I’m now working on a post, Dumbo as Myth: Disney’s Metaphysics of Modernity, in which I’m going to attempt to deal with the whole film. So I’ve been looking it over and decided to break down the scenes by night and day from beginning to end.
The story begins on a dark and stormy night. That then is the first night and the events of the following day would be the first day. I’m thus reversing our normal sense of night following the day. On the third, fourth, and sixth days we have Dumbo perform. Those performances seem to happen in the late evening and early night and I’ve so indicated. I also assume that we’re working on cartoon time, if you will, so that these various acts are not worked out in rehearsal over a period of days, if not weeks, as they would be in a real circus. And so I don’t allow for rehearsals that we never see.
Given these assumptions, the film takes place over six nights and days.
Here’s how that works out:
Night 1: Storm, storks, babies delivered to all but Mrs. Jumbo.
Day 1: Dumbo is delivered during the day, to a moving train.
This is important, as it marks another difference between Dumbo and the rest. The other infants were delivered at night and while the circus was on location.
Night 2: Tent is erected during a storm, Dumbo helps.
Day 2: circus parade, Dumbo bathes and plays with mother, Dumbo mocked, boy punished by Mrs. Jumbo. Panic! Mrs. Jumbo is banished!
Night 3: Mrs. Jumbo locked up. Dumbo shunned by gossipy matrons; TM befriends Dumbo and gives ringmaster a brilliant idea.
Day 3 (evening): The act bombs, injuries all around. Big Top collapses onto Dumbo.
That is, the tent he helped erect on the second night has collapsed.
Night 4: Night-time trip in storm and rain, matrons meet, banish Dumbo, he’s been made a clown.
Why all the stormy nights?
Day 4 (evening): The new act’s a hit; clowns, fire, and water, Dumbo in infant drag; Dumbo ends up humiliated, in white goo.
Night 5: Clowns celebrate, Dumbo visits mom, Pink Elephants parade in a metaphysical way.
Day 5: Dumbo learns to fly. Ends flight on telephone wires along with crows.
Night 6 (evening): Dumbo triumphs in the Big City, barnstorming aerial show
Day 6: Triumphant newsreel, final trip into sunset, crows on telephone pole.