“One hundred years of solitude” tells the story of youthful motivations, solitary confusions, and eventually unequivocal destruction of the Buendia family. From the founding of the town Macondo to the wind that blew its existence off the face of Earth, Garbiel Márquez explores the nature of loneliness and repetition of fate.
As strange as it may sound to have the execution of our main character in the first scene, this event reveals much about Colonel Aureliano Buendía’s impressive solitary character. Aureliano Buendía, an advocate for the Liberal party, is made prisoner by Conservatives, which is an external conflict, as very little emotional doubt is shown in this scene. After his capture, he wishes for his sentence to be carried out in Macondo. However, once he is brought into town; instead of fearing his execution, it almost seems like he fears to see himself, the great Colonel Aureliano Buendía, associated with affection. To expand on this trait, he asks his mother to burn all his sentimental poetry, making her promise that no one will read them. This further reveals that Aureliano wants to leave behind only the legends of his pride and legacy, fearing that his personal image will ruin his dignity. The maturity upon death is a splendid development of his childhood solitude, as illustrated by his speech during Úrsula’s visit: “‘Don’t beg or bow down to anyone. Pretend that they shot me a long time ago’” (128). However, the author made sure that his stoicism is not to be confused with complete heartlessness like a flat character. He still experiences emotions, such as “an intestinal rage at the idea that this artificial death would not let him see the end of so many things that he had left unfinished” (130), which illustrates delicate characterization. Aureliano’s reluctance to demonstrate feelings significantly speaks to my life. Many close friends and family members assume that I don’t have positive relationships with them because I do not show signs of vulnerability, even though this is often untrue. As a result of his defense towards greater equality, Aureliano excels in “valuing diversity” of the BC curriculum. He takes extreme actions to support diversity and defend rights, viewing it as important.
Ever since he returned from the war, Aureliano Buendía remains confined in his final years, until the banana company brought outside disturbances into Macondo. The colonel no longer engages in the external conflict of rebellion, but feels rather a strong internal rage as he watches his efforts crumble when the banana company moves in. Aureliano suffers an intense bother of the newcomers at Macondo, to a point where he wants to start another war. As Úrsula had predicted, such rash thoughts are “not out of idealism, as everyone had thought, nor had he renounced a certain victory because of fatigue, as everyone had thought, but that he had won and lost for the same reason, pure and sinful pride”(254). Through this scene, the author further reveals the impact of pride on Aureliano, ” he did not have a feeling of sorrow but a blind and directionless rage, a broad feeling of impotence”(246). Garcia demonstrates that Buendía fears the misery of powerlessness: the ultimate source of motivation behind his grandiose rebellions. By introducing the banana company, the author intelligently contrasts the unpredictable passage of time to Aureliano’s consistent solitude. However, Aureliano’s old age prevents any further actions, leaving them unfulfilled upon death. The carefully planned characterization deems effective even after Aureliano passes away, casting a long shadow in the family line. On a personal level, the story of Aureliano Buendía resembles my grandfather, who is a veteran of the Navy forces in China. Due to revolutionary conflicts, he had to retire from the army, living a humble life ever since. He often tells me how much he wishes for reformation, but alas, there’s is not much he can do now. Although the colonel is capable of identifying problems, he does not try to solve it in peaceful ways as outlined in the BC curriculum. He is quite aggressive and unsympathetic towards conflicts.
Although Colonel Aureliano Buendía has passed away in the last scene, his ghost continues to haunt his descendants in the form of his solitary behaviour and his war experiences. His great-nephew, José Arcadio Segundo inhibits his solitude, albeit in a different calibre. In this scene, José Arcadio Segundo leads a protest against the poor conditions of workers by the banana company— an example of external conflict. After experiencing a massacre of more than three thousand workers by the government, “[José Arcadio] thought about the tension of the past few months, the misery of jail, the panic at the station, and the train loaded with dead people, José Arcadio Segundo reached the conclusion that Colonel Aureliano Buendia was nothing but a faker or an imbecile. He could not understand why [Aureliano Buendía] had needed so many words to explain what he felt in war because one was enough: fear ” (318). However, Arcadio attempts to stupefy this fear by absorbing himself into an unrested job of deciphering the ancient parchments left by Melquíades the gypsy, wanting to cover his misery with work, much alike Aureliano with his craft of goldfishes. Úrsula, the oldest member of the family, notices the striking similarity between José Arcadio’s strike and Colonel Aureliano Buendía’s wars. When she talks José Arcadio, “she realized that she was giving the same reply that Colonel Aureliano Buendía had given in his death cell ” (341). By building José Arcadio Segundo on top of the Aureliano Buendía, the author cleverly reuses the colonel’s life as a contrast point for new characters. At first the similarity is quite subtle, but through the narration of Úrsula, the solitude through generations is hinted “as if the world were repeating itself'” (303). The readers experience a similar theme throughout the one hundred years of solitude. Personally, I cannot relate to José Arcadio Segundo’s fear of war, because I, fortunately, have never experienced its horrors. However, I relate both him and Aureliano’s desire to use work as a channel of distraction for unfortunate mishaps in life. José Arcadio Segundo takes steps to help the workers and build relationships with people from all generations, as outlined by the BC curriculum.
Despite the thirty-two wars and the arrival of the banana company, Colonel Aureliano Buendía responds similarly to all changes in his life, making him a static character. He shows the same lack of love for all subjects, even his own mother. Ever since his birth he possess a clairvoyant air. Born weeping in his mother’s womb, his belief at the misery of memory remains unchanged throughout his life.
The most prominent theme continously repeated through the book is the non- linear passage of time. By using the same names of “José Arcadio” and “Aureliano”, the author suggest that time is repeating itself through similar fates of the characters. The name of the character not only used as identification, but marks the personality and fate from the moment they were named. Another profound theme in this book is solitude. The characters, especially Colonal Aureliano Buendia, demonstrate an isolation from nostalgia and memory.
In the beginning of the story, I expected the book to centre itself around one main character, as most books do. However, the strange twists of fate and sudden decisions of each character reveals that this novel is not about the development of one single character; it is about the change of a whole family line in one hundred years. In order to enjoy the book, I had to ask myself a lot of questions as to why the author chose to include seemingly unnecessary and surreal details.
The incredible complexity that brings so many layers of meaning behind this book deserves a 4.5 out of 5 stars. Personally, I think that every reader of this book should keep in mind that everything written in this book has a meaning behind them, otherwise the book would appear rather pointless and bland. I would not recommend this book to anyone who is reading for plot or story, but for intensity and meaning.