Summary and Analysis
Readers of García Márquez' other fiction will note the reappearance of names and types of characters from his earlier stories and novellas. Notable are the singer Francisco the Man (who defeated the devil in a story centering on a duel of improvisation) and "Catarino's store" (from the short story "The Sea of Lost Time"), Macondo's first mayor (the Magistrate), Don Apolinar Moscote, and, later, the priests Fathers Isabel and Nicanor (from the story "The Evil Hour"). The use of stock types is in keeping with the South American storytelling tradition, the cuento, in which a group of authors re-tell the same story to see which one of them can tell it with the most exaggerated detail and humor. Some critics see this tradition as being a key factor in modern European and South American literature. If one reads Labyrinths by the French author Alain Robbe-Grillet, one can understand how this tradition can seem modern and yet foreign to most contemporary American writers.
García Márquez is very much a new, innovative voice in literature. He is not merely another South American writer. He seems to have read all of the major writers of the last eighty years — as well as being familiar with the traditions of all Greek-fostered Western literature. Like the Irish writer James Joyce, García Márquez uses — sometimes to masterful excess — the full panoply of lyrical language and literary tricks available. In 100 Hundred Years, García Márquez even borrows characters that appear in someone else's fiction — namely, the Mexican revolutionary Lorenzo Galiván, borrowed from the novel The Death of Artemio Cruz by Carlos Fuentes.
With the arrival of the self-proclaimed mayor, Don Apolinar Moscote, in Macondo, the town comes of political age. Moscote is a conservative politician, and he orders that all of the houses in Macondo must be painted blue. That edict lays the seed of civil strife and initiates the makings of the heroic exploits of the future Colonel Aureliano Buendía. But first, Aureliano becomes wildly infatuated with the mayor's youngest daughter, the pre-adolescent Remedios. García Márquez uses this anguished love affair to satirize the early sexual promiscuity imposed on many young females in many Latin American countries. Remedios is described as being so young that she still wets the bed. Her betrothed is, in contrast, a reflection of exaggerated, yet gentle, machismo. For while manhood in many South American countries presupposes sexual vigor in the man, machismo ties male promiscuity to virginity in the "macho" male's sexual partner. In any country where sexual promiscuity is lauded in the male but condemned in the female, virginity must be exalted beyond any notions of common sense. For this reason, the "love child" and the chiquita (the common-law wife) are found to be the rule in many South American countries. With that in mind, we should find nothing exceptional about illegitimacy in 100 Hundred Years. But the mysterious appearance of Rebeca and her subsequent adoption by the Buendías are merely the author's sardonic view of this phenomenon.
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