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Symbolism in One Hundred Years of Solitude

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Symbolism in One Hundred Years of SolitudeThe most famous piece of writing by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude is a novel that tells the story of a Colombian family’s experiences, centered on the patriarch’s willingness to create a new world and life for his family in his own image. There are numerous symbols used throughout the course of the novel, some of which are immediately obvious to the reader and others that are more obscure. One symbol that can be seen throughout the course of the novel as a whole is the group of small gold fishes that Colonel Aureliano Buendia makes. Initially, the reader sees these fishes as symbolic of his creative nature and his ability to create the world around him. When he gives these to his sons, they are symbolic of the influence he has had on them and their individual lives. Over time, though, the symbolism of the fishes wanes, no longer representing Aureliano and instead taking on little value. At this realization, he no longer crafts them himself, but merely melts old ones to create new ones. He has lost his desire and his ability to shape the world around him, symbolized in the way he interacts with the fishes.

The railroad is also a symbol in this novel. When the railroad is built, it symbolizes the connection between Macondo, the world created by Aureliano, and the outside world. However, just as Macondo was created to serve as an escape from the perils of the outside world, this newly-built connection brings misfortune with it. A banana plantation soon arises, and a series of shameful events occurs, including the massacre of thousands of workers. After a period of time, these negative components disappear, and with it go the railroad, once again leaving Macondo in a state of isolation, something that distances it from the potential perils of the rest of the world. The book itself is a symbol of man’s desire to control his world. The lessons provided by the character’s experiences, however, explain the interconnectedness of man and his environment as well as the benefits and drawbacks that are associated with such a linkage.

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