Online Custom «Without Anesthesia: "One of These Days"» Essay Sample

Without Anesthesia:


The short story under analysis is “One of These Days” written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It reveals conflicts and focuses on various parts of the society by introducing specific characters of the story. The author thoroughly creates the image of a city dentist, making a reader see the main things through descriptions and later realize the bigger implied story by using simple analysis and thinking over it. The main idea, language, plot, and the other elements of the short story structure reveal a greater image of the society and its conflicts presented by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The paper discusses the usage of various literary elements of the short story in the process of revealing the main idea and focusing on the leading characters.


The story begins with the description of a day. It is the start of a working week, Monday. The weather is “warm and rainless” as it is described by the author, which presupposes some pleasant moments that happen when the office opens and becomes filled with aromas of coffee and nice talks about spending the weekend (Marquez). However, these pleasant thoughts are roughly ruined by the description of a daily routine that the city dentist has to do as a part of his practice. The action of the story takes place in one house, to be more specific, in one room. The room description is scattered through the whole story. The author gives additional details of the dentist’s office by portions, revealing the general image of the room, profession, and the doctor.

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The description of the dentist’s work is given in an extremely calm, steady, and relaxed tone. The doctor looks through the window, thinking about the weather and possible rain while performing his everyday routine work in a manner typical for a person who knows his job very well. It is interesting that at the end of the story the Mayor mentions a cobweb with a spider, its eggs, and dried insects on the ceiling of the dentist’s office. This small descriptive detail suggests the idea that Aurelio does not care much about the look of his working place due to the fact of having much work, and, as the reader understands, he is the only dentist in the city, so he has a much work to do every day. Another idea is that people in the city are not rich and the dentist’s income is not large enough to afford having a cleaner, so Aurelio has more important problems to solve then cleaning the dust and removing the cobweb in his office.

Point of View

The story is narrated in the third person, which helps the reader look at the depicted situation from the side in order to be able to observe the conflict and the sequence of events in detail. At the same time, the author’s tone is rather neutral, enabling readers to make the analysis and draw conclusions during the reading. The narration is unemotional and simple as the author uses descriptive elements and reveals the characters’ dialogues without giving them evaluation and not indicating the emotional part of the conversations (Martin 28). Such an easy tone of description lets the reader pay a significant attention to details, get a full image of the events and make specific conclusions while perceiving the story.

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The language of the story is rather dry, strict, and ragged. The sentences are short and abrupt, so the information given by the author is not full. This method provokes the reader’s imagination and makes most of the ideas appear in the brain during reading (Bell-Villada 84). It is essential to mention that most of the pictures are clear and bright as the language, which Gabriel Marquez uses, is simple yet capacious (Martin 34). The dialogue between the two men is perfectly written, using short sentences with the lowest possible level of emotions. Some critics mention that the story lacks emotional and descriptive character, but the author professionally used the images and character descriptions to realize the main idea, which he was willing to discuss with the reader.

The main idea of the short story is to show a conflict to readers and give them space for imagination in order to let the thought develop as well as to build a solid picture and a real view of the situation. The issues of corruption, disrespect, and social difference are addressed with the purpose to show that these problems exist in the world and to reveal the conflict, which takes place in human life (Ortega 46). However, people do not try to solve the conflict and express their thoughts openly to the eyes of their opponents. The feeling of discontent of the poor people with the authority is eternal, but only some people can express their thoughts openly, while most of the citizens cannot. The only thing they can do is to say their true ideas indirectly, take small revenges, and never be able to defend their interests (Martin 71). At the same time, Gabriel Garcia Marquez argues that the authority would always use the citizens for their private purposes. The money, which should be spent for social needs, is taken for the officials’ specific needs. Moreover, people who decide to protest eventually suffer and some of them can even die as those “twenty people” that the dentist was reminding the Mayor of.

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After the reader becomes acquainted with the main character of the story, Aurelio Escovar, who is a city dentist, the author sets the initial conflict of the story. The doctor is an ordinary person of the middle class. He learned how to be a dentist on his own and achieved everything in his life due to his personal traits of character. The author says that, “Aurelio is an early riser,” because he is ready to start working at six o’clock in the morning (Marquez). He is performing tooth drilling for two hours without a break, making his job professional and of high quality. He is the only dentist in the city and he has much work to do. However, his routine work is interrupted by an unexpected and unpleasant visit of the city Mayor. Aurelio’s son announces that the Mayor asks about a possibility to pull his tooth. Aurelio does not like the Mayor and refuses to help him. The scene reveals how he emphasizes the fact that he knows that the Mayor can hear him saying that he does not want to pull his tooth. “So much the better” was the dentist’s reply to his son’s remark that Mayor could hear him speaking (Marquez).

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The reader can see a professional use of contrast as the characters of the story are very different people. Even though Aurelio Escavar does not have a qualification, he is a modest professional with a substantial experience. He performs his duty of a city dentist with a special pride and honor, trying to make his work perfect and using the instruments according to all the rules. He is contrasted to the Mayor, who is rather hostile and authoritarian. Not only does he take the public money, thus bringing corruption to the city, but he also kills people directly or not if they start speaking about his fraudulent activity. Besides, the dentist’s name is Aurelio Escovar, while the Mayor does not have a name and is referred in the story only by his position. From this little detail, the reader can see the real attitude of the author to the main characters of the story, which is respect to the dentist and disrespect to the Mayor of the city.

Plot (Conflict, Climax, Resolution)

The story begins with the dentist’s refusal to let the Mayor enter his office, which is followed by the Mayor’s threatening to shoot him. The reaction of Aurelio to it is brilliant as he calmly and, as the author describes it, “with an extremely tranquil movement” opened the lower drawer with a gun in it and agreed to receive the Mayor with the words, “Tell him to come and shoot me” (Marquez). It is evident that the dentist is in a conflict with himself as he does not want to help the Mayor and agrees to receive him after the threatening. Another contrasting element here is that Aurelio makes his words and actions contradict with each other, because he agrees to let the Mayor in to shoot him, but keeps the drawer with the gun opened. 

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After that, the author lets the reader understand the dentist’s character more deeply, because when he sees the Mayor and his face that is half shaved and half having five-day-old stubble on it, he becomes softer. The dentist is a human being and he experiences pity for his patient, who has been suffering tremendous aches for at least five days. It is mentioned that the Mayor has had “…many nights of desperation in his dull eyes,” so after seeing it the dentist closes the drawer and decides to help the man in pain (Marquez).

The conflict of the story starts with the Mayor’s threat to shoot the dentist and has a continuation when Aurelio announces that the sore tooth has to be pulled away without anesthesia. The words, told to the Mayor, were: “Now you’ll pay for our twenty dead men” (Marquez). The dentist decides to use his power in the current moment when the Mayor is under his control. Although many specialists mention that there is no irony used in this short story, it seems that it can be seen in several specific moments. The moment when Mayor becomes suspicious about the decision of pulling his tooth without anesthesia, he asks the dentist why, and the latter is ready with a rather ironic answer: “Because you have an abscess” (Marquez). This reason is very ironic as the doctor can use anesthesia, especially when the patient is suffering from abscess. Finally, the dentist is ready to pull out the tooth and experience some sort of a revenge that he is able to take on Mayor. Aurelio hates the Mayor with a significant passion and cannot hold his words about the twenty men that were killed due to the Mayor’s actions. The author, however, does not give the reader all the reasons and explanations of the events, and the real situation can be revealed only by guessing and supposing. By the end of the story, the reader thinks that the main themes are revenge and the power of hatred, but in fact the core theme of the story is the harmonious use of its structure elements, which create tension from the very beginning until the end of the story (Swanson 43). The climax of the story is tense, yet the narration is rather dynamic and fast as it is a short story.

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After the Mayor has recovered from the pain, he leaves and asks Aurelio to send the bill. Answering the question about the address, to which the bill should be sent, the Mayor replies, "It’s the same damn thing" (Marquez). Then Aurelio asks an alternative question about two destinations, one of which is the Mayor’s house and another one is the city office. At this moment, the revenge is taken by the Mayor when he stresses that the city money is under his control and that the pain, he has suffered “paying” for “twenty dead men,” makes him free to continue corruption in town without the slightest feeling of remorse. The resolution of the story reveals how both characters remain with their own interest and power (Swanson 51). The dentist is now able to continue his work and the Mayor can come back to his corruptive actions. The short period of time when the power belonged to Aurelio ends with the final phrase of the story. The conflict of the poor dentist and the Mayor of the city, who is free to do whatever he wants, is over. The revenge is taken by both sides, leaving just a slight feeling of satisfaction for the dentist and strengthening the constant feel of power for the Mayor.

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The main idea of the story is to show a conflict between representatives of two different social layers that are trying not to interact in everyday life. It is revealed that the Mayor was suffering more than five days and spent sleepless nights, trying to overcome pain in his chin, as he was not willing to come and see the doctor. At the same time, the dentist does not want to see the Mayor, who takes all the city money and causes deaths of other poor people for the sake of his prosperity. The conflict between the classes proves that human beings are unique creatures that can exist in one social group in the state of constant tension (Bell-Villada 82). The tension is the leading element of the story. It is the same feeling as before the rain, when a person experiences an atmosphere of tension right before it. The description of weather adds this feeling to the story in general. The starting sentence mentions that the weather is rainless. After that, Aurelio has a thought that closer to the afternoon it may rain and, finally, after the Mayor leaves, the conflict settles down and the tension of the story decreases.

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The Mayor’s responses give characteristics to the positions he occupies and the authority he holds in the city. The last phrase of the story shows the current situation in it. No matter, which place the dentist chooses to send the bill to, the city and its poor citizens will be the ones, who pay it. The dialogue between a father and a son presupposes the continuation of the story, and it becomes evident for the reader that the Mayor will finally receive the dentist’s help. It is clear that boorishness and rudeness of the Mayor will not be unanswered, and the reader feels the suspense of the moment of Aurelio’s revenge. The most severe thing that the dentist can do is to pull out the infected tooth without anesthesia, and Aurelio uses his chance for revenge at full capacity.


As it was mentioned earlier, many critics do not see the use of irony in this short story. However, a few moments are rather ironic or seem to be with a shade of irony. The first ironic element was in Aurelio’s phrase of allowing the Mayor to come and shoot him. Nobody can be serious when giving permission to other people to come with the arms to their office or house with a purpose of shooting the owner. This irony is strongly covered with the tension of the whole situation as the dentist also has a gun and is ready to use it. At the same time, the dentist’s phrase shows that he is a kind person with a sense of humor, but he is ready to each possible development of the actions. The second episode, in which the author is using irony, is when Aurelio gives the Mayor a reason of not using anesthesia. The answer is quite ironic, and the reader becomes confused whether it is a true or a fictive reason (Ortega 32). The Mayor is also confused, but he agrees to suffer the pain for a short period in order to become relieved from his bigger pain.












Short stories usually do not have many symbols that have significant importance and meaning. However, Gabriel Marquez manages to use the most obvious symbols here. The first symbol is the eyesight and the eyes of the main characters. Nonetheless, this symbol is interconnected with another symbolic element, which is the door at the dentist’s office. At the beginning of the story, the dentist says rudely that he is not at home and that it is good that Mayor hears his words and sees that the dentist is not afraid of him. However, when the Mayor enters the office, Aurelio cannot stay rude anymore and he immediately decides to help his patient. From this moment, the eyes of the Mayor are constantly on the dentist, who, on the contrary, tries not to look at the Mayor and hardly speaks to him.

Eyes symbolize true relationships and real attitude, so here the reader can see that both characters can express their real attitudes towards each other only when they do not see each other. The same situation happens at the end of the story when the Mayor does not look into the dentist’s eyes while saying that the city money and his finance are the same. Probably the Mayor experiences some remorse for his actions and for his high level of authority in the city, but at the same time he does not want to be responsible for his actions. His refusal to look into the dentist’s eyes and the word "damn" that he uses in his phrase show that he is probably not pleased with the truth, and he is not ready to reveal it openly to the dentist. Hence, in such a way the Mayor proves the fact that he has a significant authority, and he may even feel guilty at this moment, but still he is inclined to deny this fact.

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The short story written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez reveals a conflict situation between two main characters of the story, the dentist, Aurelio Escovar, and the Mayor of the city. The story is written in a specific manner that makes it possible for the reader to use the power of imagination and analytical skills in order to see the implications used in the text. The author reveals the problems of corruption, revenge, humanity, and the power of the system. The poor will never be able to understand the authority and there will always be a conflict between them. The author shows that the conflict can be open but social roles, classes, and position of people in the society always shadow it.

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