In the novel One Hundred Years of solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez tries to prove that no individual or family can survive without dependence. The theme of solitude is the soul of the novel; the main characters of the novel experience solitude in one way or other.
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The juncture where the solitude breaks are the death of Jose Arcadio Buendia and the village of Macondo is wiped off from the earth by a hurricane. Thus the novel can be rightly understood as a depiction of how solitude governs the lives of seven generations of a family, and how this great tradition of sticking to the family breaks at the end with the death of Buendia, who ultimately realizes the futility of being solitary. Again from a different viewpoint, the break in the solitude of the Buendia family maybe by the interference of the reader.
Solitude is the main theme of the novel, and Jose Arcadio Buendia, the founder of Macondo, is the first great solitary. Earlier, Buendia was a man of adventure, he and his men used to cross the mountains to find out a better place to live. The narrator echoes this when he states: “In his youth, Jose Arcadio Buendia and his men, with wives and children, had crossed the mountains in search of an outlet to the sea, and after twenty-six months they gave up the expedition and founded Macondo, so they would not have to go back.” (Garcia Marquez, p.11). It is thus evident that Jose Arcadio Buendia was not so gloomy and lazy and that it is the solitary tradition of the family that made him one.
His wife Ursula is busy rearing the children of her sons and grandsons. Contrasted to the personality and character of Jose Arcadio Buendia, the whole life of his wife is devoted to the family. When he retired from his duties and responsibilities, Ursula, the wife shouldered the responsibility bravely. The living standard of the family is to be determined by her and it is evident from the words of the narrator: “As long as Ursula had full use of her faculties some of the old customs survived and the life of the family kept some quality of her impulsiveness… no one but she determined the destiny of the family.” (Garcia Marquez, p. 228) It shows the responsible nature of the womenfolk of the Buendia family.
The theme of solitude overrules the novel, and it demonstrates the fact that it is impossible to exist in isolation, and it enforces the truth of interdependence and mutual understanding. The Buendia family faces emotional and physical solitude had to endure the same for the whole one-hundred-year life in the isolated town of Macondo. The novel begins with the geographical isolation of the town of Maconda and the physical isolation of the Buendia family.
The town is believed to be in the same condition as the people because it is also cut off from other societies. The head of the Buendia family, Jose Arcadio Buendia, leads a lonely life and he is ready to accept this life as his own fate.
Here once again the narrator ponders upon the thoughts of Jose Arcadio Buendia: “They were new gypsies, young men, and women who knew only their own language, [who had] the multiple-use machine that could be used at the same time to sew on buttons and reduce fevers, and the apparatus to make a person forget his bad memories, and a poultice to lose time, and a thousand more inventions so ingenious and so unusual that Jose Arcadio Buendia must have wanted to invent the memory machine so that he could remember them all.” (Garcia Marquez, p. 17). Only by reading between lines, one can find out, which is a dream and which is reality. Sometimes, there is no distinction between fancy and the real world.
Another argument, as solitude is the main theme of the novel, can be argued that the solitude of the Buendia family is broken by the reader. When the time does not possess any control over the family, there is the scope for the reader to interfere and to break the solitude. When no other chance occurs, the reader who knows the story can do the job to break the solitude. Here, Ursula, wife of Jose Arcadia Buendia, is a bold character, and with her help, Jose Arcadia can be made aware of the situation. The reader can have a pivotal role in breaking the solitude.
Throughout the novel, they feel the loneliness and accept it as their destiny. The family hesitated to accept things and ideas other than from their own circle, and they remain isolated. One of the other themes of the novel is the marriage and sexual relationship among the same family members. When this incest happens and continued to generations, the scope of connection with other families becomes limited.
Here, Gabriel Garcia Marquez uses magical realism, the mixture of real-life situations and fantasy, to focus the life and the solitude that affected the generations of the Buendia family. The solitude of the Buendia family is the central theme of the novel and it affected the very root of the family, and the next seven generations of the Buendia family had to face its effect.
The submissive attitude of Jose Arcadio Buendia is behind the cause of the solitude, the cyclic process of life, and a hurricane breaks the solitude, and the town of Macondo is totally buried forever, and another possibility, to break the solitude by the reader is also explored. The reality that the novelist wanted to say is that no family or society can exist without interdependence and mutual understanding. Moreover, among the variety of treatment like the haunted town of Macondo, the history of the seven generations of the Buendia family, narrative techniques, etc, the theme of solitude is the focus of the novel.
Garcia Marquez, Gabriel. One Hundred Years of Solitude. New York: Harper Perennial, 1998.