The famous short story "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" by James Thurber tells of a man who has one amazing, adventurous, graphic fantasy after another while out on a shopping trip with his wife. The significance of the fantasies for Walter Mitty is that they help him cope with his mundane existence and his domineering wife who makes no effort to understand him. Thurber presents Mitty as someone who is deeply dissatisfied with his life as it is, and he uses the fantasies to make his life more interesting and exciting.
In the story, each of the fantasies is set off by something in the real world that corresponds with what Mitty fantasizes about. For instance, Mitty imagines himself piloting a Navy hydroplane when he is actually driving a car, and then his wife interrupts by telling him he is driving too fast. The fantasy about Mitty as a brilliant surgeon is brought on because his wife makes a comment about his gloves, which then become surgical gloves. The courtroom drama fantasy happens because Mitty hears a newsboy shout out about a trial. He imagines himself volunteering to fly a plane over Germany after reading an article about flying in a magazine. While smoking on a street corner, Mitty imagines that it is his last cigarette while facing a firing squad.
In each of these fantasies, Mitty uses his imagination to embellish ordinary events, so that his life will be more exciting and less of a drudgery.