Themes and scattered thoughts…

Posted by: | March 14, 2010 | Comments Off on Themes and scattered thoughts…

It’s common for titles to give away certain areas of the plot; there’s always some sort of foreshadowing which comes from ‘judging a book by its title’. Cien años de soledad is no different as it ventures into the question of time and the sense of solitude. These themes have become principal in this book, whether it’s through war or just the magical realism of daily life.

Time is an afterthought in Macondo. There is much reference to it, as well as its passing, but the plot seems to sidestep the issue of actual chronology by, for example, retelling an entire life story and then going back to the critical moment of suspense where the gun is aimed and cocked and ready. What does this do for the reader? Well, I am personally very freed by it. I actually feel like i give more thought to the symbolism (Oh, the symbolism!) of the novel instead of wondering what will happen to its characters: I know Aureliano will die old and gray and not in front of a firing squad, so right now I’ll concentrate on the significance of the ice….touché, GGM. There is definitive mention of time: “¿Qué esperabas?…El tiempo pasa.” (Úrsula, p. 226) As well there is an obsession with cien años. As Melquíades says: “Nadie debe conocer su sentido mientras no hayan cumplido cien años.” I believe that this would have been an long, long time for someone to live in those days; but then again, what is time to magical realism?

La soledad saturates this tale. Someone marries, someone dies, someone goes crazy, someone finds a lover; yet someone always, always is lamenting on their solitude. It comes from the war, from lost loves, from love unsatisfied. From losing a friend, from losing a family member, or from someone close losing their mind. Aureliano is the poster boy for this solitude: locking himself into a laboratory, losing his wife, sacrificing his years to the war, spreading his seed far and wide but still feeling the “inmenso poder” of the solitude. When he finally realizes how satisfying the simplicity of life was and how he can fight for his own liberation, and not alien ideals; we start to see his spark of life again. Even more so when he shoots where he believes his heart to be….it is like he is shooting the solitude out of him. And this solitude follows the family through generations and namesakes. At this point in the novel I find these two themes inter-twined: it is focusing on the passage of time which motivates this solitude. Alternatively, to experience the present is to live in joy. …..if only I could tell Aureliano.

A few afterthoughts with no coherence:

-Why this perverted obsession with incest? Was such a thing so common back then? Is it to keep the joke of the ‘pig tail’ alive and kickin? I know that small towns have strange habits, but…

-I find it ironic that Úrsula continues to want un hombre in the house, even though she’s more stable than any other family member, past or present. Why this dependence when she alone keeps the family out of debt and with a ‘good’ reputation?

-So I think of Macondo like looney tunes. Y’know those parts where Wile E. Coyote (or any other unfortunate character) runs off a cliff for several steps, looks down, and then falls? This is how I see the magical realism of Macondo. Those who don’t acknowledge it as being strange (ie: how the Road Runner never notices the impossibility of walking on thin air), don’t ever ‘fall’. The goings on in the town are never questioned and so they are part of the daily life. Not like I’m going to try to step off a tight rope any time soon, but the theory itself does make you think 😉


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Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada
This work by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada.