What are each of the five daydreams Walter Mitty has during "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty?"

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Walter Mitty first imagines himself flying a Navy airplane through a terrible storm; his men are scared and his bravery gives them hope and courage.

Mitty then imagines that he is a surgeon of great skill, overseeing an operation; when an anesthetic machine breaks, he is able to fix it, and the other doctors ask him to step in when the surgery becomes difficult.

After that, Mitty imagines himself on trial for murder. Although he has an alibi, he is the world's greatest pistol shot and could have committed the murder with either hand; this admission results in a courtroom commotion:

...suddenly a lovely, dark-haired girl was in Walter Mitty's arms. The District Attorney struck at her savagely. Without rising from his chair, Mitty let the man have it on the point of the chin. "You miserable cur!" . . .
(Thurber, "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," bnrg.cs.berkeley.edu)

Next, Mitty dreams of being an ace fighter pilot, the only one left after all the other pilots are taken sick with fear. Mitty prepares to fly alone into a hail of anti-aircraft fire, the only hope of the Allies.

Finally, Mitty tries to relax with a cigarette, and his subconscious places him on the wall of a firing squad. To his mind, he will never escape his tepid, ordinary life, and so he is doomed.

In each fantasy, Mitty is the hero and the center of attention; in reality, he is entirely normal, and other people barely notice him.

edcon eNotes educator| Certified Educator
  1. In the story's opening, Walter Mitty is driving in the car with his wife but daydreaming about being a Navy commander flying through a dangerous storm in a "SN202" with an admiring and devoted crew.
  2. Mitty's next daydream casts him as a surgeon called in to consult on a difficult case; a millionaire needs an operation, and Mitty not only has to step in to fix the "anesthetizer" with an ingenious use of a fountain pen, he has to finish the surgery. 
  3. In his third reverie, Mitty is on the witness stand, coolly testifying in a murder case.  He is on trial, and his expertise with guns so unnerves a woman that she faints.  Mitty catches her and then punches the district attorney who lunges for the woman. 
  4. Mitty imagines himself casually tossing back brandy while a fierce military battle rages around him.  He straps on a sidearm, prepared to sprint through heavy fire to fly a crucial solo mission to an ammunition dump.
  5. In his final fantasy, Walter Mitty faces a firing squad, showing no fear as he finishes a cigarette and flicks it away, disdainfully. He refuses a blindfold, preferring to face his executioners. 

 

severusm00 | Student

He dreams of being in the army.

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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

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