Term Paper: Solitude Time

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¶ … Solitude

Time is one of the major themes in One Hundred Years of Solitude. For the characters, time is alternatively fast paced, and stagnant. When Ursula considers time, she finds it appears to be moving in a circle: "What did you expect,' murmured Jose Arcadio Segundo. 'Time passes. That's how it goes,' Ursula said, 'But not so much.' When she said it, she realized that she had given the same reply that Colonel Aureliano Buend'a had given in his death cell, and once again she shuddered with the evidence that time was not passing, as she had just admitted, but that it was turning in a circle." (Marquez: 361) Although the lives of the Buendia family members are quite linear, time is truly moving in a circle as far as the plot of the novel. However, instead of expanding and eventually opening it as in most traditional narratives, the circle in Marquez's narrative collapses in on the characters.

The cyclical view of time is also supported by the fact that certain characters seem to be amnesiac i.e. they cannot recall the past any more than they can look into the future. In fact, nostalgia and amnesia are the opposites that are recurrent throughout the novel. They act like diseases which afflict the Buendia family keeping them from looking towards the future, and possibly changing their destiny. In this sense, amnesia traps the Buendias into the present as they are unable to relate to their own past, whereas nostalgia locks them up into their own past which they are unable to escape. This is precisely why they are unable to envision, and then move into the future, and end up making the same mistakes and being consumed by the same actions which eventually generate their destruction.

The omniscient narrator refuses to divide time in the novel into past, present and future. His refusal might be explained by the fact that the narration is not focused on the individual lives of the characters; instead, the aim of the novel is to chronicle the collective fate of a community marked by its own decisions and weaknesses. There are at least a few other elements in support of this idea. For instance, the names of the characters return generation after generation which makes it very difficult to distinguish among them. The "Many years later" formula that is repeatedly used throughout the novel is an indication of this fluidity of time and events as many events take place more than once. Moreover, "many years later" is a way of defining cycles without breaking the story into parts, and losing cohesion. This formula also diminishes the role of physical time in the sense that the narration explores the idea of timelessness and circularity within human existence. From this perspective, time does not reduce the inevitability of human fate.

4. The fictitious village of Macondo lies in northern Colombia, somewhere in the great swamps between the mountains and the coast. It was founded by Jose Arcadio Buendia, his wife Ursula, and nineteen other families, and is presented as a happy place to live in: "It was a truly happy village where no one was over thirty years of age and where no one had died." (Marquez: 21). The novel chronicles the lives of six Buendia generations until technology and modernity are introduced to the town along with political and social turmoil, in other words history itself. This complex tapestry of themes and motifs also incorporates the concept of the inescapability of fate, which eventually brings about the Buendias' demise.

The town attempts to escape its isolation and forge links with the outside world. Modernity comes to Macondo, and the town progresses. What the inhabitants of Macondo try to achieve is a deletion of their past in favor of a new prosperous future. Nevertheless, prosperity is not the only concern of the town; what they hope to achieve by allowing modernity into their community is, as mentioned before, a deletion of the sinful founding of Macondo, a sort of new beginning which would allow the small Colombian town to write itself a new history which would not incorporate guilt and sin. However, Macondo is not equipped with what is necessary in order to survive this change because the period of isolation cannot be simply wiped out. History is a continuous process which cannot be interrupted hence the present is always connected to the past.

The solitude endured by the Buendias is a kind of curse which cannot be broken. However, the omniscient narrator gives us the impression that the responsibility for the outcome is shared. From one side of the spectrum, the fate of Macondo is the direct consequence of its founding, and the ways in which its inhabitants chose to lead their lives. However, one must also consider the fact that destiny is presented as implacable hence any efforts to change it are redundant:.".. For it was foreseen that the city of mirrors (or mirages) would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment when Aureliano Babilonia would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth." (Marquez: 422).

On the one hand, solitude whether individual or collective, physical or emotional, is a condemnation to self-destruction because man was not made to live alone, but to interact with others. The fact that this family was unable to forge meaningful links with the outside world made its survival impossible. On the other hand, however, incest was also an important cause for the decline and self-destruction of the Buendia family. The Buendia family build its existence on a sinful premise hence their destruction is imminent throughout the novel. Both individual, and collective punishment is inflicted upon the members of the Buendia family, as well as on the family and town as a whole.

7. Technological development and modernity enter the small fictitious town of Macondo with devastating effects. In this context, modernity is a double agent; firstly, it is through technological advancement that the town is able to progress. However, at the same time, it is modernity that also brings madness, strife, civil war, all of which will generate the destruction of Macondo because its inhabitants lack the ethics needed to handle this technological progress.

The town starts as a very rigid and backwards community but quickly develops in a matter of only a few years. The influence of technology and strangers i.e. The outside world, is overwhelming. The town becomes acquainted with the outside world, and embarks on a journey marked by technological advance and progress. However, the town is not capable of changing its course so abruptly. On the contrary, its inhabitants seem unable to cope with the progress or change as represented by the foreigners who bring their rituals and traditions to Macondo.

The railroad is an important motif because it represents the arrival of modernity to the town of Macondo. After the railroad is built, a banana plantation is developed nearby, and shortly after, three thousand workers are massacred. This massacre symbolizes the downward spiral that the town is on; modernity is not handled well by the inhabitants of Macondo. Nonetheless, the existence of the railroad represents a very strong link between the small isolated town and the real world i.e. The world outside. The massacre leads to the closing down of the plantations which in turn, is followed by the slow disappearance of the railroad which culminates when trains cease to even stop in Macondo. It is highly relevant to note here that for Macondo, the railroad is definitely a turning point. Before its advent, Macondo was developing at a fast pace; afterwards, the town quickly disintegrates and goes back to its isolation which will eventually lead to its complete demise.

10. The characters in One Hundred Years of Solitude are quite schematically organized in the sense that the focus of the novel is not on a certain inner personal drama, but on the fate of an entire family over the course of time. From this perspective, both the men and the women belonging to the Buendia family are not thoroughly explored because their main purpose is to make a certain thematic point. In order to analyze the characters in the novel, it is important to make a few considerations regarding the traditional role of men and women, as well as the ways of functioning of the household in Latin America. Men are traditionally portrayed as machos i.e. men who pursue many women, oftentimes outside of marriage. The Latin American man exercises complete authority over the other family members; his authority is acknowledged and respected. Latin American women are regarded as the core of the family; in this sense, Latin American society is matriarchal. Women run the household, raise and educate the kids but traditionally, are not… [END OF PREVIEW]

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