Study Guide

Rebeca in One Hundred Years of Solitude

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Yet another case of almost-incest: an orphan adopted by José Arcadio Buendía and Úrsula at age twelve, Rebeca grows up to marry her adoptive brother José Arcadio (II) and become a pariah in Macondo.

Let's Talk about Sex

We've thought about a bunch of characters already, and have yet to really discuss the whole s-e-x thematics in this novel. It's only on every page of the book, so hey, no time like the present.

Rebeca's character is a pretty interesting figure to use when thinking about the way sexuality and desire fit into the novel. Up until her whole deal with José Arcadio (II), we really only see men acting on their urges: José Arcadio Buendía taking off Úrsula's chastity belt; both of his sons muscling their way into Pilar Ternera's pants. Here the tables are turned: it's Rebeca who is the aggressor, or at least the initiator, of her sexual relationships.

First she tries to accelerate the whole Pietro-Crespi-proposal business by overcoming his shy nature and making out with him in public. Then she really goes for broke with José Arcadio (II) when she confronts him in his bedroom to force the issue of their obvious desire for each other.

So the question is, what's different about Rebeca and the other women in the novel who are active sexual beings rather than just passive receptacles of male desire? (We're thinking Meme and Amaranta Úrsula could also fit into this category.) Is this a close-up view of what female desire looks like – basically just as all-consuming as male desire? Are there differences?

Can we make any generalizations about the minor female characters we see in the novel: for instance, the brothel girls who pay to sleep with José Arcadio (II) after being impressed by his endowment, versus the brothel girls who are prostitutes because they are hungry? And how do both these groups compare with the women who get with Colonel Aureliano Buendía when he's out warring?

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