To all my Book Club friends,
We're at the "end of the line" in this epic chronicle! Do you feel as though you've come full circle?
To the very end, Gabriel García Márquez's cycles of birth and death, passion and pathos, truth and fantasy, keep us riveted. Will Aureliano discover he's in love with his aunt? Will Amaranta Úrsula's baby be born with the tail of a pig? Can love break the family's curse? What do those parchments ultimately reveal?!
Again and again, Marquez takes on flights of fantasy, obsession and fate.
We may know it's wrong for the lonely Aureliano and the free-spirited Amaranta Úrsula to be together, but a part of us sympathizes with their connection. All his life Aureliano has lived in solitude, punished by Fernanda for being illegitimate, and pushed to the edges of family life like a ghost before his time.
When Amaranta Úrsula swoops into town, she stirs something in Aureliano that he has never felt before. Melquíades' mysteriously encoded parchments cannot compete—Amaranta Úrsula just exudes sexuality—and she likes it! Aureliano's obsession with her drives him out of the house in search of human interactions and physical distractions.
If Aureliano's fate is tied to his name, Amaranta Úrsula hasn't fallen far from the tree either. She bears the curse of the most condemning Buendía traits: romantic ventures (like repopulating the sky with canaries that only want to fly home) and the hereditary vice of "making something just to unmake it," especially when the house is concerned. (p. 410) Amaranta Úrsula takes the novel's female traits to new heights—exceeding Pilar Ternera's sexual prowess, Úrsula's fierce independence, and her mother Meme's modern spirit. But she can't escape the burden of the name Amaranta—remember, two previous generations of Buendía men had died completely obsessed with the original Aunt Amaranta.
Despite our better judgment, this ill-fated duo conceives the mythical pig-tailed baby, fulfilling Úrsula's doomsday prophecy. Not completely naive about what they've done, Amaranta Úrsula and Aureliano try to investigate just how close they are on the family tree. But "forgiveness" reaches out and wraps its arms around them—no one in the town even remembers their family now—and they have to settle for Fernanda's Biblical story about finding him in a basket in the river.
Can their child, the first in the family born out of love, create a new destiny for the Buendías?
"...he was one of the great Buendías, strong and willful like the José Arcadios, with the open and clairvoyant eyes of the Aurelianos, and predisposed to begin the race again from the beginning and cleanse it of its pernicious vices and solitary calling, for he was the only one in a century who had been engendered with love." (p. 442) Does love create the hope of new possibilities? Or are the Buendías destined to an eternity of solitude?
It's up to you to decide!
In his autobiography, Gabo writes that as a child he devoured books..."longing to know what happened in the next line and at the same time longing not to break the spell..."
He tells us, "I learned and never forgot that we should read only those books that force us to reread them."
In One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez has certainly written a superb book that we can—and many of us will—reread again and again!
Published on April 06, 2004