The word “opium” is utilized several times in this short story. An opium is an addictive, narcotic drug that relieves pain or brings ecstasy. In a figurative sense, it is a way to avoid reality. For some, alcohol allows for just that. For others, it could be music, sexual intercourse, gambling, and many more. In “The Gambler, the Nun, and the Radio,” the thin Mexican says, “Religion is the opium of the poor” (Hemingway 478). But, this statement is not necessarily true, which Mr. Frazer soon realizes. Several opiums, or escapes from reality, exists, as this story shows.
Although religion is not the universal opium of the people, it helps many escape from reality. Sister Cecilia wants to become a saint, which seems to be her goal in life…show more content… He refuses to accept the fact that he has to retire from bullfighting until finally, his coleta, which is a symbol of being apart of this industry and figuratively, his manhood, is cut off. He faces reality in the end, just as Cayetano most likely will in the future.
Mr. Frazer plays his radio every night while he is at the hospital. Even though his escape from reality is based around an object, it is still his opium. “But Seattle he came to know very well...He lived in Seattle from two o’clock on, each night, hearing the pieces that all the different people asked for, and it was as real as Minneapolis...Mr. Frazer grew very fond of Seattle, Washington” (480). Mr. Frazer’s radio allows him to travel to different places without having to leave since he is unable to. He learns to listen to his radio “without thinking” (480). Escape starts to become an addictive thing, just like an opium drug, and it transforms into something that will soon obscure him completely from the real world.
In certain parts of this story, opiums are compared with others, which suggests that one’s opium is not always another’s. “The Mexicans came and brought beer but it was not good beer” (480). At first, it seems that the beer tastes bad. but then Cayetano and Mr. Frazer have a brief discussion about it, saying, “‘Three of your countrymen were here.’ ‘Sent by the police to see me.’ ‘They brought some beer.’ ‘It was probably bad.’ ‘It was bad’” (482).