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Summary

How It All Goes Down

"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" tells the story of the aging Walter Mitty on a trip into town with his overbearing wife, Mrs. Mitty. Walter is inept at many things; he is an absent-minded driver, he can't handle simple mechanical tasks, and he forgets things easily. What makes Walter exceptional is his imagination.

While Walter goes through a day of ordinary tasks and errands, he escapes into a series of romantic fantasies, each spurred on by some mundane reality. As he drives his car, he imagines he is commanding "a Navy hydroplane" through a terrible storm (1). When he rides past a hospital, he imagines he is a world-famous surgeon saving a VIP's life. When he hears a newsboy shouting about a trial, he imagines he is a crack shot being interrogated in the courtroom. As he waits for his wife to finish at the hairdresser's, Walter sees pictures of German plane and imagines he is a British pilot willing to sacrifice his life for his country. Lastly, as Mitty waits outside against a wall for his wife to buy something in a drugstore, he fantasizes that he is a bold and brave man about to be shot by a firing squad. The story ends with the inscrutable Walter Mitty awaiting this romantic death.

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