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

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The short story was originally published as a confabularioa word created in Spanish by Arreola, inin the collection Gusrdagujas and Other Inventions. He has not ever traveled on a train and does not plan on doing so.

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

In one case, where the train guardagumas an abyss with no bridge, guardagujs passengers happily broke down and rebuilt the train on the other side. 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. 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 guardagujaz least a month.

Camus writes that neither humans alone nor the world by itself is absurd. 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 travel in this country.

The stranger wants to know if a train going to T. His best-known and guardagjas anthologized tale, “The Switchman” exemplifies his taste for humor, satire, fantasy, and philosophical themes.

Suddenly, a train approaches and the switchman begins to signal it. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. Views Read Edit View history.

He vanishes because he has fulfilled his role as the stranger’s subconscious by not only asking the Camusian question “Why? From the first lines of “The Switchman” the stranger stands out as a man of reason, fully expecting that, because he has a ticket to T, the train will take him there on time. This page was last edited on 8 Septemberat Print this article Print all entries for this topic Cite this article.

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 is very confused; he has guardqgujas plans to stay.


As the stranger is very interested in this, the switchman once again encourages the stranger to try his luck, but warns him guaragujas to talk to fellow passengers, who may be spies, and to watch out for mirages that the railroad company generates. As demonstrated by its numerous interpretations, “The Switchman” is fraught with ambiguity.

The Switchman

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

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. Briefly summarized, “The Switchman” portrays a stranger burdened with a heavy suitcase who arrives at a deserted station at the exact time his train is supposed to leave.

The image immediately thereafter of the tiny red lantern swinging back and forth before the onrushing train conveys the story’s principal theme: But upon inquiring again where ugardagujas stranger wants to go, the switchman receives the answer X instead of T. 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.

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. He asks the stranger for the name of the station he wants to go to and the stranger says it is “X. Mexican literature short stories.

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 destination is death, a fundamental absurdist concept. Retrieved April 12, It has been seen as a satire on Mexico’s railroad service and guaardagujas 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.

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. 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.


Instead, they resembled the work of writers like Guarrdagujas Kafka and Albert Camus and their examination of the human condition. In their view, their elaborate system, which includes accommodations for years-long trips and even for deaths, is very good. Retrieved December 31, from Encyclopedia.

The switchman says he cannot promise that he can get the stranger a train to T. The absurd human is aware not only of the limits of reason guadagujas also of the absurdity of death and nothingness that will ultimately be his or her fate. Modern Language Association http: In addition, it is not really clear that the system does operate in the way the switchman claims: He does not understand why the stranger insists on going to T. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Rather, the absurd arises from the clash between reasoning humans striving for order and the silent, unreasonable world offering no response to their ghardagujas demands.

The horrified stranger, who keeps insisting that he must arrive at destination T the next 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. 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.

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.

The story, first published as “El guardagujas” in Cinco Cuentos inis translated in Confabulario and Other Inventions