Saturday, February 28, 2015

Memory

Memory has been a big theme in many of the books that we've read this year. Morrison's usage of memory in Beloved somewhat reminds me of Marquez's usage of memory in One Hundred Years of Solitude.

In both novels, oral tradition and the background of the characters is very important. Both authors were fascinated by their history being passed down through oral stories. I think that this contributes to the way the two novels are styled. Bonnie mentioned in class that she noticed Morrison will mention a character by name multiple times before she actually explains who they are. This style choice echoes oral story telling because when retelling oral stories, the listeners would be familiar with the stories and characters in them. Beloved is also not written in chronological order, just like One Hundred Years of Solitude. Similarly, when stories are being told orally, they aren't told in perfect chronological order every time. A person may forget a detail and then have to return to the point they were previously making in order to more fully explain.

Although the style of Beloved and One Hundred Years of Solitude are similar, I do think the way the two authors treat memory is quite different. In One Hundred Years of Solitude, memory is revered. The importance of memory is revealed when the town becomes infected with insomnia and the people in it begin to lose their memories. However, in Beloved, people, especially Sethe, try to forget the painful memories of their past as a coping mechanism.

5 comments:

Sri Korrapati said...

I definitely agree with everything you say! Besides for the magical realism, memory is another important part in both of these books. I really love how you mention people having to come back to a memory because they forgot a detail before hand. It makes perfect sense and that aspect of storytelling makes this stream of conscienceness novel very realistic to me. Also the whole contrasting view of memory is interesting to me. Beloved characters can't help but remember a past they want to forget yet Marquez's characters struggle to remember a past they tried hard not to forget. The whole thing with Ursula trying to remind the family that incest is not Wincest comes back to me. The Buendias try to tell each other the past while I feel like my initial impression was that Sethe didn't want to tell Denver the past, and Denver doesn't want to know.

Tiffany Tavassoli said...

I think your point about the chronology of story telling and how not everything is in order in On Hundred Years of Solitude and Beloved is really true and interesting. While reading Beloved, I have thought about how the present and the past are often mentioned back and forth to the point here sometimes it is difficult to tell which is which. I think that it shows how much the past influences the present and it makes you think about time. In One Hundred Years of Solitude, the change of time periodically throughout the book made you question reality , and I think in Beloved, the reader questions the difference between the past and the present and how they relate and influence on another.

Joe D said...

Both in the novels we've read and indeed in life itself, memory pervades itself as a theme. We remember our (at least recent) ancestors fondly, and authors like Homer even took to writing down the memories of their ancestors in the seminal work of Western literature. I will sometimes lay down and attempt to remember the furthest memory that I can remember back, and I end up meditating on how a memory of past activities can influence current decisions. You'd be amazed what you can find out about yourself.

Joe D said...
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Joe D said...

*pervades them. And to clarify the Homer bit: he wrote down the stories that had been passed down via oral tradition/memory. Obviously not their actual memories!