Blind Geronimo and His Brother

Schnitzler, Arthur

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack
  • Date of entry: May-30-2002


Carlos and Geronimo make their living as beggars, traveling from one tourist stop to the next throughout northern Italy and the Austrian Alps. When Geronimo was a boy, his older brother Carlos accidentally hit him with a pea from a peashooter, causing him to lose his sight. The conscience-stricken Carlos vowed to devote his life to caring for his brother, and so for twenty years they have traveled together; Geronimo sings and plays the guitar, while Carlos handles the visual arrangements.

One day a tourist sows a seed of dissension. He drops one franc into Carlos's hat, then maliciously warns Geronimo to be careful because Carlos might cheat him out of the 20-franc coin he has just donated. Unexpectedly, this seed of suspicion thrives, with Geronimo becoming convinced of his brother's deception and greed. The heartbroken Carlos decides to go out and steal a 20-franc coin so that he can produce the money and satisfy his brother. He does so, and even though the theft is subsequently discovered, the story ends happily, since Geronimo now realizes how much Carlos loves him.


Arthur Schnitzler's work is known for its psychological penetration and complexity. In the Foreword to Night Games, the editor John Simon writes, "Eros and Thanatos, love and death, were his chief concerns," thus suggesting the psychoanalytical flavor of Schnitzler's dramas and short stories. This is not surprising, since Dr. Schnitzler was a colleague and friend of Sigmund Freud.

Simon also claims that, in terms of his literary importance, Schnitzler "belongs in the vicinity of Proust, James Joyce, and Anton P. Chekhov." This belief appears to be idiosyncratic, or is at least not widely held. It is true, though, that Dr. Schnitzler was "a cool-eyed diagnostician" of the psychological disorder of his era.

"Blind Geronimo and His Brother" is an early story, although its original date of publication is not specified in this collection. As in many of his stories, Schnitzler employs a "stream of consciousness" technique, by which the reader learns the texture of Carlos's thought processes.

The human heart is impenetrable. Carlos has devoted his entire life to taking care of his brother, yet it only takes a single remark made by a stranger to undermine 20 years worth of love and trust. When Carlos goes on to "prove" his love for Geronimo by performing an illegal act, he wins back that trust. How can the structure of connectedness be built on such a weak foundation?


Translated from the German by Margret Schaefer. Foreword by John Simon.

Primary Source

Night Games


Ivan R. Dee

Place Published





John Simon

Page Count