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One Hundred Years of Solitude

Gabriel García Márquez

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.