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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

by James Thurber

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Who is Wellington McMillan in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," and who is his close personal friend?

In "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," Wellington McMillan is an invention of Mitty's imagination, someone of great wealth and political influence. His friend is Franklin Roosevelt, president of the United States. In Mitty's daydreams, he tends to imagine himself living a life of glamor and significance in contrast to the mundane reality of his life. In this particular daydream, Mitty is a surgeon and McMillan a patient who is relying on Mitty to save him.

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This story follows a series of fanciful daydreams envisioned by its main character, the meek Walter Mitty, as he imagines himself as someone of importance and glamour, living a life of excitement. Wellington McMillan is the invention of one of his daydreams, in which Mitty imagines himself as a leading surgeon.

In the daydream, Wellington McMillan is the patient, someone both wealthy and influential, referred to as a "millionaire banker." His friend (the one your question alludes to) is referred to as Roosevelt. This is a political reference, one which is used to signify the scale of the McMillan's imagined influence and political stature. Thurber is referring here to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, president of the United States and a member of one of the most powerful political dynasties in US history.

McMillan's own political and financial importance reflects back on the imagined Walter Mitty, now one of the world's leading doctors. McMillan is lying in the operating room with his life in jeopardy, relying on Mitty to save him (though the daydream is ended before success or failure can be revealed). In this respect, Mitty is once again able to imagine himself as a person of significance, as he uses his daydreams for a partial escape from the mundane reality of his life.

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