One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel garcia marquez

"As far as I'm concerned, I've come to realize only just now that I'm fighting because of pride" (135).
"...everything written on them was repeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth" (417).

One Hundred Years of Solitude is a magical realism story about a family, the Buendias, and their town, Macondo through 100 years time. The story is told in past, present, and future tense, giving the reader a sense of timelessness as the story is told. Throughout the novel, there are three major themes: isolation, family & relationships, and the passage of time.

ISOLATION
"He really had been through death, but he had returned because he could not bear the solitude" (47).
"And so that you know it once and for all, we don't need any judges here because there's nothing that needs judging" (56).
"It was a mad dream, comparable to those of his great-grandfather, for the rocky riverbed and the numerous rapids prevented navigation from Macondo to the sea" (193).
"He never ate at home. He would go out when the heat of siesta time had eased and would not return until well into the night" (367).

Isolation is an important theme within One Hundred Years of Solitude. The central setting of the novel is the town of Macondo, which seems to take on a life of its own. The first part of the novel has the town completely cut off from the rest of the world until the gypsies come to town and bring their inventions with them, fascinating Jose Arcadio Buendia and displeasing Ursula. However, it is Ursula that finds a connection to the outside world, and once it is established, the severed ties of isolation brings chaos to the town resulting in a civil war between the Liberals and Conservatives. It is thought that this represents a microcosm of humanity, as Macondo represents the innocent before it is ruined by capitalism and open governments. This in turn brings corruption and violence into the town of Macondo, resulting in its ultimate demise.

The town's founder, Jose Arcadio Buendia, is even tied to a chestnut tree for the remainder to his life, destined to be alone. Although his family comes to care for him, he is condemned to be in isolation.

FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS
"Aureliano got undressed, tormented by shame, unable to get rid of the idea that his nakedness could not stand comparison with that of his brother" (52).
"It was she who, on her own initiative, put aside the largest piece that she had cut from her wedding cake and took it on a plate with a fork to Jose Arcadio Buendia" (80).
"Tell my wife...to give the girl the name of Ursula...Ursula, like her grandmother. And tell her also that if the child that is to be born is a boy, they should name him Jose Arcadio, not for his uncle, but for his grandfather" (119).
"If Aureliano Segundo had something of his great-grandfather in him and lacked something of Colonel Aureliano Buendia, it was an absolute indifference to mockery, and he gave the money to bring to the railroad with the same lighthearted air with which he had given it for his brother's absurd navigation project" (221).

In the novel, the Buendia family is bonded in more ways than blood. The second chapter of the novel reveals the incestuous nature of the family and Ursula's desperate attempt to remain celibate so she may not have defective children. When she does have children, however, they develop close and personal relationships with each other and with other people that define the character of their whole family.

Aureliano is constantly in competition with his elder brother, and this is peaked when he sleeps with Pilar Ternera and repeats his brother's fate by having a child with her, as well. He then falls in love with Remedios Moscote, a nine-year-old girl who dies shortly after their marriage when she has a miscarriage. The loss of his wife causes him to be thrown into chaos, into the civil war between the Conservatives and the Liberals. The loss of his wife causes him to throw himself into a cause, and eventually Colonel Aureliano fights not for the people of Macondo but for his own pride, becoming so miserable that he attempts to take his own life.

Rebeca isn't even related to the Buendia family by blood, as she is an orphan that was raised by Ursula as her own daughter. Yet, she is still in constant competition with Amaranta when they fall in love with the same man. Rebeca ends up marrying Jose Arcadio, Ursula's son that ran away with another woman earlier in the novel. One character even mentions that their marriage is both against nature and against the law (92), but they marry anyways and are happy until his death, when she becomes a recluse and is practically forgotten by her entire family. Amaranta subsequently gets the man they both loved, but she denies him and is condemned to a life of bitterness, even in her other romantic endeavors with Colonel Marquez and Colonel Aureliano's son, Aureliano Jose. Because of her bitter life, Amaranta dies as a virgin, mocked and shamed.

But in the end, the Buendia family is the center of the novel, and while they may or may not be bound by blood, there are ties that bind them all in various forms. The generations that follow Jose Arcadio Buendia are more like him, bringing the family and the story back in full circle to their past.

THE PASSAGE OF TIME
"They won't be houses of glass but of ice, as I dreamed, and there will always be a Buendia, per omina secula seculorum" (53).
"From that room he would go into another that was just the same, the door of which would open into another that was just the same, the door of which would open into another one just the same, and then into another exactly alike, and so on to infinity" (139).
"What hurts me the most...is all the time that we wasted" (405).
"The uncertainty of the future made them turn their hearts toward the past" (408).

The passage of time is also an important theme of the novel, especially since Marquez writes in both past, present, and future tense. The novel follows the family through different generations and manages to link all of them together. Throughout the generations, Ursula remains in the Buendia's lives as they go through the trials in Macondo and maintains the peace, stability, and order of the family and Macondo's inhabitants. It is said in the beginning of the novel that she is a person of "common sense", and so her character is sought as the stability of the family. Even she realizes, however, that the past begins to repeat itself with Aureliano Segundo. As the matriarch of the family, she sees all even when she is blinded of old age.

As time passes in Macondo, the reader sees the town, itself, thrive and grow until its death. It starts as a desolate area that Jose Arcadio Buendia inhabited to escape the demons of his past and it evolves with gypsies, foreigners, and becomes an industrial city. It could be interpreted to mean that Marquez intended to expose the dangers of capitalism and industrialization and what it meant to small towns, as the town of Macondo is clearly destroyed as a result of the population and labor that has passed through.

BY BELLA GROPPER

Credits:

Created with images by Jeff Pioquinto, SJ - "Lower Lake of Glendalough, Ireland" • Chill Mimi - "Isolation" • laurel marie photography - "Family" • Monoar - "clock wall clock watch" • Abode of Chaos - "Gabriel García Márquez, painted portrait _DDC2546"

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