Last Updated September 5, 2023.
This book by Gabriel García Márquez is centered around the burial of a detested man (the local doctor) in a fictional village. Most of the narrative is composed of the inner thoughts of three family characters: the Colonel, his daughter Isabel, and her son.
Having his characters reflect upon the past, Marquez provides a description of the dark, dramatic village, Macondo:
There was a ruined village with four poor, dark shops, inhabited by unemployed, gory people tormented by the memory of a blossoming past and by the bitterness of a dull, frozen presence. Nothing else was there in the future except for a grim and worrying Sunday election day.
Once, a banana company was established in the town, but it did not last. When the company left, hope for prosperity and a better life left with it.
By that time the banana company had stopped squeezing us and had left Macondo with the rubbish of the rubbish they'd brought with them. And with them went the leaf storm, the last traces of what prosperous Macondo had been like in 1915. A ruined village was there occupied by unemployed and angry people who were tormented by a prosperous past and the bitterness of an overwhelming and static present.
The doctor had incurred the hatred of the village when he decided to no longer practice medicine and refused to treat wounded men from a civil war who were placed outside his office doors. Thus, when the doctor died, no one wanted to tend to his burial. The Colonel chose to out of obligation.
And he kept the door closed. the anger turned into collective disease which gave no respite to Macondo for the rest of his life.
The following is a statement about the family's perception of living in Macondo:
Everyone will have gone away except us, because we are bound to this soil by a roomful of trunks where the household goods and clothing of grandparents are kept, and the canopies that my parents' horses used when they came to Macondo, fleeing from the war.
Death, and the three characters' different views on death, is a central theme of the novel. The Colonel is realistic toward death, while Isabel is afraid and her son is indifferent towards death.
We have been sown in this soil by the memory of the remote dead, whose bones can no longer be found twenty fathoms under the earth. The trunks have been in the room since the last days of the war; and they will be there this afternoon when we come back from the burial, if that final wind has not passed, the one that will sweep away Macondo, its bedrooms full of lizards and its silent people devastated by memories.