One Hundred Years of Solitude
by Gabriel García Márquez
This lady gets around. A fortune-teller and then a madam in a brothel, Pilar is intimately involved with all of the generations of the Buendía family. She has children with some of them, helps others find wives, and lives to be over 150 years old.
The Buendías are a pretty crazy bunch, right? Imagine if the novel were just about them: it would be kind of hard to read because there'd be no relief from the frenzy. So every now and then we get characters like Pilar, who act as a steadying influence – a rock to help ease some of the mega-drama.
Let's Get Real
Pilar doesn't seem to be a very realistic character. And not just because she can tell the future and lives far longer than any real human could. She is a woman along the lines of Úrsula: selfless, giving, industrious, and determined. But in Pilar's case, these qualities don't really get her much, other than a lot of abuse and trauma at the hands of the very same Buendías she tries to help.
Let's count the ways. She sleeps with José Arcadio (II) and his brother mostly out of pity. She has kids by both of them, gives both of those kids up, and they never even learn that she is their mother. Then one of them, Arcadio, tries to sleep with her! She gives up her life savings to buy him a wife. And so on, and so forth.
So what do you think – does Pilar make sense as a character? Or does her role as the novel's structural "fixer" for the family prevent her from developing into realistic figure?