METAPHORS AND SYMBOLS IN ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE
One Hundred Years of Solitude, written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, is a novel which follows seven generations of the Buendia family, as well as the rise and eventual demise of Macondo. It is rooted in history and magical realism and dwells deeply in political turmoil and resistance. It begins with the originators of the Buendia family, Jose Arcadio and his wife (who is also his cousin, a theme which will be returned to over and over throughout the story) Ursula. They create Macondo and, throughout the years and generations, build the world that sees rebellion and uprising, bloodshed and upheaval. It is a generational novel that displays, in a microcosmic way, the fears and uncertainty of a world that is constantly changing and developing, one that leaves a wake of change and revolution and, inevitably, ends in isolation and sadness. There are a number of symbols and metaphors in One Hundred Years of Solitude which are key components in the storyline. These all represent abstracts concepts which play a role in the developing narrative.
SMALL GOLDEN FISH
The first is the symbolism of the goldfishes. Colonel Aureliano Buendia, the son of Jose and Ursula, who becomes a symbol of independence and rebellion during the civil wars, is a prophetic man who is affected deeply and empathetically by the outside world and, eventually, cannot bear to be a part of it. He has seventeen sons, each of whom he gives a small goldfish as a symbol of his love but, ultimately these fish are a symbol of misplaced ideals and dreams for the future. Throughout the novel, these fish are used as relics, as currency and as messages of the resistance. They also represent the dashed hopes and bitter reality that Aureliano finally faces of the crumbling world around him. There is a point in the story when he realizes what these fish represent and he begins melting down each of them, symbolizing a release of the old perceptions and a surrender to the new.
The railroad in the novel represents the ever present threat of the modern world, which threatens and eventually succeeds in infiltrating Macondo and the Buendia family altogether. The railroad brings the onslaught of modernity, the harrowing massacre of workers on the banana plantation, isolation and, ultimately, the death ofMacondo. It is a turning point in the story, one which leads to an acknowledgment of time passing and modernity encroaching.
THE COLOR YELLOW
Throughout the novel, colors play a large role in the developing storyline, especially yellow and gold. The train which brings the eventual demise of the family is yellow. Yellow often precludes or is associated with death for a number of the characters. Bananas, the ruination of the Buendia family, as well as of Macondo. The golden chamber pot brought by a visitor to Macondo which at first seems to connote status and class ends up being simply gold plated and, n effect, worthless. It is a recurrent color which always hints at something terrible or disastrous for the characters and the storyline.
Throughout the novel, we see allusions to these symbols and metaphors. Marquez uses them to illustrate the cruelty of modernity and the eventuality of death and what is to come.