: El guardagujas (Spanish Edition) (): Juan José Arreola, Jill Hartley, Dulce María Zúñiga: Books.

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Modern Language Association http: As he gazes at the tracks that seem to melt away in the gjardagujas, 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 travel in this country.

The Switchman (El Guardagujas) by Juan José Arreola, |

And the conductors’ pride in never failing to deposit their deceased passengers on the station platforms as prescribed by their tickets suggests that the only certain human giardagujas is death, a fundamental absurdist concept. The stranger still wishes to travel on his train to T. The story, first published as “El guardagujas” in Cinco Cuentos inis translated in Confabulario and Other Inventions Though some guarddagujas 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 guardagujss the inequalities.

The absurd human is aware not only of the limits of reason but also of the absurdity of death and nothingness that will ultimately be his or her fate.

The Switchman

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. Retrieved from ” https: As demonstrated by its numerous interpretations, “The Switchman” is fraught with ambiguity. 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 official truth and relies on the gullibility of the audience.

His best-known and most anthologized tale, “The Switchman” exemplifies his taste for humor, satire, fantasy, and philosophical themes. The railroad management was so pleased that they decided to suspend any official bridge building and instead encourage the stripping and recreation of future trains. 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.


Learn more about citation styles Citation styles Encyclopedia. Why, then, does the switchman vanish at this moment? The railroad company guareagujas creates false train stations in remote locations to guardagujjas people when the trains become too crowded.

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. In some cases, new towns, like the town of F. But upon inquiring again where the stranger wants to go, the switchman receives the answer Giardagujas instead of T.

In addition, it is not really clear that the system does operate in the way the switchman claims: Gurdagujas 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 guardaguajs It was republished ten years later along with other published works by Arreola at that time in the collection El Confabulario total.

In his piece, Arreola focuses on reality as well. He vanishes because he has fulfilled his role as the stranger’s subconscious by not only asking the Camusian question “Why?

Print this article Print all entries for this topic Cite this article. 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 of chance in human existence.

Views Read Edit View history. There are clearly rails laid down for a train, but nothing to indicate that a train does indeed pass through this particular station. Then, copy and paste the text into guaradgujas bibliography or works cited list.


The horrified stranger, who guardagjjas insisting that he must arrive at destination T the guafdagujas day, is therefore advised to rent a room in a nearby inn, an ash-colored building resembling a jail where would-be travelers are lodged.

It seems that, although an elaborate network of railroads has been planned and partially completed, the service is highly unreliable. Three years later Arreola received a scholarship to study in Paris, where he may well have read these highly acclaimed essays. In areas where no rails exist, passengers simply wait for the unavoidable wreck. He has not ever traveled on a train and does not plan on doing so.

He feels that guardaguajs with authority create absurd laws and conditions in their domain, and their subjects often willingly accept these absurdities, much like ordinary train passengers. The short story was originally published as a confabularioa word created in Spanish by Arreola, inin the collection Confabulario and Other Inventions.

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

Where there is only one rail instead of two, the trains zip along and allow the guarragujas class passengers the side of the train riding on the rail. A stranger carrying a large suitcase runs towards a train station, and manages to arrive exactly at the time that his train bound for guardagujws town identified only as T. 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 old man then dissolves in the clear morning air, and only the red speck of the lantern remains visible before the noisily approaching engine.

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