Sunday, March 14, 2010

Cien Anos de Soledad 3

The depth of the theme of solitude in Cien Anos de Soledad is veryy apparent in this third section of the book. Each member of the Buendia family suffers in solitude. Even those, such as the seventeen sons of Colonel Aureliano Buendia, who did not grow up in the presence of the Buendia family, or even in Macondo, are marked with the family's characteristic solitude. Aureliano Triste's name itself is a good marker of this tendency. Despite the fact that the Buendia family continues to grow, and Macondo becomes more and more connected with the outside world (ie. the railroad and the 'gringos'), each member of the family suffers from loneliness. I think a big part of their loneliness is due to the fact that they rarely talk about their emotions and therefore tend to hide their feelings inside, which changes their behavior.

We see the extent of this emotional isolation in Amaranta, who, having reached old age has never overcome her rivalry with Rebeca and never allowed anyone, including her suitors, to get close to her. She dies proud of her virginity, but I think her chastity reflects how she pushed everyone who cared about her away. Even Meme, despite falling completely head over heals for Mauricio, expresses her growing solitude that comes as a result of her obsession with him.

We saw already how Colonel Aureliano Buendia changed during his years at war. In this section it became more apparent to me how solitary he really became. He resents the fact that people only buy his gold fish to serve as relics of the past and therefore starts making fish and then melting them back down only to repeat the process, and occupy his time. He, like Amaranta, seems to be incapable of reaching out and connecting with anyone else.

Colonel Aureliano Buendia and Amaranta both die in this section. The older generations of the Buendia family are passing away, save the intrepid Ursula! The family's ways do not seem to be at risk for ending, for as each new family member is born they continue to be named after someone else in the family. In fact, there is now a young girl named Amaranta Ursula--what a combination.


  1. Hmm. I agree that none of the family are ever shown as particularly good at showing their feelings; I do worry, however, that this observation risks turning the novel into some kind of self-help guide.

    Perhaps it's better to say that in magical realism, people externalize their feelings? They become something else, such as the butterflies that follow Mauricio Babilonia, or the bandage that Amaranta wears, or the animal reproduction that accompanies Petra Cotes...

    Hmm. Not sure.

  2. Yea I can see how my wording in that observation could be seen as advice for how the Buendias could help their solitude. Perhaps i was just caught up in their pain! I do like your point that the characters' feelings manifest themselves in external ways that themselves are key examples of magical realism. Their solitude is so prevalent yet hard to completely trace or make sense of.