The Implementation of Fantasy and its Effects within “The South”

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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 injury he receives upon reading the novel. From the concussion forward, Dahlmann’s reality shifts back and forth to fantasy. Borges shows the unreality of the trip by his characterization of Dahlmann and references to his true reality throughout the short work. After shortly arriving at the ranch in Buenos Aires, Dahlmann hits his head upon walking up stairs reading The Thousand and One Nights. Several days pass and he finally receives treatment at a hospital quite far away from the ranch. During his period of treatment to aid him recovering, he ponders in his life, “During these days Dahlmann hated himself in minute detail: he hated his identity, his bodily necessities, his humiliation, the beard which bristled upon his face.” (Borges 168) In this scene, Dahlmann ponders his actual reality, his existence to the extent of what identity he has created for himself, being extremely different when compared to his ancestral history. Knowing that his ancestors were in fact gauchos and he is a secretary in a library, one assumes that he, at some point ... ... middle of paper ... ... he desire to succeed in being an authentic gaucho, fulfilling his ancestral history. Eventually, with the ending of the short work, Dahlmann proceeds to battle and assumingly dies; essentially walking the distance to his true destination the train was unable to reach: the afterlife. In conclusion, Ficciones, a collection of short stories written by Jorge Luis Borges, contains several references to fantastic themes. This especially occurs within the short work, “The South,” in which a man by the name of Juan Dahlmann experiences a whimsical death that portrays his deepest regret: not following his ancestral history to become a cultural gaucho. Borges uses characterization and the implementation of his true reality to depict the ultimate idea that nothing is eternal and one must chase their dreams in order to live a satisfying life and die without being regretful.

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