Adrift (tale) - A la deriva (cuento)

by Horacio Quiroga
Bothrops jararacussu.jpg
Bothrops jararacussu
Gender Narrative Story
Topic (s) The fight to survive (survival)
Language Español
country Uruguay
Publication date 1917

Adrift is a story by the Uruguayan writer Horacio Quiroga , published in the book Cuentos de amor de locura y de muerte from 1917 .


Paulino was bitten by a yararacusú , a poisonous snake . After the bite, he kills her with his machete to avoid being bitten again and destroys her vertebrae. The very affected wound area is immediately visible . He asks his wife Dorotea to give him a cane , but due to the advance of the poison, he thinks it is water.

He begins a trip in his canoe down the Paraná River towards Tacurú Pucú to try to survive. My leg was barely felt from the sharp pain. Halfway through, he decides to ask his compadre Alves for help, although they were estranged, and no response is heard. Decides to resume the trip. As time passed, already in the canoe, I felt that the pain was diminishing and the thirst also, I could even breathe better. This gave him hope for a speedy improvement. At this point the canoe "was spinning rapidly adrift." The man began to rave . His whole body felt cold and he couldn't breathe well. Finally, immersed in his memories, he stretches out his fingers and dies. [ 1 ]


The story has an abrupt beginning [ 2 ] (suddenly), since it lacks an introduction . There is no temporal or spatial location and no description of the characters. It begins directly with the knot: the yararacusú bite the protagonist. This is referred to as "the man" despite the fact that later in history we know his name: Paulino. This is so since the author tries to universalize his character, to show that this story could have happened to anyone. For this reason the protagonist is mentioned at the beginning of the first three paragraphs of the story using the same words (the man), which constitutes an anaphora. [ 3] These first three paragraphs place the reader in theenvironmentof wild nature, which will be the spatial location of the entire story. Later the firstsymptomsof the bitebegin to be described: pain, dry throat,swelling, and burning thirst. This quickenumerationof symptoms allows us todeducethat the bite came from a poisonous snake. We found acomparison¨two or three dazzling stitches like lightning bolts¨ that allows us to know the characteristics of these stitches. We see that the symptoms continue to gradually increase. At the end of this paragraph the dryness of his throat is metaphorically described. Later, it is described by means of alliteration . Then the narrator gives the words to his characters. Dorotea appears, the protagonist's wife, a minor character with a brief appearance. The urgency of the situation motivates the brevity of the dialogue. The meeting with his wife ends after Paulino discovered the seriousness of his situation. A metaphor is used to describe the pain in your leg. The man continued and decided to row to the center of Paraná, the story describes the river and the road to Tacurú-Pucú . Upon arrival he feels the effect of the poison. He went in search of his compadre Alves. When he did not answer him, he returned to the canoe and the current left him adrift (here you can see why the title [ 4 ] of the story). The poison was starting to go away, he was regaining hope. The tale ends with an abrupt ending as he reaches out his hand.


Main character :

  • Paulino: man, adult, strong, brave, stubborn, lonely, fighter, arrogant and above all pure

Secondary character :

  • Dorotea (Paulino's wife): woman, adult, helpful, patient, submissive.


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