An Expert Answers Your Questions
Fellow Oprah's Book Club member dianabigs asked, "As I began to read One Hundred Years of Solitude , what struck me most in the very first page of the book the author makes mention of gypsies who set up their tents on the outskirts of Macondo always during the month of March. March is usually a month where we change season to spring. My question is, did the author use the symbol of a band of gypsies to signify that no matter where we come from or where we travel or end up in life, we are all like gypsies traveling from one place to another, from one relationship to another living out our salvation or damnation in one way or another?"
Gene Bell-Villada writes back, "Your question is fascinating. I can only offer my own interpretation: I think Gabriel García Márquez chose gypsies because they are an ancient people whose roots go back thousands of years, to India. The wise gypsy leader Melquiades writes his history in Sanskrit, the classic Hindu script that is among the oldest written languages in the world.
"Then there is the role of the gypsies within the novel. Here some explanation is necessary. One Hundred Years of Solitude is in some measure an ironic remake of the Renaissance chronicles of exploration and discovery (Columbus, Vespucci, and others). In those accounts, one reads of Europeans arriving in distant lands and engaging in contact and exchanges with 'the natives.' In this novel, however, things are reversed; it is the whites who are the 'natives,' while the explorers are the dark-skinned ones..."