One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

November 9, 2012
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Pursuing Acceptance in Solitude
The concept of solitude has several different interpretations. For some, the status is one of composure and acceptance; for others it may be one of loneliness and contempt. In One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez uses solitude as a reoccurring theme connecting the generations of the Buendia family. The characters experience troubling misfortunes and faux pas that change their perspectives on life. Ultimately, these life changes allow the characters to cease progression and reach a state of solitude, for example, through the generations, the Buendias progress in their abilities to accept fate.
On the one hand, Solitude preserves feelings of regrets and scorn in the Buendias. The characters experience terrible tragedies in Macondo, which have an insightful effect on the characters’ lives. Jose Arcadio Buendia begins the cycle and leads the family to its ultimate fate. He is curious and inquisitive, always wanting to discover new things in order to gain an understanding of the world. He probes into alchemy and pursues experiments to investigate farther into scientific discovery. However, his imagination extended beyond the edges of reality, leading to his own insanity in an inability to grasp the limits of knowledge. This can be described, “When Ursula and Amanatra returned he was still tied to the trunk of the chestnut tree by his hands and feet, soaked with rain and in a state of total innocence. They spoke to him and he looked at them without recognizing them, saying this they did not understand” (86). Jose spends the rest of his life thinking to himself, unable to realize that he cannot advance. He chooses to avoid the truth in his search for the truth in life; that the fate of his family is the ultimate truth.
Correspondingly, Rebeca, adopted into the family at a young age, also is not capable of accepting the pains and grief life had handed her. She completely shuts herself off from society, unseen by anyone for quite some time. Many years later, one of Colonel Aureliano’s sons, Aureliano Triste, visits the home of Rebeca, noting that, “the squalid woman, still dressed in clothing of the past century, with a few yellow threads on her bald head, with two large eyes, still beautiful, in which the last stars of hope had gone out, and the skin of a face wrinkled by the aridity of solitude” (235). Incapable of accepting her fate, Rebeca dies alone and in hatred of the entire Buendia family. Her inability to accept life relates to her strength and willingness to be an independent woman once again. Thus, solitude provides the comfort or tranquility to bring about a peaceful end.
On the other hand, several members of the Buendia do achieve acceptance in their solitude through a deeper understanding of life and knowledge. Amanatra, once a very cold-hearted woman, realizes through her solitude that her life of loneliness cannot be altered. “At every moment…Amanatra thought about Rebeca, because solitude had made a selection in her memory and had burned the dimming piles of nostalgic waste that life had accumulated in her heart, and had purified, magnified, and eternalized the others, the most bitter ones” (236). Amanatra finds an understanding of life, accepting her past mistakes and content with her fate as a bachelor and loyal family member.
Accordingly, Ursula also achieves solitude and acceptance of the fate of the Buendia family before her death. A life span extending approximately one hundred and twenty years, Ursula witnesses nearly all the horrors and difficulties. Her husband’s insanity, her children’s fates, and the fates of their children play a toll on her life. However, Ursula enables herself to recover and find strength in other’s weaknesses. Ursula’s long life is accepted in the solitude of her own mind, the distress of her age, past experiences, and losses of loved ones the cause of her insanity. “The hot wind that came after the deluge that came after the deluge and had brought occasional waves of lucidity to Ursula's brain had passed. She never got her reason back… they would find her sitting on her bed talking to herself and lost in a labyrinth of dead people… She finally mixed up the past with the present in such a way that in the two or three waves of lucidity that she had before she died, no one knew for certain whether she was speaking about what she felt or what she remembered” (367). In the end, she prays that her family will fix their mistakes and create a better future in Macondo, content that God’s will and fate will triumph for better or worse.
Particularly, Aureliano Babilonia reaches the highest form of solitude through knowledge. He is the only one able to translate the scripts of Melquides, providing him with the truth of the family history and allowing him to accept his fate as it occurred in time. “Before reaching the final line…he had already understood that he would never leave that room, for it was foreseen that the city of mirrors would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men when [he] would finish deciphering the parchments…because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth” (448). He discovers the truth where all the other generations failed, and embraces his fate and Macondo’s fate as one interconnected life, as a result not having a choice in the matter, due to his projected fate.
In conclusion, Márquez’s novel illustrates the ideas of truth and acceptance of fate: that life is interconnected and fate is a natural occurrence. Solitude unites the Buendia family in their quest of the truth, and while some idle, others examine deeper and deeper into a better understanding. In a time of serenity, people can gain acceptance of the past faults and regrets, which allows for a peaceful ending to life. People must be interdependent in order for the race to survive. It always seems to be the intent of the characters to remain alone, but they have no control over it. To be alone, and forgotten, is their destiny.

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