In Dumbo as Myth 1: Beginning and End I concentrated on the very beginning and the very end of the film, noticing that the end was the opposite of the beginning in mode of presentation. The story begins during a storm and asserts the difference between the sky and the ground. Birds live in the sky while other animals live on the ground. The story ends during the day and focuses on crows, creatures of the sky, sitting atop a telephone pole, which is sunk into the ground.
Now let’s take a look at the terms in which Dumbo takes his success and ask, once again: Why?
Dumbo’s success comes, of course, during a circus act featuring him. He failed the first time, when he tripped on his ears and collapsed the elephant pyramid rather than landing triumphantly on top. He succeeded the second time, but was humiliated because he was made-up as a clown and was soaked in white goo. The third time, as the cliché has it, was a charm. He flew.
And in the Big City, which is important. The film started in winter quarters somewhere in South Florida and played in a few small towns. But Dumbo triumphs in the Big City where, of course, the clowns had been anticipating their own triumph.
Once Dumbo had dunked the clowns and shown off his flying skills he took mild revenge on those matrons who had spurned him an his mother, spraying them with peanuts as though his trunk were a machine gun:
That’s the last thing we see in his act. Of course, it wasn’t planned. Then we see him flying with Timothy Mouse in his hat proclaiming: “You’re makin’ history!”