The Switchman portrays the inefficiency of the Mexican transportation system. The transportation system is plagued by all sorts of problems as demonstrated by the traveller. He arrives at the train station tired and hopeful of catching the train. However, his hope is short-lived as he spots it leaving the station. An old man who taps him on the shoulder is also in the same predicament. Nevertheless, the old man is well knowledgeable about how the train transport works. He advises the traveller to seek shelter in an inn since the trains do not follow the schedule. A reason why they all arrived when the train was leaving. The old man appears to be interested with the traveller and he enquires where he is heading. The traveller replies that he is travelling to town T. The old man then takes time to tell the travellers stories of travellers who got stranded, mismatched destinations and broken railroads. As they continue with their conversation, the old man tells the traveller that he is an older railroader. Latter a another train arrives and the old man tells the traveller he is lucky and he should go to any town the train takes him. Therefore, he changes his destination to X.
The story is set at a train station which is in Mexico. The conflict of the story is the change of destination by the traveller who originally wanted to go to town T but has to change to town X because of the inefficiency of the rail transport. The climax of the story is when the travellers follows the advise of the old railroader and accepts to change his destination to X.
Magic realism in the story happens when the old man appears from thin air and disappears into thin air just like the way he appeared. Additionally, when travellers are dumped along the way and left to their own devices in an area of uncertainties is another scenario of magic realism. Finally the description of railroad is another magic realism since it cannot occur in reality.