One Hundred Years of Solitude Theme of Wisdom and Knowledge
Much like memory, wisdom and knowledge are shown to be cyclically lost and regained in the One Hundred Years of Solitude. Each successive generation needs to be educated, which requires adults who care enough to facilitate that process. Then there's the willful decision to turn a blind eye to unpleasant facts. By the end of the novel, Macondo has tragically devolved into a state of ignorance, illustrated by the way people are once again fascinated by simple displays of magnets.
Questions About Wisdom and Knowledge
- Does any character consider himself knowledgeable? Wise? Do they share or hoard their knowledge and wisdom? Why?
- Who in the novel has rigid and inflexible beliefs that are meant to stand in place of knowledge? Whose knowledge and understanding are more shifting and flexible as new information filters in? Is one of these styles of thought shown to be superior to the other?
- Which characters' understanding and reason changes during the course of the novel? How and under what influence?
Chew on This
Wisdom and knowledge seem to be divided between the genders in this novel. Men have more knowledge (technical knowhow, news of the outside world) but women have wisdom (insight into how things and people work, and how to sustain life).
Knowledge is shown to be entirely useless in the novel unless it's also accompanied by wisdom. Those characters who acquire knowledge (for instance, those who are taught by Melquíades) tend to be useless recluses who cannot apply what they know to their lives.