The real-life Walter Mitty’s
masculinity—or lack of it—is most often demonstrated through his interactions with his car
. Fast cars are commonly associated with sex and virility, but Mrs. Mitty
won’t allow her husband to go fast. Just as her demands control his schedule while they are in town, she controls the car even when he is the one behind the wheel. Mitty’s skill with the car when he’s on his own is questionable, however. He gets the tire chains wound around the axles, hesitates too long at a traffic light, and struggles to get it into the right place at the parking lot, requiring younger, more capable men—of whom Mitty is deeply resentful—to handle the car for him. His display of masculine power is limited to racing the engine as an ineffectual rebuttal to Mrs. Mitty’s nagging—just as his heroism is limited to fantasies that go nowhere in real life.