Archive | 10:17 AM

Book Club Reflection: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

11 Feb

I wasn’t the only one who found this novel hard to get through. I was the one who wanted the book club to read this title, but I ended up not being a fan and neither were the members of our club (with the exception of two). Their complaints were similar to mine which is reassuring. Many others never felt anything for the characters and weren’t moved by the massive deaths and wars in the book. With all the magical realism, many of us were exhausted of thinking ‘What does this mean?’ while reading and wanted things to just be somewhat normal. Though it was pointed out everything that happened was plausible in a way and Marquez made sure it was. He wanted an element of realism in the book.

We found a parallel that described the book as the ‘Bible of Macondo.’ It’s true that some Biblical stories can share elements with fairy tales the same way the stories of Macondo seemed fantastical. The ascension of Remedios seems to be a good parallel as well. The deluge is similar to the storm Noah survived and there were characters who lived unnaturally long lives like Biblical characters. Macondo was like the Garden of Eden, a paradise for those who lived there that should have been a safe haven for the inhabitants. Every time people left Macondo, they came back or couldn’t find their way out. Things that were brought to Macondo, like knowledge, brought destruction. The train brought the banana plantation and the airmail took away Gaston and invited a final generation of inter-breeding.

I found it odd that Marquez would include a character in his story named Gerineldo Marquez. It seems odd to include a character with your name in your book. Gerineldo was a voice of reason in the book, as Marquez likely saw himself and his commentary about life in South America. Gerineldo was predicting the end was coming and was ready to die as Marquez (the author) could have predicted the end of his own novel. It seemed an odd insert to me and I thought another name would have been better.

Many others had the same complaint about the book as I did: all of the names are the same. We noticed that all of the Aurelianos were violent with the exception of Aureliano Segundo. The comment about his death that Aureliano Segundo and Jose Arcadio Segundo looked the same made us think they really had been switched at birth and that if their coffins were buried in the wrong graves, they had been switched back and really buried in the ‘right’ tombs. And that’s kind of awesome.

Many of the women in the book blended together. They lacked a personality and sense of being important outside of childrearing. The two exceptions were Fernanda and Ursula. Fernanda was a great sense of comic relief in the book. We all enjoyed her struggling through life after Santa Sofia de la Piedad passed away. Many of the men in the story went crazy, obsessing over one thing or another. Ursula stayed sane and kept her family together and loving each other while the men fell apart around her. She developed a numbness to deal with the chaos around her and survive her own family.

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