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One Hundred Years of Solitude

Gabriel García Márquez
Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

full title  Cien Años de Soledad; One Hundred Years of Solitude

author  Gabriel García Márquez

type of work  Novel

genre  Magical realism

language  Spanish

time and place written  1965–1967, Mexico City

date of first publication  1967

publisher  Editorial Sudamericanos, S.A.

narrator  Omniscient and anonymous, but primarily concerned with what the Buendías are doing and how they are feeling.

point of view  Third person, but sometimes uses vivid descriptions to show the reader the world through the eyes of one of the characters.

tone  Although García Márquez writes with wonder and is truly sympathetic to the deep emotions of his characters, he also maintains a certain detachment, so that we are always aware that the book is an account of Macondo as it appears to a modern, cultured eye.

tense  Past, with occasional flashbacks. There are also brief, single-sentence references to future events that unfold with the novel.

setting (time)  The early 1800s until the mid 1900s.

setting (place)  Macondo, a fictional village in Colombia.

protagonist  The Buendía family; in a single character, Úrsula Iguarán, the soul and backbone of the family.

major conflict  The struggle between old and new ways of life; tradition and modernity

rising action  Macondo’s civil war; Macondo acquires a banana plantation.

climax  The banana workers go on strike and are massacred near the train station.

falling action  The banana plantation shuts down; Macondo returns to its former isolation and backwardness; the Buendía clan dies out; Aureliano (II), who finally discovers how to read Melquíades’s prophecies, realizes that the rise and fall of the Buendías has always been destined to happen

themes  The subjectivity of experienced reality; the inseparability of past, present, and future; the power of reading and of language

motifs  Memory and forgetfulness; the Bible; the gypsies

symbols  Little gold fishes; the railroad; the English encyclopedia; the golden chamber pot

foreshadowing  The fact that both Colonel Aureliano Buendía and Arcadio will face firing squads is heavily foreshadowed in several places. The final, apocalyptic reading of the prophecies is also foreshadowed throughout the novel: García Márquez often mentions the prophecies in passing, and we see various members of the family puzzled by them at different times.