One Hundred Years of Solitude
How we cite our quotes:
The rumor that [Colonel Aureliano Buendía] did not want to hear anything about the situation in the country because he was growing rich in his workshop made Úrsula laugh when it reached her ears. With her terrible practical sense she could not understand the colonel's business as he exchanged little fishes for gold coins and then converted the coins into little fishes, and so on, with the result that he had to work all the harder with the more he sold in order to satisfy an exasperating vicious circle. Actually, what interested him was not the business but the work. He needed so much concentration to link scales, fit minute rubies into the eyes, laminate gills, and put on fins that there was not the smallest empty moment left for him to fill with his disillusionment of the war. So absorbing was the attention required by the delicacy of his artistry that in a short time he had aged more than during all the years of the war, and his position had twisted his spine and the close work had used up his eyesight, but the implacable concentration awarded him with a peace of the spirit. (10.36)
There's an interesting distinction here between "work" and "business." "Business" implies a forward progress. You make fish to earn a profit, ostensibly to spend in some other aspect of life. But "work" is more like what we've seen with housework: repetitive, demanding, and without much forward progress beyond the immediate accomplishment of the task at hand. "Business" is linear, a straight line, while "work" goes on and on in a circular cycle.
[W]hen [Meme] sat down at the clavichord she became a different girl, one whose unforeseen maturity gave her the air of an adult. That was how she had always been. She really did not have any definite vocation, but she had earned the highest grades by means of an inflexible discipline simply in order not to annoy her mother. They could have imposed on her an apprenticeship in any other field and the results would have been the same. […] During the graduation ceremonies she had the impression that the parchment with Gothic letters and illuminated capitals was freeing her from a compromise that she had accepted not so much out of obedience as out of convenience, [but] her mother still invited to the house every newcomer whom she thought capable of appreciating her daughter's virtues. Only after the death of Amaranta, when the family shut itself up again in a period of mourning, was Meme able to lock the clavichord and forget the key in some dresser drawer without Fernanda's being annoyed on finding out when and through whose fault it had been lost. Meme bore up under the exhibitions with the same stoicism that she had dedicated to her apprenticeship. It was the price of her freedom. (14.2)
Think about this passage the next time you don't feel like practicing your musical instrument. Maybe it will buy you some freedom in the rest of your life!
Fernanda's indignation also grew, until her eventual protests, her infrequent outbursts came forth in an uncontained, unchained torrent that began one morning like the monotonous drone of a guitar and as the day advanced rose in pitch, richer and more splendid. [Aureliano Segundo] did not interrupt her until late in the afternoon, when he could no longer bear the echo of the bass drum that was tormenting his head. […]
Then Aureliano Segundo lost control. He stood up unhurriedly, as if he only intended to stretch, and with a perfectly regulated and methodical fury he grabbed the pots with the begonias one after the other, those with the ferns, the oregano, and one after the other he smashed them onto the floor. Fernanda was frightened because until then she had really not had a clear indication of the tremendous inner force of her singsong, but it was too late for any attempt at rectification. Intoxicated by the uncontained torrent of relief, Aureliano Segundo broke the glass on the china closet and piece by piece, without hurrying, he took out the chinaware and shattered it on the floor. Systematically, serenely, in the same parsimonious way in which he had papered the house with banknotes, he then set about smashing the Bohemian crystal ware against the walls, the hand-painted vases, the pictures of maidens in flower-laden boats, the mirrors in their gilded frames, everything that was breakable, from parlor to pantry, and he finished with the large earthen jar in the kitchen, which exploded in the middle of the courtyard with a hollow boom. (16.14,18)
So what do we make of this scene of methodical, determined, calm ranting, followed by similarly methodical and calm destruction? Are these two people engaged in an argument with each other? With themselves? With life? Why does neither of them stop?