The importance of literary works cannot be gainsaid as far as the wellbeing of the human society is concerned. Indeed, literary works have played an immense role in enhancing the dynamist of the human society. It goes without saying that authors of literary works aim at exposing some of the ills pertaining to the society within which they live, as well as inspiring ideals pertaining to another world that is within the reach of the readers. It is, therefore, not surprising that a large number of social changes in numerous societies have been influenced by the literary works. Needless to say, a large number of literary works have explored popular themes such as love, romance, revenge, anger and greed. Of course, these come with varying degrees of popularity depending on the appeal that the literary works inspire in the readers. However, some literary works have gone off the beaten path and explored unconventional topics such as incest in the society. Such is the case for Gabriel García Márquez’s novel “ One Hundred years of Solitude”.
Published in 1967, “One Hundred Years of Solitude details the story of Buendia Family’s seven generations in a town referred to as Macondo. Macondo town is founded by a patriarch known as Jose Arcadio Buendia, who together with his wife Ursula Iguaran leave the town of Riohacha, Colombia in search for a better life, as well as a new home. Of particular note is the fact that Ursula also doubles up as Buendia’s first cousin, in which case their union is considerably incestuous. Macondo is a utopic town born of a dream that Jose Arcadio Buendia had while he camped at a riverbank on one of the nights in her emigration journey. Macondo, in this case, is a city of mirrors reflecting the world about and in it. Indeed, Jose Buerndia decides to found the town at the river side upon awakening after spending days wandering in the jungle. He believes that the town is to be surrounded by water and, therefore, invents the world from that island in line with his perceptions (García, 2003). After its founding, the town is frequented by varied extraordinary and unusual events involving the numerous generations of the Buendia family who are both unwilling and unable to escape or get rid of their periodic and self-inflicted misfortunes. Eventually, the town is destroyed by a hurricane, a cyclical turmoil that is inherent to the town. At the end of this story, a descendant of Buendia deciphers an encryption that had not been decoded throughout the generations of the Buendia family, with the secret message incorporating information on every misfortune and fortune that the generations of the Buendia family had encountered.
While there are varied themes in the novel, none sticks out as more unconventional than the theme of endogamy or incest. Right from the founding of the Buendia family, incest shapes the destiny of the family and ensures that they remain isolated or in solitude. Scholars have noted that incestuous sexual relationships offer evidence pertaining to a persistent predestined cycle. The Buendia family, right from the beginning of the story is aware of the dangers that come with interbreeding (García, 2003). Indeed, this may be evidenced by the apprehension exhibited by Ursula with regard to the consummation off her love and marriage with her first cousin Jose Arcadio Buendia thanks to the family legend pertaining to the bearing of children with a pig’s tail. However, her husband states “I don’t care if I have piglets as long as they can talk” and continues “If you bear iguanas, we’ll raise iguanas” (García, 2003). While she holds onto her chastity, she eventually succumbs to the marriage and abandons her fears pertaining to a mutant offspring after immense persuasion from Jose Arcadio Buendia.
Incest does not stop with the Ursula and Jose Arcadio’s union. Indeed, Jose eventually beds a woman that he had come to look up to as a comforting mother. As much as Jose and Pilar do not have any blood relationship, the fact that she could be considered as a mother to him makes the phenomenon incestuous. Indeed, the phenomenon is not just based on lust but on the sense of safety that comes with familial relationships. Of particular note is the fact that the woman warns of the curse that comes with incest every time there is an incestuous affair dogging the Buendia family thereafter, but Buendia does not pay attention.
However, the punishment that comes with incest is enough to keep the family on its toes with the aim of dodging the possibility of a curse. For a large number of families, incest does not come as an enormous threat. This underlines the fact that the Buendias are incredibly unstable as they are incapable of looking outside themselves and escaping the family homestead rather they have to keep dodging (García, 2003). In essence, incest comes as the practice that keeps family members within the family in which case it marks the Buendia family as extremely disengaged from the societies and the world around them.
Amaranta Ursula and Aureliano stick out as some of the most inquisitive and unassuming individuals in the Buendia family. Indeed, they went beyond the assuming conventions and carried out investigations on whether they had any blood relationship. This means that they made a conscious effort to examine and prevent incest, based on the knowledge as to the dangers that came with incest, as well as the desire to prevent the same. However, their efforts were in vain with their inquiry remaining superficial thanks to their acceptance of the “version of the basket” (García, 2003). As much as the couple had the opportunity to undertake more investigations they chose to stop and take the easy path that would be brought by fate. Aureliano Babilonia was striving to spare themselves of one terror only for him to end up exchanging it for the true destruction that would be brought by fate (García, 2003). Unfortunately, this easy and comfortable path results in the horrendous result where a child is born to them bearing the tail of a pig.
On the same note, the Buendia family is distinguished by particular traits. For instance, all of them tend to be extremely inquisitive and suspicious of any outsiders. Indeed, these are the things that keep the family isolated and makes the individuals desist from doing business and interacting with the societies and the world around them. Eventually, this trait brings destruction to the family as other societies attack it in an effort to take charge of the business opportunities and exploit these opportunities. There is no telling as to whether intermarriage with the outside world would have promoted harmony and allowed for the breaking of their solitude.
García, M. G (2003). One hundred years of solitude. New York: HarperCollins.
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