Plot Essay

?The Secret Life of Walter Mitty? is a humorous short story that reveals the many fantasies of heroism Mr. Walter Mitty engages himself in to help him escape the daily pressures of life. The story begins with Mr. Mitty as the commander on a military plane ordering the crew to proceed through a dangerous storm, and reassuring the scared passengers that everything will be ok. Reality soon intrudes, though, and the heroic image is replaced by a description of Mitty driving his wife to her regular visit with the hairdresser (DLB 102 326). The story quickly continues with Mr. Mitty driving away from the hairdresser. While he is trying to enter the parking garage through the exit he is engulfed in another fictitious fantasy, this time around he is imagining himself as a brilliant doctor called upon to perform an operation on a prominent banker. However, his fantasy is quickly dissolved by the parking lot attendant who is capable of maneuvering Mittty’s car better than he himself can. The story is concluded as Mr. Mitty stands alone smoking a cigarette. He falls into another fantasy, this time he is in front of a firing squad. He tosses the cigarette away and faces the guns courageously-?Walter Mitty the Undefeated, inscrutable to the last.? (Wilson 185). Throughout the story Mitty lives in a reverie of consisting of situations in which he is a hero: commander of a navy airplane, surgeon, trial witness, bomber pilot, and condemned martyr (Magill 864).
?The Secret Life of Walter Mitty? is about a man whose ordinary life leads him to an array of heroic fantasies. It all started with Mrs. Mitty’s dominating personality. She nagged him to guy galoshes, to put on his gloves, and to drive more slowly (Wilson 185). But another example of her domination happens near the end of the story just after Mrs. Mitty sees Walter sitting in the hotel lobby. At this time it is no surprise that Walter is engulfed in another one of his fantasies, this time he is seeing himself as a heroic bomber pilot about to go on a dangerous mission. His wife seeing that he is slightly out of it slaps his shoulder and begins to ask what he was thinking about. Walter then goes on to explain what he was thinking and gives his classic quotation: ?I was thinking,?does it ever occur to you that I am sometimes thinking?? On the other hand Walter Mitty is a daydreamer who imagines himself the hero of his fantasies as a navy pilot, and noble victim of a firing squad (Magill 864). The dream is clearly an escape from the external life which humiliatingly interrupts it: his wife’s mothering, the arrogant competence of a parking attendant and policeman, the humiliating errands of removing tire chains, buying overshoes and asking for puppy biscuit (Magill 865). In his dreams he is Lord Jim, the misunderstood hero, ?inscrutable to the last?; in his daily life he is a middle-aged husband enmeshed in a web of humdrum (Wilson 184).

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