Gabriel Garcia Márquez’ One Hundred Years of Solitude as critique on Latin Americans?
Garcia Marquez’ novel One Hundred Years of Solitude records the rise and fall of a fictional town called Macondo. Although this town is invented by the author, its foundation, its development and its fall show social and political realities we know from Latin America’s past and Colombia’s history in particular. The Buendìa family, who founded the town and lives in it for six generations throughout the novel, mirrors Colombian reality post Spanish imperialism e.g. the Civil War, the take over of the United Fruit Company of Boston, the massacre of Cienaga etc. All these events can be found in the book and can be related to Latin American history. Since the novel is amazingly rich and breaks narrative linearity through flashbacks and flashforwards, the similarities and the obvious connection between reality and fiction is used as a framework for this paper and lead to the question of whether there is a political message in the book, or not. Using the history of Latin America and the events in the book referring to it, I will prove that there is more that just a critique on the current behaviour of Latin Americans. The use of magical realism concerning time shows that history is circular, it repeats itself if you do not learn through your experiences, if you refuse to progress but stick to the progress of others. This is the mistake, the Buendias commit and this mistake should be conferred to Latin America in order to finally “combat a plague of amnesia.” (Conniff, 167)
Macondo is founded initially. Its settlers left their hometown Riohachaso without itinerary. They had no clue where to go. “They simply tried to go in a direction opposite to the road to Riohachaso that they would not leave any trace or meet any people they knew.” (Marquez, 24). This shows that they want to cut off any contact with the civilization they had lived in before and it also shows that they want to cut off with their history. Colombia has been a Spanish colony until 1824, when it, as a part of la gran Colombia, gained its independence. The novel depicts some colonial leftovers one can find in Latin America. Jose Arcadio who just got to know a magnet the gypsies brought, tries to find gold with this magnet. All he finds is “a suit of fifteenth-century armour” (Garcia 2). That’s all we get to know about it. This fact shows us that Jose does not consider the armour valuable enough to think of its history. The magnet and other inventions that come from outside Macondo is/are what occupies his mind from now on. For the founding of Macondo he had made sure that all houses were placed in a way that no one had more sun than the other, everyone had the same way to the water - all in all he wanted to start a socially equal life in their newly found town. Yet, his “spirit of social initiative disappeared in a short time pulled away by the fever of magnets […] and the urge to discover the wonders of the world. (Conniff, 172)