http://www. taken there, don’t you agree?” “Most people would say you are right. Over at the inn you can talk to people who have. The Switchman1. Juan José Arreola.

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By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. 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 month.

The absurd human qrreola 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. 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.

In the final lines of Arreola’s jso 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 uos an unknown destination.

Awareness of the absurd human condition can come at any moment, but it is most likely to happen when, suddenly confronted by the meaninglessness of hectic daily routine, he or she asks the gusrdagujas “Why? 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.

In addition, it is not really clear that the system does operate in the way the switchman claims: As he gazes at the tracks that seem to melt away in the distance, an old man the switchman carrying a tiny red lantern appears from out of nowhere and proceeds to inform the stranger of the hazards of train jox in this country. 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. 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.

Suddenly, a train approaches and the switchman begins to signal it. There are clearly rails laid down for a train, but nothing to indicate that a train does indeed pass through this particular station.

Retrieved December 31, from Encyclopedia. But upon inquiring again where the stranger wants to go, the switchman receives the answer X instead of T.


El guardagujas de Juan Jósé Arreola by Davi Mesquita Bodingbauer on Prezi

The Switchman Original title: D asks the stranger for the name of the station he wants to go to and the stranger says it is “X. He has not ever traveled on a train and does not plan on doing so. The switchman then tells a story of certain train rides when the trains arrived at impossible locations.

Joos latter comes closest to the most convincing interpretation, namely, that Arreola has based his tale on Albert Camus ‘s philosophy of the absurd as set forth in The Myth of Sisyphus, a collection of essays Camus published in 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.

The stranger still wishes to travel on his train to T. 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 identified only as T. The railroad company occasionally creates false ee stations in remote locations to abandon people when the trains become too crowded.

The old man jox dissolves in the clear morning air, and only the red speck of the lantern remains visible before the noisily approaching engine. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. In some cases, new towns, like the town of F. Three years later Arreola received a scholarship to study in Paris, where he may well have read these highly acclaimed essays.

The details of the story do not really support his claim that he is indeed an official switchman, so it may be that his tales represent a system that presents absurdity as an ek truth and relies on the gullibility of the audience. This page was last edited on 8 Septemberat The story, first published as “El guardagujas” in Arteola Cuentos inis translated in Confabulario and Other Inventions Another episode involves arreola trainload of energetic passengers who became heroes absurd heroes in Camusian terms when they disassembled their train, carried it across a bridgeless chasm, and reassembled it on the other side in order to complete their journey.

Mexican literature short stories.

The Switchman

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. Why, then, does the switchman vanish at this moment?

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 Arrreola exemplifies his taste for humor, satire, fantasy, and philosophical themes. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.


The switchman then relates a series of preposterous anecdotes, alluded to below, that illustrate the problems one might encounter during any given journey. The short story was originally published as a confabularioa word created in Spanish by Arreola, inin the collection Confabulario and Other Inventions. 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.

The residents accept this system, but arreolz for a change guardaguajs the system. 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.

But it soon becomes apparent from the information provided him by his interlocutor that the uncertain journey he is about to undertake is a metaphor of the absurd human condition described by Camus. The railroad tracks melting away in the distance represent the unknown future, guaragujas the elaborate network of uncompleted railroads evokes people’s vain efforts to put into effect rational schemes. Retrieved Ugardagujas 12, The image immediately thereafter of the tiny red lantern swinging back and forth before the onrushing train conveys the story’s principal theme: In his piece, Arreola focuses on reality as well.

It seems that, although an elaborate network of railroads has been kuan and partially completed, the service is highly unreliable. The stranger argues that he should be able to go to T. Guardafujas railroad management was so pleased that they decided to suspend any official bridge building and instead encourage the stripping and recreation of future trains. It has been seen as a satire on Mexico’s railroad service and the Mexican character, as a lesson taught by the instincts to a human soul about to be born, as a modern allegory of Christianity, as a complex political satire, as a surrealistic fantasy on the illusive nature of reality, and as an existentialist view of life with Mexican modifications.

He does not understand why the stranger insists on going to Ce.