Since the beginning of time, man has clung to the notion thatthere exists some external force that determines his destiny.
InGrecian times, the epic poet Hesoid wrote of a triumvirate ofmythological Fates that supposedly gave “to men at birth evil andgood to have”. In other words, these three granted man his destiny. Clotho “spun the thread of life”, Lacheis distributed the lots, andAtropos with his “abhorred shears” would “cut the thread atdeath”(Hamilton-43). All efforts to avoid the Fates were in vain.
Inevery case their sentence would eventually be delivered. And itappears that once the Fates’ ballot had been cast, the characters inGreek myths had no chance for redemption. One must wonder if man, likethe Greeks portrayed, has any real choice in determining how he lives. That issue of choice arises when comparing Gabriel Marquez’s OneHundred Years of Solitude and Yasunari Kawabata’s Thousand Cranes. Themen in Yasunari Kawabata’s Thousand Cranes and Gabriel GarciaMarquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude forever seem to be repeatingthe lives of their male ancestors.Order now
These cycles reveal that man as abeing, just like the mythological heros, has no true choice in theultimate course his life will take. The male characters’ personaldevelopment is overshadowed by the identity of their ancestors. Clotho, it appears, has recycled some of her spinning thread. The newmale generations, superficially, are perceived to be woven of likedesign. Kikuji Mitani and the male Buendia’s face communities thatremember their ancestors. As a result, their unique communitiesinadvertently compare the actions of the sons to their respectivefathers’, having recognized the apparent similarities.
Eclipsed by hisfather’s aura, within his village, Kikuji’s identity has no separatedefinition. To most townsfolk, like those at Chikako’s tea ceremony,Kikuji exists as “Old Mr. Mitani’s son”(16). He and his father aretherefore viewed as essentially the same person. Kikuji can take noaction to change the village’s preformed perception. In contrast, The Aurelianos and Jose Arcadios have been set into aself that their name, not their upbringing, dictate.
Ursula, aftermany years drew some conclusions about “the insistent repetition ofnames”(106) within the Buendia family. While the eldest Jose ArcadioBuendia was slightly crazy, his raw maleness is transferred to all theJose Arcadio’s that follow. They tended to be “impulsive andenterprising” though “marked with a tragic sign”(186). On the otherhand, the Aurelianos, corresponding to the open-eyed Colonel, seem tobe “indifferent”(15) and “withdrawn”(186) yet sparked with a “fearlesscuriosity”(15). The Aurelianos’ tendency towards solitude that shutthe Colonel away in his later years, would generations later, give hisdistant descendant Aureliano Babilonia the stamina to decipherMelquiades scriptures(422).
Together, this perfunctory familytradition seemed to influence the course these men’s live’s would takein the same way that Kikuji’s perception by his community lopped himinto the path of his father. And just as Kikuji could not change thevillages preformed opinions, the named Buendia males can have no handin changing their given characters. The men’s selection of lovers, in turn, continues to perpetuatetheir cycle of behavior shared with their relatives. Despite warnings,Kikuji Mitani and the Buendia men engage in hazardous sexual activitythat harbors grave consequences. Lacheis’ lots, in this case, areinevitable.
Choice and independent action are impossible for these mensince Lacheis has distributed the familial key to their femaleattractions. There is an eerie twist in Kikuji’s Mitani’s love affairswith his father’s mistress and her daughter. His first encounter withMrs. Ota leaves Kikuji suspicious of the affair where agewise, “Mrs.
Ota was at least forty-five , some twenty years older thanKikuji”(28). However, despite the generation gap, during theirencounter Kikuji had felt that he “had a woman younger than he in hisarms”(28). Mrs. Ota had substituted Kikuji as his father, thus forcingKikuji to follow in his fathers footsteps.
Kikuji is not oblivious tothe strange path his love life seems to be taking, yet he does nothingto resist. Instead, a defiant Kikuji asserting that he had not beenseduced determines, it was something else that had drawn him to her. The “something else” was generational fate stepping in to turn thecycle, overriding Kikuji’s notion to choose. Later, when Kikuji takesFumiko, this patterned love affair cycles once again. He is doing thesame thing as his father had done before him, but with the nextgeneration. Though Kikuji does not feel guilt about the association(93), he cannot explain why he chose Fumiko over a near perfectInamura girl.
In the Buendia family, too, sexual relationships provideevidence for a continuing predestined cycle. Only in One Hundred Yearsof Solitude, these relations exist in the form of incest. From thebeginning of the novel the Buendia family is aware of the dangers ofinterbreeding. A preoccupied Ursula is apprehensious aboutconsummating her love with Jose Arcadio Buendia because of the familylegend of the an incestual Pig’s tail(20). Nevertheless, she abandonsher fears of a mutant offspring under the heavy persuasion of JoseArcadio Buendia, and succumbs to the marriage. In the years to follow,the pattern of incest continues when Jose Arcadio sleeps with PilarTernera(30-31).
Jose and Pilar are not related through blood, but JoseArcadio had come to look at Pilar as a comforting mother. In thatscope, the phenomenon becomes based on a sense of safety that rests inthe family not just on lust. Once again, their relationship becomesincestuous. With nearly every incestuous love fair that comes to frontthe Buendias thereafter, the woman warns of the curse but the manpresses on.
And for one hundred years, though time and time againcharacters commit the sin of incest, the Buendia curse is notfulfilled. In the end ,however, when Amaranta Ursula and Aurelianounknowingly unite, they reenact the fated Buendia curse of yearsbefore. Born to them is a child with “the tail of a pig”(417). Thepattern of the Buendia’s incestual choice is so uncanny and sorepetitive that like Kikuji’s reliving of his father’s life, itbecomes evident that the phenomenon is far more than a simplecoincidence. Kawabata and Marquez are distributing the males theselots to show how small the individual’s role is in determining hisfate. Though the men make various attempts to stray from fates path,their efforts prove futile as their struggles always bring them backto where they began.
When Atropos decides to snip away at theirlivelihoods, their valiant efforts to outwit and avoid are no matchfor their chosen fate. Nevertheless, at one point or another bothKikuji and the Buendia men naively attempt to override their fate. While not always a conscious effort, their futile divergence alwaysresults 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.
Chikakois a constant source of unpleasantness for Kikuji. He is disgustedwith himself for having let her take some control of his life. YetKikuji, like his father, cannot seem to rid himself of the intrusiveChikako. In response to the neuter’s meddling, Kikuji takes slanderousshots behind her back. He complains to Mrs.
Ota of Chikako’s“Poison”(30), but refuses to confront her. Thus he cannot get her outof his life and his fated oppression is continued. Kikuji’s thoughtsof divergence take hold again when he realizes there is somethingwrong becoming involved with Fumiko. With her he is tormented,“conscious of Fumiko’s mother, Mrs. Ota,”(132) but through hisinaction, Kikuji lets himself be pulled into another devastatingrelationship that ultimately ends in the suicide of his newfound love.
His thoughts symbolized his divergence, yet his inert tendencies keephim on the course life had laid. In One Hundred Years of Solitude, Amaranta Ursula and Aurelianowent beyond assuming tradition by investigating if they were in anywayrelated. In doing this, they made a conscious effort far superior thanany Buendia before them to examine their relationship and prevent theincest. Indeed, they knew the danger associated with incest, so theytried to avoid it. Their efforts, of course, proved in vain. Theirinquiry remained superficial as they “accept(ed) the version of thebasket”(415).
Aureliano Babilonia was trying to “spare themselves”one“terror”(415) but ultimately exchanged it for the true destructionthat fate would bring. The couple had the chance to further probe, butstopped short and took the easy route of fate’s guidance. Thiscomfortable path led them to the final deliverance. Their fate isfulfilled when a child with a tale of a pig is born unto them. Theirhorror is comparative to Kikuji when he learns of Fumiko’s suicide andfinds himself left only with the despised Chikako.
The quest for themost meaningful life had been swiftly cut for these males despitetheir ardent objections. The modern world may not believe in theGrecian Fates, but that doesn’t destroy the value of their underlyingtheme. The Fates were an attempt by men to explain the unexplainable,the coincidences in the odd. In One Hundred Years of Solitude andThousand Cranes there are many events that can’t be explainedrationally, specifically why the male characters continue to repeatactions that promise condemnation. Thus, the character’s efforts toshape his destiny ultimately becomes futile in the face of the desiresof some unknown manipulator- characterized by the theme of Fate.