One Hundred Years of Solitude Historical roots of Macondo and the Buendia family. One Hundred Years of Solitude is about on imagined mythical town which is named as Macondo. Its foundation, rise, development and death throughout the history of its founders; Buendia family is narrated. It is the evolution and eventual decadence of a small Latin American town and its inhabitants. The novel is dominated by Colombian settings and the Buendia family is a Colombian family of those times that the story takes places. At that point, the reader may question the position of the book.
Is the story of the fictional town Macondo and Buendia family simply about the failure of that particular town and family or is there something beyond. Did Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the author of One Hundred Years of Solitude, spend three years to write this book that then became his master piece, only because he wanted to talk about an imagined town, an imagined family and their failure. Or, is the book a metaphor for Latin America's, specifically Colombia's and her peoples history. Did Marquez write this book to paste it on history as an example of a history not to be repeated again, to paste it as a warning. As the second part of this assay, I want to focus on gypsies since they construct an other culture other than the inhabitants of Macondo.
To find out the importance of this distinct, nomadic gypsy culture will enable the reader to make a comparison between gypsies and their contact with civilization, and Buendia family and their failure within their solitude. In other words, by comparing gypsies and Buendias, the reader will be able to get some important clues about Buendias' failure. Gabriel Garcia Marquez is the Nobel Prize wining author of 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' of 1982. The ambiguity, aesthetic genius and the usage of the technique, 'magical realism' that is the connection between the fantasy and reality brought that success. The reader does not have to think too hard to enjoy the book. This is the beauty of Third World writing, that it deals with both specific and international issues.
Third World and multi-cultural writers are describing, reproducing and addressing a heterogeneous and international (and this is often what passes for post-colonial) readership. Third world is a useful term which makes it possible to talk about this body of writers who deal with issues which are both specific and international. In third world writing the flow is complex, multi directional and always changing, no model on its own can adequately open up the debate on post-colonial literature. The common thread is that they deal with change and continuity, strangeness and familiarity, in a complex, multi-cultural world. Their literature consciously alludes to the effects of decolonization. The third world writers flee from a fixed national and ideological identity.
That is the way how they became able to address heterogeneous and international readership. In addition, the third world has to make its voice to be heard and starts to talk through its own voice as Jean Paul S atre states in the preface of Frantz Fanon's book, The Wretched of the Earth which is about the harms of colonialism; 'In short, Third World finds itself and speaks to itself through his voice. We know that is not a homogeneous world.' It would not be unfair to close our ears to third world writers' voices and deny to hear them. Thus, Marquez's book One Hundred Years of Solitude should be viewed from a historical perspective to prove that his voice is heard and his effort is appreciated. The civil war that takes place between chapter six and chapter ten in One Hundred Years of Solitude is in fact based on the civil war in Colombia after their independence from Spain in 1820.
The civil war in Colombia started in 1899 and over 100. 000 peoples were killed till the war was ended in 1902. The Civil war was called the War of A Thousand Days and it was Colombia's most bloody civil war. Gabriel Garcia Marquez spent more then four chapters to retell about the civil war, to remind the bad days of Colombia. The civil war is narrated so clearly that it is quite easy to make the connection between the real history and the history of the book. Another important proof that makes connection between Colombia's history and Macondo's history in the book is the banana massacre.
The banana massacre took place in Colombia, in Cie nega in 1928 and Marquez talks about the banana massacre in chapter fifteen. In 1928, native workers of the banana industry are connected and a serious strike occurred. Because of that mass strike of over 32, 000 native workers, the government sent in the troops and fired on the unarmed workers. They killed hundreds of them and they were dumped into a common grave, but the whole incident was denied by the government and erased from history books.
The banana massacre was denied by Colombian government as it was never occurred. But Gabriel Garcia Marquez retold this sad and shameful incident in One Hundred Years of solitude, he retold the true history of Colombia to let peoples learn about the real history that is denied and erased from history books. So that is why we should hear his voice and notice the relation between the book and its historical origin. The argument is not that the reader who doesn't know anything about Colombia's history would not enjoy this delightful and beautiful novel.
But, wouldn't it be unfair to deny that the novel is about Colombia and her peoples history. The novel is full of metaphors and no word in the book, not a single one is wasted. Marquez chose every single word of his book, non of them is used only to fill the gaps and this is an other reason that his novel became a masterpiece. A very good example for that world be the word 'Plague', the disease that Buendia's were suffering from. Even the disease, plaque, is genius ly selected when we think of its symptoms. Symptoms of plaque are loss of memory and not being able to sleep.
The whole town was suffering of plaque and they were about to forget everything, names of the objects and their functions. The whole town was moving into unreality, nothingness with the effect of the disease. The reality was slipping away. Their past, present and future was in danger. Then Aureliano found a formula that would help them to remember the names and the functions of certain objects for several months.
The whole town started to paste names on every object before they forget them. But this was a temporary solutions and they had to find a permanent one. This was a temporary solution because one day they would forget the values of the words.' Thus they want on living in a reality that was slipping away, momentarily captured by words, but which would escape irremediably when they forget the values of the written letters'. (49) Then Jose Arcadio Buendia decided to build a memory machine but the absolute solution came with Melquiades, the old gypsy. He brought the permanent remedy and whole town's memory back. Writing the names of the objects on piece of paper and pasting them on the objects is a method used against memory lost.
The past, values, names, and functions of objects and even feelings were remembered by the help of this method. In fact, it is Marquez who has invented that method and he has named his peoples, Colombia's history and pasted it to literature. By this way, Latin Americans would be able to see what their history was like and construct their future accordingly. Marquez pasted his book as a warning for Colombian peoples, to give them a chance to view their past and behave accordingly. So they would have the chance to see and reinterpret their past that would enable them to construct a better future. One has to rethink, retell and deconstruct his history for a better future as Salman Rushdie mentions in his Imaginary Homelands:' because who do not have power over the history that dominates their lives, power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they can not think new thoughts.' (Rushdie 1992: 432) Gabriel Garcia Marquez used Macondo and Buendia family as a metaphor for Colombia and her people.
He retold, and joked about Colombia's history and he wants Colombian peoples to notice their history, rethink about it, deconstruct it and even change it according to the changing time. Instead of living some one else's values, they have to construct their own way of life, and construct their own history. They have to be flexible, changeable and heterogeneous. Otherwise, the result is obvious; failure just like Buendias. Buendias prisoner themselves to solitude by cutting their contact with civilization by the foundation of Macondo.
Younger generations of Buendia family keep imitating their ancestors and they repeated the experiences of earlier generations. This repetition caused a circularity and irrationality that lead all Buendias to solitude which brought them nowhere, they kept turning around within a circle aimlessly. It seems that all the Buendias are living a memorized way of life. They keep doing same things, walking through the same path and even repeating same words. It was the matriarch, Ursula Iguaran, Jose Arcadio Buendia's wife who discovered this memorized circularity when she lost her vision; 'and after sometime she discovered that every member of the family, without realizing it, repeated the same path every day, the same action, and almost repeated the same words at the same hour. Only when they deviated from meticulous routine did they run the risk of loosing something' (252) All the Buendias are living their life in a routine, monotonous and memorized way.
They keep living as they are in a labyrinth. They have memorized some particular parts of this Labyrinth and the keep using the memorized ports only. But they do not know the way to exit from these memorized parts to be able to widen, expand the boundaries. They get used to live within the memorized parts of the labyrinth and they do not show any effort to move forward, that is an other reasons that pushes Buendia's into solitude.
They do not take the risk to move out. 'Without realizing it', these three words from the above quote are quite important. The Buendia's are not even aware of their actions. They are not aware about the circulation they are creating. Ursula, even she is completely blind she is still active, she doesn't face only difficulties because of the sameness of everything. When we take Buendia's as a metaphor for Colombian people, we may notice what Gabriel Garcia Marquez is pointing out; this is the case with Colombian peoples, they are living a same, routine and a memorized life with their eyes closed.
However they have to open their eyes and get rid of this memorized style of living. Unless they will go nowhere, but reach solitude. The Colombian people has to learn to be changeable and flexible to get rid of the boundaries that this memorized lifestyle sets around them. Although the ending of the novel is a tragic ending, it is the best and a compulsory ending. When we remember that all the Buendias were already figuratively dead within their solitude, it is better to remove them totally for a new, fresh and a better start.
Everyone is dead, and their history is dead with them and the ending became the beginning of a new state; 'tabula rasa'. The word 'tabula' means 'table' and 'rasa' means 'clean', so 'tabula rasa's imply means 'clean table'. The term is used to point out a new start with no past as Frantz Fanon mentions in his book 'The Wretched of the World':' But we have precisely chosen to speak of that kind of tabula rasa which characterizes at the outset all decolonization. It's unusual importance is that it constitutes, from the very first day, the minimum demands of the colonized. To tell the truth the proof of success lies in a whole social structure being changed from the bottom up. The extraordinary importance of this change is that it is willed, called for, demanded' (Fanon 1990: 27) Gabriel Garcia Marquez is calling for a tabula rasa, a totally new order that is freed from everything and anything from the past.
The ending is compulsory and a forced one because Buendias do not have any reason to keep on living. It is better to wipe them out for a clean page. The ending in not tragic in fact, but hopeful when we think that their disappearance will help to open a new clean page. Marquez, by killing all the Buendias because of their failure to establish their own way of life and history, gives a chance to other people to start from nothing and build up. In fact, Buendias had the some chance at the very beginning of the novel when they left their home village and found Macondo. They fled their native village to escape the ghost of Prude n cio Aguilar whom Jose Arcadio Buendia has killed to save his honor.
They left their home and their past and found a new place that had no contact with civilization. Macondo was a kind of Tabula Rasa for Buendias. They found it and the reader witnessed the rise and collapse of both Macondo and the Buendia family. They had the chance to build up their own destiny but they couldn't.
Thus, death arrived with Melquiades and did not stop till the and of the book. Death didn't decrease its speed until no one left alive from the Buendia family. Buendias are all dead and Marquez created another chance for 'tabula Rasa'. An other important issue in One Hundred Years of Solitude is gypsies and their nomadic lifestyle. Gabriel Garcia Marquez mentions gypsies and their culture that plays on important role for the Buendia family. It is obvious that gypsies in Marquez novel is another culture that is closely analyzed and narrated.
Their effects on the Buendia family can not be denied. Their arrivals and departures effects all the inhabitants of Macondo. Since they are the only culture that is closely narrated other from the inhabitants of Macondo, the reader may search the differences and / or similarities between these to distinct cultures. Gypsies with their nomadic way of life full of change, flexibility and mobility can be compared with settlers of Macondo, specifically the Buendia family. The reason of that comparison is to find some clues about the failure of Buendia's. In other words we may conclude Buendia's failure by comparing their inflexible, unchangeable and memorized way of living with the nomadic way of life which has been central to the lives of gypsies.
We may assume the Buendia's culture as a part of a unified, total ized, 'tree structured' way of living. But this not same for gypsies, they rather live a '' way of life that is deeply concerned with mobility. A rhizome is plant that goes all over the place and disrupts the earth and it is a metaphor for a nomad. Rhizome is a figurative term used by Felix Guattari and Gilles Deleuze in their book 'A Thousand Plateaus'. Deleuze and Guattari gives a brief description of Rhizome in One Thousand Plateaus and how it can be taken as an example that can be used as a guide to find several exits instead of only one.' Unlike the graphic arts, drawing or photography, unlike tracing, the rhizome pertains to a map that must be produced, constructed, a map that is always detachable, connectable, reversible, modifiable and has multiple entranceways and exits and its own lines of flight. It is tracings that must be put on the map, not the opposite.' (Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 21) Rhizomes create smooth space, and cut across boundaries of vertical lines of order.
Rhizomatic thought is, moving in many directions and connected to many other lines of thinking, creating and being. Rhizomatic thought is non-linear, anarchic, and nomadic. Rhizomes cut across borders and build links between pre-existing gaps between nodes that are separated by categories and order of segmented thinking. It seems that the Buendia family and all the settlers of Macondo lack the multiplicity of lifestyle. The homogeneity and the inability of detachment of Buendias from their environment enslaves them. They are far beyond from civilization.
Even gypsies that many people believe that they do not have a common culture and they do not construct an ethnic group, are well aware of developing civilization and technology. Buendias' immobility keeps them away from the benefits of the developing world. on the other hand, gypsies with the help of their nomadic lifestyle, benefit from the gifts of developing world. their culture serves them many opportunities that they can choose their own living instead of living someone else's life.
Keith Tester, by paraphrasing Theodor Adorno, mentions the importance of the multiplicity of opportunities that a culture have to offer;'s o for Adorno, culture ought to be a glimpse of other possibilities. According to his appreciation, culture ought to possess the ability to show that there is more to life than things like transferable skills and becoming clerks' (Tester 1994: 37) All the Buendias are repeating their older generation. They keep living the same lives of their fathers because their culture do not offer them any other choice. Every generation creates a copy of its former generation. They adopt themselves what their homogeneous culture offer them. Gypsies keep in touch with the outer world, and by this way they learn about the world.
They do not keep walking on the same path as Buendias. They continue to form new lines and pathways just as like rhizome plant. Gypsies keep traveling all around the world to learn about it and to profit from the gifts of technology. They keep traveling to learn more about the world and this is very important for them; they need to know what is happening in the world. Their mobility also prevents them from repetition and circulation that will bring failure as it does for Buendias. Melquiades, the wise old gypsy, explains the reason of their mobility at the beginning of the novel when he says, 'in a short time, man will be able to see what is happening in the world without leaving his own house' (3).
Their desire to know what is happening in the world makes them to travel all around the world. Gypsies keep coming with new inventions such as magnets, telescope and magnifying glass, false teeth that brings youth, glass balls for headache and many other gifts of technology from every part of the world. This is considered as an advantage of a nomadic lifestyle. Traveling all the time, all over the world will bring the chance to know about everything happening in the world.
Throughout the novel, gypsies keep helping, assisting Buendias especially Melquiades. Gypsies may be assumed as an assisting force for Buendias. Their existence may teach something important to Buendias. Melquiades keeps helping Jose Arcadio Buendia and their friendship that starts at the beginning of the novel becomes more an more powerful as the story progresses. Gabriel Garcia Marquez establishes a friendship between Jose Arcadio Buendia and Melquiades right at the beginning of the novel;' on that suffocating noontime when the old gypsy revealed his secrets, Jose Arcadio Buendia had the certainty that it was the beginning of a great friendship' (6) In fact, this friendship is an assistant ship. Melquiades will help Jose Arcadio Buendia almost in every part of his life.
Melquiades is a chance for Buendias to get rid of the boundaries, and homogeneity of their life. Jose Arcadio Buendia is a clever man who is deeply interested in outer world and the developing technology. He is well aware of their solitude and he wants to move Macondo to a better place that they will establish a link with civilization. He is seriously inspired by Melquiades and his experiences and wisdom.
He knows that the world keeps developing and they are enslaving themselves within the boundaries of Macondo where they live like animals. Jose Arcadio Buendia wants to go beyond the boundaries of Macondo and he tell his wife, Ursula Iguaran that he is not happy with the life he is living without getting any advantages of developing technology.' 'Incredible things are happening in the world', he said to Ursula. 'Right there across the river there are all kinds of magical instruments while we keep on living like donkeys.' Those who had known him since the foundation of Macondo were startled at how he had changed under Melquiades influence' ' (8) Melquiades influences Jose Arcadio Buendia. He helps Jose Arcadio Buendia to open his eyes to the advantages of getting rid of the boundaries. Melquiades pushes him to notice the multiplicity of the benefits of the outer world which would help the Buendia family to get rid of their routine life. But Jose Arcadio Buendia is not as successful as Melquiades to convince Ursula.
She is happy with the location of Macondo and insists to stay to keep living as they get use to. Ursula's insistence prepares the tragic end of all the Buendias. By that way, a great chance is pushed away and as a result, a deep solitude which will lead all the Buendias to death finds its way in Macondo. However, one day Jose Arcadio, Ursula's and Jose Arcadio Buendia's son leaves with gypsies.
Jose Arcadio's departure with gypsies makes Jose Arcadio Buendia very happy but Ursula looses her temper;' 'He's become a gypsy!' she shouted to her husband, who had not shown the slightest sign of alarm over the disappearance. 'I hope its true,' Jose Arcadio Buendia said, grinding in his mortar the material that had been ground a thousand times and reheated and ground again. 'That way he will learn to be a man' ' (34-35) Ursula is very upset because Jose Arcadio left with gypsies. It is clearly mentioned in the novel that Ursula does not like gypsies and she can not believe that her son left with gypsies. But Jose Arcadio Buendia does not care about Jose Arcadio's departure, on the contrary, he is very happy with the incident. He believes that Jose Arcadio will learn how to become a man with gypsies.
at least, Jose Arcadio has the chance to get out from Macondo and meet civilization. Jose Arcadio Buendia is very happy that his son went with gypsies because he is very well aware of the advantages of such a lifestyle. Buendias stayed in Macondo and keep living a 'tree Structured' lifestyle. Without realizing the benefits of the opportunities that outer world would serve them. Buendias close their eyes to the multiplicity of exits which resists the of either monolithic or homogenized orders. Instead of producing ideas of their own, they chose to interpret and imitate same ideas that are given to them.
Buendias kept imitating and assimilating the given, they did not get rid of their tree structured way of life that is totally useless and will not serve them any advantage. 'We are tired of trees. We should stop believing in trees, roots and radicles they have made us suffer too much. All of arborescent culture is founded on them, from biology to linguistics. Nothing is beautiful or loving or political aside form underground stems and aerial roots, adventitious growths and rhizomes.' (Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 15) The Buendia family is suffering because they can not get rid of the boundaries surrounding them.
They are trapped in a unified whole where all the parts are together and attached to each other. Buendias became a certain branch of the tree. They have no chance to move as the tree is static and immobile. Gypsies, on the other hand, are celebrating the multiplicity of the choices their gypsy culture gives them. Their flexibility prevents them to be trapped as Buendias.
They live a way of life; non-linear, anarchic, nomadic, , heterogeneous, and. Although the Buendias had the chance to get rid of the static lifestyle, they chose a linear, hierarchic, territorialize d, and a homogeneous way of life. As mentioned before, this was the beginning of the tragic end of the Buendia family and Macondo. Comparing gypsies' nomadic culture, that is full of opportunities, with Buendias's static and homogeneous culture that is consists of repetitions will give us some clues about the failure of Buendias.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez points out that Buendias did have the chance to construct a better way of living but they wasted it. Their tree structured lifestyle trapped them and prevent them from finding new paths. Buendias overlooked the beauty of the heterogeneous thinking and behaving and stacked with the useless homogeneous way of living that ended their aimless existence. Their aimless living left its place to a tabula rasa, a new fresh start at the end of the novel. Famous Colombian writer, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, by creating this new page, by eliminating the Buendia family, is preparing a new chance for other peoples, in fact for Latin Americans.
His book is now pasted on history with the help literature and the intended readers may look at it and learn a lot from it. The story of Macondo and Buendias is not simply a story of a fictional town and its inhabitants. Marquez uses Aureliano's method, pasting names on objects to remember their names and functions. By pasting this book as a warning, Marquez names the true history of Colombia. He retells the civil war; the War of One Thousand Days and the banana massacre that is denied by the Colombian Government and erased from history books. Marquez pasted his book to show some overlooked parts of Colombia's history and the dangers of circularity and repetitions and he wants his book to be a guide, a warning at least for a better future..