The Secret Miracle
by Jorge Luis Borges
Analysis: Plot Analysis
Most good stories start with a fundamental list of ingredients: the initial situation, conflict, complication, climax, suspense, denouement, and conclusion. Great writers sometimes shake up the recipe and add some spice.
Wrong Place at the Wrong Time
Jaromir Hladik is a Jewish intellectual living in Prague at the start of World War II. This is kind of a dangerous time for Jews living in Czechoslovakia – and that's putting it lightly. We're pretty sure something bad is about to happen.
The Nazis arrest Jaromir (for being Jewish and doing Jewish things) and sentence him to death by firing squad. See? We told you. Things do not look good for our hero.
Let Him Finish
Jaromir distracts himself by thinking about his writing, but then he realizes that he never got to finish the one work he was most proud of. So he prays to God that he be granted one more year to finish his play. Good luck, champ.
Saved by the Universe
It's the day of the execution, March 29. As the sergeant gives the order to fire – i.e. seconds before Jaromir is supposed to die a brutal death – the universe stops. Well, that sure changes things.
So, the universe is stopped: nothing is moving and all Jaromir is able to do is think. We're confused, and he's confused. So confused, in fact, that he – you guessed it (or did you?) – takes a nap. Come on dude, get to the answers!
Jaromir gets his wish, and gratefully spends a year composing his play in his mind. He knows no one else will ever read this play, so he's composing it entirely for himself. It's his "secret miracle."
Just as Jaromir finishes his play (in his mind, of course), the bullets hit him, and he dies. It's March 29 at precisely 9:02 am. Whoa. (Check out "What's Up With the Ending?" for more on that "Whoa.")