Tradition in One Hundred Years of Solitude
In One Hundred Years of Solitude, tradition and culture are prominent aspects of the story’s narrative. The novel written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez tells the story of a multi-generational family known as the Buendia family. The story’s partiarch, Jose Arcadio Buendia, founds a town called Macondo, which is metaphorical for Colombia. The story itself is used as a literal and figurative mirror for Latin culture, as the city was one that the patriarch dreamed of becoming a “city of mirrors.” A member of every generation that follows is subsequently named Jose Arcadio, as an attempt to carry on the legacies of Buendia tradition (Bloom, 2003).
Yet, as typified by the characters who bare this name, tragedies and mishaps befall each generation, ultimately leading to their climactic downfall in the story’s concluding moments.
The basic premise of each generation having a Jose Arcadio emphasizes the fluidity of time and the reflective nature of tradition in itself (McMurray, 1969). There are several moments in the story that reflect an attribute of time as Garcia Marquez devised. The novel explores the concept of timelessness and eternity in the way that it portrays both the characters and the events which unfold (Bloom, 2003). This is represented in an alchemist’s laboratory that is located in the confines of the Buendia home. Furthermore, this thematic element is used to understand and analyze the effects that tradition have on individuals (Bloom, 2003).
In an effort to preserve the lineage and create something worth holding and admiring, the Buendia family crafted a family and a story built around the motives and lives of those that came before them. In essence, when coupled with the story’s other thematic elements, the family is subjected to a nearly magical detachment from reality (McMurray, 1969). The repetittion of traits and names essentially reproduces the lives and histories of the characters in reflection of those before them, and as a result, the town itself comes to embody the same mistakes that were made by each generation across the passage of time. This is a symbolic representation of the influence of tradition as Garcia Marquez viewed it.
Bloom, Harold. (2003) Bloom’s Critical Interpretations: Edited and with an Introduction by Harold Bloom: “Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude”. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2003
McMurray, George. (1969) “Reality and Myth in García Márquez’ ‘Cien años de soledad’”. The Bulletin of the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association, Vol. 23, No. 4 (Dec., 1969), pp. 175–181