One Hundred Years of Solitude
How we cite our quotes:
The gypsy was inclined to stay in the town. He really had been through death, but he had returned because he could not bear the solitude. (3.16)
Several times, death – or rather, the afterlife – is shown to be a lonely place, which is ironic since so many of the living characters in the novel crave solitude.
"Prudencio," he exclaimed. "You've come from a long way off! After many years of death the yearning for the living was so intense, the need for company so pressing, so terrifying the nearness of that other death which exists within death, that Prudencio Aguilar had ended up loving his worst enemy. He had spent a great deal of time looking for him. He asked the dead from Riohacha about him, the dead who came from the Upar Valley, those who came from the swamp, and no one could tell him because Macondo was a town that was unknown to the dead until Melquíades arrived and marked it with a small black dot on the motley maps of death. (4.38)
What do you make of the complicated cosmology of the afterlife García Márquez invents here? The dead are shown leading more or less the same kind of existence as the living – they have maps! – just in a sadder and drabber way. Also, apparently there is another death within this afterlife world. Is that the death of a person's memory?
At dawn, after a summary court-martial, Arcadio was shot against the wall of the cemetery. In the last two hours of his life he did not manage to understand why the fear that had tormented him since childhood had disappeared. Impassive, without even worrying about making a show of his recent bravery, he listened to the interminable charges of the accusation. He thought about Úrsula, who at that hour must have been under the chestnut tree having coffee with José Arcadio Buendía. He thought about his eight-month-old daughter, who still had no name, and about the child who was going to be born in August. He thought about Santa Sofía de la Piedad, whom he had left the night before salting down a deer for next day's lunch, and he missed her hair pouring over her shoulders and her eyelashes, which looked as if they were artificial. He thought about his people without sentimentality, with a strict dosing of his accounts with life, beginning to understand how much he really loved the people he hated most. […] In the shattered schoolhouse where for the first time he had felt the security of power, a few feet from the room where he had come to know the uncertainty of love, Arcadio found the formality of death ridiculous. Death really did not matter to him but life did, and therefore the sensation he felt when they gave their decision was not a feeling of fear but of nostalgia. (6.31)
After Arcadio rethinks his life and realizes how much love he has for the people in it, the finality of his execution seems like a silly formality rather than a momentous occasion. What is Arcadio nostalgic for if his childhood was marked mainly by fear and he is only now at peace?