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One Hundred Years of Solitude

Gabriel García Márquez

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Quote 5

[Aureliano (II)] had already understood that he would never leave that room, for it was foreseen that the city of mirrors (or mirages) would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment when Aureliano Babilonia would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.

As he reads Melquíades’ writings in the final pages of the novel, Aureliano (II) knows that he will never leave because the destruction of his family is foretold in the prophecies; he believes absolutely in the fate that those prophecies describe. This reference to fate has caused a number of critics to think of One Hundred Years of Solitude as a pessimistic book because it seems to say that man has no free will and that all actions are predetermined.

The description of Macondo as a city of “mirrors (or mirages)” also provides a great deal of food for thought. In the final, prophetic scene, mirrors have already been mentioned once, when Aureliano reads about himself reading about himself and feels “as if he were looking into a speaking mirror.” A “city of mirrors,” then, is a city in which everything is reflected in writing. The written reflection of Macondo exists not only in the prophecies, but also in One Hundred Years of Solitude itself. By coupling mirrors with mirages, which are fictional images, García Márquez invites us to question the reality of Macondo and forces us to be aware of our own act of reading and imagining the story of the town.

This emphasis on reading and interpretation is also very important to this passage. Aureliano has just learned his father’s name and refers to himself for the first time as “Aureliano Babilonia.” The reference to the tower of Babel emphasizes language and Aureliano’s role as a translator and interpreter of the prophecies. García Márquez attaches supernatural power to the act of interpreting a story, and he makes reading an action capable of destroying a town and erasing memory. In doing so, he asks us, as readers, to be aware of the power of interpretation and also to understand that the creation and destruction of Macondo have been entirely created by our own act of reading.