‘One Hundred Years of Solitude‘ is a captivating story that follows the lives of the Buendía family for six generations in the small town of Macondo.
Style of Prose
The most notable style of Márquez’s prose is his use of magical realism. This book uses magic realism for two key reasons. It provides background on the Columbian culture that the narrative is based on and challenges us to consider how silly our daily lives are. The residents of Macondo are unconcerned about the supernatural because they come into contact with it regularly. This casual response makes it simple for the reader to believe the weird occurrences that the residents of Macondo refer to as reality.
Márquez’s approach to magic realism also includes using many numerical facts. This addition gives imaginary events a more authentic and realistic description. However, in making these fantastical events believable, it provokes one to question the absurdity of our everyday lives, as the situations which Márquez presents us with are the only exaggeration of what we face in our daily lives.
The Role of Memory and Forgetfulness in One Hundred Years of Solitude
Márquez employed the concept of both remembrance and amnesia in the plot of the ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude‘. Rebeca seems to have an overabundance of memory recall while Colonel Aureliano Buendía seems to be an amnesiac, living for the present every day. This contrast helps the reader illustrate the role of history in the repetition of past mistakes l, or the lack thereof.
The Buendías clan’s two afflictions are nostalgia and amnesia, the former of which binds its victims to the past and the latter of which imprisons them in the present. As a result of their condition, the Buendías are destined to keep going through the same cycles until they consume themselves and are unable to advance into the future.
The Naming Conventions of the Buendía family
The Buendía family seems to have a practice of giving their offspring similar names to their predecessors, making it somewhat difficult to follow the character arc of succeeding Buendía members. Nonetheless, Márquez uses this to emphasize the tendency of the offspring to repeat the mistakes of their ancestors.
Márquez’s Use of Symbolism in One Hundred Years of Solitude
Certain oddities and mundane activities or objects in Macondo, seem to have much deeper tones that meet a cursory glance. Márquez plants these subtle cues throughout the book — an Easter egg of sorts.
The significance of Colonel Aureliano Buendía’s tens of thousands of miniature goldfish changes throughout time. These fish initially stand in for Aureliano’s creative temperament and, by extension, the temperament of all Aurelianos. But soon they become more significant, indicating how Aureliano has impacted the globe.
We can also see this symbolism in the train that passes through Macondo. The train symbolizes Macondo’s entry into the modern era. This tragic turn results in the establishment of a banana plantation and the subsequent massacre of 3,000 employees. The train also symbolizes the time when Macondo was most closely connected to the outside world. After the banana plantations are shut down, the railroad deteriorates and the train no longer even makes stops at Macondo.
Lastly, The English dictionary that Meme receives from her American acquaintance first serves as a metaphor for how the American plantation owners are assuming control of Macondo. The foreigners’ invasion of Macondo’s culture is made clear when Meme, a descendant of the town’s founders, starts learning English.
Recurring Themes in One Hundred Years of Solitude
Márquez seeks to emphasize certain aspects of the story by subtly repeating them in various ways. For example, the parallels between the genealogy of the Buendía family and the creation of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.
The origin of Macondo and its first Edenic days of purity are described in the narrative, which continues until its catastrophic end with a purifying flood in the middle. José Arcadio Buendía’s search for knowledge led to his downfall—his loss of sanity. The biblical Adam and Eve, who were banished from Eden after eating from the Tree of Knowledge, are represented by him and his wife, Úrsula Iguarán.
Again, this recurring theme also appears in the coming of the gypsies. They are mostly used as linkages throughout ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude‘. They serve as a bridge between events and characters that are opposite or unconnected. A group of traveling gypsies arrives every few years, notably in the early years of Macondo, and transforms the community into something akin to a carnival while presenting the goods they have brought with them.
What characterizes Márquez’s writing style?
Magical realism. This is the bread and butter of this story. Márquez presents the absurd as commonplace, forcing the reader to question the validity of the status quo.
What are the major themes in One Hundred Years of Solitude?
The circularity of time, solitude, progress and civilization, propriety, sexuality, incest, magic vs. reality. The list goes on but these represent the major themes of the book.
How is One Hundred Years of Solitude different from other works of Márquez?
For one, it remains his most successful book — both commercially and critically — and it popularized the genre of ‘realismo magico’.
Is One Hundred Years of Solitude a good story?
It is a good story with deep philosophical undertones. The eclectic assemblage of characters and the oddities that take place within Macondo, make it a very exciting story.
One Hundred Years of Solitude Review
Lasting Effect on Reader
One Hundred Years of Solitude Review
‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ chronicles the life and times of the Buendía family as they struggle to navigate the strange world of Macondo.
- The story is entertaining and riveting.
- The prose is clear and relatively easy to understand.
- The themes explored are relevant to our society
- . It has a lot of violence and sex which may make some readers uncomfortable
- The repetition of mistakes by the Buendía family is somewhat disorienting at some point.