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One Hundred Years of Solitude

Gabriel García Márquez
Summary

Chapters 5–6

Summary Chapters 5–6

It is not just the technological forces of modernization that cause the unraveling of Macondo’s utopian, Eden-like community, but the arrival of organized religion in the form of priests and magistrates. Before the priest’s arrival, shame is unknown in Macondo—like Adam and Eve before the fall, the citizens are “subject to the natural law” sexually and worship God without a church. Father Nicanor’s arrival disturbs that untouched innocence, just as Don Apolinar Moscote’s increased power (as he finally succeeds in bringing armed soldiers to help govern Macondo) disturbs the self-governing peace that the town has always enjoyed. Once Macondo’s innocence has been lost, efforts to regain it by overthrowing the new leaders only make things worse. For example, Arcadio’s revolution against Don Apolinar Moscote’s regime only results in worse dictatorship. And, in addition to showing how impossible it is for the town to regain its innocence, Arcadio’s dictatorship also shows what can go wrong when well-intentioned governments have cruel leaders and become power-obsessed. This commentary applies outside of the fictional world of One Hundred Years of Solitude, criticizing dictatorial regimes in twentieth-century Latin American countries like Cuba and Panama.