Monday, March 8, 2010

Sexual themes in 100 Years

Up til now, I'm interested in how sex is a major plot-thickening device. There are so many different little tools Marquez implements to get this theme across. Using animals, for instance, to reflect male dominance and rape; for instance, the dogs that accompany the English toward the beginning of the novel are aggressive and invoke fear in Ursula's great-great-grandmother. They're a symbol. The roosters: what's up with them? I feel they do pertain to the role of the male (obviously...) but I think they go beyond that. Maybe the fact that it is the male's decision as to where they go and what they do; but it's also and honor thing. Jose Arcadio Buendia slits their throats to redeem the soul of the ghost who haunts them (his manhood, his pride, perhaps?).

Sexual health seems to be defined by activity. The chastity underwear, the ancestral son with the cut off tail who bleeds to death was a VIRGIN. It seems that Marquez particularly emphasizes that without experiencing sex, one's self is basically incomplete; cannot grow and survive. It's definitely true in a bigger sense, ie, if everyone stops having sex, there's not going to be anymore everyone...

Incest. I'm not 100% sure about this one, but I thought I caught onto it a bit when Ursula was pregnant with Amaranta (I think), she sees her eldest's naked masculine body. From the English version:
"She felt a mingled sense of shame and pity: he was the first man that she had seen naked after her husband, and he was so well-equipped for life that he seemed abnormal. Ursula, pregnant for the third time, relived her newlywed terror."
Ok, so it's not incestuous per se, but it is a reaction that is wholly sexual; a realization of manhood, and her former escapism of the duties of being a 'good wife'... Hmm.


  1. I agree with you that the use of sex in this book is pretty interesting. It seems to me that he changes his language style when he writes about sex, it's less direct and definitive than when he speaks of other things, in other words he uses a lot of euphemisms. Definitely something we should discuss in class.

  2. You are totally right, sex is a huge part of the novel. I like what you say about if one dies a virgin their life is almost incomplete. I wonder how that will play out in the life of Amaranta as the novel progresses.
    Also incest is all over this novel from the marriage of Jose Arcadio and Rebecca, to young Arcadio who attempts to sleep with Pilar Ternera (his mum), to whatever goes on between Amaranta and Aureliano José, etc. And we're not even halfway through the book...

  3. I agree as well, sex is everywhere! And yes, I also believe that incest is very important to the story. I'm pretty sure that the people of Macondo growing pig's tails is a result of incest in the community. I think this is in order to reinforce the idea of christian ideals as well as to reinforce the solitude that is supposed to play a big part in the story. If a town is secluded and there are not enough people to reproduce with, incest is bound to occur eventually, no?

  4. ahhh how about the relation that Amaranta has with Aureliano José (the son of Aureliano and Pilar Ternera. Kissing in the granary!! Such an interesting theme to include in a book. I wonder what GGM's obsession stems from?

  5. Or maybe it's not GGM's obsession with sex, it society's obession with it that he's displaying. His writing clearly stirs up interest in analyzing incest as a taboo and virginity as something that can be respectable or unfortunate. I wonder why the Buendia family in particular resorts to so much incest, some of which is publicly known. I haven't quite figured that out!

  6. Yes, sex is a central theme here--up to and including all kinds of perversions, not just incest but also at one point bestiality. Yet, as you point out, this is hardly an erotic novel: it's direct at times without ever being explicit.

    We will indeed go over this in class at some point. But the importance of the theme surely has to do with the fact that sex is both about procreation, love, and creativity, and yet can also be a source of fear, mistrust, and destruction (the ever-present anxiety about giving birth to a child with the tail of a pig). Sex is profoundly ambivalent here, and yet it permeates the life of the town (and yes, no doubt our lives too, in many different ways).

  7. Sex sex sex. It's definitely everywhere in this novel, as you've pointed out. However, I especially enjoyed how you mentioned the theme of sex being furthered through use of symbols, for example through animals. I had really only thought about the theme of sex being portrayed through Marques' depictions of sexual acts, but hadn't thought about how sex is symbolized in other elements of the novel.