Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


Macondo (ma-COHN-doh). Fictional inland town in Colombia that is not far from the coast. Critics generally agree that Macondo is modeled after Gabriel García Márquez’s hometown of Aracataca, Colombia. Indeed, a nearby banana plantation was named Macondo. In the novel, Macondo is founded by an expedition led by the Buendía family who, after crossing mountains and looking for a new outlet to the sea, finally decide to simply stop and settle. The novel describes the town in terms reminiscent of Eden: It is a town so young that no one is older than thirty and no one has died. The town of Macondo is isolated from the outside world, except for the band of gypsies led by Melquíades, who ride through the air on carpets and bring the wonders of the world to the townspeople.

The novel is organized around the development of the town. The first five chapters detail the founding and early years of Macondo. This is then followed by four chapters describing military uprisings, civil wars, and revolutions. The next five chapters represent a period of prosperity for the town, with a concurrent loss of innocence. The final chapters reveal the inner decadence of the town and its final destruction in a whirlwind.

While the novel is fantastic and magical, it also reveals significant information about the history of Colombia, particularly in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. During the years between 1884 and 1902, Colombia experienced three civil wars. The events of the novel parallel this period of Columbian history...

(The entire section is 640 words.)