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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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.

Print this article Print all entries for this topic Cite this article. Retrieved April 12, 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.

It seems that, although an elaborate network of railroads has been planned and partially completed, the service is highly unreliable. In addition, it is not really clear that the system does operate in the way the switchman claims: Like most of Arreola’s stories, The Switchman’ can be interpreted in a variety of ways—as an allegory of the pitfalls of the Mexican train system, an existential horror story of life’s absurdities and human limitation, and the author’s desire to laugh in spite of the insanities of the world and human interaction.

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

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. Suddenly, a train approaches and the switchman begins to signal it.

The railroad company occasionally creates false train stations in remote locations to abandon people when the trains become too crowded. 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.

Learn more about citation styles Citation styles Encyclopedia. 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. Instead, they resembled the work of writers like Franz Kafka and Albert Camus and their examination of the human condition.

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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. 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.

Camus writes that neither humans alone nor the world by itself is absurd. But upon inquiring again where the stranger wants to go, the switchman receives the answer X instead of T.

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.

When the stranger asks the switchman how he knows all of this, the switchman replies that he is a retired switchman who visits train stations to reminisce about old times. 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. 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 short story was originally published as a confabularioa word created in Spanish by Arreola, inin the collection Confabulario and Other Inventions.

The Switchman – Wikipedia

Why, then, does the switchman vanish at this moment? Mexican literature short stories. In some cases, new towns, like the town of F. This page was last edited on 8 Septemberat The stranger is very confused; he has no plans ojs stay.

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. He vanishes because he has fulfilled his nos as the stranger’s subconscious by not only asking the Camusian question “Why?

The switchman explains how the railroad company thinks of their railway 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. The old man then dissolves in the clear morning air, and only the red speck of the lantern remains guaedagujas before the noisily approaching engine.

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The residents accept this d, but hope for a change in the system. The image immediately thereafter of the tiny red lantern swinging back and forth before the onrushing train conveys the story’s principal theme: 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. Retrieved from ” https: 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 question “Why?

The railroad management was so pleased that they decided guardagujaz suspend any official bridge building and instead encourage the stripping and recreation of future trains. As the stranger is very interested in this, the switchman once again encourages the stranger to juah his luck, but warns him not to talk to fellow passengers, who may be spies, and to watch out for mirages that the railroad company generates.

The stranger wants to know if a train going to T. 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. guardagujws

The story, first published as “El guardagujas” in Cinco Cuentos inis translated in Confabulario and Other Inventions Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. He asks arreol stranger for the name of guardaujas station he wants to go to and the stranger says it is “X. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. It was republished ten years later along with other published works by Arreola at that time in the collection El Confabulario total.

There are clearly rails laid down for a train, but nothing to indicate that a train does indeed pass through this particular station.