Machismo In One Hundred Years Of Solitude

. Essay, Research Paper

Latin American countries are known worldwide for their lush rain forests, unique cuisine, extravagant fiestas, and the enormous potential of their human and natural resources. Unfortunately, Latin America’s international identity and its people have suffered decades of military dictatorship, oppressive governments, and years of slavery along with the attempted genocide of its indigenous people. These horrifying aspects hae time and time again assaulted Latin America’s most prized institution: the family. The cult of machismo has had a negative impact on many helpless people in these regions. Although authoritarianism has slowly been giving way to democracy, Latin America has indefinately been marred by decades of despotic rule and swaggering, fornicating, testosterone-loaded men.

Latin America’s frightening history has been beautifully delineated be Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In using the tainted image of the Latin American male as their vehicle, this essay will deal with specific ills Marquez was concerned about in his respective country: the tragic results of machismo.

Authoritarianism, or perhaps one of its greatest bi-products, machismo, is omnipresent throughout “One Hundred Years of Solitude”. Machismo is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as: “exaggeratedly assertive manliness; a show of masculinity.” Colonel Aureliano Buendia best exemplifies this definition. Marquez uses the Colonel’s amoral, irrational actions and behaviour to reveal the terrible consequences of machismo.

Aureliano inquires about sexual activity at a very young age. He begins to gradually comprehend what his older brother is experiencing wiht Pilar Ternera. Of course it is only human nature for young Aureliano to let curiosity overcome him and to ask questions, especially having an older brother whom he admires and respects as a role model. This is indeed the case with Aureliano and his brother Jose Arcadio, who in a way, begins to tutor Aureliano. When enquiring about Jose Arcadio’s sex life, he asks his older brother, “What does it feel like?” Jose gave him an immediate reply, “it’s like an earthquake.” (One Hundred Years of Solitude, pp.30-31). A young, impressionable boy is obviously going to be somewhat aroused or overwhelmed by this type of remark, especially using evocative words like “earthquake”. Thus, it is safe to assume that Jose Arcadio has influenced Aureliano in a negative way. He simply knows more than he should at such a ripe, impressionable age. An age at which most of what is learned, remains imbedded in one’s life.

Later on in the novel we see him slowly adopting another typical characteristic of machismo, “About that time he had begun to cultivate the black moustache with waxed tips and the somewhat stentorian voice that would characterize him in the war.” (One Hundred Years of Solitude, p.59). With these physical characteristics provided, it is clear young Aureliano with his stentorian voice and waxed black moustache is already growing into some sort of militaristic, macho type. Saddam Hussein of Fidel Castro immediately comes to mind in comparison to the portrait of young Aureliano. This picture of Aureliano is somewhat of a stereotype but is one with which the twentieth century is familiar.

Aureliano’s authoritarian proclivities aside, it is clear he is best personified by the cult of machismo. This is evident with his infatuation of Remedios. His lust for such a young girl is completely perverse and is obviously paedophilic in nature. Whatever his intentions may be, he firmly believes she is the epitome of beauty and most importantly youth, “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.” (One Hundred Years of Solitude, p.68). Conversely, Aureliano might have fallen in love at first sight, which would be acceptable in most cases. And it may have been politically correct to bed or wed such a young girl in those days. Albeit, his intentions are quite clear despite the fact he later marries her. Later that same day after drinking quitw heavily with his friends for much of the night, he finds himself at Pilar Ternera’s home, “Aureliano checked his feet and raised his head. He did not know how hw had come there, but he knew what his aim was, because he had carried it hidden since infancy in an inviolable backwater of his heart.” (One Hundred Years of Solitude, p.69). Aureliano’s experience with Pilar Ternera did not reflect any aspect of love, he was persuaded by a carnal drive. Aureliano’s story is simple: he is a young man anticipating going out and drinking with his friends, and later finding a woman, young or old, to have sex with. Pilar Ternera sleeps with him out of pity, but his intentions are clear. He leaves her place feeling rejuvinated. His one night love affair with Pilar Ternera establishes his virility even though he speaks very poetically of Remedios and longs to be with her.

Colonel Aureliano Buendia instigated many uprisings travelling to every corner of the land, not only causing harm to those he injured or killedin these rebellions, but also to the precisely seventeen different women he seduced and to have seventeen boys he carelessly sired, and just as carelessly abandonned, “Then Colonel Aureliano Buendia took down the bar and saw at the door seventeen men of the most varied appearance, of all types and colors, but all with a solitary air that would have been enough to identify them anywhere on earth.” (One Hundred Years of Solitude, p.221). The humiliation and hardships, and ultimately, violence, experienced by the women and children who were the helpless victims of the Colonel’s brutality demonstrate clearly the adverse consequences of the cult of machismoon those elements of society that men like Buendia should be protecting.

Colonel Aureliano Buendia procreated with abandon. He carelessly brought seventeen boys into the world and chose not to associate with them. Ironically, all seventeen of his sons were just as carelessly murdered, “During the course pf the week, at different places along the coast, his seventeen sons were hunted down like rabbits by invisible criminals who aimed at the center of their crosses of ash.” (One Hundred Years of Solitude, p.245). These slayings were committed because of the victims’ relation to their father and the years of rebellious uprisings he had caused. These seventeen unfortunate mendid not realize just what their father had done to them. Their father shared in bringing them into the world, and likewise shared in their demise.

Cololel Aurelaino Buendia is the personification of fear that chooses to oppress helpless victims: women, children, terrified and powerless populations. He is a ruthless, evil man content with grabbing and keeping power. Due to the Colonel’s behaviour, the image of man in these particular societies is a severely tainted one.


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