Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 291
The protagonist of this short story is Juan Dahlmann. Juan is the director of a city library, but it is suggested that his romantic dreams go far beyond this fairly mundane existence. His paternal grandfather was German, coming to Argentina in 1871, but his maternal grandfather, Francisco Flores, died in battle, impaled on a spear, and Juan Dahlmann has always been drawn to this side of his family, rather than the other. There is a sense that, while he feels fully Argentinian, he has always struggled with the feeling that he does not belong. Living in the north of the country, he has struggled to purchase and maintain the house and lands which had belonged to the Flores family in the south of the country. As such, while it is a terrible accident which causes him to hit his head, develop septicemia, and be forced to go south to recuperate, Dahlmann takes a certain pleasure in being able to return to the "hacienda" where his ancestors lived. At the end of the story, Dahlmann goes out to engage in a knife fight with some "ruffians" in the south; it is implied that this is a parallel of what happened to his grandfather, although the author does not tell us the actual outcome of this fight.
Other characters in the story include:
The proprietor of the establishment at the end of the story, who advises Dahlmann to pay no attention to the ruffians;
A group of ruffians who throw a spitball at Dahlmann to attempt to provoke him, and then throw him a dagger and challenge him to a duel;
The Surgeon who suggests that Dahlmann should go south to recuperate;
Dahlmann's various friends and relations, who are not named or described separately.
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