Posted: November 27th, 2013
The first response is from Yvette Joya where she describes her confusion with the story. She describes her specific confusion as being with the state of hallucination of the character Dahlmann. She highlights the events after Dahlmann gets the injury on the head and that led to his blood infection. She describes the subsequent events in his life as hallucinations since he was actually taken to a hospital but he gives accounts of occurrences that would not go on in a hospital. However, she does not appear to be sure of her conclusions since she describes Dahlmann’s events as impossible on her own judgment. This shows no proof that the occurrences did actually occur or did not occur. She also describes another occurrence as a hallucination when Dahlmann enters a café and says, “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” (169-170). She expresses her confusion stating that she is not sure if Dahlmann’s statement is metaphorical or not. This is due to its ambiguous and abstract nature while relating to the cat and the man (Borges, 1962).
The second response is from Gultz. Gultz expresses his liking of the story in addition to how it expresses the theme of the passing of time. He also describes how interestingly the narrator describes the period of sickness through to recovery and compares it to being in hell. He describes Juan as a person who dislikes the period of being unwell even though he knows he is lucky to survive the ordeal. Gultz analyzes how Juan hates his humane nature relating it to the example where he is in the café and sees the cat. The situation is as if Juan wishes he were like a cat that lives for the moment, ignorant of what the future holds. Juan is depicted by Gultz to be envious of the cat and its lifestyle since he hates being human due to the effect the future has on the human species. Juan is later seen to adopt the cat’s lifestyle and starts living for the moment. Gultz also discusses the significance of the book The Thousand and One Nights to the story. He understands it as a depiction of a never-ending life and as Juan includes it in his journey to recovery it gives is life new meaning and thinks that he is in control of his fate.
The third response is from Ifeoma Gambrell. Gambrell figures that the story is ironical since Dalmann was only looking for some peace and quiet time by himself and he goes through terrible times, and at the end he never gets the time he wanted or at least the story does not say. Gambrell mainly gives a brief summary of the story and the only analytical point he makes is when he describes Juan as having willingly went to the fight to defend his honor and if to die, die while free under the open sky. Gambrell specifically talks of the sanitarium where Juan is taken and the pain experienced there. However, he talks of surgeries that are not specifically identified in the story. The duel that Juan goes to is aggravated by an old man who tosses a knife at him and due to his newly found lifestyle of living for the moment like the cat; he quickly accepts the challenge regardless of having no prior experience in the field. Gambrell also talks of a streak of bad luck that Juan experiences in addition to how he remembers the time in the sanitarium before engaging in the fight. The freedom experienced in the open night also encourages Juan to fight for his honor.
In the sanatorium, Juan is bothered by the weak and fragile susceptible nature of human beings and he almost wishes he were not one. He is also bothered by the pain he is gong through while recovering from his blood infection. His hallucinations also make him suffer a lot since he thinks he is in a psych ward and not a hospital.
The cat in the café symbolizes the life one would live of not having to worry about tomorrow. It symbolizes the spontaneity of life in addition to how Juan desires it. The Café however symbolizes humanity. This means that as the glass wall of the cafe prevents Juan from being outside with the cat, so does his humanity prevent him from not thinking about his future.
Juan wishes to join the knife fight since he acquires the new life of not worrying about the future. He also engages in it since he believes that he is fighting for his honor and because he is fighting in the open, which symbolizes freedom to do whatever he wishes to do.
Borges, J. L. (1962). Ficciones. New York, NY: Grove Press, Inc.
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