This short story by Paul Gallico, first published in 1941, holds a lot of lessons for humanity in present day.
The Snow Goose follows the life of Rhayader, a disabled man living in Essex. The narrator, commenting on how the Essex community received him upon arrival to the area says “physical deformity often breeds hatred of humanity in men”. As a result, Rhayader lived out his days in seclusion.
Until one day, a young girl from the community, needed help fixing a bird.
Paul draws parallels between Rhayader and the crippled bird brought to him by the girl, Frith, to fix. Rhayader happens to be good with animals. The bird, a Canadian Snow Goose is the catalyst to the friendship between the two.
Paul is constantly juxtaposing the bird that keeps coming back every summer to the people of Essex who have never cared to know Rhayader. He is also always jabbing at the differences between the two main characters.
Many lessons can be learned in this short story about how a bird saw a man everyone refused to see. From this tale you learn that no one lives and dies without impact, that no one can turn you into something you are not. That you should aspire to move around in this world with as much goodness as you can contain in your heart in spite of how society may look upon you. And where possible, learn to look beyond yourself, for it is only then that we make the greatest impact on life.
It’s a story of resilience and an affirmation of life. After all, what we look like is not the sum total of who we are or what we will become.