The “This is the greatest invention of our time”

The use of multiple narrative structures is a technique that helped advance the plot of One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez by conveying a sense of disarray among story arcs. Marquez incorporated both a linear and cyclical narrative structure within his novel in order to further develop his characters and to create a sense of inescapability. Traditionally, a linear narrative structure consists of rising action, a climax, and a resolution while a cyclical is represented more by recurring motifs. The novel follows a linear narrative when we see each plotline, however, the cyclical appears throughout each story as each character seemingly finds themselves in the same situations. Marquez incorporates cyclical events alongside linear narrative structure to emphasize the inevitable fate amongst the town of Macondo and the inhabitants who cannot control their destiny. Like a cycle, the novel ends the same way it started. In the beginning Jose Arcadio Buendia discovers ice from the gypsies and claims that “This is the greatest invention of our time” (Marquez 17). Jose Arcadio Buendia has a dream about a city surrounded by mirrors or ice. In the morning, he names the town Macondo and begins to build the city. Ice represents Macondo in its final stages of existence due to both of their translucent appearances and inescapable fates. Soon after its founding, Macondo becomes a town regularly and recurrently visited by recurring incidents that involve the generations of the Buendia family. Both Macondo and an ice cube can be described as mirrors in different senses of the world. Macondo represents a city of mirrors because the inhabitants make the same mistakes previous generation have made. They continue to become reflections of their ancestors. Their fate is doomed to be reflected and destroyed because they could never learn from their mistakes. Even though their fate was already predetermined, they continued to strive in order to reach the dream life filled with advancement and progression. By the end of the book, it states that Macondo was foreseen as the “city of mirrors (or mirages) would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment ” (Marquez 417). Much like an ice cube that melts, Macondo also had a prophecy that could not be reversed in which the state of the town ended the same way it began. The natural fate of a town plagued with solitude had no second opportunity to live. The town of Macondo is a mirage because it ceases to exist and is removed from memory because the people are too busy keeping up with the demands of modernity.The pernicious future takes it shape based on the reoccuring guilt of the past. Throughout the novel, the ghost of Jose Arcadio Buendia is present in the Buendia’s house. This links the connection between the past and the present. In the beginning of the novel, everyone in Macondo believed that Jose Arcadio Buendia was insane due to his curiosity in the new inventions brought by the Melquiades and the gypsies. The Buendias were not convinced of the potentials in the inventions until generations later when he passes away in a lonely, isolated condition. “It was an intricate stew of truths and mirages that convulsed the ghost of José Arcadio Buendía with impatience and made him wander all through the house even in broad daylight” (Marquez 224). While the dead has a yearning desire to live, the living eventually forgets about the dead. The ghost’s recurring appearance in the memories of the Buendias shows the haunting nature it has over their lives. The establishment of the train brought along new technological innovations including the telegraph and cinemas. As the people became so caught up in the advancement of Macondo they did not realize “…but from those who let themselves be convinced out of fatigue and the ones who were always unwary, they reaped stupendous benefits” (Marquez 225). For the inhabitants of Macondo, these inventions were beneficial and detrimental to their lives. Due to the uncertainty of the limitations of reality, they were always struck between a cycle of excitement and disappointment or doubt and revelation. As time moves forward in a cycle, the Buendias realize that time is not finite. They think about the way it was in the beginning towards the end of life. As Jose Arcadio Buendia ages and becomes plagued with insanity, he starts to believe that the same days repeats itself. He says, “Look at the air, listen to the buzzing of the sun, the same as yesterday and the day before. Today is Monday too.” As time passes by, the cycles of repetition have kept the family in the past. For example, Jose Arcadio Buendia’s wife, Ursula, becomes blind and the people in the Buendia house are unable to recognize because she has memorized their daily routines. Later on, she comments to her son, Colonel Buendia that time passes in his death cell. Many years after this conversation, the same words are reversely repeated between Ursula and her great-grandson, Jose Arcadio Segundo: “What did you expect?” he murmured. “Time passes.” “That’s how it goes,” Úrsula said, “but not so much.”  (Marquez 335).Instead of saying that time passes, she replies back by saying that time does not pass by as quickly. Her perception of time change due to her old age. Since Ursula was able to live through most of the generations of the Buendia family she is the first to become aware of this cycle and shudders at the realization. The people in Macondo did not progress with time, instead, they declined.