Analysis

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 497

The story starts with the colonel looking at a jar of coffee. He finds only a spoonful of the coffee left and proceeds to make some hot coffee for his wife, who’s down with asthma. He then prepares to attend the funeral of a young man who is an age-mate...

(The entire section contains 497 words.)

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The story starts with the colonel looking at a jar of coffee. He finds only a spoonful of the coffee left and proceeds to make some hot coffee for his wife, who’s down with asthma. He then prepares to attend the funeral of a young man who is an age-mate to their dead son, Agustin. His wife thinks that the dead man must have already met their son in heaven, and told him about “the sad family situation since his death.” The colonel notices the dilapidated state of their “circus clown’s umbrella,” and points this out to his wife, who admits that everything in the house is in a similar state, adding that they are slowly “rotting alive.” So far, the family has lived off the proceeds of Agustin’s sewing machine. After this is gone, they sell some of their household until there is nothing left to sell. Their only hope for the future lies with the rooster, which they intend to sell at a profit sometime soon, and a single letter, for which they have waited for over fifteen years. Still, every Friday, the colonel goes out to wait for the mail that contains news on his veteran’s pension.

The colonel appears well-liked in town, for as he makes his way to the funeral of the young man, unshielded from the drizzling rain, one man offers to lend him his umbrella, and yet another readily makes space for him under his own umbrella. Every turn he makes, he meets either a “friend” or a helping hand. Even the town doctor treats his wife without pressing for immediate payment. However, the colonel is too proud to seek help from his friends, even when his family is about to die from starvation. His wife, on the other hand, is fed up of the “pretense and affectation” in the house. She is more realistic about their situation and understands that what they are doing is actually hiding their heads in the sand like the proverbial ostrich. The colonel is almost obsessed with the pension that was promised him, yet never given. He is undeterred by the negative responses he gets every Friday from the mailman, “Nothing for the colonel. No one writes to the colonel.”

The story is set in a small town in Colombia. Most of the townspeople are poor. The town is under a direct military rule, beset with political persecution, censorships, corruption, and endless curfews. However, there are few signs of immediate danger to the inhabitants of the town, who have grown quite used to the new way of life. They are particularly keen on cock-fighting and they look forward to seeing Agustin’s rooster in the ring. It is their zeal for the cock-fight and interest in Agustin’s rooster that encourages the colonel to decide that the rooster is not for sale. The rooster is thus a symbol of hope for a better tomorrow, for the colonel and the townspeople.

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