Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Why all the incest?

So today a friend of mine asked me, "Why does all of our class work have to be about either feminism, incest, or both?" This, of course, is false. About 5% of the time we discuss feces or wet dreams about the Virgin Mary (I'm looking at you, Stephen Daedalus). But I digress. Basically, it got me thinking about why incest is such a prominent theme in the literature we choose to study, specifically One Hundred Years of Solitude. With our discussion of the different meanings of "solitude" today, I considered how in a sense SOLITUDE = ISOLATIONIST = KEEP IT IN THE FAMILY. The incestuous trend in the Buendia family is their way of staying solitary even within the community of Macondo. Also, not too get too gross here, but the incest in the book in a sense is generations "coming together," playing directly into Marquez's mushed-together conception of time. As repulsive as the topic is to me, I also find it fascinating how Marquez uses incest to add layers of meaning to the themes and title of the book.


Breuna Westry said...

Well Iris. Incest is win-cest. Even though that the incest is crazy and a taboo. How many people did that to keep families royal by divine descent. I'm not condoning it, but if we take it from a Christian standpoint aren't we all brothers and sisters taking part in sexual relations?

Iris Mire said...

Yes, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ from the Christian perspective. However, I don't think that that was ever meant to have any genetic bearing. The taboo on incest is largely due to the negative genetic consequences of incest. Less genetic variation means fewer chances for each individual to "correct" for disorders or negative traits. The closer two individuals are genetically related, the more likely they are to have multiple alleles for negative traits. Thus, even if we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, the genetic consequences of breeding with your sibling, parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle far outweigh those of breeding with a third cousin once removed or other distant relative.

Sri Korrapati said...

So, guess what? Incest was a part of so many cultures up until recently. Nowadays, incest is taboo, but during the reign of Ammamma (my grandmother) it was not. Her brother, my great uncle, married her daughter, my aunt. My great uncle is also my uncle. Their daughter is my cousin sister, but also my mother's cousin sister! My mom's cousin is also her niece. So does that make my mom and me like second cousin's in law? What about my cousin sister's son, Hemanth (some of you know him, I'm sorry for that). He is both my mother's cousin nephew and my cousin nephew. He is also less than three years younger than me.
Anyway, the point is that when Úrsula was at the age of marriage, incest was more common. It's not surprising that her family is just learning of these negative consequences. Not only does he use incest as a type of solitude, he also uses incest to keep his book realistic.