Labyrinth of the Mind
At first reading, “The Garden of Forking Paths” is a confusing and chaotic mash of stories within stories. Even at the end, it is hard to see how all of the pieces fit together. After a rereading, or two, it becomes apparent that the answer to Jorge Luis Borges’ offbeat story has been placed directly in front of you. Borges describes a physical labyrinth and, at the same time, he is creating a labyrinth out of words. The left turns his main character, Yu Tsun, is told to make are created mentally by abruptly changing stories within the story.
When “The Garden...” starts, it is not yet apparent that it will be a labyrinth, and the initial plot of the story begins. The story in which all the other stories will take place is complicated from the beginning and sets the pace for the rest of the story. Yu Tsun is a German spy, living in England. He possesses “the Secret....[t]he name of the exact location of the new British artillery park” (723). He needs to find some way to communicate this message back to the Chief in Germany, but due to the many turns and sub-stories “The Garden...” has in itself, it will not be mentioned again, or resolved, until the very end.
The first major turn into the next sub-story is also where the first implication and reference to a labyrinth is made. This foreshadowing, of sorts, gives the first glimpse that the story is, in fact, also a labyrinth. Yu Tsun is given a very odd set of directions: “take this road to the left and at every crossroads turn again to your left” (724). It is apparent to the reader that this is just a large circle, but Yu Tsun points out, with his thought, that “such was the common procedure for discovering the central point of certain labyrinths” (724). At that moment, there is a slight realization that a maze, a labyrinth, is exactly what the audience is in.
Once the longest and most elaborate sub-story has been entered, it is made clear that “The