One of These Days Themes

The main themes in “One of These Days” are revenge, power dynamics, and political corruption.

  • Revenge: Though Aurelio seemingly exacts a kind of revenge on the mayor by extracting his tooth without anesthesia, this pain is temporary, and has no lasting impact.
  • Power dynamics: Both Aurelio and the mayor possess and exercise power, though Aurelio’s power is limited to his dental office.
  • Political corruption: The mayor, secure in his power and position, makes no effort to conceal the fact that the town finances his personal expenses.

Themes

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on September 1, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 790

Revenge

The crux of “One of These Days” is Aurelio’s revenge against the mayor. The story leads up to Aurelio’s pulling of the mayor’s tooth without anesthesia, beginning with his refusal to see the mayor and ending with his vengeful comment to the mayor while gripping his tooth with dental forceps: “Now you will pay for our twenty dead men.” Still, this revenge seems to have little meaning by the end of the story. First, while the mayor experiences temporary suffering from his tooth being pulled, this tooth pulling is ultimately why he came to the dentist to begin with. In this way, even if unanesthetized, the mayor receives what he came for. Second, it is difficult to imagine that any amount of short-lived pain could make up for the deaths of twenty men. Finally, the mayor has not changed by the end of the story. While it is unclear how the mayor is connected to the deaths of these men, Aurelio sees him as despicable and blames him for these deaths. However, when Aurelio asks him where to send the bill, the mayor responds that the town’s funds are the same as his own. The mayor thus remains a despicable character, using the town’s coffers for his personal funds. Aurelio’s revenge, then, is ultimately insignificant, as it does little to solve any of the larger problems that exist in the region.

Writing an essay?
Get a custom outline

Our Essay Lab can help you tackle any essay assignment within seconds, whether you’re studying Macbeth or the American Revolution. Try it today!

Start an Essay

Power Dynamics

Within the story, both primary characters exercise power in different ways. One might expect the mayor to hold the most power in the story, given that he holds political office. He also threatens to shoot the dentist early in the story, yet this ultimately proves an empty threat. Aurelio, as a dentist, is likely the only person in town capable of helping the mayor, and after Aurelio challenges the mayor to come in and shoot him, it is clear that the mayor has little leverage in the situation. Aurelio seems to know that the mayor will not live up to his word, and throughout the entire interaction, he seems dismissive of the mayor. He does not respond, or responds coldly, to the mayor’s politeness, and while the mayor watches Aurelio intently before the tooth pulling, Aurelio does not seem concerned with the mayor. This all stems from the fact that during the entire interaction, Aurelio is in control. He decides how the procedure will be performed, he has the luxury of interacting with the mayor on his own terms, and the mayor is largely at his mercy. In this way, expected power dynamics are effectively flipped, as the governmental agent is powerless in front of the unlicensed dentist.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

However, Aurelio only possesses this power within his dental practice. Outside the practice, the mayor is able to issue death threats, and it is only when he enters the office itself that he takes on a more submissive role. Further, once the mayor leaves the office, he is comfortable exhibiting his corrupt nature, telling Aurelio that his money and the town’s are one and the same through the screen door to the office. This suggests that while the mayor is at the mercy of Aurelio in the dentist’s office, the rest of the town is the mayor’s domain. On a broader level, this suggests that power itself is not static, but is instead contextual, as the characters shift between who is in control and who is not.

Homework Help

Latest answer posted September 2, 2021, 1:34 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

Political Corruption

Throughout the story, it is unclear what precisely Aurelio’s vendetta against the mayor is, but it is clear that the mayor has made choices that are unethical and self-serving. When Aurelio initially refuses to see him, the mayor’s immediate reaction is threatening to shoot Aurelio. This is the behavior of a man used to getting his way, unaccustomed to being told “no.” Further, his actions have led to the deaths of twenty men, likely men who opposed him and the regime he represents. The other indication of the mayor’s political corruption is the fact that he uses the town’s money for his own interests, including for the extraction of his tooth. He makes no attempt to hide this fact, showing how comfortable he is with others knowing the extent of his corruption.

Corruption is sometimes described as a rot that must be removed. The continued existence of the mayor is a stark contrast to the removed tooth in the story. While the rotten tooth is easily extracted, the mayor continues to rule the town, touting his corruption. This is yet another way in which it becomes clear that Aurelio’s revenge is ultimately ineffective; he cannot remove the root of political corruption in the town.

Themes

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on September 1, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 790

Revenge

The crux of “One of These Days” is Aurelio’s revenge against the mayor. The story leads up to Aurelio’s pulling of the mayor’s tooth without anesthesia, beginning with his refusal to see the mayor and ending with his vengeful comment to the mayor while gripping his tooth with dental forceps: “Now you will pay for our twenty dead men.” Still, this revenge seems to have little meaning by the end of the story. First, while the mayor experiences temporary suffering from his tooth being pulled, this tooth pulling is ultimately why he came to the dentist to begin with. In this way, even if unanesthetized, the mayor receives what he came for. Second, it is difficult to imagine that any amount of short-lived pain could make up for the deaths of twenty men. Finally, the mayor has not changed by the end of the story. While it is unclear how the mayor is connected to the deaths of these men, Aurelio sees him as despicable and blames him for these deaths. However, when Aurelio asks him where to send the bill, the mayor responds that the town’s funds are the same as his own. The mayor thus remains a despicable character, using the town’s coffers for his personal funds. Aurelio’s revenge, then, is ultimately insignificant, as it does little to solve any of the larger problems that exist in the region.

Power Dynamics

Within the story, both primary characters exercise power in different ways. One might expect the mayor to hold the most power in the story, given that he holds political office. He also threatens to shoot the dentist early in the story, yet this ultimately proves an empty threat. Aurelio, as a dentist, is likely the only person in town capable of helping the mayor, and after Aurelio challenges the mayor to come in and shoot him, it is clear that the mayor has little leverage in the situation. Aurelio seems to know that the mayor will not live up to his word, and throughout the entire interaction, he seems dismissive of the mayor. He does not respond, or responds coldly, to the mayor’s politeness, and while the mayor watches Aurelio intently before the tooth pulling, Aurelio does not seem concerned with the mayor. This all stems from the fact that during the entire interaction, Aurelio is in control. He decides how the procedure will be performed, he has the luxury of interacting with the mayor on his own terms, and the mayor is largely at his mercy. In this way, expected power dynamics are effectively flipped, as the governmental agent is powerless in front of the unlicensed dentist.

However, Aurelio only possesses this power within his dental practice. Outside the practice, the mayor is able to issue death threats, and it is only when he enters the office itself that he takes on a more submissive role. Further, once the mayor leaves the office, he is comfortable exhibiting his corrupt nature, telling Aurelio that his money and the town’s are one and the same through the screen door to the office. This suggests that while the mayor is at the mercy of Aurelio in the dentist’s office, the rest of the town is the mayor’s domain. On a broader level, this suggests that power itself is not static, but is instead contextual, as the characters shift between who is in control and who is not.

Political Corruption

Throughout the story, it is unclear what precisely Aurelio’s vendetta against the mayor is, but it is clear that the mayor has made choices that are unethical and self-serving. When Aurelio initially refuses to see him, the mayor’s immediate reaction is threatening to shoot Aurelio. This is the behavior of a man used to getting his way, unaccustomed to being told “no.” Further, his actions have led to the deaths of twenty men, likely men who opposed him and the regime he represents. The other indication of the mayor’s political corruption is the fact that he uses the town’s money for his own interests, including for the extraction of his tooth. He makes no attempt to hide this fact, showing how comfortable he is with others knowing the extent of his corruption.

Corruption is sometimes described as a rot that must be removed. The continued existence of the mayor is a stark contrast to the removed tooth in the story. While the rotten tooth is easily extracted, the mayor continues to rule the town, touting his corruption. This is yet another way in which it becomes clear that Aurelio’s revenge is ultimately ineffective; he cannot remove the root of political corruption in the town.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Previous

Summary

Next

Characters