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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

by James Thurber

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty 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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