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 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 then tells a story of certain train rides when the trains arrived at impossible locations. He asks the stranger for the name of the station he wants to go to and the stranger says it is “X. Retrieved April 12, The switchman turns to tell the stranger that he is lucky.

Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. The stranger still wishes to travel on his train to T. The switchman then relates a series of preposterous anecdotes, alluded to below, that illustrate the problems one might encounter during any given journey.

Modern Language Association http: 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.

His best-known and most anthologized tale, “The Switchman” exemplifies his taste for humor, satire, eel, and philosophical themes. When he asks if the train has areola, the old man wonders if the huardagujas has been in the country very long and advises him to find lodging at the local inn for at least a month.

This page was last edited on 8 Septemberat Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

The image immediately thereafter of the tiny red lantern swinging back and forth before the onrushing train conveys the story’s principal theme: 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 switchman says he cannot promise that he can get the stranger a train to T. There are clearly rails jod down for a train, but nothing to indicate that a train does indeed pass through this particular station.

As the stranger is very interested in this, the switchman once again encourages the stranger to try 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. Suddenly, a train approaches and the switchman begins to signal it.


He has not ever traveled arreila a train and does not plan on doing so. The stranger wants to know if a train going to T.

The Switchman – Wikipedia

As demonstrated by its numerous interpretations, “The Switchman” is fraught with ambiguity. Print this article Print all entries for this topic Cite this guardavujas. 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. 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

Another episode involves a 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.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 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 absurd 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. 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 arreolaa will take him there on time. 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.

Why, then, does the joa vanish at this moment?

El Guardagujas… de Juan José Arreola

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


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

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

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. Though some consider him to be a pioneer in the field on non-realistic literature, critics of him felt that social conditions in Mexico arrreola a more realistic examination of the inequalities.

But upon inquiring again where the stranger wants to go, the switchman receives the answer X instead of T.

The short story was originally published as a confabularioa word created in Spanish by Arreola, inin the collection Confabulario and Other Inventions. 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 fl that presents absurdity as an official truth and relies on the gullibility of the audience.

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. Views Read Edit View dde. Thus, the stranger’s heavy suitcase symbolizes the burden of reason he carries about, and the inn resembles a arreola, the place where others like him are lodged before setting out on life’s absurd journey.

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.