| Quote #7
[Meme] lost her mind over [Mauricio Babilonia]. She could not sleep and she lost her appetite and sank so deeply into solitude […]. At first his crudeness bothered her. The first time that they were alone on the deserted fields behind the garage he pulled her mercilessly into an animal state that left her exhausted. It took her a time to realize that it was also a form of tenderness and it was then that she lost her calm and lived only for him, upset by the desire to sink into his stupefying odor of grease washed off by lye. A short time before the death of Amaranta she suddenly stumbled into an open space of lucidity within the madness and she trembled before the uncertainty of the future. Then she heard about a woman who made predictions from cards and went to see her in secret. It was Pilar Ternera [who told her with] aggressive realism that the anxiety of falling in love could not find repose except in bed. It was the same point of view as Mauricio Babilonia's, but Meme resisted believing it because underneath it all she imagined that it had been inspired by the poor judgment of a mechanic. (14.29)
Pilar makes a connection between love and sex, which is (ha ha) what Mauricio has apparently been saying to Meme all along. What makes her trust the opinion of a fortuneteller over that of a mechanic? Are there other conversations about romantic love between women in the novel? How do they compare with Pilar's "aggressive realism"?
| Quote #8
For Petra Cotes, however, [Aureliano Segundo] had never been a better man than at that time, perhaps because the pity that he inspired was mixed with love, and because of the feeling of solidarity that misery aroused in both of them. […] [T]hey would stay up very late with the innocence of two sleepless grandparents, taking advantage of the time to draw up accounts and put away pennies which they formerly wasted just for the sake of it. […] Those rites of poverty were so pure that they nearly always set aside the largest share for Fernanda, and they did not do so out of remorse or charity, but because her well-being was more important to them than their own. What was really happening to them, although neither of them realized it, was that they both thought of Fernanda as the daughter that they would have liked to have and never did, to the point where on a certain occasion they resigned themselves to eating crumbs for three days so that she could buy a Dutch tablecloth. […] [H]e dug so deeply into her sentiments that in search of interest he found love, because by trying to make her love him he ended up falling in love with her. Petra Cotes, for her part, loved him more and more as she felt his love increasing, and that was how in the ripeness of autumn she began to believe once more in the youthful superstition that poverty was the servitude of love. Both looked back then on the wild revelry, the gaudy wealth, and the unbridled fornication as an annoyance and they lamented that it had cost them so much of their lives to find the paradise of shared solitude. Finally in love after so many years of sterile complicity, they enjoyed the miracle of loving each other as much at the table as in bed, and they grew to be so happy that even when they were two worn-out old people they kept on blooming like little children and playing together like dogs. (17.7)
There are several interesting things in this passage: (1) Fernanda is the daughter Petra Cotes and Aureliano Segundo never had? What on earth? Your guess is as good as ours. (2) What exactly is it that these two end up sharing with each other? For all the talk of a finally discovered love, we also get the odd note that what they really like is the "shared solitude," which certainly doesn't sound very much like companionship. And (3) what do you make of the language at the end of the passage? We've seen this before with descriptions of violence (see the quote about the banana company massacre under "Warfare"), but here it's love that turns mature adults into "little children" and then even "dogs." There are some positive resonances in that description, but it's also a little creepy and disturbing.
| Quote #9
Then [Aureliano (II)] thought that Gaston was not as foolish as he appeared, but, quite the contrary, was a man of infinite steadiness, ability, and patience who had set about to conquer his wife with the weariness of eternal agreement, of never saying no, of simulating a limitless conformity, letting her become enmeshed in her own web until the day she could no longer bear the tedium of the illusions close at hand and would pack the bags herself to go back to Europe. Aureliano's former pity turned into a violent dislike. Gaston's system seemed so perverse to him, but at the same time so effective, that he ventured to warn Amaranta Úrsula. She made fun of his suspicions, however, without even noticing the heavy weight of love, uncertainty, and jealousy that he had inside. It had not occurred to her that she was arousing something more than fraternal affection m Aureliano until she pricked her finger trying to open a can of peaches and he dashed over to suck the blood out with an avidity and a devotion that sent a chill up her spine. (19.17)
The relationship here develops into arguably the best one in the book in terms of love and possibility. But from the beginning we get these descriptions that stress the negative undertones underlying what, on the surface, seems to be the real thing. Here, for example, this weird vampiric image of Aureliano (II) sucking out Amaranta Úrsula's blood is an odd foreshadowing of the way she will die and fact that she is a lifeline for him.