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Jumat, 14 September 2012

100 Years of Solitude: A Book That Brings You 100 Years of Life

Gabriel Garcia Marquez's 100 years of Solitude (Spanish: Cien años de soledad) is a very complex book. This is actually what makes the book really interesting for us to read. The complexity lays on the various problems it describes, the time of the story that lasts from 1st until 7th generation, the various conflicts of feeling, the magical realness that makes us wonder if the story is about magic or reality, the unpredictability of the story, and the puzzle that only can be answered at the very end of the story.

This novel, whose writer won Nobel Prize in 1982, is exactly wonderful. It consists of both tragedy and comedy that make you laugh in one page and cry in another. In one way many plots and scenes are really real, but if you think about them deeply, it will feel weird and impossible. The most entertaining about this book is that it has many never-ending, surprising weirdness such as the ascending of Remedios, blood that can move miles and become somewhat 'warning' of someone's death, and a man that is followed by butterflies everywhere he goes.

100 years of solitude is an epic story which tells us about the founding of Macondo by Jose Arcadio Buendia, his wife Ursula Iguaran, and other 19 families. Macondo lies in the great swaps surrounded by mountains and coasts. At the beginning of the story, Macondo is a very happy village, like what Gabriel describes, "it was a truly happy village where no one was over 30 years of age and where no one has died".

As time goes by, many things happen--tragedy and comedy, laugh and cry, birth and death. The story begins from the 1st generation of the Buendias, Jose Arcadio Buendia and Ursula Iguaran; through the 2nd generation, Jose Arcadio, Col. Aureliano Buendia, and Amaranta; through the 3rd generation, Arcadio, Aureliano Jose, and 17 Aurelianos; through the 4th generation, Remedios The Beauty, the twins Aureliano Segundo and Jose Arcadio Segundo; through the 5th generation, Jose Arcadio (II), Renata Remedios (Meme), and Amaranta Ursula; through the 6th generation, Aureliano Babilonia (Aureliano (II)), until the final, Aureliano (III) as the 7th generation.

In more than 100 years, the people of Macondo have witnessed many huge happenings, starting from the arrival of gypsies (one of whom is Melquiades, a person who finally becomes the friend of the Buendias), the civil war commanded by Col. Aureliano Buendia, the arrival of the gringos who build banana company, the arrival of railroad, telephone, and electricity, the arrival of unexpected plagues and natural calamities, until the last, the 'taifoon' which brings an end to the village that lives in solitude for 100 years.

In Columbia, where the story takes place, machismo or excessive masculinity plays a great role in the society. Machismo has made some discrimination towards women. According to Leyson (2001), machismo gives great value on female virginity. Other repressions towards women, especially for sex liberation, are Western culture and Christianity (Roman Chatolic). Gabriel shows in his novel how machismo has held the society very strongly, especially in ideology towards virginity of women as the assessment of moral value. He tries to break the ideology by giving 'sexual liberation' to women.

Here, sexual liberation seems to be the symbol of freedom. The sexual strength of Pilar Ternera also symbolizes the power of women. This novel, not like any other epic stories, has a woman, a very progressive woman, as the hero. And her name is Ursula Iguaran. Maybe Gabriel is a feminist, I do not know. But still, however free women are in expressing their sexual desire; they are still the ones who get bad effect of this. Col. Aureliano Buendia who has 17 children with 17 one-night-stand women is never considered a bad guy or a whore, while Pilar Ternera who sleep with guys is called a bitch.

I read this book a couple of months ago and since I opened the 1st page, I could not stop until I read the last line of the story. One sentence that I like and I think is unforgettable from the story is 'The 1st in line is tied to a tree and the last is being eaten by ants'. The sentence is simple but magical, I think. One thing that I realized very late is that Gabriel Garcia Marquez is also one of the names of minor characters in the novel. Talking about my most favorite character, of course it is Melquiades. Subjectively, it is because he ever goes to one place in Indonesia (If you want to know, just read the book by yourself). Also, he is such a key of the story, the missing piece of a very huge puzzle of life. I just can give you one suggestion: read this book and spend your one-hundred-year life to finish it!

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