Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "One of These Days" and Jorge Luis Borges's "Emma Zunz" are short stories that deal with revenge and justice.
In Marquez's story, the main character is a dentist who lacks power but takes pride in his work. When the dentist is interrupted while polishing a gold tooth, his son informs him that the mayor is there to see him. Unexpectedly, the dentist refuses to serve the mayor. As readers, we are unaware why the dentist has a distaste for the mayor until the mayor threatens him. The dentist then agrees to perform the procedure but informs the mayor that he cannot use anesthesia. When the mayor is at the dentist's mercy, "The dentist spread his feet and grasped the tooth with the hot forceps" and, before pulling the tooth, says, "Now you’ll pay for our twenty dead men." It becomes clear to the reader in this moment that the dentist is seeking vengeance for twenty people assumedly dead because of the actions of the mayor. Marquez is not only showcasing the effects of power but the notion of justice.
Similarly, in Borges's "Emma Zunz," the protagonist
, Emma, is seeking revenge for her father. After hearing of her father's death and believing another man responsible for the crime he was incarcerated for, Emma decides to murder that man. She begins by losing her virginity, for money, to a stranger. She plans to claim the guilty man raped her to validate her murdering him. Emma proceeds to kill the man she believes to be guilty. Borges gives us insight into the emotional torment not only grief but revenge can entail.
The protagonists of these two stories are focused on their inner turmoil and overcome with loss. The dentist spends his time rearranging his office and polishing teeth, whereas Emma overthinks and plans without execution. Both characters, by taking revenge, are willing to sacrifice their well-being. Their pride gets the best of them. The dentist's response to the mayor's request to send the bill is similar to Emma ripping up the money. The dentist passive-aggressively asks, "To you or to the town?" when the mayor asks him to send the bill, while Emma rips up the money and immediately "wished she hadn't." Both characters are so overcome by rage and sorrow that they act and speak without thinking. While both stories are largely about power, they simultaneously address the impact of grief and revenge.