The book 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is centered around an eclectic family living in the solitude of Macondo for seven generations. As the members of the Buendia family live their lives, they find themselves in a repeating cycle of sins committed by the original Buendias. Out of everything the family does to escape their troubles, nothing seems to work. In and around the family there are only few individuals who keep them from completely spiraling out of control and they all happen to be women.
Within the book, Marquez tends to put women in the stereotypical female societal roles. The characters, however, defy their roles and become the few people to hold the family together. Three important women in 100 Years of Solitude are Ursula Buendia: the housewife, Pilar Ternera: the mysterious whore, and Remedios the Beauty: the crazy yet beautiful woman. Although they are labeled with sexist stereotypes, they become some of the strongest and most beneficial characters to saving the Buendia family from their original sins.
Ursula Buendia, although one of the original Buendias, is the strongest and most powerful woman in the book. She committed the original sin of incest with her husband/cousin Jose Arcadio Buendia, but it was provoked by him and not her. Ursula resisted having sex with Jose Arcadio Buendia because she did not want her child to have a pig’s tail as a result and even wore metal underwear, but soon into the marriage, she was forced into it because other men bullied JAB. Thereafter, JAB committed the second original sin of violence by killing Prudencio, and then together him and Ursula moved in to solitude. Although Ursula technically committed the original sins, she resisted the actions the whole time, knowing the consequences would be dire. JAB was the main mastermind behind them, beginning the endless cycle and setting the tone for the rest of the book. From then on, it seemed that the men of the Buendia family made the trouble and the women cleaned up after them, “’They’re all alike,’ Ursula lamented.
‘At first they behave very well, they’re obedient and prompt and they don’t seem capable of killing a fly. But as soon as their beards appear they go to ruin.’” (Marquez 152) Ursula is alive for over half of the book, which equals to about 100 years old. Throughout her life she is a mother, a grandmother, a great grandmother and so on, all the while playing the role of a housewife to the growing Buendia family. Even after Ursula goes blind she is still able to keep everyone in check as best as she can without help from anyone, especially the boys. Right from the beginning, JAB began distancing himself from the family while searching for knowledge with elaborate items and ideas, leaving Ursula all on her own to raise three children who of course commit the original sins despite her parenting. In the end, even though Ursula did not completely save the family from their sins, she turned her housewife role into a powerful position taking over the role of the man of the family as well while keeping the family from ruins.
Pilar Ternera is another strong female character in the book placed in a sexist stereotypical role. Besides Pilar herself, her name also resembles the word “pillar” which is an object designed to hold up a building, just as she held up the Buendia family from falling. Pilar is in the role of the mysterious whore because as well as being able to read fortunes, she had sex with many men and was the head of a brothel at one point. The fact that Pilar could seduce many men and have sex with almost whoever she wanted shows that she had a lot of power over men because she could control them, which is ironic because of the role she is placed in. Pilar used her sexuality to sleep with Jose Arcadio and his brother Colonel Aureliano Buendia which at first may not seem great, but it brought new blood into the Buedia family which is good because it was not incest. This is not the power though, that Pilar generally used throughout the book to save the Buendia family.
She used no sex or magical powers and instead changed peoples fate by changing the their situation and also going to many bounds to keep the family and herself away from the sins. One good change that she made by altering the situation was when her son Arcadio, who did not know he was her son, tried to sleep with her. She instead told him to meet her later and paid a girl, Santa Sofia de la Piedad, to sleep with him, “Pilar Ternera had paid her fifty pesos, half of her life savings, to do what she did.”(Marquez 112) She paid the other half of her life savings to Santa Sofia’s parents, leaving her with no money left at all, but saving her son and the Buenda family from another act of incest and sin. Arcadio and Santa Sofia ended up having three children together of non-incest blood: Remedios the Beauty, Aureliano Segundo, and Jose Arcadio Segundo. Pilar Ternera, placed in the role of a whore, which is usually seen as below other people, rose above that and saved the Buendia family from multiple sin-committing situations that helped them to continue on living.
Remedios the Beauty, although crazy, is the third most influential woman in 100 Years of Solitude. She was extraordinarily beautiful yet seemed to be crazy or mentally challenged to the other characters in the book. She seemed to have no interest in hygiene or appearance, walking around the house naked and drawing animals on the wall in her own fecal matter. By the time she was twenty she did not even know how to read or write, but that was not the point of her character. What makes Remedios the Beauty so important to the book is how she defied her role of beauty and stupidity by being the only person in the story who did not seem to care or be affected the crazy things that happen to the Buendia family and the town of Macondo. She was the only actually sane person in the story because she was unaffected by the sins and eventually floated up into the sky because she was too “normal” for the Buendia family and did not fit in. Building on her role of being beautiful, like Pilar, she holds a power over men.
Remedios does not under stand her beauty but, “The more she did away with fashion in a search for comfort and the more she passed over the conventions as she obeyed spontaneity, the more disturbing her incredible beauty became and the more provocative she became to men.”(Marquez 230) Men would fall to their deaths when they looked upon her beauty even though she had a shaved head and wore a sheet around her body. It showed that even without trying or being aware, Remedios the Beauty could defy her stereotypical role because really they do not exist and you cannot place people into sexist societal roles.
When viewing the book as a whole, you can see that Marquez uses Ursula, Pilar, and Remedios the Beauty to ultimately show how women cannot be put into sexist stereotypical roles because they will not cease to break them and possibly come out above men, who in 100 Years of Solitude seem to be the problem. Even though the Buendia family could not be saved in the end, these three powerful women broke out of their roles and did the best they could to protect the family as long as they could. In the seventh and final generation without these three women to protect them, the last child, Aureliano, was born with a pigtail. Without Ursula, Pilar, and Remedios the Beauty in their stereotypical roles, the Buendia family would not have had as long a lineage as they did.
Cite this Sexist stereotypes in 100 years of solitude
Sexist stereotypes in 100 years of solitude. (2016, Jun 25). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/sexist-stereotypes-in-100-years-of-solitude/