Walter Mitty’s life is something I’m afraid of. As an old man, his day to day has become so mundane, not to mention he’s got a nagging wife who is always on his case for mundane things. She complains about how fast he drives, she tells him he should buy overshoes to keep his shoes nice, wear his gloves while he’s driving, pick up dog treats at the A&P, pick me up after my hair appointment, etc. “You’re not a young man anymore”. I hear this kind of stuff all the time at work from my older coworkers who have slowed down and let old, married lives get the best of them. “I better do X or else I’ll hear it from my wife” or when I ask what they did over the weekend they’d say, “Oh just went to Home Depot to pick up some tile for the bathroom/grass seed for the lawn/dog treats for my dog/etc. Ugh. In order to escape from the monotony and incessant nagging, Walter Mitty escapes to several different fantasy worlds where he becomes a commander on a Naval ship, a trauma surgeon with unique skills no one else has, a man on trial for murder, a Captain in a WWII bomber and others. The story ends while he’s smoking a cigarette outside of the drug store waiting for his wife to pick up some medication, which was likely for his “daydreams”. It started to rain, he finished his cigarette, put his shoulders back against the wall, snapped his heels against the wall, put his head up, and slipped into another fantasy where he faced the firing squad. He died “proud and disdainful, undefeated, inscrutable to the last.” This is where the story ends but I can imagine that when his wife came out of the store she made a remark about his aloofness and he snapped out of his daydream, forced to live out his reality as an old man in an unfulfilling, uncreative, and mundane life. All three of those things are some of my biggest fears: unfulfilled, uncreative, and mundane. So I don’t blame Walter Mitty for wanting to escape to something more interesting and engaging, I just hope it never gets to that point for me.
About the Author James Thurber:
James Grover Thurber (December 8, 1894 – November 2, 1961) was an American author, cartoonist and celebrated wit. Thurber was best known for his cartoons and short stories, published mainly in The New Yorker magazine then collected in his numerous books. One of the most popular humorists of his time, Thurber celebrated the comic frustrations and eccentricities of ordinary people. (Courtesy of Amazon.com)
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