One of These Days Characters
The main characters in “One of These Days” are Aurelio Escovar, Aurelio’s son, and the mayor.
- Aurelio Escovar is an unlicensed dentist who is committed both to his work and to his political allegiances.
- Aurelio’s son is eleven years old and notifies Aurelio that the mayor has arrived and needs a tooth extracted.
- The mayor appears somewhat sympathetic to Aurelio’s circumstances, yet he is ultimately portrayed as a corrupt politician.
Last Updated on September 1, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 797
Aurelio is an unlicensed dentist in an unnamed town. He is a plain man, as shown by his clothing—a striped collarless shirt and suspenders—as well as practical, with a hard work ethic, as shown by his early rising and commitment to his job. His commitment is especially clear given the fact that he ultimately agrees to pull the mayor’s tooth, albeit at least partially as an act of revenge against the mayor. Although he has a strong work ethic and commitment to his job, Aurelio is presented as somewhat detached from reality, and it seems his work has become a way for him to escape his world. While he is polishing a set of dentures, he “seemed not to be thinking about what he was doing, but worked steadily, pumping the drill with his feet, even when he didn’t need it.” He is further described as having “a look that rarely corresponded to the situation, the way deaf people have of looking.” With both of these descriptors, it seems that he does his work mindlessly, perhaps even unaware of what is happening around him.
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While on the surface he seems to be engaging in his work mindlessly, it is clear that Aurelio has strong negative feelings toward the mayor, whom he expects has come to shoot him. When Aurelio tells the mayor that “now you will pay for our twenty dead men,” his use of the word “our” suggests that Aurelio may belong to a revolutionary collective that the mayor, as a member of the political establishment, opposes. This tells us that Aurelio likely has leftist political commitments, even if unnamed, and that it is the mayor’s political affiliation, and political power, that has set Aurelio against him (note that the mayor is not included in “our” collective). This interaction shows that Aurelio is both dutiful and vengeful: he is committed to his unnamed faction as well as to his job as a dentist, and it is this combination of positions that allows him to exact vengeance against the mayor in the form of an unanesthetized tooth extraction.
Aurelio’s eleven-year old son receives little attention in the story. While the story describes him as having a “shrill voice,” there is no other description of him. At first glance, it seems that he serves a secretarial role for his father, telling him that the mayor has come and needs a tooth pulled. Still, Aurelio shows little care for his son, who seems to care little about his father. When the son announces the news that the mayor has threatened to shoot Aurelio, the narrator notes that the son’s expression has not changed. For both Aurelio and his son, there seems to be a kind of resignation that prevents a strong bond from forming between them. Given the fact that twenty men have died at the mayor’s hand, Aurelio’s son may also be too afraid of the mayor to display strong emotion, or he may be traumatized from events that have unfolded around him during his childhood, including those that led to these twenty dead. Still, while these might be plausible explanations, they are only speculation, and it is ultimately up to the reader to determine what defines Aurelio’s relationship with his son.
The mayor is unnamed in the story and presides over an unnamed town. He comes to Aurelio to have an infected wisdom tooth pulled. Although the mayor threatens to shoot the dentist, he is painted in a generally sympathetic light. When the mayor first appears, it is evident that he does not actually intend to shoot Aurelio, and he is described as a man who has recently suffered. He is polite, greeting the dentist and smiling at him. Further, the mayor is the only character whose internal feelings are directly described by the omniscient narrator. As the mayor leans back in the dental chair preparing for his procedure, we learn that he “felt better,” and as the procedure is happening, he “felt an icy void in his kidneys” and “the crunch of bones in his jaw.” After the extraction, a description of Aurelio’s office is provided by the mayor: “He saw the crumbing ceiling . . .” Allowing the reader into the mayor’s perspective thus allows the reader to sympathize with the mayor; however, he is also (at least partially) responsible for the deaths of twenty men, and at the end of the story, it becomes clear that he does not see a division between his personal finances and those of the town. In this way, the mayor might serve as a warning not to trust those who merely seem sympathetic on a superficial level, especially those with political power.