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Summary Book

The elephant’s journey – José Saramago

“The Elephant’s Journey” is a book written by José Saramago, after ten years of the Nobel Prize award, where a reflection on the human being and his weaknesses is exposed. This work was published in 2009 and it is considered an extraordinary literary novel where a reflection about humanity is made, using irony and humor to highlight the weaknesses of the human being, but also his thoughts regarding different topics of great importance for the time, as is religion, the meaning of royalty and its weaknesses. It also makes us feel compassion for the animal, who must endure a journey full of adversities, in which everyone’s life was exposed to low temperatures.


Characters from “The Elephant’s Journey”:

The central character of the story is the elephant Solomon. We also find other characters of interest such as Juan III, who gave this elephant to Maximiliano; Hindu caretaker Subhro, who accompanied Solomon on his journey.

Summary and synopsis:

The story is about an elephant named Solomon, who was gifted by John III to his cousin Maximilian, who is an archduke of Austria. This elephant came from Asia and was traveling throughout Europe.
This story is based on real events and the animal had a Hindu keeper who was on the journey of taking the elephant to Valladolid where Maximiliano was. This journey was really exhausting and long for Solomon.

The Hindu keeper named Subhro was not submissive, on the contrary he made himself known by giving orders and ironically responding to the platoon captain that John III had assigned for the mission of delivering the elephant. The days passed and the temperatures were very low and there was a hostile environment. They decide to spend the night in a city because the cold was intense and they could suffer from hypothermia. After that, the Hindu caretaker returns to talk about religion, as it was his favorite subject because it encourages him to continue on his journey.
However, many times he spoke on this subject in a humorous way, in order to leave hostilities behind and further uneven the weaknesses that those of royalty and their servants possessed. He was not just referring to this group of people, he was speaking generally.

Analysis of the work:

“The Elephant Journey” turns out to be an epic journey entirely, where an Asian elephant named Solomon had to cross all of Europe in the 16th century. All this due to the whims and vanities of royalty, using strategies that made no sense, enduring even climatic adversities and risking the lives of a whole group of people devoted to this mission of delivering the elephant to Maximilian, as a gift from great importance.

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This event took place in the time of Maximilian of Austria, and it is a real event that is found within History or, to be more specific, it is in the little story, despite the fact that real life characters intervene.

This book turns out to be a return to history in the hands of the talented writer who writes this story so full of teachings and of historical value, where he shows us how far vanity can go. In this work we find women and men who come and go and closely follow the steps of the elephant and all who are in charge. Here stories, thoughts, efforts and even a roof are shared where you can protect yourself from the low temperatures that threaten the life of everyone there.

It is therefore a work full of sarcasm but it also offers us the meaning of humanity and compassion. The author also uses humor that allows us to better relate to the plot and characters, knowing in depth the personal conflicts and weaknesses of the human being.

Also this work reflects the sensitive side of all the people and animals that live in this world. The author does not take into account the social status of the characters as much, he cares about highlighting their thoughts. In this way, the irony of the Hindu caretaker, and the ignorance of royalty and his platoon are exposed.

Finally, this work shows us part of the story, where the author, through humorous discourse, highlights the weaknesses of the human being in general. It also addresses religious issues that may be somewhat controversial for the time. It also highlights the vanities of the world of royalty that seeks only their own interests, highlights the ignorance that dragged them to carry out actions that even put their own lives at risk.

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It should be noted that “The Elephant Trip” is not merely a historical book, but rather combines real events with fictional events to reflect the social reality of an era, where the whims of royalty were above compassion and humanity. In the end, he shows us the vulnerability not only of the human being but also of the animals, reflecting on what humanity represents, along with the spiritual weaknesses and deficiencies of man. Here the reader can feel compassion for that splendid animal that is carried as a trophy, attended and cared for by all. Busy in fulfilling their mission fully, perhaps forgetting the true meaning of what that elephant represents, as a perfect creation.


“The reality is that when you are totally squeezed by humanity and the facts that it consumes us, launch your destiny into the imagination that will help you to compose your painting”
“If you take provisions that you commonly call necessary, life will laugh at you and put words where silence always reigned”

“The world in general would be totally much better if each person did what they think they can do”

“The public voice affirms what is convenient for him, he swears what he saw but he remains silent for what he claims not to know, deceiving and burying towns”

“It is not advisable to give all the right to human nature, because the hard life of experiences makes us affirm”

“One of the most common despairs that can happen to us is to pay for your own dreams”