The Switchman Essay

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Jennifer Lynch

Lynch is a freelance writer in northern New Mexico. In the following essay, she explores readings of "The Switchman" as an existentialist, absurdist work.

Although interpretations of "The Switchman" vary, most critics agree that the story is an existentialist work with an emphasis on the absurd. On the most obvious level the story is a satire on the Mexican public railroad, which is famous for being atrocious, and an allegory for Mexican public policy in general. On a deeper level, however, the story concerns man's search for meaning in an absurd world. Despite Arreola's use of the fantastic, the story resonates with familiarity; the reader identifies strongly with the outrage of the stranger who believes in the logic that a train ticket should take him to his destination. Although, as is generally the case in Arreola's fiction, the stranger's character does not necessarily develop, he...

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This section contains 7,782 words
(approx. 20 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Switchman Study Guide
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The Switchman from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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