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One of Jorge Luis Borges’ most famous works is Ficciones ,which is a collection of short stories. Borges’ style of writing is classified as Borgesian. His works are classified as Borgesian because they are unique to him, no other author writes like Borges, although some may be similar. His short stories always incorporate motifs, such as symbols and metaphors, that engage the audience and give the story substance. “The South” and “The Secret Miracle” are both two short stories featured in Ficciones that have a significant amount of motifs. The three most common motifs that can be found in these stories are: metaphors, the idea of inception, and the symbolism of life as a dream. Borges incorporates these devices to give the short stories deeper meaning and give the reader insight into his life.
“The Secret Miracle” is a short story about a Jewish gentleman who is count and has to prepare for his execution by firing squad. Although he is about to die his main concern is finishing his novel The Enemies ,as it will be the last literary work that he will be judged by. This story can be perceived as a metaphor for how Borges felt during this time. The metaphor is that Borges felt as if he was running out of time and he still had all this great works in mind that he had to finish. The metaphor is shown in how Hladik is worried about how he is going to finish The Enemies in only a few days and how he tries to figure out how to get more time. Luckily God does grant him this time. A symbol used in this short story is life as a dream, which is one of Borges’s famous motifs. Throughout the story Hladik has moments where only he is aware of what is “truly” going on and often times these moments appear to be a dream. An example of this would be when Hladik is being walked to the execution sight and before he gets executed time stops and only Hladik is aware of it (p.148-149). Borges writes that Hladik was given a whole year to finish his book, however for everyone else it felt like only mere seconds. Its as if Hladik is dreaming or fantasizing about having this time while everyone else is living in reality. Hladik actually gets the opportunity to accomplish his dream of finishing his book although no one else will know because it was all in his head. This aligns with the idea of fantasy versus reality, how can the audience perceive what is real and what is fake? Is Hladik truly granted this time or not? This is another major motif in the works of Borges. He often time walks the fine line of what is real and what is not. This also correlates to inception within dreams. Hladik is granted the time to work on The Enemies in a dream so how can the audience be sure that it is real?
“The South” is a short story about a man named Johannes Dahlmann, who gets blood poisoning from an injury and is sent of to the hospital. After he arrives at the hospital and is being helped the story starts to get interesting because the audience has to decide from two endings, either he dies in the hospital or in a knife fight. Dahlmann is Argentine, but he lost touch of his roots and craves to go down to his grandfather’s ranch to get back in touch with his culture. This would be another metaphor for Borges’s feelings similar to the one in “ The Secret Miracle.” Borges felt the same way has Dahlmann as he went through life and eventually he did reconnect with his culture. Borges often times alludes to the events of his life through his characters. Another motif used by Borges in this story is fantasy versus reality and he does this through setting. Dalhmann is taken to a sanitarium after his injury is treated.
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