One Hundred Years of Solitude

“But Aureliano himself seemed to prefer the cloister of solitude and he did not show the least desire to know the world that began at the street door of the house. (321)”

The following is in response to the book One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Marquez’s tale begins with a city built by the Buendia family, which grows beautifully unhindered in the solitude of South America and untouched by the rest of the world. In fact the world is quite uncharted at the beginning of the story; brand new like a child whose eyes have not yet been forced open by the sad truths of this world. Truths like, there are people—groups of people—that can forcefully take dominion over lands that are not theirs. Here we have this beautiful new place and this man, Don Apolinar Moscote, shows up by the power of some unseen ruler, who has claimed the land the Buendias have cleared and formed and named, and he demands all the houses be painted blue in celebration of their (the unseen ruler’s) independence (61). Before Moscote showed up they were already independent and they didn’t need to paint all their houses blue to see it; they witnessed it in the song of the brightly colored macaws that filled the skies, the whiff of oregano on their porches in the lazy day and the smell of the roses at dusk, and indicated by an empty graveyard.  The people of Macondo weren’t godless before they become colonized more and more by ‘civilized’ people, but, following Moscote’s suit, was father Nicanor Reyna who set out to ‘Christianize’ everyone in Macondo. While Reyna built his church the people shouted “that they had been many years without a priest, arranging the business of their souls directly with God… (85)”

Wrapped up and disguised as a helping hand, this new government set out to have an election in Macondo; not after sending armed men from house to house to confiscate anything that can be used as a weapon.

Would you like to vote ma’am?

Do I really have a choice in the matter?

In the wake of this colonization, assimilation followed. Meme’s adolescence was indicative of this change—she learned to swim, dance, how to play tennis, and how “to eat Virginia ham with slices of pineapple” from her new found gringo friends (256). Later the businesses started to settle in and in order to stay afloat in this new world, many people took employment from the banana company, including the Buendia’s own Jose Arcadio Segundo who quickly became the foreman. It didn’t take him long to bear witness to the colorless company and the unfair wages. He resigned as foreman and took the side of the workers (276). After protests, the banana company declared that none of the workers existed because they were only hired on “temporary and occasional basis” (280).

I really enjoyed this book not only because, to me specifically, it is a window into colonization and it’s affects on people, Marquez suggests an answer to life and dealing with uncontrollable stresses (like colonization). His answer is solitude. Aureliano Segundo and Petra Cotes had lost almost everything (p. 311-313) and it was the solitude that they shared with having so little that they were able to find happiness again. “Petra Cotes, for her part, loved him more and more as she felt his love increasing, and that was how in the ripeness of autumn she began to believe once more in the youthful superstition that poverty was the servitude of love. Both looked back again on the wild revelry, the gaudy wealth, and the unbridled fornication as an annoyance and they lamented that it had cost them so much of their lives to find the paradise of shared solitude.” Even though they lost their wealth, they found happiness in one another, in “shared solitude” by bringing them back to their old selves. But solitude is a two-sided coin; sometimes it brings out the best in people and other is brings out something else entirely. For example, Meme, crushing on the charming Mauricio, “lost her mind” on wanting something she couldn’t have. “She could not sleep and lost her appetite and sank so deeply into solitude that even her father became an annoyance.” Thus are the two solitudinal states of being in love.

Marquez plays with this idea of solitude throughout the entire book.

Dur Evin. It’s like in the title of the book.

He develops a theme that solitude occurs in repeating or being repeatedly involved in what you are good at or just enjoy. Amaranta Ursula, who had been sent off to a school somewhere, made her way back to Macondo with her husband Gaston. “Her secret seemed to lie in the fact that she always found a way of keeping busy, resolving domestic problems that she herself had created, and doing a poor job on a thousand things which she would fix on the following day with a pernicious diligence that made one think of Fernanda and the hereditary vice of making something just to unmake it.” I don’t think he was necessarily telling everyone to start a cycle of creating and destroying things, but Garcia does seem to be telling us to keep busy and enjoy life.

ps: solitudinal may not be an actual word, but it should be. case closed.

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About evinhughes

I am a graduate of Georgia Southern University located in Statesboro Georgia. I have a bachelors degree in Information Technology and a bachelors in Writing and Linguistics.
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