Themes and Meanings

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 417

Alberto Ríos, a writer who has won many prestigious awards for his poetry and fiction, has said: “I was born on the border of Mexico to a Mexican father and an English mother. I write often about this background, especially the Mexican/Chicano aspects.” In this story, however, the theme of loneliness transcends culture and gender to convey an archetypal portrait of an Everyperson who is at first immobilized by the abject alienation imposed on him by others. The poignancy of the story is that Noé’s desire is so seemingly simple: the need for involvement, both social and emotional, with other human beings. Because Noé is different, perhaps, overweight and viewed as suspect by others, he cannot belong in a “normal” small town. Instead, he must free himself by leaving and joining a circus peopled by beings who are viewed as equally strange, but in reality, are perhaps more humane than those considered normal in ordinary society.

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Within Noé’s large body, he carries characteristics that are both male and female, a fact that makes him even more identifiable as an Everyperson searching for a place to belong. This theme of androgyny can be found in Noé’s dance with the wind and the trees when he is free to let his “thin girl” out, his hidden desire to socialize and make emotional contact with other human beings. Also, in two instances in the story, Noé feels as if he “were his own mother.” With familial bonds absent in the story, Noé must embody this absent motherhood. In fact, Noé’s large body of “slow bones” seems to encompass the desire of all humans—both male and female—to feel as if they belong.

Noé attempts to fit in by keeping a neat house trimmed in blue, wearing a blue suit to become a “regular man,” and finding comfort in the hands of his numerous clocks—especially in his blue Marina. However, it seems as if this recurring blueness is a reflection of Noé’s isolation; blueness does not bring him comfort or solace. However, Noé does contain the capacity to free himself in the final section of the story when he reaches the circus people standing near the road. He realizes that they “called him without telegraph or telephone. Something stronger.” Everyone, in his or her own way, is a misfit, and perhaps the ultimate satisfaction in human experience is the ability to connect emotionally with others. With the circus, finally, Noé achieves this.

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