Solicitation of Identity in Cien anos de soledad

Marinda Jane Cauley

Abstract


In this thesis I intend to analyze Gabriel García Márquez’ canonical, magical realist novel,Cien años de soledad (1967), which is the fictional (andhistorical) account of several generations of the Buendía family in their town of Macondo. Cien años de soledad made its debut in 1967 at the height of the Latin American “Boom Era” of literature (1960-1970). This novel, García Márquez’ most commercially successful work, haselicited much response in the form of articles and books of literary critique. Due to itscomplex and repetitive nature, many critics have traditionally sought touncover possible allegorical and/or symbolic meanings of the work. GivenGabriel García Márquez' recent passing, a new wave ofcriticism has sprung forth within the literary community. I aim to insertmyself into this debate in two ways: first, through a reevaluation of the roleof Gabriel García Márquez within the Boom Era and, second,through a multi-layered exploration of three interrelated phenomenon mostprevalent within Cien años de soledad: displacement, decipherment, and themyth of origin and identity. These threethemes are frequently interlaced throughout the novel, most notably in theBuendía family'sconstant attempts to decipher the language of the gypsies (a traditionallydisplaced group), in order to learn their fate. In fact, the novel ends withthe final Buendía familymember, Aureliano Babilonia, succeeding in the deciphering of a book leftbehind by the gypsies. In the process of decoding this text he discovers it isactually a detailed account of the family's history, and he comes to therealization that he is reading about the exact moment in which he is living.The novel ends here, with the Pyrrhic victory of Aureliano over the seeminglyindecipherable language of his origin.The title ofthis essay serves two purposes related to my argument about the novel as awhole. I use the word “solicit” first in the Derridean sense which means to “shake as a whole.”Second, I use “solicit” in a prostitutive sense as it relates tothe selling of Latin American identity for world consumption. Throughout mystudy of the novel and my writing of this thesis, I will use these themeswithin the novel as a point of entry into a larger discussion of Cien años de soledad. My ultimate goal is to use this debateand my analysis in order to gesture towards a deeper understanding of thecultural implications of this novel as a whole.

Keywords


identity, origin, Boom, Latin America

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