The old gypsy, Melquiades, is an important character to this story. He brings the wonders of the outside world to Macondo, and to Jose Arcadio Buendia. Because of this, Buendia holds him in the highest esteem, it seems to me, above his family and village. With the telescope, the alchemy set, Buendia is rabid with determination to perform miracles. Yet, he had passed on one of the most obvious miracles the gypsies bring. Why? I cannot get the flying carpet out of my mind:
"Unlike Melquiades’ tribe, they had shown very quickly that they were not heralds of progress but purveyors of amusement. Even when they brought the ice they did not advertise it for its usefulness in the life of man but as a simple circus curiousity. This time, along with many other artifices, they brought a flying carpet. But they did not offer it as a fundamental contribution to the development of transport, rather as an object of recreation.
"(…)One afternoon, the boys grew enthusiastic over the flying carpet that went swiftly by the laboratory at window level carrying the gypsy who was driving it and several children from the village who were merrily waving their hands, but Jose Arcadio Buendia did not even look at it. ‘Let them dream,’ he said, ‘We’ll do better flying than they are doing, and with more scientific resources than a miserable bedspread."
Is then Jose Arcadio Buendia a man who needs the spark to ignite his mind? Is Melquiades the catalyst to his imagination, the key to Buendia’s sense of duty? Does he spurn the fun things in life if they are presented as such, because of a need to instead take all seriously and important to mankind? Is he this altruistic person who is willing to dedicate himself to a cause for the betterment of all?
Or is he just confused?