The Art of Being Ambiguous
In his collection of short stories, Ficciones, Jorge Luis Borges uses dreams, imagination and fantasy to establish ambiguity in his stories. With the use of juxtaposition and symbols, Borges blends a realm of dreams and imagination into the individual’s everyday worldly experiences. Through these devices, Borges commonly blurs the line between aspects of reality for his characters versus the constructs of his or her mind. By combining the real with the fictitious, Borges incorporates ambiguity into his stories and introduces his readers to new perspectives of world around them. In “The South,” Borges establishes ambiguity by dropping subtle textual hints that would ultimately allow for the reader to attain vastly different interpretations of the same text. If taken at face value, the main character Dahlmann is released from a sanatorium after a serious head injury. On the train ride back from the sanatorium, Borges hints that Dahlmann periodically transitions into his illusory past of the old South. Even as he enters the cab that would take him to the train station, he admits that “reality is partial to symmetries and slight anachronism” (175) meaning that his past, although misplaced and irrelevant to modern times, continues to have significance in the present. The reader can argue that Dahlmann’s nostalgia induces illusions of the world from a time he remembered and celebrated it. On the train ride back to his ranch, he describes that the car “was not the same car that had pulled out of the station… the plains and the hours had penetrated and transfigured it” (177) and that Dahlmann “was traveling not only into the South but into the past ” (177). Borges uses this description to indicate that Dahlmann transcends into his fantasies of the old South on the train ride home as a result of a longing for the past. However, Borges also hints that Dahlmann might not have left the sanatorium at all, but has actually only dreamed about his...
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