One Hundred Years of Solitude
One Hundred Years of Solitude: The Women Sexuality and Happiness
As a young Latina woman, I have always seen Latin Culture affect us. For so many years, our society has been affected and has caused women to be seem powerless back then in the past. Most Latin Countries have a type of persona or characteristics that woman should follow accordingly with the society and even though a lot has changed some things are still the same. For example, back then and now men would have multiple lovers and indulge with alcohol or drugs even if some were encouraged at a young age. But women who cheat or try to follow the same wave as men, some were disrespected, or they were unwelcomed to that part of the society.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez was a man that showed both sides of the type of woman and how they act according to society, but he also gave us some strong powerful women in One Hundred Years of Solitude. As the town changed so did the people and Gabriel Garcia Marquez believed that the people and the society in the town and in real life were very unfair. If men decided to participate in a type of activity that was bad or that had some differences, it would be seen as something that is okay to the public eye. But if women did the same, they would be mistreated or disrespected and perhaps seen differently. Sexuality is a natural part of our lives and Gabriel Marquez believed that why should sexuality be different or judge for both parties if it is natural and shouldn’t be extinguished or affected by society or treated differently and by criticizing the Latin society and the high standards and expectations people have. The women who are content they live and follow their dreams and desires and have no time to follow the changes in the society or do they get affected by the social acceptance of others. If women live life thinking about their sexuality and how others view them, then they will get trapped with the negative aspects of life. From my point of view, life is like an open book why should you settle to be an only chapter when you can be a whole book or in all chapters. People are the creators of their reality and one person or a whole society shouldn’t determine who you are and if you let those things get the best of you then it causes your unhappiness which happens a lot with some women. In the novel the two characters who I saw a huge contrast was Ursula Iguaran and Fernanda the two important women in the novel who had a different view of life with their sexuality and unhappiness.
In the novel, the Buendia family has always been strong and some more likely independent than others. But one of the strong characters in the novel would be Ursula Iguaran. Personally, she is my favorite character because in the story she was very blunt and honest. Also, she didn’t take crap or negativity from others even though her husband would sometimes try to bother her, living in the town of Macondo she saw the progress or the destruction of the town and by having such a huge family she never paid attention or followed the rules of how a woman should act in their society. She was a feminist with no desire of being just a stay home housewife, she always wanted to show and state her political view and to protect the town she did the very best that she could. By no means, she appreciated or even liked violence or music, even though she lived for a very long time she always showed her true colors and took care of her children and even great-grandchildren. Even though Ursula was different she suffered the consequences of magic realism and solitude because nobody could understand her but overall she lived a difficult but interesting long life and in terms of the society and sexuality for her happiness she fell in love with her cousin despite that incest was something negative to the public eye and it affected her in the early stages of her marriage when she married her cousin. She was even afraid of her children or her family committing incest and had that saying of the “Baby with Pigs Tail Curse” that appeared when Ursula was having problems with her marriage and the death of Prudencio Aguilar took place and in the book, it stated:
They were afraid that those two healthy products of two races that had interbred over the centuries would suffer the shame of breeding iguanas. There had already been a horrible precedent. An aunt of Úrsula’s, married to an uncle of José Arcadio Buendía, had a son who went through life wearing loose, baggy trousers and who bled to death after having lived forty-two years in the purest state of virginity, for he had been born and had grown up with a cartilaginous tail in the shape of a corkscrew and with a small tuft of hair on the tip. A pig’s tail that was never to be seen by any woman and that cost him his life when a butcher friend did him the favor of chopping it off with his cleaver. José Arcadio Buendía, with the whimsy of his nineteen years, resolved the problem with a single phrase: “I don’t care if I have piglets as long as they can talk. (Garcia Marquez, 20)
In the family, Fernanda Del Carpio has a contrast to Ursula Iguaran even though she has the beauty of Remedios and is chosen as one of the most beautiful girls she has an evil aura to her. As bitter and lonely as she was, she was one jealous apple, she lived a tough life as well. In terms of her sexuality, she was in a school where nuns would be her teacher and she was not allowed to act like a normal girl or express her sexuality causing her early problems in her marriage with her husband Aureliano Segundo where her husband makes fun of her. Her husband had a mistress named Petra Cotes, the problems in their marriage always made her husband go to Petra Cotes causing her unhappiness. From my point of view, this novel has more of unhappiness patterns than actual happiness because some of the women in Macondo follow the rules and the patterns of the society along with the Latin culture and expectations of how women should act. Stated in the book it said:
A month later, unsuccessful in getting his wife to take off her nightgown, he had the picture taken of Petra Cotes dressed as a queen. Later on, when he succeeded in getting Fernanda to come back home, she gave in to his urges in the fever of reconciliation, but she could not give him the repose he had dreamed about when he went to fetch her in the city with the thirty-two belfries. Aureliano Segundo found only a deep feeling of desolation in her. One night, a short time before their first child was born, Fernanda realized that her husband had returned in secret to the bed of Petra Cotes. (Garcia Marquez, 209-210)
Also, after giving birth to her children and noticing that Ursula is at a very old age, she takes lead in the Buendia family causing huge differences between the two. Ursula was a wise woman but no doubt she had a huge heart and desire to help others. Unlike Fernanda, she destroys the relationship with her family especially her daughter Meme by sending orders to kill her daughter’s lover Mauricio Babilonia and sending her away into a convent where Meme decides to never speak again while Fernanda hides Meme’s child. After causing all of these problems, in my opinion, I believe karma took a turn and decided to affect her life living in complete solitude and bitterness and if her life was different and if her husband was loyal and faithful to her I believe Fernanda would’ve been a different person with a good heart. What Garcia Marquez is saying about women freedom is that if they believe in the rules of the society and how the Latin culture is then they might live in a strict full life of just becoming a housewife or a mistress but the women who follow their heart and desires can live freely without worrying about what people have to say or judge. According to Women of Attic with publisher unknown, it was stated in their website that:
Gabriel Garcia Marquez tries to reflect the reality of the role of women in Latin America and portrays women characters with strong qualities who performs important roles in family affairs. As a critic points out, each woman has her own past, her own quirks and her own version of normality, but they all have one common characteristic: an absolute force, a superior personal strength. When the novel starts off, the “youthful patriarch” Jose Arcadio Buendia is shown as a strong character but eventually transforms into a nothingness and a lazy person. When Jose went “crazy”, Ursula Iguaran, his wife, who’s “capacity for work was the same as that of her husband” would not lose sense of the reality and becomes a responsible person for the family. When the family is affected by insomnia, she acts as the “nurturer” “…who had learned from her mother the medicinal value of plants, prepared and made them all drink a brew of monkshood.”. In an interview Gabriel Garcia Marquez once said, “…in most cases, women are the practical sex. It’s men who are the romantics and who go off and do all kinds of crazy things; women know that life is hard. Ursula is a prototype of that kind of practical, life-sustaining woman.”
In conclusion, whether you’re a housewife or a feminist or a mistress you should never let society determine who you are or who you should be, follow your heart and let those who judge you with no knowledge or knowing of your next move to follow your dreams, speak with your voice and show your true colors while ignoring the society and Latin Culture like some of the women in the Buendia family.
- Garcia Marquez, Gabriel, and Gregory Rabassa. One Hundred Years of Solitude. Harper & Row, Publishers, New York, 1970.
- Aconfessingbook. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Womenofattic, 10 Apr. 2016, womenofattic.wordpress.com/2016/04/10/one-hundred-years-of-solitude-gabriel-garcia-marquez/.
Analysis of the Aspect of Warfare in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Novel One Hundred Years of Solitude
Thousand Days of War remains one of the memorable conflicts in Colombian history. New historic criticism is a literary theory that claims that literary texts should be compared to the ancient historic texts to determine their origin. It has been confirmed that new historicists review historical happenings before writing literary texts. In this paper, new historic criticism will be used to analyze a novel entitled One Hundred Years of Solitude, written by Gabriel Garcíia Márquez Marquez. New historic criticism is based on the argument that that literary texts can be better understood when analyzed with reference to other historical texts. Besides, history documents can be analyzed with the tools of literary analysis. As such, most authors of literary materials apply new historic criticism to ensure that they can link the past occurrences with the present so that they can determine the progress. Therefore, they ensure that their literary works resemble historical documents so that new historicists can find it easier during analysis.
This novel One Hundred Years of Solitude will be linking to the events of thousand days war. Gabriel García Garcia Márquez Marquez throws much reference to the timeframe such that the major aspect in the novel, which is warfare, resembles the “a thousand days war” witnessed in Columbia between 1899 and 1902. The aim of this comparative analysis is to relate how the warfare depicted in the novel relate to the real historical events. Also, the analysis is meant to discuss value of the war, the dangers of war on the people and the consequences of the changes brought by war on Macondo.
Pre-Columbian History and Thousand Days War
Thousand days war in Columbia took place from 17th October 1899 to 22nd November 1902. It involved the partisans of the Liberal and Conservative parties (Margarita 29). The war resulted from the fact that the Conservative party had ruled Columbia since 1867. As such, Liberals enjoyed fewer privileges as compared to their counterparts. More so, Liberals consisted mostly of the less privileged as most of them practiced peasant farming. In 1885, the Liberals organized the first attack to the ruling party, the conservatives. However, they faced a strong defeat since their soldiers were less compared to those of the ruling party. After the war, many people died from both sides. Thereafter, the Liberals planned their next step until 1895 whereby they organized another revolutionary outbreak. Still, it did not bear fruitsgive any positive outcome as per their expectations. Their rivals were well prepared since they were the ruling government.
On 17th October 1899, came up with another attack with the aim of overthrowing the ruling government. However, its intensity was weaker as compared to the previous ones. This happened because the government placed 75, 000huge number of soldiers on the battlefield, while the rebelling side had only 35, 000had half of it soldiers. After the war, about 50, 000 people died from both sides. Due to the massive loss of people’s livesdeath, the vice president, Jose Marroquin, planned the imprisonment of the acting president in January 1900. This led to the rise of another civil war since the vice president planned serious attacks against the Liberals. Within seven months, the main liberal forces had been defeated. However, the remaining ones replaced their tactic with guerrilla warfare, which led to massive destruction of property and killing of residents living in rural areas. For the first time, the government failed to stop the Liberals from carrying out their attacks. Thus, they decided to hold peace talks with them whereby they agreed to bring political reforms and start carrying out free and fair elections.
During the warfare period, the needy in Columbia suffered the most since they could not afford to buy commodities from sellers who had taken advantage of the country’s state. Also, the government made the lives of Liberals difficulty by implementing laws that prevented them from accessing government offices. They as well gave many powers to the Catholic clergy such they were eligible to get payment from the residents. Such actions annoyed the partisan Liberals who continued to fight for freedom even after failing consecutively. However, the guerrilla tactic attracted the government’s attention, and on 22nd November 1902, the war ended after signing the treaty of Neerlandia.
Apart from the consistent war between Liberals and Conservatives, the slave trade and unfair trade were common during the Pre-Columbian erawar. Many indigenous people were kidnapped and forced to work in plantations, and also as servants in royal families. During the ‘a thousand days war,’ Liberals were subjected to slavery and unfair trade such that most of them could not afford basic products. This approach was meant to deprive them of basic needs so that they can surrender to the Conservatives. Lastly, Pre-Columbian history was characterized by the Banana Company. In this caseThereafter, Colombia and Panama introduced the banana fruit which was cheaper compared to indigenous fruits such as apples. Thereafter, banana growth expandedexpanded, and its exportation came in place.
Connection between the Novel One Hundred Years of Solitude and Pre Columbian History and A Thousand Days War
There is a clear connection between the novel One Hundred Years of Solitude and the Pre-Columbian History and the A Thousand Days War. “Four soldiers under his command snatched a woman who had been bitten by a mad dog from her family and killed by rifle butts” (Márquez 100). First The tension rises as Colonel Aureliano see the bitterness of the soldiers on his people. of allFirst, the aspect of war unveils itself in both contexts. In the novel, signs of war begin when the sounds of guns are heard in Macondo town. Some people are killed while others get injured during the attack from the intruding soldiers. As a result, Aureliano Buendia who is in charge of the native soldiers in Macondo is heard saying, “Get the boys ready,” he said. “We’re going to war.”( (Márquez 55100). Such a declaration meant that the attackers were serious about taking over the city. Therefore, the local fighters had to take action quickly so as to save their town. Aureliano wanted to make sure that the Liberals retain their way of life and not to give in to the Conservatives whose aim was to destroy the town and its inhabitants and goes on becoming a dictator. At first, Gerineldo Márquez thought Aureliano was joking, and that it was just madness. However, Aurelito answers: “Not madness,” Aureliano said. “War. And don’t call me Aurelito anymore. Now I’m Colonel Aureliano Buendía.” Similarly, the “Pre-Columbian History and A Thousand Days of war” talks about the preparations of war between 1895 and 1902. The Liberals assembled their soldiers so as to attack the Conservatives who made up the ruling government in Columbia.
Also, the issue of cheating during elections is evident in both contexts. In the novel, Aureliano says; “If I were a Liberal,” he said, “I’d go to war because of those ballots.” (Marquez 5396). This statement comes after it was confirmed that the Conservative Party had exchange ballots so as to win elections. As such, Liberals becaome furious with the act and so they had to prepare for war. In Pre-Columbian history, tThe Liberal party as well face the same fate whereby their votes are stolen by the Conservative party. “Another war begins right there. Captain Roque Carnicero and his six men left with Colonel Aureliano to free the revolutionary general Victorio Madina” (129). Due to the intense suffering they were going through as the opposition, they decide to fight for their rights by attacking the government. However, they are defeated on all occasions due to their little number and faultyfewer weapons. This is similar in the novel whereby tThe Liberals comprise of only twenty-one soldiers carrying homemade knives and farming tools as their weapons. Their rivals on the other side were armed with firearms. As a result, the Liberals lost the war terribly.
Apart from using the use of faultyimproper weapons in both the novel and in pre-Columbian history and a thousand days war, both contexts were characterized by massive suffering among the liberals. The writer of the novel One Thousand Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Garcia Márquez, Marquez, seemedlaid out the to be aware of the events well of the ‘a thousand days war.’ “Visitacion died around that time. She had the pleasure of dying a natural death after and her last wish was they should dig up the wages she had saved for more that twenty years and send it to colonel Aureliano Buendia to fund the war” (144). With all the help they could get, For incidence, tthe Liberal in the novel led by Aureliano fights a losing battleetter in which they end up gaining nothing. With no least funds and resources available Colonel and the soldier’s survival gets questionable. Besides, most of them are peasant farmers who depend on farm produce to earn a living. In the novel, Aureliano Buendia complains: ‘When the banana company arrived, however, the local functionaries were replaced by dictatorial foreigners whom Mr. Brown brought to live in the electrified chicken yard so that they could enjoy.” (Márquez 118). The statement shows the Colonel Aureliano was in deep sorrow because of the loss brought by foreigners in Macondo. The Macondo people were going through intense suffering despite their previous efforts to improve their lives. The false promises made by the Banana Company shows a tragic effect on the Maconda people. This state of the town must have annoyed Aureliano who is heard saying; “One of these days,” he shouted, I’m going to arm my boys so we can get rid of these shitty gringos!” (Marquez 119). As the opposition party, their role was to act as a watchdog to the ruling government. Since the government was ruling unfairly, organizing for a revolution was the only option left. A similar action was taken by the Liberals in Columbia after they were subjected to untold suffering by the Conservative Party.
Lastly, the ending of the novel as well connects itself to the Pre-Columbian History and a thousand days war. There was no giving up for Colonel Aureliano but at the end he had no option. “Let’s not waste time on formalities, he said and prepared to sign the papers without reading them” (176). If not for the immediate signing of the treaty of Neerlandia, Columbia could have remained lifeless. The core of the war with no purpose rather that fighting for pride. After the death of Aurelianosigning of the treaty, the whole of Macondo starts undergoing a continuous transformation. There is a deterioration in health, security, and culture. The ruling government does not care about what people are going through, instead, they engage in evil deeds such as beating and killing residents, stops pension for the war veterans. At last, the town goes back to its initial state. “The child described with precise and convincing details how the army had machine-gunned more than three thousand workers penned up the station and how they loaded the bodies and threw them into the sea” (348).The unrealistic action of the Banana Company claiming not to be having any worker and not agreeing to improve and other facilities was a injustice deeds for the people of Macondo those who raised their voice were shot down due to dominance and power of control by United Fruit Company. Ursula exclaimed: “It’s as if the world were repeating itself.” (Marquez 146). Being among the few peoplepioneers of Macondo left alalive, Ursula had all the reasons to be worried. She has seen all of it from the incarnation of Macondo till the apocalypse. Again, these events can be related to the “thousand days of war.” It also involved massive killings and destruction of property. If not for the immediate signing of the treaty of Neerlandia, Columbia could have remained lifeless.
How the Historical Event Informs the Present Day
The events depicted in Pre Columbia history and a thousand days war and the novel One Thousand Years of Solitude shows that war involving the ruling and the opposition parties can result in unexpected damages to the residents. In both cases, there is a massive loss of lives as soldiers try to win against their opponents on the battlefield. Also, a lot of property is damaged as the intruding soldiers try to get space to accomplish their evil acts. Although the Pre Columbian war took between 1899 and 1902, sSimilar outcomes of the war have been witnessed in the present worldday when a country is involved in a civil waras our country has always been at war against terrorism, war against drugs or war against poverty.. Also, the events discussed by Gabriel Garcia Marquez in the novel One Thousand Years of Solitude have been witnessed widely in the present day.
Firstly, the historical event clearly informs the events that have been witnessed in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1996. A President Joseph Makapila had been stubborn such that he could not accept defeat from the opposition. As such, civil wars arose from time to time. The intensity of the war was worse between 1996 and 2003, whichThis led to the death of millions of residents (Khosa 12). In 2017, the country’s opposition leaders signed a deal with President Joseph Makapila so that he can stand down to allow others to rule. The public was also furious with the reluctance of the Makapila to step down since he had led the country into unintended wars which led to the destruction of property and loss of lives. Similar occurrences have been reported in South Sudan whereby the opposition side has been fighting the government since December 2013 (Krause 481). This year, the situation worsened such that many residents were killed in the civil war. Not only in South Sudan but Iraq, Afghanistan, Hongkong are some countries to be spoken of, as the addiction of war haunts every individual.
Based on the occurrences in DRC and South Sudan, it is clear that developingDeveloping countries in the present, experience frequent civil wars more than developed countries. Also, as in the discussed historical event, the rebelliousdisadvantage side suffers the most, and the low-class residents end up losing most of their property since they have less income and savingsed in banks. Moreover so, the countries experiencing frequent civil wars have reported slow development. This is as well depicted in the novel as well as the Pre-Columbian history and a thousand days of war. Therefore, the historical events have a great relevance to the present-day happenings and a lesson for most of us. This shows that the writer, Gabriel GarcíaGarcia Márquez Marquez of the novel One Thousand Years of Solitude had an insight into what is expected to happen in countries that have colliding parties.
Based on the analysis above, new historic criticism involves analyzing literary texts in relation to historical happenings. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, is a true reflection of the Pre-Columbian History and a Thousand Days War and the history connected to it. The author related the events in the text including the warfare, slavery, and the political proceedings to the actual historical events. Those reading the text can easily relate to the Pre-Columbian History. More so, the text does not only relate to historical events, but it also informs on the present happenings. For example, the political instability witnessed in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. Like in Pre-Columbian history, the cause of political instability currently and misuse pf power, false promises before electionsis cheating in elections and stubbornness of the ruling government are few to be spoken of. Thus, the only way to solve the issue of political instability is to conduct free and fair elections so that transparent leaders can occupy top seats.Hoping one day apart from war the democratic leaders come up with more peaceful solution,
- Diaz Caceres, Margarita J. Religion, Politics and War In the Creation of an Ethos of Conflict in Colombia; The case of the War of the Thousand Days (1899-1902). (2018).
- Khosa, Alvin Green. A critical analysis of the influence of various role-players in and contributing factors to the ongoing armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Diss. University of Johannesburg, 2016.
- Krause, Jana. Stabilization and local conflicts: Communal and civil war in South Sudan. Ethnopolitics 18.5 (2019): 478-493.
- Márquez, Gabriel García. One Hundred Years of Solitude. Penguin UK, 2014.
- Márquez, Gabriel García. One Hundred Years of Solitude. Harper, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2014.
The Distortion of Reality in One Hundred Years of Solitude
In Gabriel García Marquez’s masterful work of magical realism, One Hundred Years of Solitude, he documents the wretched lineage of the Buendía family — in which family members cannot break free of their family’s behavioral patterns; rather, they find themselves trapped within the fates that echo their family’s history. Readers swiftly cross over into a different dimension of reality once the gypsies conclude their prideful finding of ice return with a brief trip on the flying carpet. Soon enough, readers also find out that Father Nicanor can levitate up to six inches off the ground, with assistance from his steaming chocolate, and even Remedios the Beauty, who is carried off into the sky, while in the midst of folding a sheet. Thus, in One Hundred Years of Solitude, the real world assumes the attributes of make-believe and recollection, and time, per se, is subject to the same distortions; García Marquez is able to achieve his purpose of illustrating the fatalist progression of history since the past, present, and future are inseparable, according to his perception and understanding.
One way in which Gabriel García Marquez exemplifies the cyclical nature of time is through the repetition of names within the Buendía family; this reflects and determines the characters’ personalities. Early on in the novel, Ursula acknowledges that: “Children inherit their parents madness,” (García Márquez 46). Ursula even indicates that the Aurelianos of the family are mum and introverted, usually also possessing the ability to foresee, whereas the José Arcadios are quite tenacious and clamorous, often marked by a tragic fate. These traits are calculable to the point at which Ursula comes to believe that the twins, Aureliano Segundo and José Arcadio Segundo, likely swapped identities as young children because they parallel the personal characteristics of the other’s name to the greatest degree. Additionally, at many points during the novel, the characters want to end the naming traditions but are prevented from doing so; Amaranta Ursula wants to name her son Rodrigo but Aureliano II is firm about naming him Aureliano III. Similarly, Fernanda names her daughter Renata, yet everyone calls her Meme, deriving from Remedios. This firmness between name and personal traits suggest that a character’s destiny is determined prior to birth and there is no way to change it. Although the repetition of names is often confusing for readers, it has intent behind it: it concedes a 100-year span of multiple generations to emerge as though they are subsisting concurrently.
Not only do readers of One Hundred Years of Solitude experience a debacle of the past, present, and future — the characters in the novel also experience it; this thwarts their power as it handicaps their ability to logically correlate cause and effect, so that they are stuck in the uncontrollable present. For example, Pilar uses her cards to predict the fate of many people, as do the Aurelianos who also have psychic abilities; however, Pilar and the psychic Aurelianos are often incorrect in concluding whether or not their foresight reflects the present or the future, due to the confusion with repetition (as previously mentioned). Characters in this novel tend to see the predictions as being set in stone, rather than as admonitions that may grant them the ability to adapt their behavior to avert these events. Moreover, shortly after Macondo is established, an insomnia plague cascades on the town, resulting in collective amnesia which forces the characters to remain in an unending present:
“If we don’t ever sleep again, so much the better,” José Arcadio Buendía said in good humor. “That way we can get more out of life.” But the Indian woman explained that the most fearsome part of the sickness of insomnia was not the impossibility of sleeping, for the body did not feel any fatigue at all, but its inexorable evolution toward a more critical manifestation: a loss of memory…when the sick person became used to his state of vigil, the recollection of his childhood began to be erased from his memory, then the name and notion of things, and finally the identity of people and even the awareness of his own being, until he sank into a kind of idiocy that had no past” (43-44).
In this scene, both José Arcadio Buendía and Ursula want to take the opportunity for increased efficiency, but amnesia will creep up with a lack of sleep; this amnesia will eventually obliterate the totality of one’s mind. Márquez asserts that people’s identity and self-awareness will disappear; thus, he emphasizes that the knowledge of a person’s history is crucial to their identity, which is why both the past and the present are so intertwined. Prior to the cure for the plague being found, Pilar employs her cards to complete the lost memories of the past likewise to how she is able to foresee the future; the recollection of these “memories” have an inevitable effect akin to her prophecies. Due to the collective amnesia and broken recollections by Pilar, Gabriel García Márquez seems to imply that any story being told winds up deciding a person’s destiny.
In this novel, Márquez also calls into query the nature of reality and fact; he insinuates that Colombia’s written history is one that has been told through the lens of the victors. Therefore, Márquez seeks to retell the history through that of the oppressed, conveying to the reader the way perspective can determine reality. This is related to the literary style of magical realism as a way of personifying the heinous violence that went while Latin America was being colonized. Gabriel García Márquez most clearly demonstrates that the history told by textbooks is not always true with the story of the banana plantation strike; when the workers on the banana plantation are on strike for improved working conditions, many are murdered, and their lifeless bodies were then dumped into the ocean. The sole survivor of this genocide is Jose Arcadio Segundo yet, when he returns to Macondo, people prefer to read a fictitious newspaper story asserting that the strike concluded peacefully. Overall, Márquez is making the point that people would prefer to believe a toned-down version of history that allows them to avoid facing the truth of the horrific events. Just after, the woman’s home who he takes shelter denies the fact that ‘“there must have been three thousand of them,”’ as she “measured him with a pitying look,” (308); in addition, “In the three kitchens where José Arcadio Segundo stopped before reaching home they told him the same thing: “There weren’t any dead” (308). The effect, then, is to prompt the reader to question what historical narratives can be trusted, destabilizing the accepted narrative of Colombian history.
Although Márquez shows “documented” history to be marginally isolated from reality, One Hundred Years of Solitude portrays reality and magic as being quite congruous; this leads one to believe that reality can be more eccentric than the tales we tell about it as it also gives humans an expressive way to illustrate emotions and experiences that are too difficult to convey by speech. For example, following the death of Jose Arcadio Buendía, Macondo is covered by “a light rain of tiny, yellow flowers falling,” (140) which encapsulate the fervent grief of Macondo for its founder. While Jose Arcadio Buendía’s death may bear historical significance, García Márquez uses the flowers to exemplify that this death is quite lachrymose and a humane event, rather than a historical one. Generally, each magical occurrence in the novel allows for a historical narrative based on the human experience, rather than a legitimate and formal recount of historical “facts.” Thereby, Márquez demonstrates that the most accurate account of life is one that enables for the individuality of personal experience.
Overall, One Hundred Years of Solitude emphasis on distortion of time, magical realism, and the untold truth of history as told by the oppressed, all contribute to the distortion of reality in Macondo. Gabriel García Marquez’s unparalleled style — with the addition of bizarre events, nonlinear story development, and exuberant sentences — distort the fine line between magic and realism by imparting fiction with believable qualities and the ordinary with supernatural elements. The subsequent mystification precedes the conception of a distorted reality, which poignantly comprises and uncovers some startling truths.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Struggle Between Fate and Free Will
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Generation after generation of characters in Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude face the same struggle between fate and their own free will. However, the unsolved problems of one generation – self-isolation, unhealthy romantic pursuits, poor decision making, and even the symbolic recycling of names – inexplicably and inevitably flare up again in the next. Not only do the characters experience the cyclical behavior in their own family, but in the outside world as well; making clear the author’s intention to criticize humanity’s inability to learn from their mistakes by emphasizing the cyclical nature of history as a theme.
Though on a smaller scale, the circle of events in the Buendía family are ever-present. Names often recycled such as Aureliano and José Arcadio carry significant weight for generations down the line, representing undesirable personality aspects: tendencies for isolation and bravado to excess, for example. Not to mention the manner in which the family handles romance, which leads to either incest or futile, painfully long term romantic pursuits. Even though the repetition seems rather blatant, only the great matriarch Ursula seems to notice that “it’s as if the world were repeating itself” (Márquez 298) while her family continue to make the same mistakes. Due to the importance of the continuing names, the author points out that as individuals, behavioral habits are difficult to break once they’re deeply established. Many humans seek to avoid change even to a fault, thus characters in the novel paradoxically fight to be meaningful in their world, they ultimately pave the road to their fated destruction – just as their forefathers did.
Additionally, thematic cycles manifest themselves in the world outside of the Buendía family and Macondo in the form of politics and power. Indeed, the concept of the “revolving door” of political parties and ideologies resonates perfectly with characters in the novels, who struggle to remember which party represents what, and even who they’re fighting for. The liberal and conservative wars overshadowed the lives of several generations of characters and left several confused about their own perceived beliefs, wounded, or dead. Repeatedly, shadowy hands grappled for power in government and in Macondo while the citizens suffered; a criticism of the roundabout manner of politics that Márquez made clear. Nobody from the bottom of society to the very top seem able to learn from their mistakes and produce significant change, and unfortunately remain caught in the eternal cycle of a power struggle.
Sadly, for the ill-fated Buendías, the most significant cause of their demise came from themselves. The family seemed caught in a chaotic downward spiral and were unable to break away from their self-fulfilling prophecies – even the final one, since Aureliano Babilonia fulfilled his own prophetic death as Macondo was “wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment” ( 417) as soon as he read that it would. Even though that seems like a bad idea to say the least, the history of the Buendías is riddled with bad ideas, which ultimately destroyed them. Their past illustrates the author’s use of negative cycles to condemn humanity’s tendency to form such cycles, which can only lead to the same outcome that Macondo experienced – if not literal destruction, then to decay in the minds of those who live on, and certainly “not have a second opportunity on earth.” (417)
One Hundred Years of Solitude: Analysis of Translation Work by Allison E. Fagan
Three facets of Fagan’s work that stood out to me were of the main topic of her piece- translation. First and foremost, there was a lot of analyses surrounding the literal translation of the novel from the original Spanish manuscript to an English text seemingly for access by a worldwide audience. It was shocking to me to read that one of the primary reasons for this translation into English was due to a strategic implication against the United States. The novel itself contains many anti-imperialist and anti-American sentiments and there is strong evidence that politics was a primary motivator for the development of the translation- although that has technically not been proven yet. However, the fact that there was definitely an underlyingmotive takes away from the sweet and innocent impression the novel had me believe.
Another important factor in Fagan’s work was the actual content of the English translation of the novel. As Fagan acknowledges throughout the excerpt, One Hundred Years of Solitude has some very high quality English translations. Specifically, aspects of the novel such as magical realism and metaphors translated beautifully from Spanish to English. Fagan even goes on to say, “this is not to denigrate Rabassa’s translation, which has been held up by Irene Rostagno in Searching for Recognition: The Promotion of Latin Ameri can Literature in the United States as ‘perhaps one of the most outstanding English renderings of a Latin American novel’. In fact, I think that Rabassa’s work magnifies the importance of translation. In this case, Rabassa’s incredibly complex conception and description of the art of translation highlights the
ways in which even a faithful translation of a novel functions as a fundamentally distinct work, related to but separate from the original. The translation alters the original not only in [regards] to its new audience.”
The third and possibly most important facet of translation addressed by Fagan is the translating done by the characters within the novel! This is manifested especially in the ending, where is is most symbolic. It is when the final Buendia descendent translates some old sets of prophecies and sees that the entire system of Macondo had been predicted to follow a particular pattern. That pattern was an elaborate system that taught that the village would prosper and then would fall to a doomed ending. Looking back at the story, this is a very plausible prophecy based on the experiences witnessed by the reader in Macondo. It is was interesting to note the steady times of prosperity at the beginning of the novel all to be met with sharp drops in quality as the generations went on until the eventual collapse of Macondo after the war. This is perhaps symbolic of human nature’s tendency to keep moving from one thing to another as the initial thing breaks. A quick look at history shows similar patterns with massive empires around the world. Additionally, the translation of human emotions was a big theme in One Hundred Years of Solitude. The most outstanding example of this is Jose Arcadio Buendia’s obsession with solitude and pursuing his own interests with as little contact with the outside world as possible. These tendencies are passed down from generation to generation in the Buendia family tree, which all leads up to the final descendent translating the prophecy that Macondo would end in the cycle that it did end in. Essentially, translation is much more than just converting between languages; symbolic translation such as the translation of the prophecy at the end of One
Hundred Years of Solitude conveys meaning that otherwise cannot be conveyed through means of simple text.
Stereotypical Temptress in Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude
A Beautiful Barcode
Green vines travel up a stone tower, scampering over every crevice, only halting when they reach a stream of light from the only window on the ancient building. Inside its confinement, a beautiful princess brushes her silky golden hair, dreaming of the day she can finally visit the world around her. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? In many fictional works there is a precious daughter, kept away from the outside world in fear that she will become independent— sharing her beauty, when her oppressor wants to hide it. Similarly, in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, Remedios the Beauty is stowed away— hidden under the captivity of a black shawl. She is stereotypically a provocative woman, enticing the interest of men, and unintentionally leading them to their deaths. Gabriel Garcia Marquez creates her character as a stereotypical temptress: beautiful, unaware, and ultimately a creation of the society that surrounds her. A society that doesn’t allow her to flourish.
Characters are often portrayed as immoral or moral, being on either side of the extreme. Remedios the Beauty isn’t an extreme in the sense that she is stereotyped as provocative in the eyes of the townsfolk, yet not in her own. The town thinks she craves attention, as “the most impious men… would go to church with aim to see, if only for an instant, the face of Remedios the Beauty” (211-212). They automatically throw her into the category of seductive, when in actuality she’s not trying to be alluring and is unaware of the town’s reaction. She rejects an attractive man who comes to her church “dressed like a prince” even when the women of the town gladly would have thrown themselves at his feet. She isn’t seeking anyone’s approval or lust, and when she accepts the mysterious prince’s yellow rose, it is “without the least bit of malice… [and she] lifted her shawl to see his face better, not to show hers” (213). She is in no way vain, and is most certainly unaware of her effects, as the prince is ultimately smothered to death by her image. She, unknowingly, lifts the shawl that Ursula makes her wear, and unleashes her beautiful curse. Because she isn’t aware of her beauty’s effects, she appears to take on the “hard-to-get” attitude. When a strange man comes in her bathroom and begs “let me soap you,” she proclaims that her own hands are enough (251). She doesn’t see that denying his gesture makes him go insane from lusting after her. The men fall prey to the destruction that she isn’t aware of.
Although Remedios the Beauty is depicted as this temptress, it isn’t in her intention to seduce the men of Macondo. She is only a stereotype because the people of the town make her so. Gabriel Garcia Marquez shows that the townspeople almost instinctually categorize Remedios the Beauty; this sheds light on human nature. The exception to this depiction is Colonel Aureliano Buendia who “did not even notice Remedios the Beauty as she passed by naked on her way to her bedroom” (187). He is also the only one who doesn’t think of her as mentally retarded, but lucid and wise, like “she’s come back from twenty years of war,” (214). These assertions makes the reader realize that Remedios the Beauty is a stereotype, but not in the eyes of Aureliano Buendia. Gabriel Garcia Marquez uses the Colonel as a buffer, as a statement to Remedios the Beauty’s character. Aureliano Buendia’s refusal to recognize her as anything more than human begs the reader to see that sometimes people are like a child’s toy, where a block doesn’t fit into a circular hole. Categorizing Remedios the Beauty as a siren, luring men to their deaths, constrains her. She is not allowed to become more than their set classification. When someone is labeled or stereotyped, it is often difficult to break free from that, to go outside of these lines that are drawn. Remedios the Beauty stays in this role of seductress until her departure from the book, making it clear that the people of Macondo are holding her back, that the people are drawing the lines.
When one thinks of an alluring woman, the image pictured usually lives up to their expectation of beauty. Even with this typicality Remedios the Beauty is one of the few characters in the novel that isn’t explicitly described in appearance. The reader gets the notion that she is exotic when she is said to “not [be] a creature of this world” (213). She is also one the most magical characters, as she mysteriously floats off of the pages of the book. Again, the reader is faced with a stereotypically exotic and magical character. As in many works of fiction– fairy tales especially– the damsel in distress or the female protagonist is in some way more strong, powerful, or majestic than other characters or “typical” women. Throughout the novel Gabriel Garcia Marquez portrays Remedios the Beauty’s character as a paradigmatic supernatural being. When “the smell of Remedios the Beauty keeps on torturing men beyond death,” this mystical image is only strengthened (252). The reader then imagines one of the senses, something that is usually intangible, as a force that grabs a hold of the men’s noses and leads them to their graves. Because of this power, she is considered exotic and majestic. However, she is also one of the most relatable characters, one that Gabriel Garcia Marquez makes to let the reader take away insight. She fulfills her needs without conviction, as she wears little to nothing because “she [does] not understand why women complicate their lives with corsets and petticoats,” showing the reader that it’s more than acceptable to toss out conventions and embrace fulfillment (248). When she shaves her head, it’s “not some kind of challenge, and that boldness with which she uncover[s] her thighs to cool off [is] not a criminal provocation,” but rather a practicality (249). These actions place her in a role of stereotype, even if she does not see herself in this categorization.
Remedios the Beauty lives oblivious to the attention she brings and the misfortune she causes, just as she remains unaware of the stereotype that is forced upon her. Through her character, Gabriel Garcia Marquez makes a statement on human nature. His statement is that people aren’t stereotypes unless others make them into one, which is exactly what the people of Macondo do to Remedios the Beauty. She lives in a world of conventions that tries to pull her down. She fulfills her needs so quickly, without abiding by traditions, that she has almost nothing to fret. And that’s a lifestyle that’s completely innocent and self-serving. However, the other characters force a stereotype on her, which tarnishes her innocence. Through Remedios the Beauty’s character, Gabriel Garcia Marquez portrays that life should be lived free of the shackles of other people’s beliefs.
The Theme of Incest and its Development
In the epic novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” Gabriel Garcia Marquez writes about the Buendia family of mythical Macondo. Throughout the generations, the Buendias are plagued with incestuous relationships; by the end, they only succeed in isolating themselves from society and weaving unnatural bonds created by incest. The incestuous relationships in the novel allow the characters to “recreate” themselves, sinking the family deeper into isolation. Thus, “One Hundred Years of Solitude” is not a book about incest. Rather, incest is used both as a catalyst for, and as a way to explore, the novel’s themes of memory and forgetfulness, circular time, and violence.
Incest is a major theme of the novel from its beginning, when Macondo is founded. When Ursula marries her relative Jose Arcadio, she refuses to consummate the marriage, afraid of giving birth to an infant with a pig tail. When Prudencio Aguilar says that Jose Arcadio is unable to make his wife pregnant, Jose Arcadio murders him, only to be chased by his ghost; the fleeing couple form the town of Macondo. Although Jose Arcadio and Ursula are spared the fate of giving birth to a baby with a pig tail, Ursula continues to remember the threats caused by incest, often reminding her family not commit this sin. She remains the moral compass for her family until her death, and is the only one who remembers the past as more than a series of nostalgic recollections. Yet her power and influence are limited. She cannot stop her son JosÃ© Arcadio from becoming a gypsy or a male prostitute; neither can she dissuade her grandson Arcadio from becoming Macondo’s most despotic ruler or the Colonel from executing a man who deserved clemency. Powerless to stem the losses and tragedies that beset the family, she cannot help them avoid the fate set for them at the time of Macondo’s founding.
The incestuous relationships in the novel particularly highlight character traits and emphasize the repetitiveness of character actions. Incest forges important links between the characters of present and past generations, further alienating them from society. For example, Auareliano and his aunt Amaranta enjoy a sexual relationship, halted only by Amaranta’s conscience. Two generations later, Aureliano and Amaranta Ursula-different individuals, but sharing the same names and many character traits-have a child together. Locked in a fierce passion, they forget about the outside world as the town of Macondo withers away.
The theme of memory loss, and its being rooted in incest, is also tied to the notion of circular time. By forgetting their past, the Buendias repeat their ancestors’ mistakes and are unable to move forward in time. For example, when Arcadio returns after becoming a gypsy, he neglects the fact that he is related to Rebecca and marries her. Because no one connects the present to the past, the family allows this to happen. One significant metaphor for this inability is the “turning wheel.” As Marquez writes,
There was no mystery in the heart of a Buendia that was impenetrable for [Pilar Ternera] because a century of cards and experience had taught her that the history of the family was a machine with unavoidable repetitions, a turning wheel that would have gone on spilling into eternity were it not for the progressive and irremediable wearing of the axel (Marquez 402).
The wheel, representing circular time and repetition, spins throughout the novel. Yet, as Marquez writes, “the first of the line is tied to a tree and the last is being eaten by the ants…” ( Marquez 445). Thus, the fiber the wheel is weaving to tie the Buendia family together is delicate. The reader is aware that it is only a matter of time before it will be snapped.
Not only does the family’s incest lead to the repetition of characters and their actions, however, but to violence, the culmination of the Buendias’ ignorance and passion. Their ignorance allows them to commit incest because they have forgotten how closely related they are, and now, this leaves them open to instability and violence. For example, Aureliano isolates himself, deciphering the ancient text of Melquiades, at the same time that his son, the last of the Buendia line, suffers the violent fate written for him since the founding of Macondo. Aureliano (III) must suffer this fate because of the actions of his predecessors. They forget their origins and do not realize how closely they are related. Their fate is written in Melquiades’s book, and they follow it easily. Thus, incest proves to be the crucial mistake of the novel and is ultimately the downfall of the Buendia family.
By charting the path of the Buendia family, Marquez writes about the journey of humans. He does not give a moral commentary on incest, but rather a warning to remember the past to prepare for the future. The town and the family are fated to die because they do not have what is required to continue. Their commitment to solitude, fantasy, and desire doomed them; their lineage is unfit to continue because they do not know who they are or where they came from. Thus, the novel represents more than the Buendia family. It is a metaphor for the human race.
The Significance of the Time Structure in the Novel
Cyclical Time Structure in One Hundred Years of Solitude
Narrative structures vary from novel to novel as a technique that aides in the advancement of the plot and enhances the clarification of the literary devices employed throughout the story. In the novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, both traditional, or linear, narrative time and cyclical narrative time structures work simultaneously to emphasize the recurrent destructive behaviors of the Buendía family. A linear narrative structure “follows a straight line — starting at the beginning, moving to the middle, and proceeding to the end of the story”; follows a line of movement including an ongoing plot, with a somewhat typical exposition, rising action, climax, and denouement. However, One Hundred Years of Solitude is not a novel that primarily depends on a linear narrative structure. In fact, this novel’s structure is also inclusive of a cyclical narrative. The cyclical time “cycles through the story one event at a time to end back where the story originated”, and reiteratively brings the reader back to key plot occurrences as a means of highlighting the impact on the characters. In his novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Garcia Marquez implements the technique of cyclical time to heighten the intensity of recurring destructive behaviors across the generations of a small, metaphoric village.
Garcia Marquez employs the device of repetition, through names and personalities of specific characters, in order to display an uncommon series of coincidental events within a cyclical structure. These events are perceived as distinctive and inflammatory in the destruction of a normal society. In the novel, there are a total of five characters that share the name Jose Arcadio, and, as described by Ursula -one of the novel’s main characters- carry “impulsive and enterprising” characteristics associated with mischievous behavior, capable of inciting trouble and often leading to a negative effect on the surrounding environment (Márquez 181). Marquez’s establishment of recurrent names and similar personalities throughout characters provoke the negative outcomes that occur within plot cycles. Marquez presents repetition within the novel once again with inclusion of twenty-two characters named Aureliano. These men are defined as possessing “withdrawn but with lucid minds”, a characteristics that starkly contrast those of Jose Arcadio (Márquez 181). Marquez’s reintroduction of the Aureliano characters ironically advances the plot as Aureliano attempts to reestablish Macondo to the village’s previous state, however, this instead creates a crisis and sets up a further subplot that sparks a new cycle. Both of these characters’ reappearances and their polar actions trigger the destructive behaviors that occur historically and repeatedly within the novel. These cyclical generations produce negative outcomes for the people of Macondo, forcing them to repeat disastrous events that eventually move them toward their own demise.
The destructive recurring event of incest, also known in the novel as “the original sin,” introduces and concludes each narrative cycle. It embodies the unnatural actions that the majority of the characters in the novel must endure. Incest further becomes the primary cause of disastrous abnormal characteristics in the Buendia family. Due to the tragedy of a past incestuous event in the Buendía family when “[a]n aunt of Úrsula’s married to an uncle of José Arcadio Buendía, [and had] a son … grow up with a cartilaginous tail in the shape of a corkscrew and with a small tuft of hair on the tip,” U´rsula and Jose Arcadio Buendía are exiled from their original village (Márquez 36). This action in the plot cycle was driven by the fear of U´rsula’s mother, who believed pigtails were an inevitable outcome of incest. This incestuous event marks the beginnings of the “original sin”, thus initiating its recurrence in the novel’s plot. As incest takes place within the Buendía family, it serves as the catalyst for the rebirth of each new cycle, namely foreshadowing the impending destruction of the characters and the village. While the event of incest marks the beginning of each cycle, the aftermath of incest -the pigtail- serves as a symbol for the annihilation of a cycle that only lasts one hundred years. Throughout the incestuous events that occur within six instances among the five generations of characters in the novel, not one of the characters deals with the outcome of a pig-tailed child. Thus, the cycle continues and regenerates throughout the plot, until the end of the novel when Aureliano and Amaranta Úrsula’s child is born. With the birth of their child, they “turned him on his stomach [and saw] that he had something more than other men, and they leaned over to examine him… [i]t was the tail of a pig.” Úrsula mentioned in the novel that “the tail could be cut off when the child got his second teeth”; however, the couple were not aware of the family’s history, so the resulting action leads to the child permanently keeping his tail. The consequence of incest is acts as a conclusion to the circular plot cycle and the torment of the Buendía family. Incest is an action that defies social norms; thus, it is the reason that the characters seem destructive and act as facilitators toward their own demise in the novel.
As the Buendía family’s history duplicates itself, the characters in the novel become familiarized with the absurdity of their present situations. However, such characters do not raise awareness for these irrational cyclical events. In the novel, “U´rsula confirmed her impression that time was going in a circle”(Márquez 220). She feels “as if time had turned around and [they] were back at the beginning”(Márquez 335). U´rsula is one of the few characters that notices the reoccurrence of odd events in her village, yet she does not take any direct initiative to stop the cycle; just like other characters throughout the village’s commotive history. Likewise, Jose Arcadio Buendía becomes aware of the absurd, seemingly recurring span of time as he begins to realize the repetition of the days. He even states, “that it’s still Monday, like yesterday… look at the sky, look at the walls, look at the begonias … [t]oday is Monday too” (Márquez 77). He notices the relationship between the past and present days that have not gone through change. He, like U´rsula, does not attempt to cease the recurrent events or speak more about the similar occurrences; thus, Jose Arcadio Buendía permits these happenings to cycle through the plot and recreate misfortune upon misfortune. The characters that recognize catastrophic events, but do not make any conscious effort to end them; resemble the destructive naturalistic history of the metaphoric village.
One Hundred Years of Solitude’s plot advancement relies on the regeneration of cycles within a linear narrative structure. By the end of the novel, when the Buendía’s are blown off the face of the earth by a hurricane, the last character, Aureliano, “wandered aimlessly through the town”(Márquez 413). Since the Buendía’s revolve around restating their family’s history, Aureliano is stranded and left with no connection to the past. Due to his dependence on his family’s history, he begins “searching for an entrance that [goes] back to the past”(Márquez 413). Aureliano desperately searches for a tie to his old way of life in order to salvage himself and his family’s legacy. When he fails to revive his family’s past historical events, he and his family are condemned to obliteration due to their independence and abandonment of their history. At the end of the novel, when there is no connection to their past or recreational source of tragedy, the ability to form another cycle is gone. Thus, the cyclical nature of plot regeneration is extinguished.
Garcia Marquez’s simultaneous linear and cyclical structure in his work One Hundred Years of Solitude follows an axle and wheel metaphor for time, that further defines the Buendía family’s nature. In the novel, Pietro Crespi describes the Buendia family nature as “a machine with unavoidable repetitions, a turning wheel that would have gone on spilling into eternity were it not for the progressive and irremediable wearing of the axle” (Márquez 396). The wheel is the novel’s temporal mechanism, the axle represents linear time, and the turning of the wheel represents cyclical time. This metaphor provides an imaginative representation of the technique and also demonstrates the concept Marquez has developed through his intentional repetitive writing. The idea of this everlasting circular time exhibits the deformity the village of Macondo experiences. The events Marquez incorporates into this cyclical structure, like incest, are destructive to the social time period; thus, allowing the plot device to act as an instrument for disease. The Buendía family’s reliance on the past, in order to advance into the future, is one that demonstrates the unnatural destructive mentality the characters have. Through emphasis of cyclical repetitive events within a broad linear hundred year time frame, Garcia Marquez augments the role of these recurring events and portrays their destructive capabilities within a metaphorical town intended to mirror that of Colombia.
Macondo’s Destiny and Symbolism of Mirrors
The Mirrors of Macondo
In Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years Of Solitude the fictional town of Macondo provides a stage, on which the speaker uses the regression of a society to show the disastrous consequences of capitalism on an unindustrialized society. The predominant matriarch character of Ursula Buenda is as a catalyst who introduces and accelerates the spread of capitalism through her entrepreneurial enterprises.
While Ursula Buendia is responsible for the founding of Macondo, she is also symbolic for it’s the well being and monetary strength. At the beginning of the novel rsula is characterized as being parsimonious, frugal and as “having a great capacity for work” (9), and during this time Macondo is introduced as “a village that [is] more orderly and hardworking” (10) than any. Due to the hard work and brilliant planning by her husband, Jose Arcadio Buenda, all people of the town “could reach the river and draw water with the same effort” (9) and the streets are lined in such a way “that no house got more sun than another during the hot time of day” (9). The tone created by this picturesque setting creates the feeling of an unique society where all people strive not for personal advancement, but for equality of condition.
A new chapter opens for Macondo as the industrialization of the village begins to take place. rsula, the once ideal mother, becomes “busy with [her] promising business in candy animals” (41) and begins to slowly drift out of her children’s lives, leaving them to be raised by the native hired help. It is her “delicious little … roosters, … pink fish … and yellow ponies” (49) that spread the dangerous illness of insomnia, which is symbolic for the way that money and other capitalistic gains can make one forget what is important in life. A capitalistic society is theoretically driven by want, rather than necessity, just as Ursula came to be.
The theory of Social Darwinism holds that society evolves in stages, with the lower of these stages being a capitalism that eventually evolves into the utopian communist society, but rsula’s wants and capitalistic desires for fulfillment cause Macondo to regress instead of evolve. Macondo goes from the perfect pure communist society to a capitalist one where equality no longer exists. rsula demonstrates this idea further when she “[takes] out the money she had accumulated” (59) and goes about the task of enlarging the Buenda family home. The Buenda house becomes “not only the largest house in town, … but the … [coolest]” (60). This creates a contrast with the original utopian Macondo where “no house got more [or less] sun than another” (9).
The Macondo of the past was such a pure communist society in that it didn’t have a government and the inhabitants lived in a harmonious state of nature. There was no crime in Macondo, but along with the modernization and economic explosion the need for government arose. As Ursula begins to buy expensive and unnecessary “Viennese furniture [and] Bohemian crystal” (650) a new magistrate arrives in town. Even throughout Jose Arcadio Buenda’s opposition to “judges, … because … nothing needs judging” (61) Don Apolinar Moscote sets up what will become a conservative regime. The newly installed conservative magistrate begins to operate the government in a corrupt manner with false elections. The government operates in such a corrupt manner that the prospect of “war” (105) is threatened. The arising conflict of liberals and conservatives symbolizes more than altercations between political rivals. The recurring motif of liberalism v. conservatism symbolizes a struggle between the old and new. The old, liberal and communist way of life is quickly being challenged by the new, conservative and capitalist one where frivolous excesses such as “table clothes from Holland” (65) run rampant.
The final phase of industrialization begins to take root and the “adobe houses of the founders [are] replaced by brick buildings with wooden blinds” (209). Macondo is then suddenly “[shaken] by a whistle” (239) . The “frightful” (239) train “was to bring so many ambiguities … and unpleasant moments … to Macondo” (239). Along with the train came the infamous Banana Company. The capitalist greed and corruption of the “shitty gringos” (257) is reminiscent of the greed and corruption of the conservative government. Yet unlike the government it takes an act of God, and not war, to do away with the problem plaguing the village.
“Mr. Brown unleash[es] the storm” (338) and causes”[i]t [to rain] for four years, eleven months and two days” (338) in Macondo. The speaker’s use of a flood is symbolic in numerous ways. The use of water destroying all sources of economic and monetary prosperity is similar to a baptism, cleaning the sins of corruption and greed and purging the town of it’s sources. The damage caused by the progression of capitalism into Macondo was on a societal level and the damage caused by the flood was just as damaging on the economic level. The flood did away with all the excesses of Macondo’s society, and also did away with all the economic waist, allowing the possibility for it to return to it’s roots. The days of “paper[ing] the house…with banknotes” (208) are over, and Macondo is given the opportunity to start over again.
After the rains ended Ursula declares that “[a] person can’t live in neglect like this” (360) and Macondo starts to slowly climb out of it’s despair, Petra restarts her lottery, the Buenda house is repaired, and the morale of the town is lifting. However, upon the death of Ursula the few remaining businesses were a “nearby drugstore” (401), the “Catalonian’s bookstore” (413) and the town “brothel” (417). The character of Amaranta Ursula returns to Macondo and mirrors the role of the deceased Ursula. She decides “that it [is] possible to rescue the community” (408). Amaranta Ursula set about the restoration of the Macondo that she knew, through “the restoration of the house” (406). The problem with this restoration is that Amaranta Ursula is part of the fifth generation of Buenda lineage. Instead returning Macondo to the first and second generation communist version, she went about restoring the Banana Company Macondo in which she grew up. Instead of rescuing the village, and Buenda household, the town further moves towards social and economic collapse, as illustrated when the last Aureliano Buendia was reduced to accepting a “weekly sum” (411) from Amaranta Ursula. Even as Aureliano “[wanders] aimlessly through the town, searching for an entrance back to the past” (444) none is to be found, the society progresses too far into a state of no-return and “Macondo [is] wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men” (448).
The final sentence has a profound effect on the reader. One might say being “exiled” (448) into a life of solitude is bad enough, but the reader wonders what heinous act Ursula and other residents of Macondo must have committed in order to be “exiled from the memory of men” (448). The overall tone of the book, especially upon examining the specific downfall of the entire infrastructure of Macondo, causes the reader to empathize with the village and as questions about it’s demise. Was there divine interference in the regression of the society? The allusions used through out the book seem to indicate so. The rain and subsequently flooding of Macondo was reminiscent of Noah’s flood in the Bible where all sin and corruption was wiped away, and the world got to start over again, as Macondo was offered the opportunity to. The reader then is lead to draw the conclusion that Macondo did not accept this offer and was wiped of the face of the earth, just as the as the mythical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, because the flood offered the village a change to change it’s ways and it did not. Since “races condemned to … solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth” (448), it was wiped of the planet.
Word Count 1,360
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia. One Hundred Years of Solitude. New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1970.
A Distorted Reality
One Hundred Years of Solitude is a book about history and culture; the imaginary town of Macondo is based on the author’s hometown of Aracataca, and the many events described in the novel – the civil unrest, the labor/commercial struggles, the technological changes – are historically accurate. Furthermore, Garcia Marquez’s narrative voice is borrowed: “The tone I eventually used in One Hundred Years of Solitude was based on the way my grandmother used to tell stories. She told things that sounded supernatural and fantastic, but she told them with complete naturalness” (Fields). It may seem safe to say that Garcia Marquez’s novel is a work of reality, but this is not the case. Garcia Marquez’s unique style – his inclusion of fantastic events, nonlinear development, free-flowing sentences – blurs the thin line between realism and fantasy by infusing the fictional with an aura of believability and the commonplace with an aura of magic. The resulting confusion leads to the creation of a distorted reality, which ironically reveals and contains some surprising truths. The “blur” that marks the boundary between reality and unreality is dominated by Garcia Marquez’s tone. Aside from the unperturbed attitude with which he treats unusual events – his surprising calmness – the author’s use of sensual language and hyperbole dare to counteract the novel’s believability to create an ironically more cogent reality. As one critic commented on Garcia Marquez’s technique: “If you say you have seen a pink elephant, you will not be believed, but say that you saw seventeen elephants flying about that afternoon, and your story gains in verisimilitude” (Bell-Villada 96). Garcia Marquez’s masterful use of exaggeration accomplishes exactly that: his exaggerations offer a ring of truth. In fact, several of the extraordinary events described actually occurred in real life. One critic recounts Joseph Conrad’s attempted suicide in response to the possibility that a bullet can go through Colone Aureliano Buendia’s body without damaging a single organ (Pelayo 50). The distorted view of reality that appears in One Hundred Years of Solitude is deeply influenced by South American superstitions and folklore. In essence, Garcia Marquez redefines the urbane world of reality to fit with the jungle, Macondo version of reality. The assumption of Remedios the Beauty’s ascendance is treated like another everyday event, while the arrival of the first railway train brings women screaming down the street proclaiming the entry of “something frightful, like a kitchen dragging a village behind it” (Garcia Marquez 182). This reversal of “appropriate” reactions leads the reader to believe that reality has literally ceased to exist, and the book becomes a story dominated by fantasy. Furthermore, this distorted reality is as much related to politics as it is to culture. During Garcia Marquez’s lifetime and due to his political experiences, “truth has been controlled to the point at which it has ceased to be possible to find out what it is. The only truth is that you are being lied to all the time” (Bell-Villada 45). Thus these exaggerations, or semi-lies, actually embody a confused world in which they are reality, in which they are the truth. The town of Macondo does not only represent a microcosm of the country of Colombia, but also the continent of South America, and by Garcia Marquez’s intentions, the world and its history, from the time of Eden to the eventual Apocalypse. Garcia Marquez’s style, which seeks to achieve a confusion of truth or a truth of confusion, is highly unique. He approach to this novel was strongly influenced by his career as a journalist: “On a number of occasions, in fact, Marquez has said that for him there is no real difference between the writing of journalism and the writing of fiction–both are committed to the rigors of realistic representation–and his own ideal of the novel involves as much reportage as imagination” (Irvine). Taken from this point of view, the truth in the distorted reality is literal: Marquez is just another reporter, and his writings about friendly ghosts and reappearing magicians constitute just another daily column. Though the themes that appear in Marquez’s book are not new – the domination of the rich over the poor, the corrupt over the pure, and the “civilized” over the indigenous – the difference appears in the way Marquez makes the reader see these events in a completely new light. In other words, it is not necessarily what he says, it is how he says it. Enter Marquez’s magical realism with a dab of “political realism,” which end up revealing important secrets to a once blind and foolish reader, who should have discovered them on his or her own. Garcia Marquez’s style begins with the structure of the novel. The structure of One Hundred Years of Solitude may seem ordinary, but upon closer inspection one notices that, first of all, the chapters are all unnumbered. By doing so, Garcia Marquez presents the various events in the novel as a single entity, implying a link in time and the progression of the decline of Macondo. The long, fluid, and eventful paragraph construction, combined with the long, flowing sentences, also conveys the unity of the plot and the rapid and unceasing course of time. The confusion is heightened by the literal repetition of names: one critic counts four Jose Arcadios, one Arcadio, one Aureliano Jose, three Aurelianos, seventeen Aurelianos from conquests during the Colonel’s warfare days, and three Remedios (Irvine). This absurd exaggeration by Garcia Marquez is a technique to point out an equally absurd consistency in the personality type of each name: the different names actually constitute a system of personalities that prevails through generations. The dichotomy between a complex structure packed with events and the names that remain unchanged over a century is essentially the truth Garcia Marquez is trying to bring to the surface: “repetition versus change of course is what human history is about” (Irvine). A seemingly confusing aspect of the book actually reveals an important meaning in the novel. The time aspect brings further confusion to the story. The novel’s timeline is basically linear, presenting an account of a town’s rise and eventual decline. Yet One Hundred Years of Solitude is packed with flashbacks and zigzag/circular time patterns. In fact, the first sentence of the book already contains the past, present, and future: “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember the distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice” (Garcia Marquez 1). In addition, the time that appears in the novel fluctuates between periods of activity and periods of stagnancy. The growth of the town and the children takes place overnight, yet the slow physical decay of the village and the aging of the adults leave a bitter aftertaste that lasts for years on end. Consider the progenitor of the family, Jose Arcadio Buendia. He spends the end of his days tied to a tree, dwelling in his own bitterness and refusing to die. To add to the disarray, time moves circularly, as children take on the same identity as their ancestors, and when the town withers to the roots from which it grew, the book comes full circle. The capricious force of time plays an important role in One Hundred Years of Solitude. First of all, the decay of Macondo exposes the truth of “the horrors of lineal history” (Pelayo 45), which include the decline and eventual failure of man’s social, political, and religious institutions. However, Garcia Marquez’s inclusion of repetitive patterns provoked by mythical time creates “a mytho-poetic atmosphere that blurs sordid reality and thrusts the reader into a kind of temporal void where the laws of cause and effect end to become meaningless” (45), which is another truth in which a world of reality and fantasy turns meaningless. It is precisely because of Garcia Marquez’s juxtaposition of reality and fantasy that the essence of human nature can be seen and evaluated. From a reading of One Hundred Years of Solitude, the reader may assume that the author’s point is to say that the world is doomed to first fall into stagnation and decay and then be completely destroyed due to man’s lack of love, and spurred by his greed for power and money. The male characters in the novel do yield to this destiny; even Ursula states that she has finally discovered that the men are “incapable of love” (Garcia Marquez 282). The critic McMurray, however, argues that “ample evidence of eternal virtues is provided by Ursula, the archetype of feminine wisdom and stability; her husband Jose Arcadio Buendia, who embodies man’s heroic quest for progress and truth; their great-grandson Aureliano Segundo and Petra Cotes, whose sincere love makes them charitable toward others” (McMurray 148). Because of the novel’s stark irony of solitude in a prospering and expanding family, other readers might grasp the meaning to be the oppressive reality of everyone living alone in his or her own bubble in a world inhabited by billions of people, and of the ultimate meaninglessness of life. One Hundred Years of Solitude can also be viewed as an expression of moral indignation against exploitation, brutality, and degradation. But there is not doubt that the effect of the warped world of Macondo, which, as the reader discovers at the novel’s end, is a fiction within the fiction of Melquiades’ manuscripts, is the revelation of the warped world of humanity. It is best said by the critic Fields: “It would be a mistake to think of Marquez’s literary universe as an invented, self-referential, closed system. He is not writing about Middle Earth, but about the one we all inhabit. Macondo exists. That is its magic” (Fields 200).Works CitedBell-Villada, Gene H. García Márquez: The Man and His Work. Chapel Hill, NC: Chapel Hill University of North Carolina Press, 1990.Fields, Wayne. ” One Hundred Years of Solitude and New World Storytelling”. Latin American Literary Review 14 (1986): 73-88. Literature Resource Center. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group, 2001. GCPS, Lawrenceville, GA 21 April 2004