One Hundred Years of Solitude Since the beginning of time, man has clung to the notion that there exists some external force that determines his destiny.
Grecian times, the epic poet Hesoid wrote of a triumvirate of
mythological Fates that supposedly gave “to men at birth evil and
good to have”. In other words, these three granted man his destiny.
Clotho “spun the thread of life”, Lacheis distributed the lots, and
Atropos with his “abhorred shears” would “cut the thread at
death”(Hamilton-43). All efforts to avoid the Fates were in vain.
every case their sentence would eventually be delivered. And it
appears that once the Fates’ ballot had been cast, the characters in
Greek myths had no chance for redemption. One must wonder if man, like
the Greeks portrayed, has any real choice in determining how he lives.
That issue of choice arises when comparing Gabriel Marquez’s One
Hundred Years of Solitude and Yasunari Kawabata’s Thousand Cranes.
men in Yasunari Kawabata’s Thousand Cranes and Gabriel Garcia
Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude forever seem to be repeating
the lives of their male ancestors. These cycles reveal that man as a
being, just like the mythological heros, has no true choice in the
ultimate course his life will take. The male characters’ personal
development is overshadowed by the identity of their ancestors.
Clotho, it appears, has recycled some of her spinning thread.
male generations, superficially, are perceived to be woven of like
design. Kikuji Mitani and the male Buendia’s face communities that
remember their ancestors. As a result, their unique communities
inadvertently compare the actions of the sons to their respective
fathers’, having recognized the apparent similarities. Eclipsed by his
father’s aura, within his village, Kikuji’s identity has no separate
To most townsfolk, like those at Chikako’s tea ceremony,
Kikuji exists as “Old Mr. Mitani’s son”(16). He and his father are
therefore viewed as essentially the same person. Kikuji can take no
action to change the village’s preformed perception.
In contrast, The Aurelianos and Jose Arcadios have been set into a
self that their name, not their upbringing, dictate. Ursula, after
many years drew some conclusions about “the insistent repetition of
names”(106) within the Buendia family. While the eldest Jose Arcadio
Buendia was slightly crazy, his raw maleness is transferred to all the
Jose Arcadio’s that follow. They tended to be “impulsive and
enterprising” though “marked with a tragic sign”(186).
On the other
hand, the Aurelianos, corresponding to the open-eyed Colonel, seem to
be “indifferent”(15) and “withdrawn”(186) yet sparked with a “fearless
curiosity”(15). The Aurelianos’ tendency towards solitude that shut
the Colonel away in his later years, would generations later, give his
distant descendant Aureliano Babilonia the stamina to decipher
Melquiades scriptures(422). Together, this perfunctory family
tradition seemed to influence the course these men’s live’s would take
in the same way that Kikuji’s perception by his community lopped him
into the path of his father. And just as Kikuji could not change the
villages preformed opinions, the named Buendia males can have no hand
in changing their given characters.
The men’s selection of lovers, in turn, continues to perpetuate
their cycle of behavior shared with their relatives. Despite warnings,
Kikuji Mitani and the Buendia men engage in hazardous sexual activity
that harbors grave consequences. Lacheis’ lots, in this case, are
inevitable. Choice and independent action are impossible for these men
since Lacheis has distributed the familial key to their female
There is an eerie twist in Kikuji’s Mitani’s love affairs
with his father’s mistress and her daughter. His first encounter with
Mrs. Ota leaves Kikuji suspicious of the affair where agewise, “Mrs.
Ota was at least forty-five , some twenty years older than
However, despite the generation gap, during their
encounter Kikuji had felt that he “had a woman younger than he in his
arms”(28). Mrs. Ota had substituted Kikuji as his father, thus forcing
Kikuji to follow in his fathers footsteps. Kikuji is not oblivious to
the strange path his love life seems to be taking, yet he does nothing
Instead, a defiant Kikuji asserting that he had not been
seduced determines, it was something else that had drawn him to her.
The “something else” was generational fate stepping in to turn the
cycle, overriding Kikuji’s notion to choose. Later, when Kikuji takes
Fumiko, this patterned love affair cycles once again. He is doing the
same thing as his father had done before him, but with the next
Though Kikuji does not feel guilt about the association
(93), he cannot explain why he chose Fumiko over a near perfect
Inamura girl. In the Buendia family, too, sexual relationships provide
evidence for a continuing predestined cycle. Only in One Hundred Years
of Solitude, these relations exist in the form of incest. From the
beginning of the novel the Buendia family is aware of the dangers of
A preoccupied Ursula is apprehensious about
consummating her love with Jose Arcadio Buendia because of the family
legend of the an incestual Pig’s tail(20). Nevertheless, she abandons
her fears of a mutant offspring under the heavy persuasion of Jose
Arcadio Buendia, and succumbs to the marriage. In the years to follow,
the pattern of incest continues when Jose Arcadio sleeps with Pilar
Ternera(30-31). Jose and Pilar are not related through blood, but Jose
Arcadio had come to look at Pilar as a comforting mother.
scope, the phenomenon becomes based on a sense of safety that rests in
the family not just on lust. Once again, their relationship becomes
incestuous. With nearly every incestuous love fair that comes to front
the Buendias thereafter, the woman warns of the curse but the man
presses on. And for one hundred years, though time and time again
characters commit the sin of incest, the Buendia curse is not
In the end ,however, when Amaranta Ursula and Aureliano
unknowingly unite, they reenact the fated Buendia curse of years
before. Born to them is a child with “the tail of a pig”(417). The
pattern of the Buendia’s incestual choice is so uncanny and so
repetitive that like Kikuji’s reliving of his father’s life, it
becomes evident that the phenomenon is far more than a simple
coincidence. Kawabata and Marquez are distributing the males these
lots to show how small the individual’s role is in determining his
Though the men make various attempts to stray from fates path,
their efforts prove futile as their struggles always bring them back
to where they began. When Atropos decides to snip away at their
livelihoods, their valiant efforts to outwit and avoid are no match
for their chosen fate. Nevertheless, at one point or another both
Kikuji and the Buendia men naively attempt to override their fate.
While not always a conscious effort, their futile divergence always
results in failure, reaffirming the strength of their predestination.
Being an inert character, Kikuji often times fails to take action.
Thus, his rebellion is manifested in thoughts of disagreement. Chikako
is a constant source of unpleasantness for Kikuji. He is disgusted
with himself for having let her take some control of his life.
Kikuji, like his father, cannot seem to rid himself of the intrusive
Chikako. In response to the neuter’s meddling, Kikuji takes slanderous
shots behind her back. He complains to Mrs. Ota of Chikako’s
“Poison”(30), but refuses to confront her.
Thus he cannot get her out
of his life and his fated oppression is continued. Kikuji’s thoughts
of divergence take hold again when he realizes there is something
wrong becoming involved with Fumiko. With her he is tormented,
“conscious of Fumiko’s mother, Mrs. Ota,”(132) but through his
inaction, Kikuji lets himself be pulled into another devastating
relationship that ultimately ends in the suicide of his newfound love.
His thoughts symbolized his divergence, yet his inert tendencies keep
him on the course life had laid.
In One Hundred Years of Solitude, Amaranta Ursula and Aureliano
went beyond assuming tradition by investigating if they were in anyway
related. In doing this, they made a conscious effort far superior than
any Buendia before them to examine their relationship and prevent the
incest. Indeed, they knew the danger associated with incest, so they
tried to avoid it.
Their efforts, of course, proved in vain. Their
inquiry remained superficial as they “accept(ed) the version of the
basket”(415). Aureliano Babilonia was trying to “spare themselves”one
“terror”(415) but ultimately exchanged it for the true destruction
that fate would bring. The couple had the chance to further probe, but
stopped short and took the easy route of fate’s guidance.
comfortable path led them to the final deliverance. Their fate is
fulfilled when a child with a tale of a pig is born unto them. Their
horror is comparative to Kikuji when he learns of Fumiko’s suicide and
finds himself left only with the despised Chikako. The quest for the
most meaningful life had been swiftly cut for these males despite
their ardent objections.
The modern world may not believe in the
Grecian Fates, but that doesn’t destroy the value of their underlying
theme. The Fates were an attempt by men to explain the unexplainable,
the coincidences in the odd. In One Hundred Years of Solitude and
Thousand Cranes there are many events that can’t be explained
rationally, specifically why the male characters continue to repeat
actions that promise condemnation. Thus, the character’s efforts to
shape his destiny ultimately becomes futile in the face of the desires
of some unknown manipulator- characterized by the theme of Fate.