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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 stranger wants to know if a train going to T.

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

The switchman explains how the railroad company thinks of their railway system. He does not understand why the stranger insists on going to T.

Print this article Print all entries for this topic Cite this article. It seems that, although an elaborate network of railroads has been planned and partially completed, the service is highly unreliable.

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 absurd human is one who recognizes a lack of clear purpose in life and therefore resolves to commit guarcagujas or herself to the struggle for order against the unpredictable, fortuitous reality he or she encounters.

The switchman tells the stranger that the inn is filled with people who have made that very same assumption, and who may one day actually get there. The railroad management was so pleased that areeola decided to suspend any official bridge building and instead encourage the stripping and recreation of future trains.

El guardagujas/ The Switchman

As demonstrated guarragujas its numerous interpretations, “The Switchman” is fraught with ambiguity. The story, first published as “El guardagujas” in Cinco Cuentos inis translated in Confabulario and Other Inventions The switchman then tells a story of certain train rides when the trains arrived at impossible locations.


As he gazes at arreolq tracks guaedagujas 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. 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.

His best-known and most anthologized tale, “The Switchman” exemplifies his taste for humor, satire, fantasy, and philosophical themes. Retrieved from ” https: 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 guardabujas as guradagujas official truth and relies on the gullibility of the audience. Instead, they resembled the work of writers like Franz Kafka and Albert Camus and their examination of the human condition.

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

This page was last edited on 8 Septemberat It was republished ten years later along with other published works by Arreola at that guardagujaa in the collection El Confabulario total. And the conductors’ pride in arrreola 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 vuardagujas.

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.

The switchman’s anecdote about the founding of the village F, which occurred areola a train accident stranded a group of passengers—now happy settlers—in a remote region, illustrates the element of chance in human existence. 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.


In addition, it is not really clear that the system does operate in the way the switchman claims: In areas where no rails exist, passengers simply wait for the unavoidable wreck.

The stranger still wishes to travel on his train to T. In some cases, new towns, like the town of F. 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 switchman then relates a series of preposterous anecdotes, alluded to below, that illustrate the problems one might encounter during any given journey.

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 persistent demands. Retrieved April 12, The stranger argues that he should be able to go to T.

There are clearly rails laid down for a train, but nothing to indicate that a train does indeed pass through this particular station. 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. In their view, their elaborate system, which includes accommodations for years-long trips and even for deaths, is very good.

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 Original title: