Gabriel García Márquez

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Why did the dentist initially refuse to assist the mayor?

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In the short story, "One Of These Days," a dentist, Aurelio Escovar, treats a mayor for an infected tooth. At first, however, the dentist refuses to see the mayor and tries to pretend that he is not in his office. The dentist is then informed that the mayor will shoot him if he does not agree to see him. The dentist replies, "Tell him to come and shoot me."

Eventually the dentist does agree to see the mayor but says that he will have to treat him "without anesthesia." The dentist says that he is unable to use anesthesia because the mayor has an "abscess." However, given how much the dentist seems to despise the mayor, we might infer that the dentist really just wants the mayor to suffer as much pain as possible. The dentist also never looks at the mayor, evidently because he despises him so much.

As he is about to pull the infected tooth from the mayor's mouth, the dentist says, "Now you'll pay for our twenty dead men." From this reply we can infer that the dentist initially refuses to help the mayor because he thinks that the mayor is responsible for the deaths of twenty men. The word "our" implies that the dentist and the mayor are on different sides. Perhaps they are on different sides of a civil war. From the word "our," we might also infer that the mayor is responsible for the deaths of men that the dentist was related to or friends with.

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