I See You Never by Ray Bradbury, 1947
The magic trick:
Showing restraint in the way the sentimental hero of the story is portrayed
The more Ray Bradbury I read the more my admiration grows. He really was very good. Good as a writer. Good as a human being.
Here, we find him defending a Mexican immigrant. In 1947. I wonder what he would think of today’s temperature when it comes to this topic. He was ahead of his generation’s morality. So many times we’re cautioned to judge people of the past by the social norms of their day. Don’t apply your own modern views. And I get that to the point, but come on, there has to be a line, doesn’t there? Racism is racism even if it was 1935 and everyone was doing it. Gimme a break. It’s so nice to have an author in Bradbury who doesn’t require us to make such concessions.
The story itself is very simple, very quick. I very much liked the way we get images of Mr. Ramirez’ life in the United States. He is presented not as a hero – he gets drunk once a week; he treats himself to a fancy car. He is just a normal person, a normal American. The plot is sentimental enough, so the restraint shown in the character portrait avoids overdoing it. And that’s quite a trick on Bradbury’s part.
Then, also, he had ridden the streetcars—all night some nights—smelling the electricity, his dark eyes moving over the advertisements, feeling the wheels rumble under him, watching the little sleeping houses and big hotels slip by. Besides that, he had gone to large restau- rants, where he had eaten many-course dinners, and to the opera and the theatre. And he had bought a car, which later, when he forgot to pay for it, the dealer had driven off angrily from in front of the rooming house.
Subscribe to the Short Story Magic Tricks Monthly Newsletter to get the latest short story news, contests and fun.