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One Hundred Years Of Solitude And Thousand Cranes


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 mankind 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 Buendias 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

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. 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 fate. 

Though the men make various attempts to stray from fate's
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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