ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Ms. Hen had read this novel about ten years ago, but she thought she would revisit it, because she wanted to know how she would feel about it as a more sophisticated reader. She didn’t remember it that well from the first time she read it, she remembered the story about the family and the ending, but not much else. She doesn’t usually read long, intense novels more than once, but this one called to her.
When she first read this book, she was confused by all the names that were very similar, and most of them begin with the letter “A”. But in this reading, she paid attention to which Aureliano was which and she could differentiate between them. All it takes is a little concentration, and being a more educated reader helps.
Reading this novel reminded Ms. Hen of a snake swallowing a large rat or a rabbit, it happens very slowly, and with a lot of effort. Many different stories about one family fill this novel, and they all take place within about one hundred years. Ursula’s fear that a member of her family would be born with the tail of a pig hangs over the novel, and the family members that are alive at the end of this novel aren’t aware of the fear Ursula had, and the consequences of incest.
ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE could be the story of the history of the world, or the story of anyone’s family. Atrocities occur, love bursts through, war breaks out, and solitude permeates everyone’s life. Even though the family lives together in a big house, which is sometimes open to visitors and fresh air, and sometimes closed, they all wallow in their solitude. This goes to show that everyone is alone, even when a loving family surrounds us, or a family that simply tolerates us.
This novel could also be compared with an intricate tapestry. It seems familiar, even though it could be new to the reader. Ms. Hen could smell the dust from Macondo, the town somewhere in South America where the novel takes place. She understood how life in this place was, how things changed with war and the introduction of the banana company, and how lives disintegrated with the rain, then the lack of rain.
The family is like any family, but with magic interspersed. Ms. Hen especially liked Mauricio with the butterflies flying around him. She thought she would like to meet a person with butterflies around him because she thinks it would be lovely to see. Ms. Hen also enjoyed Remedios the Beauty’s ascent to Heaven, because Ms. Hen thought there was nothing else that could happen to her. She was meant to be in Heaven, because she was an angel, or seemed to be heavenly.
Ms. Hen was confounded by all the times chickens, roosters or hens were mentioned in this novel. She has never read a book that mentioned her kind in so many places. She counted at least twelve places were a chicken was mentioned. Some of her favorite places are:
1. When Ursula says to Jose Arcardio, “Roosters have already brought too much bitterness to this house for you to bring any more.”
2. After Mauricio was shot trying to have a tryst with Meme, “He died of old age in solitude, without a moan, without a protest, without a single moment of betrayal, tormented by memories and by the yellow butterflies, who did not give him a moment’s peace, and ostracized as a chicken thief.”
3. Pilar Tenerna gives Aureliano Segundo advice to conjure away Fernanda’s curse, “she told Aureliano Segundo that he should soak a broody hen and bury her alive under the chestnut tree, and he did it with such good faith that when he finished hiding the turned-up earth with dried leaves he already felt that he was breathing better.”
Ms. Hen wondered why there were so many chickens mentioned in ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE. She thinks it might be because chickens are fantastical animals and the novel is brimming with magic. She also thinks that the reason could be that the novel takes place in a rural South American town, and it must have been full of chickens, and the characters must be thinking of them constantly.
Ms. Hen loves reading about chickens. She also loves reading a novel that makes her have faith in magic. She believes that ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE is a novel that can be read again, but not too often. It is a mammoth undertaking, and should be done when the stars are aligned correctly, possibly once every ten years, or when you’re on the brink of a different life.