Sunday, March 14, 2010

Cien años de soledad (3)

(I wrote this before the war started) As I'm reading, I find I'm trying to compare the book to other stories I've read. The closest I can come up with are the fairy tales that I read as a kid, with their supernatural qualities and the immediacy of nature. What's missing is any sign of a moral message. Marquez has many opportunities to add in this element, but he leaves no trace of anything didactic. In its place, heaps of absurdity and only vague hints at moral lessons that come across more ambiguous than strong (and then the war started). Now Macondo is gripped by war. I see the message creeping in, subtle and without slogans. I see how Marquez is subtlety using this story as a platform to show the absurdity of war. He shows this, in large part, through Aureliano -who can't understand how people wage war over things that cannot be touched with the hand. Marquez is not trying to make a political statement from either side of left or right. He shows how Macondo is caught between sides her in a war that isn't their own. The houses first painted blue, are then painted red creating a hybrid shade in between.

As we discussed in class, Aurelino Buendia survives the war but not the solitude that it brings. If war psychiatrists were to get a hold of him, they would say he's suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. Many characters in this book are suffering from PTSD and the book is full of trauma. Amaranta is traumatized by Pietro Crespi's suicide. She self-medicates by burning her hand in hopes that the scars will grow over her emotional wounds. The scars don't go away and she wears bandages on them until her death. Trauma is at every turn. Partly what makes this book so exciting is seeing how the characters are shaped by it. Some eat dirt, others go numb, some go on a rampage, others seem to go on with life, and others kill themselves. If any one is to be called the hero, it should be Ursula. She is the keystone of the craziest family of all time.

1 comment:

  1. David, a bit of catching up would be good, as well as getting perhaps more to grips with the text itself.

    I do, however, like your observation that trauma is fundamental to the book. I think that's true, and it's perhaps why it isn't as nostalgic as it seems at first glance: to go back is also to go to the source of the trauma that characters are trying endlessly to move beyond.