LITERATURE: 100 Years – Character Analysis

Maybe this almost daily posting on 100 Years of Solitude isn’t such a good idea.  I seem to draw conclusions from a reading, or am struck by something, then further on I’m finding that Marquez indeed does tell me clearly what I’ve pondered over–whether right or wrong.  I also get a feel for the writing, and then he turns it around on me.  I posted a strong admiration for his giving us little narrator description of his characters, which is still true, but he pins them down eventually, often through the eyes of Ursula to confirm or modify our own estimations:

"Meme was entering a fruitful age.  She was not beautiful, as Amaranta had never been, but on the other hand she was pleasant, uncomplicated, and she had the virtue of making a good impression on people from the first moment.  She had a modern spirit that wounded the antiquated sobriety and poorly disguised miserly heart of Fernanda, and that, on the other hand, Aureliano Segunda took pleasure in developing."  (p. 292)

Amaranta, sewing a shroud both for her enemy Rebeca as well as one for herself and planning her death, is finally defined. I had wondered about her spurning of her one true love, Pietro Crespi when he seeks her out after Rebeca drops him like a hot potato in favor of Jose Arcadio, as well as her unwillingness to culminate a relationship with Colonel Gerinaldo Marquez (and it’s not a sexual dysfunction nor gender preference, as she comes close to love with her nephew, Aureliano Jose).  I thought it to be pride.  It seems to be more:

"Amaranta was too wrapped up in the eggplant patch of her memories to understand those subtle apologetics.  She had reached old age with all of her nostalgias intact.  When she listened to the waltzes of Pietro Crespi she felt the same desire to weep that she had in adolescence, as if time and harsh lessons had meant nothing.  (…) She had tried to sink them into the swampy passion that she allowed herself with her nephew Aureliano Jose, and she tried to take refuge in the calm and virile protection of Colonel Gerneldo Marquez, but she had not been able to overcome them, not even with the most desperate act of her old age when she would bathe the small Jose Arcadio three years before he was sent to the seminary and caress him not as a grandmother would have done with a grandchild, but as a woman would have done with a man, as it was said that the French matrons did and as she had wanted to do with Pietro Crespi at the age of twelve, fourteen (…).  (p. 297-8)

Amaranta’s hatred of Rebecca rivals the love she is capable of giving and has repressed.  She is indeed not the cool character spinster aunt, but a woman of deep passion who simply does not know how to act upon it.

Yeah but, what does she represent in the overall scheme of things?  She has since died, and time marches on through Meme who has had an illegitimate son from a smooth-talking banana company mechanic.  Unfortunately, he has been shot beneath her window as a chicken thief and spends the rest of his life a bedded-paraplegic when all he was trying to do was sneak into Meme’s bedroom at night. 

But I have a feeling that my trek through this book will continue as it has, reconsidering a path, doubling back, returning to a point of juncture and moving forward again via a different trail of understanding.

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4 Responses to LITERATURE: 100 Years – Character Analysis

  1. easywriter says:

    It’s interesting though, to see how you are processing the book as you read it. It gives a good perspective on the work, how the author presents themes, draws characters and breathes life into them. He may clarify things down the road, but by following you as you get from point A to point B and so forth. We gain a deeper understandin of his methods.

  2. balma says:

    very interesting. i’m doing a character analysis on amaranta, too, and one of my thoughts is that her hardness of heart was a cover-up for her vulnerability; a show of strength to clothe her weakness. but there remains the how and the why she allowed crespi to suffer so… among other mysteries. i do find her an intriguing character, not very uncommon in our society.

    and i wonder, too, if her character is feminist..

  3. balma says:

    sorry, typo. it’s supposed to be:

    *there remains the question of why she allowed crespi to suffer so, and how she bore it, and why she did it to gerineldo as well…

  4. susan says:

    I think that Amaranta had self-destructive tendencies; she enjoyed being a martyr. She could have found happiness with Pietro Crespi or Colonel Marquez, but chose to turn her back on it. Perhaps in some small way this also gave her some measure of power, in being able to make a choice.

    Definitely an odd duck, but as you say, there are plenty of people like this in the world.

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