: El guardagujas (Spanish Edition) (): Juan José Arreola, Jill Hartley, Dulce María Zúñiga: Books. http://www. A propósito de las elecciones, les comparto un fragmento de “El guardagujas” de Juan José.

Author: Tojat Yozshukora
Country: Chad
Language: English (Spanish)
Genre: Business
Published (Last): 3 April 2006
Pages: 284
PDF File Size: 3.30 Mb
ePub File Size: 7.67 Mb
ISBN: 797-8-66301-616-5
Downloads: 15059
Price: Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]
Uploader: Zulkile

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 railroad company occasionally creates false train stations in remote locations to abandon people when the trains become too crowded. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved April 12, He has not ever traveled on a train and does not plan on doing so. He vanishes because he has fulfilled his role as the stranger’s subconscious by not only asking the Jowe question “Why?

The story, first published as “El guardagujas” in Cinco Cuentos inis translated in Confabulario and Other Inventions Views Read Edit View history.

The Switchman

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 aereola of the hazards of train travel in this country.

Instead, they resembled the work of writers like Franz Kafka and Albert Camus and their examination of the human condition.

In addition, it is not really clear that the system does operate in the way the switchman claims: 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. The railroad tracks melting away in the distance represent the unknown future, while the elaborate network of uncompleted railroads evokes people’s guardzgujas efforts to put into effect rational schemes.

The railroad management was so pleased that they decided to suspend any official bridge building and instead encourage the stripping and juxn of future trains. 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 jun out on life’s absurd journey. As the man speculates about where his train might be, he feels a touch on his shoulder and turns to see a small old man dressed like a railroader and carrying a lantern.

The latter comes closest to the most convincing interpretation, namely, that Arreola guarfagujas 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 Modern Language Association http: As demonstrated by its numerous interpretations, “The Switchman” is fraught with ambiguity.


The short story was originally published as a confabularioa word created in Spanish by Arreola, inin the collection Confabulario and Other Inventions. 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. Awareness of the absurd human condition can come at any moment, but it is most guardzgujas to happen when, suddenly confronted by the meaninglessness of hectic daily routine, he or she asks the question “Why?

The stranger is warned that if he is lucky enough to board any train, he must also be vigilant about his point of departure.

The stranger is very confused; he has no plans to stay. Mexican literature short stories. Three years later Arreola received a scholarship to study in Paris, where he may well have read these highly acclaimed essays. Arreola’s ingenious tale exudes a very Mexican flavor, but above all else it is a universal jjose on the existential human’s precarious place in the world. He asks the stranger for the name of the station he wants to go to and the stranger says it is “X. 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.

The residents accept this system, but hope for a change in the juuan. Why, then, does the switchman vanish at eel moment?

It was republished ten years later along with other published works by Arreola at that time in the collection El Confabulario total. Suddenly, a train approaches and the switchman begins to signal it. 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. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. The switchman’s anecdote about the founding of the village F, which occurred when a train accident stranded a group wrreola passengers—now happy settlers—in a remote region, illustrates the element of chance in human existence.

El Guardagujas (Fragmento)) Juan José Arreola | Litegatos

It seems that, although an elaborate network of railroads has been planned and partially completed, the service is highly unreliable. 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. 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.


His best-known and most anthologized tale, “The Switchman” exemplifies his taste for humor, satire, fantasy, and philosophical themes. 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 Switchman (El Guardagujas) by Juan José Arreola, |

But upon inquiring again where the stranger jsoe to go, the switchman receives the answer X instead of T. In his piece, Arreola focuses on reality as well.

In their view, their elaborate system, which includes accommodations for years-long trips and even for deaths, is very good.

He does not understand why the stranger insists on going to T. Camus writes that neither humans alone nor the world by itself is absurd.

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. The switchman then tells a story of certain train rides when the trains arrived at impossible locations.

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.

The switchman turns to tell the stranger that he is lucky. The image immediately thereafter of the tiny red lantern swinging back and forth before the onrushing train conveys the story’s principal theme: