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One Hundred Years of Solitude | Discussion Questions 21 - 30

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What are some magical elements in One Hundred Years of Solitude, and why are they significant?

Magic realism, a theme used throughout the story, combines magical elements with realism. Magical elements often draw attention to insiders of Macondo versus outsiders, who threaten the town: Yellow flowers and butterflies—When José Arcadio Buendía dies, it rains yellow flowers, and yellow butterflies predict and surround Mauricio Babilonia's appearance. Because both characters are tied to Macondo (José Arcadio Buendía is a founder and Mauricio Babilonia is a born-and-raised inhabitant), the color yellow represents their connection to the village. Remedios the Beauty's disappearance—While folding sheets with Amaranta, Remedios the Beauty is picked up by the wind and waves goodbye to everyone, ascending into heaven. Referred to as the most "lucid" person in the house, Remedios the Beauty, because of her ability to think clearly, is distinguished and disappeared like other characters who rebel against or threaten outside powers, like José Arcadio who begins a war then suffers an unexplained death.

How is the mood of the deluge created in One Hundred Years of Solitude?

The rain lasts nearly five years, but to make it sound like it is more believable, Gabriel García Márquez writes, "four years, eleven months, and two days." When the rain begins, it is juxtaposed with the political erasure of the massacre. The families of victims "who crowded the commandants' offices" are told time and time again that nothing happened. This and the repetition of José Arcadio Segundo's death count, showing his posttraumatic stress, contributes to the claustrophobia of the rain. The sentence describing the destruction of the storm contains no commas, but instead uses prepositions and conjunctions to show the relentlessness mood the storm brings. The passing of time is shown in the ways the storm victims busy themselves. Aureliano Segundo completes so many household tasks he loses the weight he gained from entertaining. Imagery also shows the storm's severity. It is so wet outside flowers grow from machines and fish can swim "out the windows, floating through the atmosphere in the rooms."

When Fernanda del Carpio takes Meme to the convent, what is the mood and how is it created in One Hundred Years of Solitude, Chapter 15?

Because Fernanda taking Meme to the convent is juxtaposed with rising political unrest, the scene is full of tension. Additionally, Fernanda keeps their destination a secret, creating suspense. After Fernanda packs their bags she says, "Let's go, Renata," which feels cold, distant, and spiteful because everyone addresses her by her nickname of Meme. By referring to her by her ill mother's name, Fernanda foreshadows Meme's lonely fate. On the train, the repetition of the clause "She did not see" builds suspense. The four sentences also illustrate the long journey, which includes a train, carriage, and boat. The carriage is described as looking like "an enormous bat," which invokes a memory of Melquíades's hat that resembles "crow's wings," conjuring images of death. This image also foreshadows the fulfillment of his prophesy that the Buendía family will be erased from memory.

While looking for José Arcadio Segundo in One Hundred Years of Solitude, Chapter 15, what stops the soldiers from finding him, and how is it significant?

Because José Arcadio Segundo is the only survivor from the massacre of 3,000 people, his mother Santa Sofía de la Piedad hides him in Melquíades's room. As the soldiers routinely search the house, an officer takes interest in Colonel Aureliano Buendía's workshop. When he finds the gold fishes, he "turn[s] human" and asks if he can keep it, claiming they are "relics." With a "childlike" excitement, he admits the colonel was "one of [their] greatest men" before continuing the search. In Melquíades's room, José Arcadio Segundo waits to be taken, but the soldiers are unable to see him. Whether it's their involvement in the war or the possession of the gold fish, the officer views the room with "the same eyes of Colonel Aureliano Buendía."

In One Hundred Years of Solitude, what makes Fernanda del Carpio's character increasingly unlikeable?

Initially, Fernanda appears as a sympathetic character because of her: sheltered upbringing; sick mother; admirable, selfless father; traumatic experience at the carnival; vain belief in fate when Aureliano Segundo proposes; strength of character when she discovers her husband's infidelity and leaves. As the story continues, Fernanda functions as an antagonist. Her character becomes increasingly unlikable because she: arranges Mauricio Babilonia's violent punishment by manipulating the mayor; thinks her daughter is a "burden"; doesn't care to discover, when Meme stops talking, whether it's because Meme is giving her the silent treatment or because of the trauma of hearing her lover shot, doesn't involve Meme's father in her decision/punishment; tells José Arcadio that Meme is dead; contemplates killing Aureliano; hides Aureliano's identity from the family.

How does Mauricio Babilonia being shot affect Meme's character in One Hundred Years of Solitude?

Before her lover is shot, Meme: is troubled by her mother's sternness; endures her mother's severity for "freedom"; finds comfort in her girlfriends' company; rebels with parties, gossip, curiosity, boys. When she hears Mauricio Babilonia yelp with the gun shot, Meme stops speaking. Once she musters up the "bravery" to stand up to her mother, Fernanda del Carpio, her mother stomps out her "modern spirit," which goes against her mother's "prissiness" and "poverty of spirit." By not objecting, combing her hair, or showering, Meme is indifferent about her fate. Even though yellow butterflies, associated with Mauricio Babilonia, still surround her, she doesn't notice them. Compared to a sleepwalker, she dies of "old age," like her lover, whom she thinks about every day. The allusion to her being committed to a hospital is made with her shaved head.

In One Hundred Years of Solitude, Chapter 14 how does Amaranta's character change when she learns of her impending death?

Until Amaranta learns of her upcoming death—when she completes her shroud—she spends numerous years praying for Rebeca to die before her. She makes death preparations for her enemy "in exactly the same way if it had been done out of love." To delay her own death, she spins her own thread, earning four years. In the intricacy of the task, she realizes (like Colonel Aureliano Buendía with his gold fishes) her bitterness has disappeared and it's too late for her redemption. She notices the circularity of her family in Meme's potential stunted by anger. In hope of leaving on a favorable note, she tells inhabitants she'll carry letters to their dead.

In One Hundred Years of Solitude, Chapter 15 what is the importance of the imagery used to describe the massacre in the square?

When José Arcadio Segundo notices the machine guns, a "salty paste" develops in his mouth. Yet he stays. When the captain announces the workers have five minutes to "withdraw," no one leaves, as if "held tight in a fascination with death." The attack is presented as a "hallucination," a "farce." Until someone cries for their mother, the crowd is calm, silent, and unmoving. Then the crowd is described as "dragon's tail[s]," a tight "wave" rushing toward the other. The horror pits the crowd against each other until they're cut down to one: a "whirlwind" being shaved like an "onion." An onion has layers, exhibiting the amount of death happening on top of death, the paring of the crowd. The mixed metaphors shows how nonsensical the event is.

In One Hundred Years of Solitude, Chapter 14 how does the relationship between Petra and Meme change when Aureliano Segundo redecorates their rooms in the same fashion?

After Fernanda del Carpio sends her husband Aureliano Segundo's trunks to his concubine Petra, he celebrates and redecorates her room with a canopy bed, velvet drapes, and fancy mirrors. Petra gloats at her victory. While Meme is on vacation, her father, Aureliano Segundo, stays at the Buendías' to see her and redecorates her room in a similar fashion. Fernanda is offended by the decor, inspired by the French matrons who don't share her traditions. Usually patient Petra feels threatened by Meme, who prefers Petra to her inflexible mother. Petra senses Meme could "deprive her of a love that ... she considered assured until death," and Petra acts out in the same ways Fernanda did.

How does the symbol of the railroad resemble the gypsies in One Hundred Years of Solitude, Chapter 1?

When the gypsies arrive in Macondo, "The world was so recent that many things lacked names," and no one had died yet. Every March they'd bring new inventions "with a great uproar of pipes and kettledrums." The colonel's memory of ice is repeatedly mentioned. Eventually, Aureliano Triste starts the ice factory of his grandfather's dreams, which leads to the train's introduction. When the railroad is being built, the inhabitants assume it's "some new trick of the gypsies ... with whistles and tambourines." Like the gypsies it arrives regularly, every Wednesday, and introduces new inventions to Macondo (electricity and film). Similar to how the gypsies contributed to José Arcadio Buendía's descent into madness, the railroad contributes to Macondo's demise, introducing vacationers and the banana company.

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