In a society of perfectly flawless people, Bernard’s flaw — his short stature — marks him for ridicule. The rumored cause, alcohol in his blood surrogate, links him chemically to the lower castes and undercuts his Alpha Plus status. Bernard himself is painfully aware of others’ responses to his un-Alpha-like shortness, and his lack of confidence stems from anxiety about rejection.
Bernard’s feelings about his difference develops into an inner resentment nurtured by his own egotism — a frame of mind that produces much emotion but little action. Although he wants to be an individual, to feel strongly and act freely, Bernard shows little creativity or courage.
Marked as an outsider, Bernard revels in pent-up anger and disgust at those who reject him. To his social equal, Helmholtz, he alternately brags and whines about his anti-social feelings of rebelliousness, yet when faced with superiors, Bernard is characteristically subservient and cowardly. Suddenly a social success, he makes the very most of his association with John to seize the power he once pretended to scorn, flaunting his unorthodoxy just for attention. In this, Bernard proves himself a hypocrite.
When compared with John and Helmholtz, Bernard remains shallow and uninteresting, despite his loneliness and obvious pain. His experience with John and his friendship with Helmholtz, however, bring him to a certain maturity by the end of the novel. Bernard goes to the Falkland Islands more of a real human being than he ever was before.