Latin American writers are known for writing fiction novels using their life experiences as the basis of their prose development. The ideas and concepts in most of their novels are mostly their life experiences as Latin American citizens. Their creativity and inspiration stems from their experiences as immigrants and the process of adjusting in another culture in this case the American culture. In other cases, the inspiration is from their childhood experiences with themes such as love, poverty and struggle. Most of them resonate with the fact that they had to struggle to attain their childhood dreams. They also tend to pick their background set up as a Latin American neighborhood or a Latin neighborhood from their childhood. This paper is an analysis of Gabriel Garcia’s life as one of the characters in his books “A Hundred Years of Solitude” and “Love in the Times of Cholera”.
According to Garcia, love in the time of cholera is a story about two love affairs. He admits that the first love affair between Fermina and Florentino reflects the love affair between his parents. He admits that his father was a telegraph operator from Aracataca Colombia while his mother was a pretty girl from an affluent family (Márquez and Bell-Villada, Conversations with Gabriel García Márquez, 156). He uses his parents’ love affair when his mother was in school to develop the theme of love. In this chapter, he explains how his father sent letter, poems and did violin serenades to her in an effort to keep his memory in her alive. He also takes the readers through how his grandfather tried to end his parent’s love affair by sending his mother on a trip to the interior. Garcia once remarked that memory is a great tool of literary inspiration. In this case, he uses the memory of his parents to develop the theme of the novel.
The novel is set up in Cartagena De Indies in the northeast coast of Colombia. The story is developed from a time when the Cartagena was hit by a series of cholera bouts and civil war. At the time, his mother depicted in the novel as Fermina was thirteen years old while his father as Florentino in the novel was eighteen years (Pelayo, 137). Although not during his life, Garcia resonates with the life of his father and mother and writes from an empathic point of view. In his development, he shows how during the cholera times, the wealthy class of Cartagena was dying due to inter-class love affairs. His parents’ love affair is used to show how love could bride the gap between the poor and the rich while also dealing with adversities such as cholera and civil war. The middle class in the novel is depicted as emerging from the poor class and wealthy class. This is shown with the resolve of Florentino to become rich so that he could be acceptable to Fermina and her parents.
When Florentino sees Fermina with her first child with Dr. Urbino, he makes the decision “to win fame and fortune in order to deserve her” (Márquez, 199). Just like Garcia’s father, Florentino goes on to work hard and climb through social class to become the president of board of directors of River Company of the Caribbean. Resonating with the life of Garcia however, climbing up social ladder can be achieved through economic hard work. However, entry into the rich people’s club is reserved for those born in affluent families and with ancestral names. This is realistic of social order in Colombia as was the case when Garcia was growing up. Florentino ends up marrying Fermina when her husband Dr. Urbino dies. This goes to show that love can wait and conquer social level boundaries. This is because despite having confessed that she didn’t love him, Fermina marries Florentino when he is older and wealthy.
Garcia uses the character of his father Florentino to bring forth his philosophical stand on love. When addressing a Nobel Peace prize gathering in 1988, Garcia argued against the possibility of a nuclear disaster as promoted by science. He talked of love as a “new utopia where no one will be able to decide for others how they die, where love will prove true an happiness possible, and where the races condemned to one hundred years of solitude will have, at last and forever, a second opportunity on earth” (Pelayo, 156).
Garcia openly admits to hating the character of his father Florentino (Márquez and Bell-Villada, Conversations with Gabriel García Márquez, 165). He states that he thinks that the character of Florentino is selfish but quickly adds that all men are selfish. This is despite the fact that he is a man and goes to show how liberal he is in his thinking. He realizes that in judging his father and all men as selfish he judges himself too as selfish. He however admits to stretching the reality in his novel thus making it fictional and not autobiographical. The writer’s hatred for the character may stem from the fact that the character had many love affairs which he states were non-committal because he was not in love with the women. He even kept a diary of their names and their occupation which he is proud of. Garcia is a man who believes in true love and does not seem to understand how a man would have affair with other women who he is not in love with while waiting to win the heart of his true love. About his mother’s character, Garcia states that she was very pretentious in her actions. He states that she came to understand herself in old age and that is why she agreed to go into the boat when she was already too old. Garcia character in the novel is that of the narrator and although he does not judge his characters in the novel, he is at liberty to do so as a person.
Garcia writes about a river from his childhood and youth life. The river in the book is the river which he travelled through in his youthful days when going to school. This was when he was about twelve years old when the river was streaming and clean. The river in the novel however decays and dies eventually because of the social prejudices and superstitions of the Caribbean coast society (Márquez and Bell-Villada, Conversations with Gabriel García Márquez) 164. The boat in this noel represents the boat journeys he had to take to go to school and how the boat could no longer go through the river because by the time he was twenty two, the river had dried out. The boat is also used to represent how he was born late in the life of his mother and father because the character of his mother Fermina could not agree to get into the boat until she was very old.
In his novel, Garcia identifies with the character of Florentino because he pursues his love until he succeeds to marry the girl Fermina. His endurance and resolve to marry Fermina is appealing to Garcia. Florentino is also appealing to Garcia because he resolve to work hard and become rich for the sake of love. This is different from the reasons behind why others work hard or want to be rich in life.
In his novel a hundred years of solitude, Garcia’s life is portrayed by the character of Jose Arcadio the first born son to Jose Arcadio Buendia. The novel includes excerpts from his childhood life represented in the character of José Arcadio. His sentiments about the theme of solitude are very personal to the extent of personifying them in the novel. For instance, he describes the household of José Arcadio as the desert of solitude (Márquez, One hundred years of solitude).
The book is set up in a town called Macondo which is the fictional version of Garcia’s hometown Arataca in Colombia (Bloom, 76). He narrates the story from memory of his childhood experiences although the characters in the novel do not represent particular people who he had personal contact with. However, the political people mentioned in the novel represent the political elite in the time when he was growing up. Garcia admitted that he wanted the novel have a personal view from the Arataca people. Most of the narration is told from a third person point of view by a young boy who was advised to run away in such f education by the wise old men of Macondo. This reflects the life of Garcia because he also left Arataca in search of education as he was advised by old wise me from Arataca.
The theme of solitude is the main theme in the novel resonating with the feelings of the people of Arataca during the war. In the book, Jose Arcadio enters into the dark house of Pilar his neighbor who he had fallen in love with. Her house is described as an abyss of abandonment (Bloom, 73). Garcia uses the novel to portray his feelings to wards war that rocked his hometown Arataca. To Garcia, the war is retrogressive and oppressed the people of Macondo. The oppression was especially met on the people by their own colonel Arcadio the father of José Arcadio.
By using the name José Arcadio on the character of the son of the general, Garcia tries to show that even through generation, the effect of war is felt. The novel shows how war causes people to live in solitude, separated from the rest of the world through six generations. To show retrogressive, Garcia uses direction to show that the senior Arcadio leaves Riohacha in an opposite direction. His direction on the road is simply in the opposite direction to Riohacha. This shows that he simply departs away from civilization and society (Bloom, 76).
Arcadio Buendia is lost wandering in the labyrinth of a town in the middle of nowhere which Garcia used to explore as a young boy. This is Macondo which was a mall town in Colombia according o critics such as Rita Guibert. However, Garcia has fond memories of his hometown despite being separate or solitary from other towns or cities in the world. The writer brings the whole world to Macondo because that is where he identifies with. His memories are seen in his description of Macondo, which is a beautiful idyllic place, comprising of twenty houses built on the banks of a river with clear water. Garcia is however disillusioned by how the war ruins his idyllic hometown.
In his wanderings, Buendia tries to recall his journey but realizes it was madness because he was already lost. This shows the psychological journey that Garcia went through in writing the novel. The search of the place is a search for a place separate from solitude. This shows the psychological need for union between his hometown and the rest of the world. This was his yearning even when he was away in school. He could still identify with the longings of his people in his hometown. Garcia also uses symbolism and metaphors to illustrate the theme of solitude for the people of Arataca.
Despite being an absurd journey, they are rewarded by discovering a new land which was swampy and expansive. The vision to build houses with mirror walls shows how Buendia wanted to build another Macondo like the one he had destroyed in war. The waters of the river in the swamp were like frozen glass (Bloom, 76). This shows that Garcia feels that the people of Arataca felt as though they were standstill in their life, like they were frozen in time during the war. He also uses the metaphor as a cloud to show that the future was uncertain due to the war. The whole book is centered on the major events that happened during the childhood of Garcia in his hometown Arataca.
Garcia uses the character of Buendia and his son to show the dreams of Garcia when he was young. Macondo is a place where yellow flowers from the sky and people were always surrounded by butterflies. This is despite the fact that there was a war that was going on. Their world is perfect except for the fact that the outside world wants to ruin it (Bloom, 77). When they can no longer resist it, the outside world offers them a means to resist the loss that comes with it. This was all Garcia’s childhood dreams for his people and hometown Arataca. He longed to see the world and be a part of a larger society but the war prevented it. The war ruined his perfect childhood and the dreams of his childhood. The war ruined the harmony and unity that existed amongst the people of Arataca and introduced solitude. There is hope however because the characters love for Pilar shows that man is not doomed to be alone for the rest of his life despite his plight. This portrays a strong philosophy about love by Garcia. Just like in the first novel, love conquers and endures all in the world of Garcia.