Marquez brilliantly creates a picture where every action and every event is strongly contrasted. We see sadness and tragedy pitted against success, laughter and joy, death and mourning compared to birth and celebration. Marquez does not simply detail everything that occurs, he animates these events and makes them come to life. Dreadful and upsetting moments are exaggerated with elaborate descriptions and even transformed into disgustingly hilarious performances. For instance Melquiades virtually disintegrates with old age, he forgets his teeth, cannot be understood by anyone, rambles on about ‘the good old days’, and begins to smell awful. This old man is rotting away right in front of the rest of the family, which unfortunately occurs even today, where elderly family members are hidden in seniors homes until they die.
Rebeca, for example, has suffered a brutal upbringing and severe loneliness, which are both warped into her fanatical habit of dirt eating, thumb sucking and vomiting. Marquez even goes as far as carefully twisting events like death such that they are comical in a sick sort of way. First, the delinquent Iguana cousin bleeds to death because his tail is savagely chopped off. Then, we witness the trivialization of Prudencia Aguilar’s murder when Jose Arcadio Buendia engages in heated sex with his wife directly after killing this man.
Marquez also portrays the irony in Aureliano’s revolting obsession over significantly younger Remedios, because after they are married, we see that this extremely young women is in fact very happy with this man and that she loves him very much. Marquez also proposes peculiar solutions to the characters’ many difficulties. For example, is Rebeca’s only cure for her maniacal habits an intensely sexual relationship with her older brother that she has never met? Or maybe having carpenters tear her parents remains out of the walls so they can be laid to rest properly will help ease her suffering? Is the only way to contain Jose Arcadio Buendia’s lunacy by tying him up to a chestnut tree in the backyard? And can Ursula only cope with this chaos around her by allowing herself to be seduced by Pietro Crespi?
Gabriel Garcia Marquez is celebrated for his innovative literary style of magic realism, but he also delivers extremely dark humor and a shocking portrayal of reality in this novel. I was initially going to describe this Macondian family as dysfunctional, however there is actually a great deal of truth to these events. Convoluted sexual relationships, hateful conflicts and jealousy between sisters, a father’s decline into madness, an oblivious mother wooed by a foreigner, an adventurous and risk-taking son, the tragic loss of life and surroundings laden with social and political turmoil, are all aspects, to name a few, that are too familiar in the lives of many individuals. It is very likely that at least one of the traits presented by Marquez is present in virtually every family in our society.