Why does James Thurber describe Walter Mitty as “undefeated and inscrutable to the last” in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Walter's daydreams, he is never a loser, as he appears to be in real life. In his real world, he is timid and constantly in conflict with his nagging, overbearing wife. He rarely (if ever) stands up to her complaints, instead resorting to his daydreams to take him to a better place. In his fantasy world, Walter is a daring pilot who guides his plane and the men inside to safety. He is a doctor who successfully operates on a wealthy banker. On the witness stand, he brazenly defends himself and ends up with a girl in his arms. He is a soldier who bravely prepares to make a suicidal attack, one which he will probably survive. Finally, he happily faces a firing squad--a far, far better fate than he faces in a lifetime spent as a hen-pecked husband. He is undefeated in his fantasy world, always the conqueror who gets what he wants. And he is "inscrutable": a man of mystery whose two worlds--one as a sheepish coward and the other as a confident hero--will always contradict each other.

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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

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