exciting. It is interrupted, however, by the following comment:

"Not so fast. You're driving too fast. . .What are you driving so fast for?"

This admonition comes from the wife of the man driving their car, during which time his mind has wandered and he has escaped reality once again only to be abruptly brought back to the present. Walter Mitty lives every man's nightmare. He is married to a domineering, demanding wife who insists on micromanaging his life, and one can assume that he is stuck in menial dead-end job suitable an individual of limited capabilities. This first dream in Thurber's story ends, as will another, with Mitty's wife destroying yet another fantasy.

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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

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