Date 17 May 2018
The futility and emptiness of a war in Marquez’s novel One Hundred Years of Solitude
“If you want peace, understand war” (Sir Basil Liddell)
“I’ve come to realize only just now that I’m fighting because of pride” (139 ).After fighting and losing dozens of wars, Colonel Aureliano Buendia wakes up to a fact that a war he had started at the name of ideology or on humanitarian grounds ends in the realization that he is fighting for his pride and power. After fighting for thirty two years, Buendia sees the emptiness of war and realizes that the war is not the clash of two different ideologies but an ugly struggle to get a power.
Conflicts are considered an inevitable part of human nature and results from lack of harmony of interests. Human beings are different from each others. Everyone has different perceptions and beliefs. So it’s impossible for everyone to like same thing. Everyone has one’s own ideology. The term ideology was first used by French philosopher Antoine Destutt de Tracy. Different ideologies cause conflicts. Not only different ideologies result in conflict there are other causes like identity, ethnicity, culture, and territory etc. But in this research paper, I am going to discuss about a conflict that is caused by different viewpoints and ideologies. Conflict is a broad category of human interactions. So we are going to narrow it to war and specifically civil war. According to Steffi C. Sales, “ideologies are frameworks of understanding reality. They may be seen as structures by which individuals perceive the world, and through them, reality and its present phenomena can be understood and defined. According to Arjan Aguirre of the Political Science Department, “The concept of ideology became of central importance in the 1960s with the involvement in major political crises”.
In Webster’s dictionary war is defined as “A state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states and nations.”Absolute conflict and war is the result of an ongoing hostility between two groups of people. According to Hedley bull “war is an organized violence carried on by political units against each other” (184). This novel One Hundred Years of Solitude war starts at the name of ideology but then the people realizes that war does not do any good to people or society even if it was started for a good purpose. It only brings destruction to the common people. After seeing a war from so close, people see the futility and emptiness of war then they realize that they were just fighting for their pride and war. And ideology is the ideas of ruling class who seeks to perpetuate the prevailing order of capitalism and their own privileged position.
The novel one hundred years of solitude is written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s grandfather was a well known Liberal leader and in Marquez’s own words, was his “umbilical cord with history and reality” (Banerjee 2). The time when Marquez matriculated and started his career as a journalist was a time of great turmoil in Colombian history. This period was known as La Violencia, this period witnessed the death of around 200,000 people in the hands of Liberal and Conservative guerrilla bands. And it left a lasting impression on Gabriel’s mind. As Stephen Minta observes:
“The apparently endless cycle of la violencia has been one of the central preoccupations in nearly all of Garcia Marquez’ work to date… His concerns are… with the origins of violence, and with the effects that it has on the society in which people have to live” (Minta, 30).
In this novel One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, at first it seems that conflicting ideologies lead to war. Then it turns out that it was all politics. They were all fighting for power. And young people are used as a pawn in order to support progressive Liberals views. Colonel Aureliano Buendia is shown the most charismatic character in this novel One Hundred years of solitude. At first, Buendia does not know anything about politics. He has a confused notion about the difference between Conservatives and Liberals. And he gives his vote to Conservative party of his father in law’s saying. His father in law Don Apolinar
explains the difference between Liberal and Conservatives. He tells him that Liberals are
“freemasons, bad people, wanting to hang priest, to institute civil marriage and divorce, to recognize the rights of illegitimate children as equal to those of legitimate ones” (98).
And Conservatives are who
“Receive their power directly from God, proposed the establishment of public order and family morality” (98).
So the main difference between Liberals and Conservative is of ideology. After seeing his father-in-law’s manipulation in the local elections in favor of the Conservatives, he starts to hate them. According to him,
“The Conservatives are tricky” ( ).
But Aureliano likes Liberal’s ideology that is more humanitarian than corrupt Conservatives. But one thing that he can’t understand is that how clash of ideologies can lead to war.
“Because of his humanitarian feelings Aureliano sympathized with the Liberal attitude with respect to the rights of natural children, but in any case, he could not understand how people arrived at the extreme of waging war over things that could not be touched with the hand”(98-99).
A civil war is break out. And martial law is imposed to stop the activities of Liberals. And in order to preserve the government and power, Conservatives commit atrocities on the civilians. And those who are considered a part of liberals are treated brutally. Dr. Noguera is dragged and killed publicly. An innocent woman who was bitten by a mad dog is also killed. After seeing the corruption, violence, and cruelty of Conservatives, Colonel Aureliano Buendia decides to fight against injustice, violence and Conservatives. He decides to fight for his own ideology that is grounded in humanitarian ideals. Aureliano proclaims himself Colonel of the Liberal army. He fights for his own ideology and against violence and injustices of the Conservative regime. Colonel organizes thirty three uprisings. He rises to be Commander in Chief of the revolutionary forces. And become a man feared by government. Colonel, who fights for his ideology, thinks that people always fight a war for their ideology. But later on he finds out that there are many people who were fighting a war without any ideology.
“Many of them did not even know why they were fighting” (169).
There were some young people whose minds were polluted with designated political viewpoint. And they were provoked to fight a war. Colonel was a great warrior but not clever enough to understand the motives or politics behind war.
Doctor Alirio Noguera who was a charlatan and “behind his innocent façade of a doctor without prestige there was a hidden a terrorist who with his short- legged boots covered the scars that five years in the stocks had left on his legs”( 100). His main aim was to exterminate Conservatism at its roots. He tried to indoctrinate the young people who did not know about politics, with his own designated political viewpoint. And instigate them in order to exterminate the Conservatives. And they were ready to do anything on his first call.
“He made contact with the young people in the town, who lacked political knowledge, and he embarked on a stealthy campaign of instigation. He told them that it’s a patriotic duty to assassinate conservatives” (53).
The army was perceived as a puppet of politicians who sought to centralize that national government at the expense of voices outside the capital.
“You’re no Liberal or anything else,” Aureliano told him without getting excited. “You’re nothing but a butcher.
Colonel Aureliano Buendia organizes thirty three uprising and fights for twenty years. He is overpowered by war. War is like as whirlpool. Once you are in it, it starts to engulf you. And war changes him so much. Colonel Aureliano Buendia started his fight for his ideology to save the people from violence and atrocity. But when he became commander and gains a power he proves himself as bad as military. He forgets his real purpose for war. He loses his footing and he becomes a tyrant. He transformed into a tyrant and becomes a symbol of power.
“His orders were being carried out even before they were given, even before he thought of them, and they always we not much beyond what he would have dared have them do. Lost in the solitude of his immense power, he began to lose direction” (170-171).
He ruthlessly kills General Teofilo Vargas. He once told Doctor Alirio Noguera that “You’re nothing but a butcher”
he now himself became a butcher. And General Moncada has to remind him of his real purpose of war that you had started a war
“out of so much hatred for the military, out of fighting them so much and thinking about them so much, you’ve ended up as bad as they are. And no ideal in life is worth that much baseness” (163).
And he concluded that
“You will not only be the most despotic and bloody dictator in our history, but you will shoot my dear friend Ursula in an attempt to pacify your conscious” (163).
“No Aureliano,” he replied. “I’d rather be dead than see you changed into bloody tyrant.” 174.
Even his sister cannot recognize him.
“Amaranta could not reconcile her image of the brother who had spent is adolescence making little gold fishes with that of the mythical warrior who had placed a distance of ten feet between himself and the rest of humanity.” (175)
Then it is told to Ursula that “the idea that was working on him at the time was the unification of the federalist forces of central America in order to wipe out conservative regimes from Alaska to Patagonia”( 149).
Auriolrena starts to realize that At first, intoxicated by the glory …, by his remarkable victories, he had peeped into the abyss of greatness. He took pleasure in keeping by his right hand the Duke of Marlborough, his great teacher in the art of war, whose attire of skins and tiger claws aroused the respect of adults and the awe of children.
After the shooting of General Moncade and General Teofilo Vargas, he starts to change and his spirit start to calm down.
“The intoxication of power began to break apart under waves of discomfort” (170). “Their common aim to humanize the war and he wished him a final victory over the corruption of the militarists and the ambitions of the politicians in both parties.160 book
Colonel’s delusion of war starts to break when he hears the news that leaders of the party had connection with rebel party leaders and “were on the verge of arranging an armistice in exchange for three cabinet’s posts for the Liberals, a minority representation in the Congress, and a general amnesty for rebels who laid down their arms.” 147.
After fighting a war for twenty year he realizes that there are no difference between conservatives and liberals and the war they were fighting for was not clash of just two ideologies but a struggle to get a power.
Aureolino’s eyes are opened to this truth after fighting for a twenty year.
The Liberal landowners, who had supported the revolution in the beginning, had made secret alliances with the Conservative landowners in order to stop the revision of property titles. The politicians who supplied funds for the war from exile had publicly repudiated the drastic aims of Colonel Aureliano Buendía, but even that withdrawal of authorization did not seem to bother him.168
A brief proposal given by political advisers breaks colonel delusion of war. the proposal is about renunciation of “Revision of property titles’ in order to get back the support of the liberal landowners, renunciation of fighting against priest to get support of Catholic masses and renunciation of fight for rights of illigmate children. After this colonel Aureliano Buendia realizes that they were playing with the sentiments of the people, they were not fighting a war for ideology but for power.
“we’re fighting for is power”(172).
Aureliano decides to end this war with the help of Marquez.
“Put on your shoes and help me to get this shifty war over with.” 174
Colonel Marquez is the first who see the emptiness of war first. He discovers the true nature of war after fighting a war for a long time and after see the bloodshed he comes to realize that war is a pointless conflict and nothing can be gained from war. Colonel Marquez who was fighting against the priests gives a prayer book to Amarata as a gift.
“They spend their lives fighting against priests and then give prayer books as gifts.”166
“The certainty that he was finally fighting for his own liberation and not for abstract ideals, for slogans that politicians could twist left and right according to the circumstances, filled him with an ardent enthusiasm”(175).
Dr Collier asserts that “the causes of conflict are party due to objective circumstances and party to dysfunctional beliefs. The concept of ideology originated in the writings of Karl Marx, who believed that ideologies were false systems of political, social, and moral concepts invented and preserved by ruling classes out of self-interest”. Colonel Aureliano realizes this and tries to commit a suicide but he is saved and separates himself from war. But he gets news that
“The conservative government, with the backing of the liberals, was reforming the calendar so that every president could remain in power for a hundred years” (203).
People have to pay a very heavy price for this civil war that was started at the name of ideology. Many soldiers and civilians are killed as a result of this civil war. Colonel Aureliano Buendia seventeen sons are killed as a result of this war. Aureliano realizes that to start a war is easy as but to end a war is not easy.
Don ApolinaWorks cited
“Are Conflicts and Wars an Inevitable Part of Being Human?” Fahsai’s Global Perspectives, fahsaisglobalperspectives.weebly.com/focus-questions/are-conflicts-are-wars-are-inevitable-part-of-being-human.
Banerjee, Sriman. “Society and Politics in Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude.””Clash of Ideologies.” The GUIDON,11Aug.2014, www.theguidon.com/11122/main/2012/02/clash-of-ideologies/.
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia. Hundred Years of Solitude. Trans. Rabassa Gregory. Delhi: Penguin
Minta, Stephen. Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Writer of Colombia. London: Jonathan Cape, 1987.
Vasquez, John A. The War Puzzle. Cambridge University Press, 1993.