Gabriel García Márquez

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Why does García Márquez refer to characters by their positions in “One of These Days”?

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In “One of These Days” by Gabriel García Márquez, the author refers to the characters by their positions because he intends the story to be a parable and the characters to be symbols. The moral of the parable is that evil will somehow be punished. The dentist represents a righteous rebel who takes advantage of an opportunity to hurt his enemy, while the mayor symbolizes a malevolent opportunist who uses violent power to maintain control.

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In the short story "One of These Days" by Gabriel García Márquez, a dentist in a small town operates "without a degree" but seems to be very efficient. He comes into work on time and goes about his work preparing and polishing materials for his patients. When he hears that the mayor has arrived and wants a tooth pulled, the dentist at first ignores him. However, the mayor threatens to shoot him, and the dentist proceeds without anesthetic. As he pulls the tooth, he says, "Now you'll pay for our twenty dead men." The mayor is silent, but it is obvious that the procedure is extremely painful.

Márquez refers to the characters mainly by their positions because they are symbolic characters, and he intends the story to be a parable. A parable is intended to teach a religious or moral principle. In this story, the moral is that somehow evil will be punished. The mayor seems to have built up protection around himself through his ruthless power. However, though he can protect himself from violent attack, he is powerless when it comes to a physical malady such as a toothache. The dentist, who despises the mayor and blames him for many deaths, is able to inflict significant pain on the mayor without reprisal by pulling the tooth without anesthetic.

The dentist symbolizes a man who is fighting a righteous battle against overwhelming odds. He is willing to shoot the mayor to protect himself, but the consequence is that he would probably be killed. Instead, he is able through his position as dentist to obtain a measure of vengeance for the lives of the "twenty dead men" by punishing the mayor with great pain.

The mayor symbolizes an evil opportunist who is using his position to empower himself and crush his enemies. It is obvious that he deserves the retribution that the dentist inflicts upon him. For once, he is helpless in the hands of someone else, just as it has been strongly implied that he has been merciless in harming helpless people who are under his control.

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