© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
The Secret Miracle

The Secret Miracle

by Jorge Luis Borges

Dreams

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Jaromir must have wronged the Dreamweaver at some point because he sure has some strange dreams. These dreams frame his experience with the Nazis and tell us a bit about what's going on in his neurotic head. We can almost read them as mini-narratives full of symbolic imagery: they reveal a lot about Jaromir's experience and the larger narrative of the story as a whole.

Chess Club

The first dream, which opens the story, occurs on the night that the Nazis roll into Prague. Here's the basic gist: there's a giant human chess game going on; Jaromir can't remember how to play or how to arrive at the game, but he still can't escape from it.

Here's where the symbolism comes in: the sound of clocks chiming the hour of the inevitable game (in the dream) fades into the sound of the Nazi army marching into Prague (in real life). This association suggests that Jaromir's involvement with the Third Reich is also inevitable: there's nothing he can do to stop it.

Plus, the chiming clocks are pretty clearly a symbol of passing time, which we know is a pretty big deal in this story. If the chimes indicate that the passing of time is inevitable, or bound to happen, does that mean that the whole time-stops-for-a-year thing is just in Jaromir's head? What do you think?

Bookworm

Now let's take a look at dream #2. This one occurs right after Jaromir prays that God might let him have an extra year to finish his play before he is executed. In the dream, Jaromir tries to find God, who is apparently hidden in a single letter (yep, like A, B, or C) of a book in an enormous library.

Our guy meets a librarian who has gone blind searching for the divine letter. So basically, he's saying that Jaromir's not going to get very far looking. But he gets lucky: he finds God in a letter on a map of India, and hears a voice (with no body attached) tell him that "the time for [his] labor has been granted" (7). Hmm. Jaromir has a feeling that this dream is strangely prophetic, and as it turns out, he's right: by some divine miracle, Jaromir ends up getting the time he needs to finish his play.

Aside from being chock full of all sorts of beautiful imagery, Jaromir's dreams play a big role in furthering the plot. In fact, they let us know that the most important parts of this story occur within his mind. That complicates things a bit, don't you think?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement