The Switchman Themes

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Existentialism

Arreola himself acknowledges that existentialist thought is an influence upon his work, and in particular upon "The Switchman." Existentialism is a philosophy that asserts that life in and of itself is without inherent meaning, and that man projects meaning onto it. When the stranger insists that he must reach his destination, he imparts urgency of purpose and thus meaning into his life. The switchman's stories, by contrast, imply the subjectivity of the stranger's desires. His bizarre tale of the railroad, with its myriad possibilities, suggests that the world—in this case the world of travel—is arbitrary and crazy, and that there is something ludicrous about trying to project set expectations onto it. The world of the rails is wild and unpredictable, without reasonable, rational laws, such as the stranger's logic that a ticket to his destination should take him to it. In this way the switchman's story...

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This section contains 597 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Switchman Study Guide
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Gale
The Switchman from Gale. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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