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Themes

<em>One Hundred Years of Solitude</em> uses the real-life civil wars that plagued Colombia for decades as the basis for Colonel Aureliano Buendía's rebellion. It also uses the historically factual massacre of banana plantation workers by soldiers colluding with the United Fruit Company as the basis for the novel's massacre. This historical borrowing allows García Márquez to take a somewhat heavy-handed approach to war. War is branded, at best, as a pointless exercise for showing an unflagging commitment to a cause, and at worst the most brutal and savage kind of violence that humans can perpetrate against each other.

Questions About Warfare

  1. In One Hundred Years of Solitude, there is a lot of tension between political and military power. Why is this? Who ultimately has control over the direction of the civil war? How do you know?
  2. One of the unquestioned principles of the book is that war is inherently irrational and dehumanizing. (Check out how Colonel Aureliano Buendía is shown literally becoming less and less human the longer he fights.) Does the novel take any other clear moral stands?
  3. How does political violence shape the way people perceive reality in the novel? How is Colonel Aureliano Buendía viewed during the civil war? After the war? How is the banana plantation viewed before and after the massacre? Why?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The book is torn between its clear distaste for war as a solution to political problems and its clear admiration of individual feats of bravery performed in battle.

The moment of greatest moral decay in the book comes when the townspeople refuse to believe José Arcadio Segundo's story about the banana workers' massacre. At this point we know that Macondo is completely doomed.

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