Comparing the characters of Walter Mitty and Billy Liar.

Authors Avatar by zeynep_merve10hotmailcouk (student)

As both the authors, James Thurber and Keith Waterhouse, have started their stories with the daydreams of the characters Walter Mitty and Billy Fisher; their aim is to point out the fact that daydreaming is a natural occurrence in human life. Also they are displaying the significant role of daydreaming in these stories. In Walter Mitty the story begins as follows: “We’re going through; the commander’s voice was like thin ice breaking”. In Billy Liar, the story begins as follows: ‘’ It was true that we entered the war late, and some criticised us for that.’’. From these quotes I can understand that Walter Mitty is a commander in the beginning of the story in his daydream. Similarly Billy Fisher is a leader of the war that has recently ended in a non-existing land called ‘Ambrosia’. As soon as the story begins with these daydreams, we could see that the author wants the readers to believe both characters have a habit of daydreaming and they do this on a regular basis.

In both of the stories, the writers leap directly into the scenario of the daydream, therefore the readers are likely to assume Walter Mitty and Billy Fisher are literally living these situations. However, as the readers reach the sections where the characters are both hurled back into reality, they conceive the fact that the characters were only in their fantasy worlds. “’Not so fast! You are driving too fast!’ said Mrs. Mitty.” This quote indicates that Mitty is hurled back into the real world with the calling of his wife, who is warning him to slow the speed of the car which Mitty imagines to be a hydroplane in war. The readers could derive that Mitty’s daydreams occur unintentionally as he has no control over them. Mitty driving a car, imports his mind into imagining that he is flying a hydroplane; accordingly we could say that his daydreams are related to the action he is carrying out in reality. Whereas, from this quote: “I put an end to all this, consciously and deliberately.” I can deduce that Billy Fisher is coming out of the fantasy world with his own will, as he allowed himself to daydream about Ambrosia while he was avoiding getting up and going to work.

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The writers want the readers to notice that daydreams have a significant role in both the characters’ worlds, as they mean power and offer an escape for them from their reality. In both the characters we can see that they desire to be leaders and heroes; traits that they lack in real life. “Full strength in No.3 turret!” from this quote the readers could determine the fact that Walter Mitty is a commander and he is giving orders, being a leader in the fantasy world. Also the exclamation mark that has been used, indicates the loudness and fierceness of the ...

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