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The Garden of Forking Paths

The Garden of Forking Paths


by Jorge Luis Borges

Yu Tsun Timeline and Summary

  • Yu Tsun hangs up the phone on Richard Madden, having just learned that his partner is dead and his cover as a spy for the Germans has been blown. He lies down in his bedroom while he decides what to do next. He needs to get a message to his boss in Germany, and he needs to send it fast, before Madden catches up to him.
  • In ten minutes, Yu Tsun has developed his plan. In the phone book, he looks up the name of the one person capable of passing on the message.
  • Yu Tsun catches a train to Ashgrove and narrowly escapes Richard Madden.
  • Following the directions of a group of children, Yu Tsun walks from the station to the home of Dr. Stephen Albert, feeling that he is wandering through a labyrinth.
  • Yu Tsun is surprised to see that Dr. Stephen Albert is a Sinologist – a scholar of Chinese culture. Chinese music wafts from Dr. Albert's home and his library is full of impressive Chinese texts that Yu Tsun recognizes.
  • Coincidentally, Yu Tsun is the great-grandson of the writer to whom Dr. Albert has devoted years of study. Yu Tsun learns from Dr. Albert about his ancestor, Ts'ui Pen, and his theory of "forking paths."
  • Yu Tsun spends an hour talking with Dr. Albert, after which he feels immensely grateful to the scholar for restoring the honor of his ancestor, whom Yu Tsun had thought was crazy.
  • As Captain Madden finally approaches, Yu Tsun uses his single bullet to shoot Dr. Albert in the back.
  • Imprisoned and awaiting death by hanging, Yu Tsun records the deposition we have just read, explaining that his mission was a success. In murdering Dr. Albert, he was able to convey the name of the city containing a secret weapons cache to his boss in Berlin. The city of Albert was then bombed by the Germans.
  • Though he has succeeded in his mission, Yu Tsun closes his narrative feeling repentant and sick at heart for having murdered his friend.