Today we will be discovering The Motorcycle Diaries. If you are looking for more of an overview of the module please read this article. The most resounding question that comes to mind whilst reading Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ is, how in the world did a medical student (yes, get a nice clear picture of all the wannabe doctors that you know) go from being someone who was destined to save lives to one of the most badass, gun toting guerrilla fighters in the twentieth century? The diary entries that Mr Guevara compiled during his trip around South America aim to give individuals who stumble across the excerpt into his mind a little bit of insight into how this happens. As a reader, it is easy to forget that this lovable rogue who spends his time hitching lifts and romancing the local village girls is destined to become one of the most polarising figures to exist during the Cold War.


Whilst this is common content that both Standard and Advanced students must grapple with, it pays to be aware that again, as always, context is king. If you manage to get to the HSC exam without knowing what the Cuban Missile Crisis was – or Guevara’s involvement, well, then I’m afraid you’re stuck in enemy territory like a revolutionary in Bolivia (Students who have done their homework would have understood that contextual reference). It is possible to read the entire text up until the final entry without having any idea that Mr Guevara would soon after writing become the icon that consumers in the West would wear on their t-shirts as a symbol of their personal liberation. Sadly, the irony is rarely noticed. The diary however, is loaded with a multitude of hypocrisies that are designed to enrage. The young man is brazen in his actions and in some instances finds great reward and others egg on his face. Over the course of reading the text, you will be exposed to the vastness of the human experience as the two vagabonds Ernesto and Alberto are transformed in their own personal ways. The Motorcycle Diaries is really great as an example of what discovery is all about. The two men carefully plan a voyage into a new world and discover and rediscover parts of themselves and the  concealed pieces of the continent that they call home. They learn about how a great and old civilization like that of the Incas can be destroyed in the blink of a historical eye. They are confronted with the realities of extreme poverty and are forced to challenge their preconceived beliefs and assumptions. Reading this work will give you, the reader, a sense of wonder when you consider the scale of the adventure and some scope of the tragedy that exists every single day.


The two men are wonderful metaphors for how humans treat one another. As adventurous doctors who are first setting out on their 9 month journey, new friends are eager to take them in and treat them with honour and dignity. By the end, the two dirty scallywags find themselves using any leverage that they can to secure themselves a warm bed in the evening. Your goal is to identify where and when the characters shift in their perspectives and how these discoveries are embodied throughout The Motorcycle Diaries. A helpful way to read this text is to vividly imagine the scenes that are presented. Look up leprosy and search for a few images before you embark on the SS Guevara to hear the tale of the leper colony band.  Also, do not forget to brush up on your history of the region. A few short John Green videos on Latin America will give you a much clearer picture of why Mr Guevara’s speech about a great “mestizo race” is applauded so vigorously.


The Motorcycle Diaries serve as a voyage into the mind of a complex man who touted Marxism as his solution to the ills of the world. As a student who is attempting to comprehend what discovery means for different people, the old adage “different strokes for different folks” is truer than ever when exploring this text. In all likelihood, you will not come out the other end of this book as a bloodthirsty revolutionary (I sure hope you don’t) but what the book will definitely give you is a good understanding of cause and effect in global politics. You will learn how people can be transformed by the landscapes and individuals that they are exposed to and you will more fully appreciate the tragic beauty that is the human experience.