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This story first appealed to me because of its simplicity, but my interest in it deepened as I took notice of some of its deeper elements.  “The dwarf,” as the protagonist is called, appears to be a simple character.  His one desire at the beginning of the story is to enter the convent, which has thus far refused to open its doors to him.  Once inside, he immediately agrees to work there and is in awe of the nuns’ devotion to their religion.  He seems to have very pure intentions, as well, even expressing the desire to “snatch the washing out of the boiling water to save them from having to do it” (Al-Shaykh 13).  He looks up to the nuns, rather than viewing them with the baser intentions that one might expect of a man who tries obsessively to enter a convent.

However, there is one aspect of the dwarf’s character that prevents me from seeing him as a completely pure and good person.  He is obsessive in his interest in the convent and its occupants, and even goes as far as to believe that “everybody [has] joined forces to concoct a lie about the existence of this convent … they were all lying to him” (10).  His irrational thoughts do not stop at strangers, though: he even thinks that his own family is deceiving him.  An additional point that belies his obsessive tendencies is the presence, or lack of, the character Georgette.  We do not know anything about her other than that the dwarf knows her, and that she has joined the convent, but the dwarf is very interested in finding her within the ranks of nuns. It is hard to tell why he wants so badly to see her.  Is he in love with her?  Were they friends?  Was she one of the few people in their world who was kind to him?

I want to like this story: it is well-written and possesses a gentle simplicity that I have not encountered in any of the other readings for this class.  However, I cannot enjoy it as much as I would like, as the main character is vaguely unsettling in his obsessive habits.

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