El Cuento de América Latina
Imágenes y Símbolos en los Cuentos:
El Sur y Ruinas Circulares
Born in 1899, Jorge Luis Borges is one of the most well know authors of Argentina. Many of his short stories revolve around the central theme of double identity, an identity which is compounded with a double reality. Borges’ is a mapmaker of imaginary words hisstories: The South and Circular Ruins are great examples of Borges’ writing style.
Juan Dahlmann protagonist of The South is a man of letters, working as a secretary in a municipal library his life is simple. His idleness prevents from him from traveling to the Southern part of Argentina, a place where his maternal grandfather owned a house. “At the price of some self denial, Dahlmann managed to savethe shell of a large country house… Summer after summer he contented himself with the abstract idea of possession and with certainty the house was waiting for him” (Borges 174). Juan Dahlmann’s current identity has no special meaning and seems as if he purposely conceals himself in within the walls of library; however, fate bestowed upon him a copy of Arabian Nights. The possession of thisbooks leads to series of unfortunate events which ultimately causes him to create a double identity.
“Eager to examine his find, he did not take the elevator-he hurriedly took the stairs…His brow caught the edge of a casement window that somebody had forgotten to close” (Borges 174). Dahlmann’s injury is one of humility, because of his haste and inability to wait for the elevator he suffers a gash tohis forehead and ultimately contracts Septicemia via blood poisoning. Dahlmann is taken to a sanitarium where he becomes self loathing, “Dahlmann hated every inch of himself; he hated his identity, his bodily needs, his humiliation…He stoically suffered treatments administered to him, which were quite painful” (Borges 175). As the reader it is here where we can see that Borges creates acharacter (Dahlmann) who is trapped between the realm of reality and who desires to transcend this existence into something better. “And it was as though he were two men at once. The man gliding along through the autumn day and the geography of his native land, and the other man, imprisoned in a sanatorium subjected to methodical attentions.” In Dahlmann’s reality, his family owned a house in theSouth, but he is unable to visit it due to job restrictions. Fate lands Dahlmann in a sanatorium which is equated as being on the outskirts of hell. When the doctors declare that he is “free” from the sanatorium he takes a train to the South. At this point, the narrator takes over and says, “Dahlmann was not only traveling in the South, but into the past itself” (Borges 177). This line inparticular is extremely significant, especially in regards to the ending.
Borges constructs the end of the story as if the South the takes a life of its own. Dahlmann enters a country store. Upon entry, Dahlmann notices an old man wearing gaucho trousers (a type of traditional kilt worn only in the South). He sits a table and where he tries to continue reading Arabian Nights when something brushes hisforehead; a piece of bread that was thrown by members of a rowdy table. Maintaining his passive nature, Dahlmann attempts to exit the store especially when an Indian man is directing insults to him. The storekeeper quickly intervened, “Sr. Dahlmann, ignore those boys over there-they’re just feeling their oats” (Borges 178). At this point Dahlmann is no longer anonymous, his name has beenrevealed to the Indian man and therefore the shouted insults are targeting not just some random individual, but himself, “Juan Dahlmann.” The situation escalates further when the drunken Indian man challenges Dahlmann to a knife fight, the old man in his gaucho clothing suddenly throws a knife to Dahlmann in order for him to participate in combat. “It was as though the South itself decided that...