“One Hundred Years of Solitude”

Ivan
8 min readMar 8, 2023

Hello! I am reading a book called “One Hundred Years of Solutide” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I chose it for my final thesis and I hope that it’s fine if I read and analyze it for Pleasure Reading.

1. Define the most prominent literary feature of the book (structure, images, peculiar usage of language (dialects, phonetics, syntax, grammar, etc.), character study etc.), and comment on the author’s intent and skill in using these means.

I am working not only with the genre of the book but also with one sophisticated phenomenon called metaphoric modeling. For me, it is the most prominent literary feature of the book. I am not going to give a full description of what it is because it is super difficult to understand but, in short, it is such a metaphoric phenomenon when you can build “an equation” for something all throughout the book. For example, in “One Hundred Years of Solitude” we can hear music that accompanies many scenes (parades, parties, family get-togethers, etc.) and it always reflects the mood of the characters. So, we can build an equation: music = mood/atmosphere.

There are quite a lot of metaphoric models in the novel but I am going to give you just few most interesting that I found. There is a character Rebeca, I like her a lot, she appeared in the novel with a bag of bones of her parents. Yeah, quite unusual. However, her new family put this bag somewhere in their house but it kept appearing from nowhere until some construction worker buried it in the wall of the house. Rebeca at the time didn’t have the best time of her life, she was unhappy. And then a woman named Pilar gave her a prophecy that Rebeca would not be happy until that bag of bones were in the ground. And so it happened: they buried the bag of bones and Rebeca met her future husband. I’m sorry for such a long explanation, I just like Rebeca. We can build an equation: holding to your past = unhappiness.

There are more metaphoric models, for example, there is one connected with water. We can see some scenes of playing in the water, there is a river by the place of the action and once Melquíades says: “We all came out of water”. We can build an equation: water = life.

I’m sorry for not giving almost any examples from the text, I am still working on it. However, I think that the author skillfully worked with metaphoric models and that they only make the novel deeper and more enjoyable to read.

2. Define the genre of the book and comment on what literary devices have been used to support / create it and is appropriateness for the main theme of the book.

Magical Realism

The genre of the book is magical realism. This genre is unique in many ways because it presupposes some magic, something unreal in real world with believable characters who live, at the first sight, quite regular lives.

There was a terrible rainstorm in the middle of the novel. It rained nonstop every single day for five years straight. Obviously the five-year rainstorm is totally fantastical, since it can’t happen in real life without breaking the laws of meteorology.

In a purely magical world the characters would probably have to fight back against it with magic, possibly setting out on a quest to seek some magical restorative item. When the reverse magic was finally activated, the rain would most likely have had no particular effect — magic tends to be easily undone.

However, in “One Hundred Years of Solitude” we get exactly what would happen to a real place if it were under that much water for that long. The characters are wet and don’t want to go outside. They have no idea what to do to get food, since no crops are growing and all the animals are dying from hunger. The buildings, roads, and everything manmade is completely destroyed. The magic is treated as just a straight-up fact of life. That’s the combination of magic and reality that defines this genre and makes it awesome.

3. Define the main theme and idea of the book, its main issues, conflicts and characters.

Family

Family is a virtual prison in “One Hundred Years of Solitude”. Inherited family characteristics are inescapable. Family life lacks privacy or freedom. And family fate is shared by all relatives regardless of their own personal characteristics or actions. No one who leaves the family can ever really stay away, and those who come into the family from the outside are unable to bring any new perspectives or ideas. Family members are so locked in to the emotional psychodrama that even those human relationships meant to be expressed with non-relatives, like sexual love, are turned incestuous.

Love

There are very few examples of real, unselfish, requited love in “One Hundred Years of Solitude” that are not met with the almost instantaneous destruction of the lovers. Although in principle the novel values love and holds it in high regard, the emotional whirlpool of the family and the fundamentally doomed nature of each character conspire to undermine any loving relationship.

Death

“One Hundred Years of Solitude’s” version of mortality varies depending on who is dying and who is left behind to mourn. Early on, the dead are an important part of the lives of the living: haunting them as ghosts or being dragged along as bones as a form of remembrance. But later — aside from Melquíades, who is somehow able to defeat death — the dying really do disappear forever, especially as they start dying by the thousands rather than individually. Death is shown to be a lonely, isolated condition. Although the dead long for the living, the living soon forget about the dead.

The Supernatural

Because “One Hundred Years of Solitude” is a magical realist novel, the supernatural is a strong and ever-present element in its plotting and character development. It’s a force like the weather, or time: powerful, unstoppable, and beyond the control of most of the novel’s characters. Magical effects usually highlight the emotional side of events, but their consequences are almost always negative and destructive. Even in those few instances where the supernatural seems to be beneficial, it almost always turns out to be a pact with the devil for the characters, who suffer immediate reversals of fortune.

José Arcadio Buendía

The patriarch of the Buendía family

Úrsula Iguarán

The family matriarch, Úrsula, a woman of indomitable will and bottomless energy.

Melquíades

This guy’s not a Buendía, it is wise man that inspires Jose Arcadio (1) for new inventions and adventures.

José Arcadio (II)

A son of Jose Arcadio (1)

Colonel Aureliano Buendía

Another son of Jose Arcadio (1)

Pilar Ternera

A lady who lives nearby, she is able to predict the future and sleeps with Aureliano.

Amaranta

The youngest daughter of José Arcadio Buendía and Úrsula, Amaranta. Hates Rebeca because Pietro fell in love with her.

Rebeca

A girl who came from some unknown place to the family of Buendia. She had a letter that claimed that she was their distant relative.

Remedios Moscote

The nine-year-old daughter of Macondo’s Conservative mayor.

Arcadio

The son of Pilar Ternera and José Arcadio (2).

Aureliano Segundo

The fatter and lazier of Arcadio’s twin boys.

Fernanda del Carpio

A woman that was raised with the idea that she is heir to the crown of a Latin American kingdom.

Pietro Crespi

A super-shy pianola technician, Pietro becomes the center of a love triangle and lifelong feud…

4. Choose one character and trace his/her development, tying it with the general idea/ theme of the book. Alternatively: choose one episode of the book which seems significant for the author’s intent and give its thorough analysis.

Rebeca

I already told you that I like this character a lot. I think she had to go through a lot of injustice: she lost her parents, her sister-in-law Amaranta hated her and actually threatened her many times. She wanted to literally kill Rebeca only because Crespi wanted to marry her instead of Amaranta.

Rebeca, in my opinion, is very lonely, I believe, she’s the loneliest character in the book: we can see it in the scenes when she doesn’t sleep at night, sitting in the chair, looking into nothing. There are many reasons why she could feel abandoned and not supported: her close family members died, she had to live with the family of Buendia; Pietro Crespi fell in love with her but they never had a wedding due to his spinelessness; and finally, when she met the right man, they were kicked out of the house.

So far, the life path of this character seems sole but I hope that her life is going to change for the better.

5. Give the analysis of the stylistic devices used for outlining the chosen character or for describing the chosen episode (depending on what you chose for Assign. 4).

Nothing attracted her attention except the music of the clocks, which she would look for every half hour with her frightened eyes as if she hoped to find it someplace in the air. Epithet + similie

Rebeca was so rebellious and strong in spite of her frailness that they had to tie her up like a calf to make her swallow the medicine. Epithet + similie

…she saw Rebeca in the rocker, sucking her finger and with her eyes lighted up in the darkness like those of a cat. Epithet + similie

Rebeca, contrary to what might have been expected, was the more beautiful. Epithet

Also, please look at the metaphoric model about the bag of bones, it is also connected with Rebeca.

6. What role does the cultural component play in the narrative? (linguistically or supra-linguistically). Please specify, give concrete examples and provide comments from the perspective of your own culture.

To be honest, I don’t think that cultural component plays a significant role in the narrative due to several reasons:

- the action takes place at the imaginary place called Macondo, it’s a typical small village that we can see almost in every culture;

- there are no cultural celebrations, people in Macondo live in close communion with nature and the village is too young to have any established traditions;

- we can only see that the names of the characters are Spanish but I don’t think that it’s enough for the cultural component to play an important role.

7. What thoughts and ideas of the author seem most significant and relevant to you? What could be the avenues of their application for your (academic, personal, relational, world-view, practical, etc.)?

The novel is full of ideas but one of the most important of them is that no matter if we have a family and friends, we often feel lonely. The idea is that we are our own individual beings, our life path is only ours and we can never know if/when we will have to leave our nearest and dearest for some reason that is going to be that important to us. I think, that there is such an idea in the book because the author stresses the differences of the characters, they show and explain to us every significant moments of the characters and explain their decisions.

The other idea I can name is that all social institutions sometimes can be prisons for us, just like they are for the characters. People of Macondo are free, they do not obey the government, and basically, do whatever they want. Is it good or bad? When there is no structure in the society, prostitution, banditism are much harder too control. However, people get to make their own rules, e.g.: dyeing their houses the color they want.

Family is also a social institution. Family is important and all the family members live under one rood, support each other, share food, etc. Sadly, our family members do not always understand us, family can be a prison, in a way. It is the idea the is expressed in the book: if you live in the house, I can’t have any private life because the older member will always watch what you’re doing; also, you can’t do whatever you want to do, you must help the family.

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Ivan

Hi, my name is Ivan. I’m the 1st year student of Dobrolubov State Linguistics University in Nizhny Novgorod.