Throughout time, authors have used the literary device, symbolism, to give objects or characters of their stories an underlying meaning that may not be easily figured out without reading between the lines. The novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is full of objects and characters that are used as symbols to represent something more than just their existence in the book.
The symbols within One Hundred Years of Solitude almost stick out like sore thumbs at times because of the constant referencing of certain objects or characters, but others may be a little harder to understand without reading between the lines. Four symbols from One Hundred Years of Solitude are the ice, the little gold fishes, war, and Remedios the Beauty. First, the ice that Jose Arcadio Buendia and his son’s encounter for the first time is a symbol for triggering nostalgia and remembering the past.
The first instance of the ice representing nostalgia is when Colonel Aurelenio Buendia was going to be shot by the firing squad. Through all of the bad thoughts about being killed, Colonel Aurelenio Buendia was able to forget about all that for a couple seconds with the memory of when his father took him to see ice for the first time. “Then the aluminum glow of dawn disappeared and he saw himself again in short pants, wearing a tie around his neck, and he saw his father leading him into a tent on a splendid afternoon , and he saw the ice” (Marquez 128).
The next example of how the ice is a symbol for nostalgia is when the sound of the brass instruments in the streets brought Colonel Aurelenio Buendia out of his feverish obsession with making his little gold fishes because the sound of the instruments brought his memory back again to that day when the gypsies showed him and his father ice for the first time.
He went out into the courtyard at ten minutes after four, when he heard the distant brass instruments, the beating of the bass drum, and the shouting of the children, and for the first time since his youth he knowingly fell into a trap of nostalgia and relived that prodigious afternoon of the gypsies when his father took him to see ice” (Marquez 266). Next, the little gold fish that Colonel Aureliano Buendia makes are a symbol for resisting change.
The first example of how the little gold fishes represent resisting change is when Colonel Aureliano Buendia stops selling them to people because peoples interest in buying them changed from being jewelry to historic relics. He was resisting the new reasons for people buying them because they were not being bought for his original purpose. “He fed on anything that that Ursula brought him once a day, and even though he kept on making little gold fishes with the same passion as before, he stopped selling them when he found out people were buying them not as pieces of jewelry but as historic relics” (Marquez 258).
Another example, of how the gold fishes symbolize resisting change is when the book talks about how Colonel Aureliano Buendia kept himself in his workshop working on his little gold fishes, so that he did not have to have contact with the outside world that was changing since The Conservatives won the war. “If anyone had become harmless at that time it was the aging and disillusioned Colonel Aureliano Buendia, who was slowly losing all contact with the reality of the nation. Enclosed in his workshop, his only relationship with the rest of the world was his business in the little gold fishes” (Marquez 197-198).
Likewise, war is a symbol for desruction in One Hundred Years of Solitude. An example of how war symbolizes destruction is that the war destroyed how others and his family viewed Colonel Aureliano Buendia. “In almost twenty years of war, Colonel Aureliano Buendia had been at his house many times, but the state of urgency with which he always arrived, the military retinue that accompanied him everywhere, the aura of legend that glowed about his presence and of which even Ursula was aware, changed him into a stranger in the end” (Marquez 170).
The war destroyed the Colonel’s approachable family image to the point that his very own mother thought differently of him. The second example of how war symbolizes destruction in the novel is when the book talks about how the war destroyed Colonel Aureliano Buendia’s affection for others. “The only affection that prevailed against time and the war was that which he had felt for his brother Jose Arcadio when they both were children, and it was not based on love but on complicity. “I’m sorry,” he excused himself from Ursual’s request. “It’s just that the war has done away with everything”” (Marquez 173).
Lastly, Remedios the Beauty is a symbol for innocence in the novel. The first example of how Remedios the Beauty symbolizes innocence is that she had to be dressed and bathed well into puberty. Not only did she need help with those trivial things that are learned through maturity, but she also could not read or write into her early twenties. “Until she was long into puberty Santa Sofia de la Piedad had to bathe and dress her, and even when she could take care of herself it was necessary to keep an eye on her so that she would not paint little animals on the walls with a stick daubed in her own excrement”(Marquez 196).
Another example of how Remedios the Beauty is a symbol for innocence is when she levitated to Heaven before she actually died. Remedios the Beauty was so innocent and pure in the novel that she was accepted into Heaven without even going through the process of going to Heaven after dying like our knowledge of religion leads us to believe. “Amaranta felt a mysterious trembling in the lace on her petticoats and she tried to grasp the sheet so that she would not fall down at the instant in which Remedios the Beauty began to rise” (Marquez 236).
The novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, has many objects and characters that may be considered symbols. Some of the symbols are easier to explain while some are very vague with many ways that they may be interrupted. The way in which Marquez uses different objects and characters to represent a deeper meaning within the novel added to the whirlwind of a story which is One Hundred Years of Solitude. Four of the symbols in the novel are the ice for triggering nostalgia and remembering the past, the little gold fishes for resisting change, war for destruction, and Remedios the Beauty for innocence.