***(out of 4 stars)
How do you see the person sitting next to you? Do you judge by race, creed or even by a deformity? Humanity can be very cruel to things it does not understand. In Ray Bradbury's "The Dwarf" these questions are blatant. Ray Bradbury understood humanity; with his prose and dialog within the stories.
Ralph Banghart and Aimee work at the local carnival. Ralph runs the ticket booth at the mirror maze. He and Amiee are friends. Every night a dwarf, Mr. Bigelow (Mr. Big) pays his dime to walk through the maze. In private, he stands and admires himself in one of the mirrors, which makes him look much taller and slender than his natural self. One night, Ralph and Aimee spy on him. At first it's just out of fun, but Aimee soon realizes why the dwarf enjoys seeing himself in a different way.
Aimee has compassion for Mr. Bigelow and soon finds out that he's a writer. She reads Ralph one of his short stories but Ralph laughs it off. Aimee wants to get Mr. Big his own mirror, so he won't have to continue to pay night after night to vision himself as somebody different. Aimee might also be attracted to Mr. Big, which is hinted at as well. Ralph refuses to help her get Mr. Big his mirror. When Mr. Big eventually realizes that Ralph is spying on him, he runs out of the mirror maze, screaming and shrieking. He steals a gun from another vendor. We don't really know what he eventually does with that gun. Maybe suicide, maybe rampage. Does it really matter? In one scene Ralph sees himself in one of the mirrors. His image is much smaller, hinting to the man's character.
Aimee is what is good about humanity. She sees the dwarf for what he really is, and when she offers to buy the mirror for him, you can tell that she just wants him to feel good about himself. He's paying money every night to view himself as somebody he's really not. Mr. Big is a good writer, because he doesn't need to fool anyone while in his little world. There, he can be whatever he wants, without the fear of being judged.
Ralph Banghart is a dispicable human being. He's like the fifth grader who gets his rocks off by laughing and tormenting smaller classmates. Yet, deep down, he's smaller (in heart and soul) than the dwarf could ever be. There's also a hint of jealousy towards Mr. Big due in part to Aimees sympathetic natural towards him. Unlike Mr. Big, Ralph isn't deformed in any way. Yet, the deformity doesn't really matter. Mr. Big is a human, who was dealt a crappy hand in life. On the outside Ralph is normal to the eye, but isn't quite as humane within his flesh.
I feel that when we read any Ray Bradbury story we're being taught a lesson on life. It's not just about getting a story across as much as a message. When Ray passed away earlier this month, we truly lost someone special, someone who understood life. One day I think we'll find that Ray Bradbury brought many mysteries of life and the universe to the forefront. His style of writing was unmatched and can never, ever be duplicated. With a simple title like, "The Dwarf" would you ever expect such messages and meaning? This is why Ray will never truly die. He's cemented his immortality and will live on forever.
Another great story from Ray Bradbury's immortal The October Country.