In a former post, Reading Deeper, there was some discussion on the meaning of Remedios the Beauty, her oddness even amidst a rather strange family, and what she may stand for in the overall complexity of 100 Years of Solitude. Once again, I must go backward in the book even as I move ahead because I realize that something quite important has happened here, snuck in by Marquez in his usual mosquito-bite manner. Fernanda, Amaranta, Ursula and Remedios are outside folding sheets, and Fernanda has noticed that Remedios looks pale and questions her:
"Don’t you feel well?" she asked her.
Remedios the Beauty, who was clutching the sheet by the other end, gave a pitying smile.
"Quite the opposite," she said, "I never felt better."
She had just finished saying it when Fernanda felt a delicate wind of light pull the sheets out of her hands and open them up wide. Amaranta felt a mysterious trembling in the lace on her petticoats and she tried to grasp the sheet so that she would not fall down at the instant in which Remedios the Beauty began to rise. Ursula, almost blind at the time, was the only person who was sufficiently calm to identify the nature of that determined wind and she left the sheets to the mercy of the light as she watched Remedios the Beauty waving goodbye in the midst of the flapping sheets that rose up with her, abandoning with her the environment of beetles and dahlias and passing through the air with her as four o’clock in the afternoon came to an end, and they were lost forever with her in the upper atmosphere where not even the highest-flying birds of memory could reach her." (p. 255)
Okay, so she ascended into the sky, the heavens, whatever. Before I get into that, I notice a whole slew of metaphors that must be reasoned out:
"a delicate wind of light" — Now what does that mean, for heaven’s sake? Merely the usual accompanying sign of a miracle?
"identify the nature of that determined wind" — While Ursula has reached some degree of understanding that comes with her loss of physical vision, she is the only one that seems to know what’s going on, and she’s not telling. What means "determined"? Is it predestined? Is it inevitable? Are the paths we take that seem so different to each of us in fact threaded to wind around to the same end for all?
"abandoning with her the environment of beetles and dahlias" — Abandoning with her. With her. Not too clear on this point, but the choice of language seems to imply something I can’t quite grasp. And the beetles and dahlias is a teaser. The flower of the book thus far has been the home-based begonias. Is the abandoning of the environment man’s loss of hope, leaving him to a continuous struggle of good and evil (flowers and bugs), beauty and that which destroys it?
"highest-flying birds of memory" — Man’s inherent nature of good, now inert? Has mankind lost an inborn spirituality in the chaos of daily living in a developing world?
Perhaps the biggest argument for what Remedios the Beauty represents is this ascension. To my recollection of Bible, only Jesus and his mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary ascended into heaven, body included. Mary was born without the stigma of original sin, but (and ohmigod I hope I’m right here) Jesus was baptized in his early thirties so I think he might have born the mark just as we all supposedly do.
Then Remedios may indeed signify purity and perfection, as well as the striving for it and the ultimate death required by lesser mortals to achieve or fail to achieve this state. The men who have died for their (fatal) attraction to Remedios have been more than enamoured; they have lost all touch with reality in an obsessive focus on her. And too, they have not lusted as much as been awed and dedicated and respectful. Have they died in a state of grace? Or have they just been "taken in" by Remedios as Colonel Aureliano Buendia believes her power to be.
Strange, that one of the minor characters in this books should become one of such great importance within both her family and the framework of the story.