Study Guide

One Hundred Years of Solitude Love

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Remedios went over and asked some questions about the fish that Aureliano could not answer because he was seized with a sudden attack of asthma. He wanted to stay beside that skin forever, beside those emerald eyes, close to that voice that called him "sir" with every question, showing the same respect that she gave her father. […]

That afternoon Aureliano lost the hidden patience with which he had waited for a chance to see her. He neglected his work. In several desperate efforts of concentration he willed her to appear but Remedios did not respond. He looked for her in her sisters' shop, behind the window shades in her house, in her father's office, but he found her only in the image that saturated his private and terrible solitude. He would spend whole hours with Rebeca in the parlor listening to the music on the pianola. She was listening to it because it was the music with which Pietro Crespi had taught them how to dance. Aureliano listened to it simply because everything, even music, reminded him of Remedios. The house became full of love. Aureliano expressed it in poetry that had no beginning or end. He would write it on the harsh pieces of parchment that Melquíades gave him, on the bathroom walls, on the skin of his arms, and in all of it Remedios would appear transfigured: Remedios in the soporific air of two in the afternoon, Remedios in the soft breath of the roses, Remedios in the water-clock secrets of the moths, Remedios in the steaming morning bread, Remedios everywhere and Remedios forever. (4.9-10)

If you can overlook the inappropriateness of a nine-year-old love object, this is about as classic a description of falling in love as you'll find in this novel. That said, the whole can't-eat-can't-sleep thing would make way more sense if Aureliano were, say, fourteen rather than in his 30s. Yeah, gross.

Amaranta's sensibility, her discreet but enveloping tenderness had been weaving an invisible web about her fiancé, which he had to push aside materially with his pale and ringless fingers in order to leave the house at eight o'clock. […] After crossing the ocean in search of it, after having confused passion with the vehement stroking of Rebeca, Pietro Crespi had found love. […]

Pietro Crespi took the sewing basket from her lap and he told her, "We'll get married next month." Amaranta did not tremble at the contact with his icy hands. She withdrew hers like a timid little animal and went back to her work. "Don't be simple, Crespi." She smiled. "I wouldn't marry you even if I were dead." (6.8-9)

This passage is key to understanding the relationships in this novel, namely the part where the narrator tells us that Pietro confused "passion" with "love." He's far from alone: many of the characters in the novel don't seem to understand the difference between sexual attraction and long-term relationship prospects. Can you think of relationships that do and don't fit this model?

Amaranta was really making an effort to kindle in her heart the forgotten ashes of her youthful passion. With an anxiety that came to be intolerable, she waited for the lunch days, the afternoons of Chinese checkers, and time flew by in the company of the warrior with a nostalgic name whose fingers trembled imperceptibly as he moved the pieces. But the day on which Colonel Gerineldo Márquez repeated his wish to marry her, she rejected him.

"I'm not going to marry anyone," she told him, "much less you. You love Aureliano so much that you want to marry me because you can't marry him.

Colonel Gerineldo Márquez was a patient man. "I'll keep on visiting the house." Shut up in her bedroom, biting back her secret tears, Amaranta put her fingers in her ears so as not to hear the voice of the suitor as he gave Úrsula the latest war news, and in spite of the fact that she was dying to see him, she had the strength not to go out and meet him. (7.54-56)

What kind of game is Amaranta playing here? If she's "dying to see" Colonel Gerineldo Márquez,<em> </em>why doesn't she? If you can even halfway explain the box of crazy that is Amaranta, you'll be ahead of us.

Then [Colonel Aureliano Buendía] made one last effort to search in his heart for the place where his affection had rotted away and he could not find it. On another occasion, he felt at least a confused sense of shame when he found the smell of Úrsula on his own skin, and more than once he felt her thoughts interfering with his. But all of that had been wiped out by the war. Even Remedios, his wife. at that moment was a hazy image of someone who might have been his daughter. The countless women he had known on the desert of love and who had spread his seed all along the coast had left no trace in his feelings. Most of them had come into his room in the dark and had left before dawn, and on the following day they were nothing but a touch of fatigue in his bodily memory. The only affection that prevailed against time and the war was that which he had felt for his brother José Arcadio when they both were children, and it was not based on love but on complicity. (9.54)

Check out the transference going on in this passage. Wife to daughter, one-night-stand to fatigue, and even brotherly love to shameful aiding and abetting. The disappearance of love means the dissolving of relationships, to the point that even in Buendía's memory (which in theory deals with facts at least as much as emotions), he can't quite connect people with their roles.

In that way the three of them continued living without bothering each other. Aureliano Segundo, punctual and loving with both of them, Petra Cotes, strutting because of the reconciliation, and Fernanda, pretending that she did not know the truth (11.16)

What does it mean to Aureliano Segundo to "love" both of these women? Why is the companion adjective to "loving" "punctual"? Isn't that a strange juxtaposition?

The relationship of jolly comradeship was born between father and daughter [ . . . ]. Aureliano Segundo postponed any appointments in order to be with Meme, to take her to the movies or the circus, and he spent the greater part of his idle time with her. [ . . . ] The discovery of his daughter restored his former joviality and the pleasure of being with her was slowly leading him away from dissipation. [Petra Cotes] was so annoyed with the comradeship between her lover and his daughter that she did not want anything to do with her. Petra was tormented by an unknown fear, as if instinct were telling her that Meme, by just wanting it, could succeed in what Fernanda had been unable to do: deprive her of a love that by then she considered assured until death. (14.5)

We're digging the comparison between romantic and filial love here. Both kinds of love provide companionship, at least in this situation, where Aureliano Segundo has Petra for wild and crazy party time and Meme for just hanging out. And both kinds of love come with a built-in future. But while sexual love ends with death, as Petra realizes, filial love implies a future beyond death and into the next generation.

</em>[Meme] lost her mind over [Mauricio Babilonia]. She could not sleep and she lost her appetite and sank so deeply into solitude […]. At first his crudeness bothered her. The first time that they were alone on the deserted fields behind the garage he pulled her mercilessly into an animal state that left her exhausted. It took her a time to realize that it was also a form of tenderness and it was then that she lost her calm and lived only for him, upset by the desire to sink into his stupefying odor of grease washed off by lye. A short time before the death of Amaranta she suddenly stumbled into an open space of lucidity within the madness and she trembled before the uncertainty of the future. Then she heard about a woman who made predictions from cards and went to see her in secret. It was Pilar Ternera [who told her with] aggressive realism that the anxiety of falling in love could not find repose except in bed. It was the same point of view as Mauricio Babilonia's, but Meme resisted believing it because underneath it all she imagined that it had been inspired by the poor judgment of a mechanic. (14.29)

Pilar makes a connection between love and sex, which is (ha ha) what Mauricio has apparently been saying to Meme all along. What makes her trust the opinion of a fortuneteller over that of a mechanic? Are there other conversations about romantic love between women in the novel? How do they compare with Pilar's "aggressive realism"?

For Petra Cotes, however, [Aureliano Segundo] had never been a better man than at that time, perhaps because the pity that he inspired was mixed with love, and because of the feeling of solidarity that misery aroused in both of them. […] [T]hey would stay up very late with the innocence of two sleepless grandparents, taking advantage of the time to draw up accounts and put away pennies which they formerly wasted just for the sake of it. […] Those rites of poverty were so pure that they nearly always set aside the largest share for Fernanda, and they did not do so out of remorse or charity, but because her well-being was more important to them than their own. What was really happening to them, although neither of them realized it, was that they both thought of Fernanda as the daughter that they would have liked to have and never did, to the point where on a certain occasion they resigned themselves to eating crumbs for three days so that she could buy a Dutch tablecloth. […] [H]e dug so deeply into her sentiments that in search of interest he found love, because by trying to make her love him he ended up falling in love with her. Petra Cotes, for her part, loved him more and more as she felt his love increasing, and that was how in the ripeness of autumn she began to believe once more in the youthful superstition that poverty was the servitude of love. Both looked back then on the wild revelry, the gaudy wealth, and the unbridled fornication as an annoyance and they lamented that it had cost them so much of their lives to find the paradise of shared solitude. Finally in love after so many years of sterile complicity, they enjoyed the miracle of loving each other as much at the table as in bed, and they grew to be so happy that even when they were two worn-out old people they kept on blooming like little children and playing together like dogs. (17.7)

There are several interesting things in this passage: (1) Fernanda is the daughter Petra Cotes and Aureliano Segundo never had? What on earth? Your guess is as good as ours. (2) What exactly is it that these two end up sharing with each other? For all the talk of a finally discovered love, we also get the odd note that what they really like is the "shared solitude," which certainly doesn't sound very much like companionship. And (3) what do you make of the language at the end of the passage? We've seen this before with descriptions of violence (see the quote about the banana company massacre under "Warfare"), but here it's love that turns mature adults into "little children" and then even "dogs." There are some positive resonances in that description, but it's also a little creepy and disturbing.

Then [Aureliano (II)] thought that Gaston was not as foolish as he appeared, but, quite the contrary, was a man of infinite steadiness, ability, and patience who had set about to conquer his wife with the weariness of eternal agreement, of never saying no, of simulating a limitless conformity, letting her become enmeshed in her own web until the day she could no longer bear the tedium of the illusions close at hand and would pack the bags herself to go back to Europe. Aureliano's former pity turned into a violent dislike. Gaston's system seemed so perverse to him, but at the same time so effective, that he ventured to warn Amaranta Úrsula. She made fun of his suspicions, however, without even noticing the heavy weight of love, uncertainty, and jealousy that he had inside. It had not occurred to her that she was arousing something more than fraternal affection m Aureliano until she pricked her finger trying to open a can of peaches and he dashed over to suck the blood out with an avidity and a devotion that sent a chill up her spine. (19.17)

The relationship here develops into arguably the best one in the book in terms of love and possibility. But from the beginning we get these descriptions that stress the negative undertones underlying what, on the surface, seems to be the real thing. Here, for example, this weird vampiric image of Aureliano (II) sucking out Amaranta Úrsula's blood is an odd foreshadowing of the way she will die and fact that she is a lifeline for him.

Upset by two nostalgias facing each other like two mirrors, [the bookstore owner] lost his marvelous sense of unreality and ended up recommending to [Aureliano (II) and his group of friends] that they leave Macondo, that they forget everything he had taught them about the world and the human heart, that they s*** on Horace, and that wherever they might be they always remember that the past was a lie, that memory has no return, that every spring gone by could never be recovered, and that the wildest and most tenacious love was an ephemeral truth in the end. (20.6)

There's an argument to be made that this is actually one of the ways to read this book: that all love is necessarily fleeting and that, because of the way memory works, all history ends up being false and flawed. Can you find any counterexamples?

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