The Motorcycle Diaries


Ernesto Che Guevara

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Motorcycle Diaries can help.

The Motorcycle Diaries: Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Ernesto prefaces his narrative by noting that his story is not meant to describe heroism, nor is it meant to be cynical. It is simply an impromptu diary that details “two lives running parallel for a time.” He writes that, “Man, the measure of all things, speaks here through my mouth.” Ernesto notes that he may only sometimes glimpse truth, since he can only describe what he saw, and his vision was “never quite complete.”
Ernesto claims to be communicating general truths in his memoir, saying that he speaks for all of “man.” However, by arguing that truth is subjective and depends on perception, he excuses himself from writing with exact accuracy and leaves himself free to reimagine his trip as he wishes.
Growing Up Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Ernesto adds that his younger self, who wrote the notes that are the basis of this memoir, “passed away” by the time the trip he is about to describe ended. Now, as he “reorganizes and polishes” the notes from his trip, he is a different person entirely. Ernesto warns the reader that they will not be able to check his memories against the truth of what happened, but that it matters little. With that, he introduces the reader to “myself, the man I used to be.”
Ernesto sees personal character as constantly fluctuating, influenced by events and experiences. While he is no longer the same person who embarked on this motorcycle trip, the events of the trip helped transform him from that character to the person he is today.
Growing Up Theme Icon
Individuality vs. Ideology Theme Icon