Our literary guide Gene Bell-Villada
has been busy answering your burning questions! Oprah's Book Club member whiteamanda asked: "What is the importance of incest in the Buendía family relationships? Since this novel is so representative of Latin American culture, how should we read these interesting turns of events?"
Gene Bell-Villada wrote back: "Time and again, the men in the Buendía clan will try to sleep with their women blood-kin, and José Arcadio even marries his adoptive sister Rebeca. It is the women who resist the incest temptation, but mainly because they're afraid of engendering a child with the tail of a pig! In addition, at different points in the narrative some of the men entertain fantasies about sleeping with an elder female relative.
I don't believe the author has anything particularly 'Latin American' in mind when he gives incest such a prominent place in his novel. Rather I think he's showing how much any society is organized around curbing incestuous desires (desires that do exist, hence the prohibitions). Anthropologists often point out that the incest taboo is the cornerstone of society, 'the only universal institution.' García Márquez depicts this prohibition, but in a humorous way."