The Implementation Of Fantasy And Its Effects Within “The South”

1312 words - 6 pages

Ficciones, a collection of short stories written by Jorge Luis Borges, contains several works in which the motif of fantasy is repeatedly incorporated into the storyline. With this, Borges plays with the idea of fantasy being reality and reality being fantasy. He accomplishes the incorporation by setting a realistic plotline and relatively easy to follow story and releases whimsical, yet minuscule, symbols and ideas into the plot to create a fantastical twist. A prime example of such work is “The South”, a narrative about Juan Dahlmann, a librarian who seeks out the pleasures of The Thousand and One Nights on his trip to his ranch to Buenos Aires; however never achieves such due to a head ...view middle of the document...

Being a librarian who occasionally travels to the ranch, his roots and history within the area, do not necessarily define and characterize him as a dutiful and respectable man, but rather an intellectual with no desire to continue ancestral culture. That being said, Dahlmann regrets his previous decisions and aspires to embrace the culture presented to him. After all, if not for such an interest in literature, he would not be on the brink of death due to mass infection caused by lack of awareness of reality.
A symbol that represents Borges’ reference to true reality is the cat in the café on Calle Brazil. In the excerpt, “…as he smoothed the cat’s black coat, that this contact was an illusion and that the two beings, man and cat, were as good as separated by a glass, for man lives in time, in succession, while the magical animal lives in the present, in the eternity of the instant,” the cat symbolizes a fantastical idea that cats live an eternity. (Borges 170) While small and seemingly insignificant, the cat represents the first notable incorporation and encounter of fantasy within the short work. In The Thousand and One Nights, the cat, in Arabian culture, is a mythical creature with god-like abilities and this further ties into the idea that from then on out, the work shifts from fantasy to reality and vice versa.
The scene in which Dahlmann is returning to the ranch via train is also representative of fantasy and used by Borges to develop the plotline and idea of unreality. “He was distracted from these considerations by the railroad inspector who, on reading his ticket, advised him that the train would not let him off at the regular station but rather at another: an earlier stop, one scarcely known to Dahlmann.” (Borges 171) Extremely unusual and unrealistic, the scene represents the idea that he is in a state of complete imagination and never physically boarded a train, simply mentally perceived it. The train serves to be a symbol of religious quality because one can assume that the train is his journey to the past life, however he cannot reach his destination completely due to unfinished business, desires, and regrets. The station in which Dahlmann disembarks on symbolizes his last desire to be a gaucho because later on, he journeys into battle similar to how a gaucho would.
A minute, yet representational symbol is found within the description of the ranch house and the general store. Both being described as having been painted red, one can assume that the general store in in fact the ranch house because the store is said to have a somewhat faded paint and as the ranch was recently painted when Dahlmann arrived, if he spent a great deal of time in the sanitarium, the paint would be faded. This further aids the argument that he is actually hallucinating and in an imaginative state throughout the later...

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