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One Hundred Years of Solitude


Since the beginning of time, man has clung to the notion that 
there exists some external force that determines his destiny. In
Grecian times, the epic poet Hesoid wrote of a triumvirate of 
mythological Fates that supposedly gave "to men at birth evil and
good to have". In other words, these three granted man his destiny. 
Clotho "spun the thread of life", Lacheis distributed the lots, and 
Atropos with his "abhorred shears" would "cut the thread at 
death"(Hamilton-43). All efforts to avoid the Fates were in vain. In 
every case their sentence would eventually be delivered. And it 
appears that once the Fates' ballot had been cast, the characters in 
Greek myths had no chance for redemption. One must wonder if man, like 
the Greeks portrayed, has any real choice in determining how he lives. 
That issue of choice arises when comparing Gabriel Marquez's One 
Hundred Years of Solitude and Yasunari Kawabata's Thousand Cranes. The 
men in Yasunari Kawabata's Thousand Cranes and Gabriel Garcia
Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude forever seem to be repeating 
the lives of their male ancestors. These cycles reveal that man as a 
being, just like the mythological heros, has no true choice in the 
ultimate course his life will take. The male characters' personal 
development is overshadowed by the identity of their ancestors. 
Clotho, it appears, has recycled some of her spinning thread. The new 
male generations, superficially, are perceived to be woven of like 
design. Kikuji Mitani and the male Buendia's face communities that 
remember their ancestors. As a result, their unique communities 
inadvertently compare the actions of the sons to their respective 
fathers', having recognized the apparent similarities. Eclipsed by his 
father's aura, within his village, Kikuji's identity has no separate 
definition. To most townsfolk, like those at Chikako's tea ceremony, 
Kikuji exists as "Old Mr. Mitani's son"(16). He and his father are 
therefore viewed as essentially the same person. Kikuji can take no
action to change the village's preformed perception. 

 In contrast, The Aurelianos and Jose Arcadios have been set into a 
self that their name, not their upbringing, dictate. Ursula, after 
many years drew some conclusions about "the insistent repetition of 
names"(106) within the Buendia family. While the eldest Jose Arcadio 
Buendia was slightly crazy, his raw maleness is transferred to all the 
Jose Arcadio's that follow. They tended to be "impulsive and 
enterprising" though "marked with a tragic sign"(186). On the other 
hand, the Aurelianos, corresponding to the open-eyed Colonel, seem to 
be "indifferent"(15) and "withdrawn"(186) yet sparked with a "fearless
curiosity"(15). The Aurelianos' tendency towards solitude that shut 
the Colonel away in his later years, would generations later, give his 
distant descendant Aureliano Babilonia the stamina to decipher 
Melquiades scriptures(422). Together, this perfunctory family 
tradition seemed to influence the course these men's live's would take 
in the same way that Kikuji's perception by his community lopped him 
into the path of his father. And just as Kikuji could not change the 
villages preformed opinions, the named Buendia males can have no hand 
in changing their given characters. 

 The men's selection of lovers, in turn, continues to perpetuate 
their cycle of behavior shared with their relatives. Despite warnings, 
Kikuji Mitani and the Buendia men engage in hazardous sexual activity 
that harbors grave consequences. Lacheis' lots, in this case, are 
inevitable. Choice and independent action are impossible for these men 
since Lacheis has distributed the familial key to their female 
attractions. There is an eerie twist in Kikuji's Mitani's love affairs 
with his father's mistress and her daughter. His first encounter with 
Mrs. Ota leaves Kikuji suspicious of the affair where agewise, "Mrs. 
Ota was at least forty-five , some twenty years older than 
Kikuji"(28). However, despite the generation gap, during their 
encounter Kikuji had felt that he "had a woman younger than he in his 
arms"(28). Mrs. Ota had substituted Kikuji as his father, thus forcing 
Kikuji to follow in his fathers footsteps. Kikuji is not oblivious to 
the strange path his love life seems to be taking, yet he does nothing 
to resist. Instead, a defiant Kikuji asserting that he had not been 
seduced determines, it was something else that had drawn him to her. 
The "something else" was generational fate stepping in to turn the 
cycle, overriding Kikuji's notion to choose. Later, when Kikuji takes 
Fumiko, this patterned love affair cycles once again. He is doing the 
same thing as his father had done before him, but with the next 
generation. Though Kikuji does not feel guilt about the association 
(93), he cannot explain why he chose Fumiko over a near perfect 
Inamura girl. In the Buendia family, too, sexual relationships provide 
evidence for a continuing predestined cycle. Only in One Hundred Years 
of Solitude, these relations exist in the form of incest. From the 
beginning of the novel the Buendia family is aware of the dangers of 
interbreeding. A preoccupied Ursula is apprehensious about 
consummating her love with Jose Arcadio Buendia because of the family 
legend of the an incestual Pig's tail(20). Nevertheless, she abandons
her fears of a mutant offspring under the heavy persuasion of Jose 
Arcadio Buendia, and succumbs to the marriage. In the years to follow, 
the pattern of incest continues when Jose Arcadio sleeps with Pilar 
Ternera(30-31). Jose and Pilar are not related through blood, but Jose 
Arcadio had come to look at Pilar as a comforting mother. In that 
scope, the phenomenon becomes based on a sense of safety that rests in 
the family not just on lust. Once again, their relationship becomes 
incestuous. With nearly every incestuous love fair that comes to front 
the Buendias thereafter, the woman warns of the curse but the man
presses on. And for one hundred years, though time and time again 
characters commit the sin of incest, the Buendia curse is not 
fulfilled. In the end ,however, when Amaranta Ursula and Aureliano 
unknowingly unite, they reenact the fated Buendia curse of years 
before. Born to them is a child with "the tail of a pig"(417). The 
pattern of the Buendia's incestual choice is so uncanny and so 
repetitive that like Kikuji's reliving of his father's life, it 
becomes evident that the phenomenon is far more than a simple
coincidence. Kawabata and Marquez are distributing the males these 
lots to show how small the individual's role is in determining his 

 Though the men make various attempts to stray from fates path, 
their efforts prove futile as their struggles always bring them back 
to where they began. When Atropos decides to snip away at their 
livelihoods, their valiant efforts to outwit and avoid are no match 
for their chosen fate. Nevertheless, at one point or another both 
Kikuji and the Buendia men naively attempt to override their fate. 
While not always a conscious effort, their futile divergence always 
results in failure, reaffirming the strength of their predestination. 
Being an inert character, Kikuji often times fails to take action. 
Thus, his rebellion is manifested in thoughts of disagreement. Chikako 
is a constant source of unpleasantness for Kikuji. He is disgusted 
with himself for having let her take some control of his life. Yet 
Kikuji, like his father, cannot seem to rid himself of the intrusive 
Chikako. In response to the neuter's meddling, Kikuji takes slanderous 
shots behind her back. He complains to Mrs. Ota of Chikako's 
"Poison"(30), but refuses to confront her. Thus he cannot get her out 
of his life and his fated oppression is continued. Kikuji's thoughts 
of divergence take hold again when he realizes there is something 
wrong becoming involved with Fumiko. With her he is tormented, 
"conscious of Fumiko's mother, Mrs. Ota,"(132) but through his 
inaction, Kikuji lets himself be pulled into another devastating 
relationship that ultimately ends in the suicide of his newfound love. 
His thoughts symbolized his divergence, yet his inert tendencies keep 
him on the course life had laid. 

 In One Hundred Years of Solitude, Amaranta Ursula and Aureliano 
went beyond assuming tradition by investigating if they were in anyway 
related. In doing this, they made a conscious effort far superior than 
any Buendia before them to examine their relationship and prevent the 
incest. Indeed, they knew the danger associated with incest, so they 
tried to avoid it. Their efforts, of course, proved in vain. Their 
inquiry remained superficial as they "accept(ed) the version of the 
basket"(415). Aureliano Babilonia was trying to "spare themselves"one 
"terror"(415) but ultimately exchanged it for the true destruction 
that fate would bring. The couple had the chance to further probe, but 
stopped short and took the easy route of fate's guidance. This
comfortable path led them to the final deliverance. Their fate is 
fulfilled when a child with a tale of a pig is born unto them. Their
horror is comparative to Kikuji when he learns of Fumiko's suicide and 
finds himself left only with the despised Chikako. The quest for the 
most meaningful life had been swiftly cut for these males despite 
their ardent objections. The modern world may not believe in the 
Grecian Fates, but that doesn't destroy the value of their underlying 
theme. The Fates were an attempt by men to explain the unexplainable, 
the coincidences in the odd. In One Hundred Years of Solitude and 
Thousand Cranes there are many events that can't be explained 
rationally, specifically why the male characters continue to repeat 
actions that promise condemnation. Thus, the character's efforts to 
shape his destiny ultimately becomes futile in the face of the desires 
of some unknown manipulator- characterized by the theme of Fate.


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