Dwarf House

Beattie, Ann

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Annotated by:
Donley, Carol
  • Date of entry: Jan-31-1997


James, a dwarf, lives in a dwarf house and has a dwarf girl-friend. His brother, MacDonald, thinks of James as a dwarf first and a person second. MacDonald is really bothered by James wanting to marry--as if marriage and sexual relations were something dwarfs shouldn't do. When MacDonald tells his mother James has other people to talk to in the dwarf house, she says, "Dwarfs, not people. He's hiding from the real world." She too does not see dwarfs as real people, and sees herself as punished by giving birth to a dwarf. Yet at the wedding itself, the bride is genuinely happy, as MacDonald recognizes to his surprise.


Everyone in the story seems to be unhappy, even insists on it--except for MacDonald's secretary, Betty (who is on two kinds of pills that make her smile all day). But at the wedding James's bride "is smiling beautifully--a smile no pills could produce," and MacDonald, "on his knees to kiss her, doesn't want to get up" because of the happiness she generates.

While the story concentrates on the inability of "normal" people to see dwarfs (even relatives) as real--as fully human--it also looks at how people's blindness and intolerance make them unhappy. James's mother is crying at the wedding, not from happiness but from disapproval of the wedding itself and some hatred of James's father for creating this dwarf son she cannot accept. The tone of the story is comic and satirical, laughing at people's behavior as they try to deny what's real, such as trying to change James's "growth" with ointments to rub on the bottom of his feet and to make him grow.


Copyright 1976

Primary Source




Place Published

New York



Page Count