The Motorcycle Diaries
Guevara’s autobiographical accounts may appear repetitive and mundane seeming nothing more than a mere recollection of his travels, but there is so much beneath the surface that really helps explore his sense of discovery. Constantly talking about his search for a free ride, place to stay or food to eat during his Latin American trip with Alberto, you may think that there isn’t much discovery going on—apart from discovering The Mighty One is a pretty beaten up motorbike.
In nine months of a man’s life he can think of a lot of things from the loftiest meditation on philosophy to the most desperate longing for a bowl of soup—in total accord with the state of his stomach.
A closer examination however reveals Guevera is saying a lot more especially with respect to discovery. This emerges most obviously in the book as the pair visit fascinating locations like the appalling copper mines of Chuquicamata and the breathtaking vistas of Machu Picchu.
Their journey and discovery of these new places help facilitate their discovery of the social and economic problems faced by the Latin American people. Guevera comes to discover a lot about himself also during this journey. You come to realise that Geuvera is, in a way, trying to explain what he means by his oxymoronic reference to a “darkness at noon” at the beginning of the text. It foreshadows his reference to an “immense darkness” which reemerges at the end of the text and foreshadows Geuvera’s discovery of his own resolve to lead a revolutionary struggle for the Latin American people.
I now knew…I knew that when the great guiding spirit cleaves humanity into two antagonistic halves, I would be with the people. I know this, I see it printed in the night sky that I, eclectic dissemble of doctrine and psychoanalyst of dogma, howling like one possessed, will assault the barricades or the trenches, will take by bloodstained weapon and, consumed with fury, slaughter any enemy who falls into my hands.
Discovery in The Motorcycle Diaries
Analysing the discoveries of Guevera on his Latin American journey can be thought in terms of following:
• Discovery of Friendship
• Discovery of New Places
• Discovery of the ills of Capitalism
• Discovery of the need to struggle for Latin American people
Sometimes picking up on the sense of discovery may be very difficult. Taking a very critical approach to the text, which is often required, one asks themselves why Guevera constantly fixates on the most basic events like the meal or accommodation they were able to secure (often for free). He talks about it much too often, to the point that it bludgeons the reader with repetitiveness, to be able to justify itself in terms of illustrating the hardships of the pair on their journey. Rather, it slowly emerges that these occurrences provide the arena for Guevera to showcase the universal hospitality of his Latin American compañeros. Thus a motif is formed, through his incessant recollection of his bed and breakfast, for the value and humanity of the Latin American and the need to protect it from the capitalist, neo-colonial threat all too aptly explored in the final pages of the text.
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