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

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

He has not ever traveled on a train and does not plan on doing so. The details of the story do not really e 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. 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.

In some cases, new towns, like the town of F.

The latter comes closest to the most convincing interpretation, namely, that Arreola has 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 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.

As the man speculates about where his guardagujss might be, he feels a touch on his shoulder and turns to see a small old man dressed like guaardagujas railroader and carrying a lantern.

The Switchman Original title: 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 eo limitation, and the author’s desire to laugh in spite of the insanities of the world and human interaction. 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 still wishes to travel on his train to T. 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.

The stranger is also told it should make no difference to him whether or not he reaches T, that guaradgujas he is on the wl his life “will indeed take on some direction.

The Switchman

The story, first published as “El guardagujas” in Cinco Cuentos inis translated in Confabulario and Other Inventions Retrieved April 12, 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. His best-known and most anthologized tale, “The Switchman” exemplifies his taste for humor, satire, fantasy, and philosophical themes. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

The switchman says he cannot promise that he can get the stranger a train to T. 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.

The switchman then relates a series of preposterous anecdotes, alluded to below, that illustrate the problems one might encounter during any given journey.

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. Print this article Print all entries guaedagujas this topic Cite this article. There are clearly rails laid down for a train, but nothing to indicate that a train does guardaguas pass through this particular station. When the stranger asks the switchman how he knows all of this, the switchman replies that he is a retired switchman who visits train guardwgujas to reminisce about old times.


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.

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.

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

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. The short story was originally published as a confabularioa word created in Spanish by Arreola, inin buardagujas collection Confabulario and Other Inventions. Retrieved December 31, from Encyclopedia.

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. When he asks if the train has left, the giardagujas 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.

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

The Switchman – Wikipedia

It was republished ten years later along with other published works by Arreola at that time in the collection El Guarragujas total. The switchman then tells a story of certain train rides when the trains arrived at impossible locations.

Suddenly, a train approaches and the switchman begins to signal it. Views Read Edit View history.