Cristina Peri Rossi

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What is the meaning of Cristina Peri Rossi's "Breaking the Speed Record"?

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The runner stops running because he wants to.

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Cristina Peri Rossi's story "Breaking the Speed Record" is about a runner who finally decides what he really wants out of his life, and it is not running. Let's see how this plays out in the story.

The runner is in a race that could lead him to break...

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a major record. In fact, it seems almost a sure thing. He will win, and he will break that record. He goes along steadily at a good pace, and he quickly outpaces all the other runners. As he runs, he thinks about a Brazilian physicist who has been trying to prove that the speed of light is not constant. The runner does not know exactly what this means, at least not at first.

As the runner goes along, lap after lap, he gets a sudden urge to simply stop running. He is not in pain or exhausted. In fact, his pacing is excellent, and he is on track to break the record. He just suddenly wants to stop. He knows that his trainer will have his eyes constantly on a stopwatch. This suggests that the runner has probably been under considerable pressure from the trainer to break the record. The trainer shouts out that the runner is doing it.

It is just then that the runner wants to stop. He knows how hard he has been working, but suddenly that record does not mean anything to him anymore. He just wants to lie down on the ground and enjoy the trees and the sky. He wants to be normal.

The runner has only one more lap to do. He is still running smoothly. His trainer is excited, but the runner is less so. Victory is almost his, and he does not care. He follows his inclination, flops down on the ground, and looks up at the trees. He is aware that people are surrounding him, yelling at him to get up, but he ignores them all. He has made his decision. He has taken control of his life. He has changed his own speed of light.

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