Exile in 100 Years of Solitude
The word “exile” is rarely brought to mind in today’s busy society. With the current technological advances, there are few people in the world living in complete solitude. A modern man may wonder “Why would a person want to live in isolation? ” As outlandish the concept sounds, it can be a stirring experience that exposes one’s great potential. Gabriel Garcia Marquez attempts to illustrate perspective of solitude with the Buendias in One Hundred Years of Solitude.
Through the actions of the seven generations, Marquez is able to show how exile can become a double-edged sword of loneliness and enrichment. The patriarch, Jose Arcadio Buendia, begins the pattern of solitude with the initial voluntary exile from Riohacha. With his wife, Ursula, he leaves his homeland in search for a better life. “Jose Arcadio Buendia dreamed that night that right there a noisy city with houses having mirror walls rose up,” (Marquez 26).
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This dream is becomes reality in just days and results in the founding of Macondo.
To be able to establish a thriving civilization is an incredible feat – a positive consequence of leaving Riohacha. However, his responsibility as a founder to oversee Macondo causes him to be a poor father to his three children. The neglect becomes worse as Jose Arcadio Buendia becomes imprisoned by his own wonder of Melquiades’ scientific discoveries. The madness keeps him from his family up to the time of his death. While Macondo is able to benefit from Jose Arcadio Buendia’s innovations, his family ultimately suffers.
Jose Arcadio Segundo, a twin of the fourth generation, repeats the path of his great grandfather. After becoming the sole survivor of the Banana Strike Massacre, he also retires to Melquiades’ room to read the parchments. The man refuses to leave the room, forbidding contact from everyone except Santa Sofia de la Piedad. He simply could not bear to leave the sanctuary created by the papers. But, having no contact with the outside world proves to be taxing on his body. “The only thing visible in the intricate tangle of hair was the teeth striped with green slime and his motionless eyes,” (Marquez 361).
Without proper care or exposure to sunlight, Jose Arcadio Segundo’s body is slowly decaying without the vital nutrients. In his literal exile from the world, he was killing himself bit by bit during his search of knowledge. The last living member of the family, Aureliano, dies with a fate similar to his ancestors. Like Jose Arcadio Buendia, Aureliano rarely leaves to house in obsessive attempts to decipher Melquiades’ parchments. But, he eventually surpasses his forefathers and translates the papers that tell of every misfortune of the family – including his own death.
Before reading the final line, however, he had already understood that he would never leave that room,” (Marquez 448). Because Fernanda’s shame kept him from reality, Aureliano spends his life wondering who he really is. Only in the ironic event of death is he able to unravel the family secrets. Aureliano’s existence shows that while exile can cause enlightenment, there is no one to share the knowledge with. The Buendias of Macondo have the tendency to repeat the actions of the previous generations.
The males especially spend the majority of their lives in some form of exile in order to pursue enlightenment. Each man chooses to spend the time reflecting on his life and the secrets of the world. These decisions ended up causing varying degrees of pain – psychologically and physically. Yet, the passing generations never realize the heavy price of their peace. Gabriel Garcia Marquez uses the Buendias to highlight this perspective of exile in One Hundred Years of Solitude and to caution the dangers accompanying the path of solitude.