Thursday, August 27, 2015
The Insomnia Plague
Before today I hadn't really thought about how distorted memory plays such a major role in One Hundred Years of Solitude. By distorted I mean that the memory is modified by a specific person in order for it to evoke the reaction one would hope for. Hearing actual history through different perspectives (various people's memories) really helps the reader to understand what was going on at the time in Latin America. Off the top of my head I can recall three times the theme of memory really stood out to me in the novel--the insomnia plague, the banana company massacre, and the very end of the novel when Aureliano finally finishes translating Melquiades's documents. When I first read about the insomnia plague, I probably took it too literally. I wondered how forgetfulness could be an infectious disease because of the way Marquez makes it sound so real. Marquez also mentions how people go weeks and months without sleeping because of the "disease," which in reality is impossible. This may be a stretch, but I now think that the insomnia plague is a representation of the beginning of Macondo. The inhabitants aren't necessarily forgetful. Rather, it is the beginning of a civilization and the people must practically re-learn the ways of life. They even have to label things in order to remember what to call them. This relates to the very first part of the novel when Marquez describes how the people of Macondo had to point to things in order to communicate. Also, the lack of sleep relates to the entire community's enthusiasm and motivation to finish establishing their new home. They did not give up, were relentless, and hardly took breaks until they were somewhat satisfied. This motivation specifically relates to Jose Arcadio Buendia. He was sort of the leading factor in deciding the ways of Macondo. However, when Melquiades arrives, Jose Arcadio Buendia looses interest in the village and becomes focused on modern inventions and life outside of Macando's reach. In a way, Melquiades halts the founding of Macondo just as he stops the plague by bringing a potion to the town. This episode (the plague) involving memory is very important to understanding the actual history of the founding of Macondo. Although Macondo was not a real civilization, I think this is a good example of how Marquez uses aspects of memory to portray greater concepts.