No One Writes to the Colonel
No One Writes to the Colonel (Spanish: El coronel no tiene quien le escriba) is a novella written by the Colombian novelist and Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The novel, written between 1956-1957 and first published in 1961, is the story of an impoverished, retired colonel, a veteran of the Civil War, who still hopes to receive the pension he was promised some fifteen years earlier, which is assumed to him as a war veteran, but no one writes. At the same time, he maintains ties with Agustin’s friends, who clandestinely engaged in opposition activities.
The colonel lives with his asthmatic wife in a small village under martial law and after the death of his son Agustin (he was killed for distributing political leaflets), they eke out a meager existence. The old man looks forward to fighting cock, who can win for them some money, in January will begin cockfights, so he feeds him, while he and his wife has nothing to eat. Don Sabas offers to sell the cock, but the colonel refuses. Colonel by having in his pocket illegal leaflets from an Agustin’s friend, gets in a police raid, and comes face to face with the man who killed his son.
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Before the end of the mortgage on the house is two years, the house was nearly empty of food, sold sewing machine, which yielded at least some income. But Colonel feeds cock, trains him and continues to wait for the letter. In the house there was not a crumb of food, the wife of colonel ill. He hopes the nearest boat to get a letter. Supports him that has already begun training and fighting and that his rooster has no equal. A novel about poor but proud man, who has to hide the true state of affairs to keep principles. And the trouble is that the person is soft, he can not refuse if he will be helped, and he will not make pity from others.
Therefore, a colonel retains the appearance of prosperity, although sometimes in the house nothing to eat. Such a burden of colonel, in former times he ruled people, but now he is courting the cantors and mail in order to achieve a deserved retirement. He is willing to sell Fighting cock – hope for some earnings, not even for money, but just not to recognize that lacking in food himself and his wife, he brings up the bird. And even closer to the end of the novel the reader realizes that the hope of cock’s winning is small, colonel does not allow himself to doubt the successful outcome.
Such a patience he taught for fifteen years, conducted in anticipation of a single letter, for which the old man goes to the post, and believes that this time the envelope will be among others. Can only envy the venturous and belief – they save live of the Colonel: forced to stay regardless of the plight. And by this unshakable belief man deserves respect. The past does not matter – nothing has been done in vain, and the future nobody knows and it is possible to believe, hope for the best, for the fact that the long-awaited answer will come, that the fighting cock will win.
Until the last pages of the novel, Marquez does not permit the reader thinking about that victory in cockfights can be as sky-high dream as the letter, which colonel continues to hope. Belief – the meaning of life, whether it’s persistent struggle or a long wait for justice. When reading this novel, there is occurs a sense of solidarity with the colonel and his wife: ordinary people, without ambition and lust for power, who are trying to exist and for which there is still exists joy.
Involuntarily, one wonders: if this person is able to believe in the best (even if there is no choice) – indeed it is not able to do your own? Especially in moments of cowardice, when after a hard and difficult day exclaims “how everything is bad”! Colonel – is an example of a man who finds strength in difficult moments. It is a reproach to all who surrendered, to all who resigned, a reproach of cowardice and despair. Ending is a life-affirming, because colonel in spite of all life circumstances take sits proud and honorable decision.
Short novel, but it is protracted to read, seems like a boring story, but reading nonetheless interesting. Yes, it is gloomy, and yes, it is pessimistic, but at the same time, this pessimism raises our mood by “but life is can be much worse”, giving to understand that in spite of everything, nor poverty, nor boredom, nor loneliness, Life goes on! “Nobody writes to the Colonel” – story about loneliness, the story of opposition to human poverty, hunger and disease, to bureaucratic indifference, the story of the unshakable faith in the triumph of human justice.