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We know this book is fiction. But as we come to know the town of Macondo, we begin to see how fiction can impart a larger truth about ourselves. Often as not, fiction can be more revealing of truth than any reportage of bare fact. After all, facts can be distorted.

When you, as a reader, are presented with anecdotes that stretch credibility—the insomnia plague that makes people forget who they are and where they came from; the rain that lasts four years, eleven months and two days; the slaughter that is forgotten in the time it takes José Arcadio Segundo to return home from the train—ask yourself why the narrator has done this. Are his stories meant to be interpreted literally? Doubtful. It's much more likely that he wanted you to look beyond facts for the truth that they are meant to represent.

Could the insomnia plague relate to a loss of collective identity, just as much as it relates to a literal illness? Could the unrelenting rain evoke the kind of inertia and loss of morale that swamps a town and its people after a catastrophe of both economic and human proportions? What other episodes like this do you see—episodes that smack of the incredible but potentially illuminate a truth about human nature?

If you're having trouble swallowing what you see as the narrator's tall tale, ask yourself what other meanings and interpretations might lay behind the distortions. Like many stories of mythical resonance, One Hundred Years of Solitude invites you to delve into its multiple layers to extract your own understanding.

Unpack these other contradicting forces:

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