One of These Days by Gabriel García Márquez
In One of These Days by Gabriel García Márquez we have the theme of corruption, conflict, power and revenge. Taken from his Collected Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Márquez may be exploring the theme of corruption. The Mayor is unable to differentiate between himself and the town. Considering himself to be the town and not an individual. This may be significant as it introduces conflict into the story. Aurelio does not have the same viewpoint as the Mayor which suggests that both men are on different sides of the conflict (civil war). Something that is clearer to the reader by way of Aurelio threatening the Mayor when he pulls his tooth. The fact that the tooth is diseased might also be important as symbolically Márquez may be suggesting that the Mayor is diseased or corrupt and more interested in himself than others. His goal is to remain in power no matter what others might think of him. As is often the case with civil wars there are two sides who view each other with animosity and disdain. Aurelio even looks for his gun prior to pulling the Mayor’s tooth. Though it is noticeable that the Mayor has threatened to shoot Aurelio.
The theme of revenge is self-evident in the story even though ultimately Aurelio does not get his revenge. Which may leave some readers to suggest that Aurelio is human. That he has feelings which is contrary to how he is described by Márquez. If anything Márquez’s description of Aurelio is unflattering in comparison to his description of the Mayor who is described with human features (arms, kidney, bone, jaw, tears filled his eyes). He also asks Aurelio for mercy which Aurelio inevitably shows him and which results in the humanization of Aurelio. The benefit of Aurelio’s humanization is that the reader can connect with and empathize with Aurelio where previously their allegiance might have been with the Mayor because he had a bad tooth. The setting of the story is also important if not symbolic as in many ways the setting mirrors the state of Columbia during the civil war. With Márquez using Aurelio’s office as an example of this decaying structure. There is no money to improve things which may suggest the depth of the civil war and the fact that all monies are being used for the civil war.
Other symbolism in the story includes the Mayor’s physical condition or appearance. He is half shaven which may suggest that he is half the man that Aurelio is. If this is the case then Márquez is favouring one side of the civil war. The side that Aurelio supports and which he wants to get revenge for (the twenty men). What is also noticeable is that at any time Aurelio could have killed the Mayor yet he shows restraint. This too highlights or allows for the reader to believe that Aurelio is a better man than the Mayor. He will not show the same brutality that the Mayor has shown to the twenty men who differed to the Mayor’s beliefs. In reality the town appears to be divided because of the civil war. Which may have been the case in many Colombian towns at the time. It might also be significant that Aurelio throughout the story displays a dislike for the Mayor yet he is still able to help him. This shows that Aurelio has the ability to be compassionate. Something that the reader feels may not be the case when it comes to the Mayor’s feelings towards others.
The end of the story is also interesting as it is clear that the Mayor is abusing his power by not differentiating between himself and the town. As mentioned he is corrupt. However Aurelio knows that he has to live with the corruption for the time being and that there is nothing that he can do to halt the progression of the Mayor’s abuse of power. What is also interesting is that both the Mayor and Aurelio hold power. Different as it may be they nonetheless have the ability to shape and change people’s lives. The Mayor by way of his abuse of power and Aurelio by his actions when it comes to pulling the Mayor’s bad tooth. The only difference is that Aurelio does not abuse his power and shoot the Mayor. Rather he is professional and compassionate. Two things that the Mayor is not. The most important thing in the Mayor’s life is his desire to reap the benefits of his corruption. He does not care what side of the civil war he is on, once he is on the winning side. Whereas Aurelio has shown the reader that he is at least a man of principles.