Magical Realism in: Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ “One Hundred Years of Solitude”


Nic Cappellini

Freshman CI



Magical Realism In: Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ One Hundred Years of Solitude

Sources (4):

Research piece: The genre of magical realism played and still plays an important role in the political and economic structure of postcolonial Latin America. Although magical realism has been a major writing style within Latin American, the term itself was not introduced until recently. Magical realism is defined as “a literary genre or style associated especially with Latin America that incorporates fantastic or mythical elements into otherwise realistic fiction”. This style of writing creates an excellent medium for authors to interpret both sides of colonialism; those who were ruled and those who ruled. Take in mind that at this time, the Latin American world, more specifically Colombia was dominated by the oppositions of governments. For the next few decades, Latin America would begin to reform and rebuild what was left of their government. What makes magical realism unique is the fact that it can be interpreted a number of ways. This leaves its readers left to determine what is real and what is fiction. This type of writing is extremely specific and must follow certain criteria in order to uphold its function. Magical realism was developed by Alejo Carpentier, a writer from Cuba. After being introduced, this type of writing spread throughout the world and all “new” Latin American writers incorporated it into their works. (Edison 2) The purpose of magical realism is to relate to real events with popular beliefs or fantasies. In Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, there are many instances of magical realism. Marquez draws a parallel between the citizens of Mancado and those who run it. The reader will realize after the last few chapters of the book, that most of the city’s leaders are characterized as outlandish and erratic. This is a great example in which the author expresses his opinion about his country’s leaders and socio-economic system.

One large event comes to mind that completely segregates the citizens from the government. On December 6, 1928, 47-2,000 banana plantation workers were massacred for protesting harsh working conditions. The workers were thought to have been under communist influences, so in order to eliminate the problem, the Colombian army was ordered to kill any protester. In the novel, the same event occurs and many citizens of Moncado become distraught. Ten years later, Jose Arcadio comes back to Moncado and nobody in the town seems to remember the tragic event. This may seem absurd, but looking at the perspective of Colombian citizens at the time, it seems extremely plausible. Magical realism in this part of the novel is the question of whether the massacre occurred or not. The reader is left to judge whether this event actually happened or if Jose Arcadio is just making it up because he is crazy. It is hard to think how much power and influence the government must have had in order for the citizens to forget events such as this. The purpose of magical realism in this scene of the novel adds confusion in order to dismiss the horror of the actual event. Magical realism has been used to undermine some of the treacherous ordeals Colombians were facing at this time.

Magical realism is interpreted differently in North America due to its secular culture and different form of government. Many American authors view magical realism as an invasion of fantasies into a realistic story. In fact, this style of writing is misinterpreted most of the time around the world because this type of writing perfectly ties itself to Latin America’s historical journey. This type of writing is extremely beneficial because it has allowed Latin American authors to relate to the people around them who find themselves as products of the unstable Latin American governments. Texans may be able to relate to this by reviewing the Classical Western genre created in the South. At an earlier time, southern people were able to relate to their everyday experiences by reading about the life of cowboys and Indians. Although most of the stories that were created in Western genre were fiction, there were key elements in these stories that sparked some truth. This is the same way magical realism applied to people of Latin America and this creates a large bond between the authors of these books and the people who read them and are moved by them. Overall, magical realism helps create a fictional yet realistic boundary between the people of Latin America and those who ruled over them.

Thematic Analysis

The book One Hundred Years of Solitude is an excellent medium of magical realism, because it gives plenty of perfectly illustrated examples representing the chaotic governments during this time in Latin America. Gabriel Garcia Marquez is one of the most critically acclaimed authors at his time because of the vagueness of his work. Before diving deeper into some of the more thought provoking examples, a basic setup of magical realism must be explored. In one instance, Remedios, the beauty, is suddenly lifted up into the sky by a force that is unknown. Marquez describes this force as a magical wind indirectly, by drawing attention to the powerful light of the sky and the violent flapping of the sheets that were being hung to dry. At this time, Ursula is watching calmly and wishing that Remedios would not have taken her sheets with her. The inclusion of everyday details falls seamlessly into the narrative making the reader believe that the event is actually happening. The author even mentions what time of day it is to add to the magical reality that Remedios is flying off into the air. There is something more important underlying in this scene and it deals with Remedios and her beauty/innocence. Remember that Remedios is viewed as the most beautiful girl in Moncado and has all the men in the city drooling over her. Yet, they still keep their distance and watch her in pure awe. In a sense, she is magical symbol herself because she is unrealistically beautiful, she walks naked everywhere she goes and seems to wander aimlessly. Remedios represents the unattainable, the “one that got away”, and this is clear to see when she begins to fly off into this sky. This is not directly solely towards men but towards all audiences. The author in this moment is defining all of humanities “unattainable” goals or ambitions as facets of imagination. This is motivation for the Latin American people at this time, because most of them had lost hope of ever reaching a stable point economically. Remedios also represents society’s false expectation of what women or men should look like physically. The ideal that men or women should look a certain way in order to achieve happiness started long before this time and continues to hinder present day societies (i.e. The United States).

The mystery of Melquíades and what he represents is the largest source of magical realism in the novel. Melquiades is a gypsy who frequently visits the city of Moncado with other gypsies as well. The author draws a parallel between the town and their belongings and the gypsies and their “magical inventions”. This is important because it stresses the relationship between foreigners and the natives and how they view each other’s cultures. For example, a small town in Africa would view our skyscapers and telephones as magical belongings because they have never been exposed to those types of items.

Personal Narrative

My life began with a normal amount of information about my childhood and the daily struggles I would deal with. For some reason I can remember everything and anything that occurred to me ever since I came out of the womb. I was born in the month of February in the year almost 2000. I watched as my mom and grandmother took care of me on a daily basis. After a couple of years, my grandmother left me and my mom had to start sending me to magic tricksters who always had different inventions every time I went. There was a sort of eerie feeling I got as I watched the people handling me tinker around with these items in front of my face. I always wondered why they needed my attention, they acted as if it was in order to feed their life sources. Later on I began to hangout with my cousins more often and was eventually sent to attend a private school with them. During my earlier years of private school I did not “behave” and this was probably was due to a lack of structure. Both of my parents were never together and one of my family members told me that I occurred on accident, which really didn’t hurt my feelings, it just really made me curious.


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