One Hundred Years of Solitude

“One Hundred Years of Solitude” is a novel published by Gabriel Garcia Marquez in 1969. It is considered to be one of his best works. The plot is based on a hundred years history of a made up town called Macondo. We live the history of the town through seven generations of the family Buendia.

All of their incredible events are showed as ordinary, everyday life events. On the other hand he gave extraordinary characteristics to every day actions and he used his grandma like example in those situations. She was his example because she used to tell all of her stories with no facial expression. She believed that everything she said, no matter how odd it sounded, was indeed true.

“One Hundred Years of Solitude” is being told by a know-it-all storyteller. The book has 12 chapters. The writer tells us all the events and thoughts of the characters in a bit distanced way. The storytelling is fast and the plot is often tangled and supernatural. No plot has an ending and the characters travel the world and come back, not regarding the time.

It is interesting to say that the chapters aren’t numerated nor titled and that fact compliments Marquez’s theory about time being a circular motion of moments and a wish to merge time and space in one moment. A hundred years is a big period of time but in the novel everything seems like it’s happening at the same moment. Faiths of many people were stated in this novel and all of them had their sins and passions.

Book Summary

If we start in a chronological order the novel begins with the foundation of the town Macondo. It was founded by Jose Arcadio Buendia and his friends. They established it after years of wandering the jungle, in search of the sea. He decided to leave his hometown after he committed a murder and now he was haunted by a ghost of the man he had killed.

Two families, Buendia’s and Iguaran’s – the family of Arkadio’s wife Ursula, were tied up with business and private affairs. Jose and Ursula decided to get married despite the fact that their parents scared them with stories of not being able to deliver children. They told them that they will have iguanas instead of children. The fact that Ursula’s aunt gave birth to a boy with a pigs tail did not help their case.

Macondo was in the middle of the jungle and had no links to the outer world. It became a working and neat little town. Soon it was found by gypsies led by Melquiades. The gypsies visited them once a year and brought them new inventions such as the magnet or ice.

Jose Arcadio was amazed by the things they used to bring that he started researching and tried to discover new things. Melquiades sold him an alchemist’s laboratory. With time Jose Arcadio and Melquiades became close friends. After many years of travel Melquiades came to live with Jose Arcadio. He brought parchments with an unknown writing on them. He claimed that the secret of the parchments will reveal when the time is right.

Soon after the gypsies new people started arriving .They opened up new shops in the town. The town was developing fast and the government started to gain interest in it. They send a messenger to check out the town. Jose Arcadio let him stay as long as he promised to not interfere with their business.

Jose Arcadio was occupied with his findings and his wife took care of the house and kids. They home soon became one of the prettiest homes in town.

The first born son was named Jose Arcadio II. He inherited his father’s impulsivity and strength. He got involved with Pilar Ternera and she was a fortune teller. She got pregnant and then Jose Arcadio II. left her and joined the gypsies. His mother Ursula took care of the child.

New people kept arriving and one of them was Rebeca. She was an orphan and her parents wanted Buendia’s to take care of her. Ursula treated her like a daughter. She raised her as one of her own next to her daughter Amaranta. When they grew up both of them fell in love with Pietro Crespi. He was a young, Italian salesman.

He chose Rebeca to be his fiancée and Amaranta swore that she’ll stop the weeding.

Jose’s and Ursula’s younger son, colonel Aureliano inherited his father’s love for mystic things. He had an affair with his brother’s girlfriend Pilar and they had a son together. He was called Aureliano Jose. He also felt love for the commander’s daughter Remedios.

Remedios was so young that they had to hold off the weeding until she hit puberty. Despite her years she was very mature, a loving and carrying wife and she also took care of Aurelian’s son. She got pregnant with twins and during the pregnancy she died.

Jose Arcadio II. came back to the town and he claimed to have been traveling the seas. When he saw Rebeca a spark appeared and they fell in love. Rebeca soon left Pietro and she married Jose Arcadio II. When they decided to get married Ursula disowned them because they wanted to get married while everyone was grieving about Remedios. They decided to move into a new home. After Rebeca got married Amaranta decided to reject every man who asks to marry her, even Pietro and he committed suicide after she turned him down.

Soon a civil war started and lasted for approximately 20 years. Macondo sent an army led by Colonel Aureliano Buendia and they were supposed to fight the conservatives. While the Colonel was away Jose Arcadio was searching for the Sorcerer’s stone and he almost went insane because he believed that time stopped on a Monday. He wasn’t able to communicate with his family in Spanish because he only spoke Latin. He was tied up to a tree and before he died Ursula liberated him.

Jose Arcadio III. was a teacher but the Colonel wanted him to take care of the city. He became a dictator and tyrant and he used his students as a personal army. He fell in love with Pilar but did not know that she was his mother. She wanted to push him away so she introduced him to Santa Sofia de la Piedad and she became his wife. Soon they had a daughter and they named her Remedios the Beauty. The news about the government’s army getting closer spread across the town and Jose Arcadio III. decided to fight. He died and Macondo was taken over. Soon after he died Santa Sofia de la Piedad gave birth to twin boys – Jose Arcadio Segundo and Aureliano Segundo.

Colonel Aureliano was trapped in a battle and the government decided to shot him in Macondo. He was saved by his brother Jose Arcadio II who was soon after killed in a mysterious way. Rebeca backed down from the social life and she lived like that until death.

Colonel’s son – Aureliano Jose decided to join his father in the war. He came back to Macondo because he loved his aunt Amaranta. They started a sexual relationship that lasted until Amaranta became aware of what she was doing. He then went back to the war and he almost got killed.

During the 32 war confrontations, Colonel Aureliano, had 17 sons with 17 different wives. It was a custom to send young women to spend the night with the warriors and then they would go to the Buendia’s house and baptize the children. All of the sons had the father’s name but the mother’s last name.

The war kept raging on and it was pointless until the Colonel declared peace. Macondo started to develop and aside from a chief it got phones, electricity and a railway. Foreigners came to the town and started a banana plantation. The banana fever started and more and more people came to the city in search of a job on the plantation.

On an anniversary of peace declaration in Macondo all of the Colonel’s sons showed up. During a Church ceremony all of the 17 sons had a sign placed on their forehead and thanks to it the government tracked them down and killed all of them so that the family would just disappear.

With years a new generation of Buendias grew up. Soon the word about the beautiful Remediosa started to spread. She remained innocent until the day she died and naïve like a child but her beauty caused deaths of a few men that were deeply in love with her.

One day, like a saint, she rose to the sky. Ursula spent her life believing that the twins switched places in childhood and they grew up under each other’s name. Aureliano Segundo got married to Fernanda that grew up far away from Macondo. She couldn’t get used to living there.

As years went by Ursula became older so Fernanda took care of the house. Aureliano Segundo had a mistress Petra and he kept on living with her despite his marriage. When he made love to his mistress their animals procreated at great speed and they became rich because of them. They had three kids – Renata Remedios called Meme, Jose Arcadio IV. and Amaranta Ursula.

Jose Arcadio Segundo joined a strike on the plantation. The national army was called to put the strike under control. The workers were surrounded and shot on the main square. Their bodies were thrown in to the sea. Jose Arcadio was the only survivor. He testified about it but nobody believed him.

The banana business fell apart and in the next five years Macondo struggled with non-stop rain. Macondo became lethargic and forgotten.

When the rains stopped, Ursula died. Fernanda decided to send her children to Europe to get a good education. At the same time she would run away from the disaster spreading through the family. Something was rotten in the family.

Meme was Fernanda’s first child and during vacation she fell in love with Mauricio Babilonia but when Fernanda found out about them she set out for him to be killed. She claimed him to be stealing chickens. Meme kept from that moment one quiet until her death as a sign of protest. Fernanda thought that it was best for Meme to be placed in a convent. After seven months Fernanda was given Meme’s child and she named him Aureliano Babilonia but she never claimed him as the part of the family.

Aureliano grew up locked in the house. His only companion was Jose Arcadio Segundo.

Jose Arcadio Segundo and Aureliano Segundo were exhausted and they both died at the same time. During the funeral their bodies were switched and each of them lays in the wrong grave.

When Fernanda died Jose Arcadio IV came home from Rome. He spent his days with Aureliano Babilonia but soon he was killed. The last remaining man from the family was Aureliano Babilonia. He lived alone in the house and he slept in old Malquiades’s room and he wanted to reveal the truth of his parchments. With time the parchments started to make sense and then Amaranta Ursula appeared. She shook him out of his loneliness and the two of them started a love affair without knowing they were family.

Macondo was getting worse and the town was falling apart. Amaranta Ursula got pregnant and she died giving birth. She gave birth to a son Aureliano that had a pig’s tail. He was eaten by ants.

After that Aureliano Babilonia dedicated himself to the parchments. He realized that Malquiade’s parchments contained his families prophecy. The first one was tied to the tree and the last one was eaten by ants. His faith was written down in the parchments and the faith of the family. Before he finished translating the parchments a great storm occurred. He realized he will not live to read the last verse. In the last verse it was stated that the town will be destroyed by a storm and that it will be deleted from human’s knowledge as soon as Aureliano finishes the last verse.

Genre: novel

Time: unspecified, even thought the title is saying that it all happened in a time span of 100 years, the plot isn’t very time determined. Many critics agree that the time in the title was just metaphoric. We can also conclude that out of the fact that many events happen at the same time, the time repeats itself or disappears.

Place: invented  Macondo in Columbia

Characters: Jose Arcadio Buendia, Ursula Iguran, Jose Arcadio II., Aureliano Buendia, Remedios, Amaranta, REbeca, Fernanda, Jose Arcadio III., Santa Sofia de la Piedad,  Jose Arcadio IV., Jose Arcadio Segundo, Aureliano Segundo, Aureliano Babilonia, gypsies…

Characters Analysis

Jose Arcadio Buendia – a man with strong will that decided to distance himself from his family so that he could study the mysteries of philosophy. In his younger days he founded and was in charge of the town Macondo. Despite the fact that at the beginning he was one of the main characters his influence in the book gets lost together with his common sense when he starts to search for the sorcerer’s stone. He ended up being only able to communicate in Latin and he was tied up to a tree until his wife liberated him before his death. She took him to his room but he went back to the tree and died there.

Ursula – Jose Arcadio’s wife and one of the main characters in the novel. Her life interferes with almost all of the characters and it is believed that she died somewhere between the age of 114 and 122 and that then she was the size of a fetus. She took care of Jose Arcadio Buendia, her house and children.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez Biography

Gabriel Garcia Marquez was bron in 1928 in north Columbia. He was a writer, journalist, publisher and he was politically active.

He spent his childhood with his mother’s parents and it influenced his writing. He studied in Bogota journalism and law.

From 1947 to 1952 he wrote about 10 stroies and Kafka was his great influence. The stories were gathered in a book of short stories named “Eyes of a Blue Dog”.

In 1948 he started working as a journalist and in the next ten years he moved around a lot – from Latin America to Europe. He also stayed in Havana where he became friends with Fidel Castro.

In the 60’s he started to work in Mexico City and in the 1979 he founded HABEAS. The organization was dedicated to power abuse and it freed prisoners from Latin America.

In 1982 he received a Nobel Prize for literature.

His most famous novel was “One Hundred Years of Solitude” that was published 1667. Many expected a sequel but it never happened. He went back to romantic themes in the novel “Love in the Time of Cholera” that was published in 1986. The inspiration for the novel was his parents love.

Some other of his famous works were “No One Writes to the Colonel”, “Big Mama’s Funeral”, “Chronicle of a Death Foretold” and many others.

He died in 2004 in Mexico City.