This guy's not a Buendía, so he's a little saner than the rest of the gang. The head of a gypsy caravan that travels through Macondo, Melquíades introduces José Arcadio Buendía to the technology of the outside world. Later, he comes back from the dead to compose a series of manuscripts that turn out to predict the entire history of the Buendía family.
Melquíades is definitely the novel's most magical person. That's saying something in a novel where most people experience some kind of magic. Let's count the ways reality doesn't seem to apply to this gypsy:
- One of the inventions he brings to town is a flying carpet.
- He cures the town's insomnia/amnesia plague with some kind of magic potion.
- He comes back from the dead.
- He comes back from the dead several times.
- Last, but certainly not least, he writes manuscripts in a multiply coded cipher (encoded Spanish translated into Sanskrit!). It turns out to be a kind of Nostradamus-like prophecy about the whole history of the Buendía family. Impressive.
Gabriel García Melquíades?
It's hard to get much of a handle on Melquíades' personality. Could you really describe him in terms of human traits? Not so much. Shmoop thinks this nondescript quality is deeply connected to the fact that the novel turns very meta-fictional at the end, what with Aureliano reading the exact same thing we ourselves are reading, at the very same moment.
Shmoop brain snack: "meta-fictional" is the adjective we use to describe art that is self-referential, that kind of winks to the audience, saying yeah, this is all an artificial construct rather than an actual other world. A great example is the movie Stranger than Fiction, in which a guy comes to realize that he is actually a character in a novel.
That means that the novel and Melquíades' manuscripts are one and the same. So is Melquíades secretly the narrator of our book? Have we been reading his manuscripts all along and not the words of a more traditional disembodied narrator? If so, does that change how we interpret any of the text?