Study Guide

One Hundred Years of Solitude The Supernatural

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The Supernatural

Because <em>One Hundred Years of Solitude</em> is a magical realist novel, the supernatural is a strong and ever-present element in its plotting and character development. It's a force like the weather, or time: powerful, unstoppable, and beyond the control of most of the novel's characters. Magical effects usually highlight the emotional side of events, but their consequences are almost always negative and destructive. Even in those few instances where the supernatural seems to be beneficial, it almost always turns out to be a pact with the devil for the characters, who suffer immediate reversals of fortune.

Questions About The Supernatural

  1. Can any of the supernatural events in Macondo be explained rationally through science? Do science and magic intersect in the world of the novel? (Hint: think about alchemy.)
  2. Why are the gypsies shown bringing both real objects (magnets, old-timey cameras) and magical devices (flying carpets)?
  3. Magical realism is a genre in which events that would be jaw-dropping in real life are presented as completely mundane and part of everyday experience. Are there events in Macondo that really are jaw-dropping for the town's inhabitants? How are they different from the kinds of things the reader finds incredible? What's the effect of having characters and readers react so differently?
  4. Why the yellow butterflies? Why the invisible doctors? Pick one character with a specific supernatural characteristic, trait, or prop, and explain its significance to this character.

Chew on This

By using a constant stream of predictions, curses, and prophesies that always end up coming true, <em>One Hundred Years of Solitude</em> works against the common perception that revealing twists in the plot (spoiling them, as it were) will make a reader less interested in it.

In the world of Macondo, technology and technological advancement are the true magic. They, and not any of the actual supernatural things that happen, are responsible for all the town's major transformations.

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