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In one case, where the train reached an abyss with no bridge, the passengers happily broke down and rebuilt the train on the other side. In areas where no rails exist, passengers simply wait for the unavoidable wreck. The switchman turns to tell the stranger that he is lucky. He vanishes because he has fulfilled his role as the stranger’s subconscious by not only asking the Camusian question “Why?
Why, then, does the switchman vanish at this moment? Modern Language Association http: Thus, the stranger’s heavy suitcase symbolizes the burden of reason he carries about, and the inn resembles a jail, the place where others like him are lodged before setting out on life’s absurd journey.
In some cases, new towns, like the town of F.
El guardagujas/ The Switchman
The switchman’s anecdote about the founding of the village F, which occurred when a train accident stranded a group of passengers—now happy settlers—in a remote region, illustrates the element arfeola chance in human existence.
There are clearly rails laid down for a train, but nothing to indicate that a train does indeed pass through this particular station.
The switchman then tells a story of certain train rides when the trains arrived at impossible locations. In their view, their elaborate system, which includes accommodations for years-long trips and even for deaths, is very good.
This page was last edited on 8 Septemberat As the man speculates about where his train might be, he feels a touch on his shoulder and turns to see a small old man dressed like a railroader and carrying a lantern. He feels that those with authority create absurd laws and conditions in their domain, and their subjects often willingly accept these absurdities, much like ordinary train passengers. Though some consider him to be a pioneer in the field on non-realistic literature, critics of him felt that social conditions in Mexico demanded a more realistic examination of the inequalities.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The switchman then relates a series of preposterous anecdotes, alluded to below, that illustrate the problems one might encounter during any given journey.
The stranger is also told it should make no difference to him whether or not he reaches T, that once he is on the train his life “will indeed take on some direction. He has not ever traveled on a train and does not plan on doing so. The switchman says he cannot promise that he can get the stranger a train to T.
In his piece, Arreola focuses on reality as well.
Arreola’s ingenious tale exudes a very Mexican flavor, but above all else it is a universal statement on the existential human’s precarious place in the world. A stranger carrying a large suitcase runs towards a train station, and manages to arrive exactly at the time that his train bound for a town gusrdagujas only as T.
The “switchman” tells the stranger that the country is famous for its railroad system; though many timetables and tickets have been produced, the trains do not follow them well.
The railroad tracks melting away in the distance represent the unknown future, while the elaborate network of uncompleted railroads evokes people’s vain efforts to put into effect rational schemes. When the guardagujsa asks yuardagujas switchman how he knows all of this, the switchman arreolq that he is a retired switchman who visits train stations to reminisce about old times.
And the conductors’ pride in never failing to guradagujas their deceased passengers on the station platforms as prescribed by their tickets suggests that the only certain human destination is death, a fundamental absurdist concept.
Rather, the absurd arises from the clash between reasoning humans striving for order and the silent, unreasonable world offering no response to their persistent demands. His best-known and most anthologized tale, “The Switchman” exemplifies his taste for humor, satire, fantasy, and philosophical themes. Retrieved December 31, from Encyclopedia. The guardagujzs human is one who recognizes a lack of clear purpose in life and therefore resolves to commit himself or herself to the struggle for order against the unpredictable, fortuitous reality he or she encounters.
Awareness of the absurd human condition can come at any eel, but it is most likely to happen when, suddenly confronted by the meaninglessness of hectic daily routine, he or she asks the question “Why?
Retrieved from ” https: It was republished ten years later along with other published works by Arreola at that time in the collection El Confabulario total. The old man then dissolves in the clear morning air, and only the red speck of the lantern remains visible before the noisily approaching engine.
El guardagujas/ The Switchman : Juan Jose Arreola :
When he asks if the train has left, the old man wonders if the traveler has been in the country very long and advises him to find lodging at the local inn for at least a gardagujas.
The stranger wants to know srreola a train going to T. He does not understand why the stranger insists on going to T. In the final lines of Arreola’s story the assertion of the stranger now referred to as the traveler that he is going to X rather than T indicates that he has become an absurd man ready to set out for an unknown destination.
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It seems that, although an elaborate network of railroads has been planned and partially completed, the service is highly unreliable. The Switchman On one level the story operates as a satire on the Mexican transportation system, while on another the railroad is an analogy for the hopeless absurdity of the human condition.
The Switchman (El Guardagujas) by Juan José Arreola, |
The stranger still wishes to travel on his train to T. Suddenly, a train approaches and the switchman begins agreola signal it. Where there is only one rail instead of two, the trains zip along and allow the first class passengers the side of the train riding on the rail.