OPRAH'S E-MAILS: 3/5 Outcasts and Beauty Queens
Oprah's Book Club member bethany23 wrote: What is the symbolism of the Buendía bloodline being carried on through one of the children of Pilar Ternera, an outcast, rather than the children and spouses of the Buendía clan? Does it have anything to do with the misfortune of the Buendías?
Our literary guide Gene Bell-Villada responded: Yes, it's true, the Buendía bloodline is indeed carried on via Pilar Ternera, who is a social outcast. All of the first couple's grandchildren are illegitimate.
But I don't think it's a matter of reducing it all to Pilar's being an outcast. First, let's remember, there is Amaranta, the third of the Buendía children. She never marries, remains a virgin, and is a much less positive character than Pilar.
More importantly, there's a kind of system formed by certain oppositions between Úrsula and Pilar. Úrsula, as the matriarch, is the very soul of propriety. She has very little interest in sex. She stands for things like family, tradition, and morals. That is what makes her so powerful a figure in the novel.
Pilar is the exact opposite. She exudes sex, represents sex, lives sex. In fact she later will become a prostitute and a madam. As she says during her later years, "I'm happy knowing that people are happy in bed." Throughout the book she represents the erotic force, and will serve as a matchmaker for all Buendías who seek union with the opposite sex (the twins excepted). Significantly, she is the last of the elder Macondo women clan to die, long after Úrsula's death. So she is an outcast, but a very strong and positive character.
Read the entire batch of Q&A!
Go Inside His Reality
Can fiction really be stranger than truth? From Remedios' ascension to the origin of the name Buendía, find out what have we discovered about the scenes Gabo "stole" from real life!
See where art imitates life in One Hundred Years of Solitude .
New Chapter Explanations and Questions
We're finishing up pages 197–313 by next Friday. What do you think about the women in this latest generation of Buendías? Think about how Remedios the Beauty breaks from the strong, capable, earth-bound mother we see in Úrsula, the lusty Pilar Ternera and the bitter and lonely Amaranta. Is she a modern day goddess or is she missing a few marbles?
Tackle a new chapter explanation.