Isabell Allende’s “Solitude” in House of the Spirits
Isabell Allende’s House of the spirit and Marques house of the spirits have obvious similarities and connections. Both novels tell the stories of Latin American families over a period of many years. House of the spirits has many of the same plot elements and similar characters as those in 100 years of solitude. Contrary to what many reviewers believe, House of the Spirits does not just copy elements from 100 Years of Solitude in a way that diminishes the book. House of the spirits uses these similarities openly and Allende uses them to compliment the theme of the novel. Allende uses similar elements from 10 Years of Solitude to emphasize not only the solitude of south America, but also the solitude of women specifically. She extends the solitude and isolation to the struggles of women as they fight and deal with the problems they are presented with. As 100 Years of Solitude showed the total isolation of Latin America, House of the Spirits showed the loneliness and isolation from the world ruled by men that the women in Latin American experienced.
The most obvious similarity in House of the Spirits that is taken from 100 Years of Solitude is in the plot format. Both novels tell the story of an extended family and its members for almost a century. This is the first noticed and most obvious similarity a reader would notice between the House of the Spirits and 100 years of Solitude. The way Allende uses the same format to tell the story of the Trueba family as House of the Spirits does she creates the parallel between the struggle of all Latin America to the struggle of women. It shows the connection that the Latin American women should have with the men after the struggles of their past. The isolation and mistreatment of Latin America as a geographical area is similar to the struggles the women experience in Allende’s novel. The village Macando suffers through years of isolation and they learn to stay together to survive and become stronger. The women in House of the spirits do the same to cope with being ignored. The village creates their own world and society not connected with the rest of the world. Clara and the other women band together, past down stories, and retreat into silence to stay strong. The similarities show the same struggles that the men and women of Latin America both suffered in the past. The similarities Allende uses show that the women have experienced that same experiences yet they are still faced with the same problems from the men.
Another similarity taken from 100 Years of Solitude is between Marques’ Ursula and Allende’s Clara. The similarities between them are not only in their characteristics but also the role that they play in keeping their family and those around them stable. Ursula’s influence became obvious after her death as the family and whole village of Macondo ascend into chaos. Clara also held together the Trueba household and the house itself. After the deaths of the matriarchs the families lose their stability. The importance of Clara and the women are made the focus of The House of the Spirits. Marques does not fail to show the importance of Ursula. The other male citizens in Macondo do not notice Ursula because they are focused more on JAB, but Ursula has influence over the women and convinces them not to leave. Women in House of the Spirits also have great respect for Clara (and Blanca) and in many cases they affect the lives of the men around them. Allende builds on the importance of Ursula with Clara, and shows how important the women truly are to their families and society.
The common plot elements, characters, and themes that Allende takes from 100 Years of Solitude are used successfully to support Allende’s themes. Allende has her own story to tell, but she takes the elements from 100 Years of Solitude to builds off of them in House of the Spirits. The smiliarities between Macondo and the Trueba family bring together the isolation that Latin America ahs experienced along with the women in House of the Spirits. She uses the similarities between Ursula and Clara to show the importance and value of women as people and as a part of society. The similarities taken from 100 years of Solitude do not diminish Allende’s work, instead they show how she masterfully shows the struggle of women in Latin America.
Jenkins, Ruth Y. “Authorizing Female Voice and Experience: Ghosts and Spirits in Kingston’s The Woman Warrior and Allende’s The House of the Spirits.” Melus19.3 (1994): 61. Literature Resource Center. Web.
Allende, Isabel, and Michael Moody. “Una Conversación Con Isabel Allende.”Chasqui 16.2/3 (1987): 51. Web
Gabriel Marques: Taking the Past and Making it the Present
Gabriel Marques was born in 1928 and was raised by his maternal grandparents. His life, and works would be affected by his grandfather’s military service, his grandmother’s mythical stories he heard growing up, and the poor conditions many Colombians were living in around him would lead him to write showing the difficulties they faced. The past military exploits in Colombia were reflected throughout One Hundred Years of Solitude. Many of the magical stories in 100 years of solitude could have been derived from fairy tales Gabriel Marques, and many other South Americans, heard growing up. The history and stories that Marques grew up hearing would later help him create his great novel (Finnigan 263) 100 Years of Solitude took events from south America’s past and magical elements and made them relevant to present times. Marques’ work used these things to show that what had happened in the past was still relevant at the time he wrote 100 Years of Solitude.
The story of the Buendia family and the village Macondo were used to tell the story of Latin America’s history as a whole. From the conquistadors to the 1928 plantation strike and the communist control of Latin America governments and their removal, all were apparent through the story of the Buendia family and Maconda (Pasoda-Carbo 80) Marques rendition of Latin America’s history was condensed in a way that showed how relevant many struggles throughout their history still were. The Buendia family suffered from re-occurring struggles. The last child of the Buendia family was affected by incest in the form of a pig’s tail, the same problem that they feared would afflict the first child of the Buendia family. For many readers the history of Latin America, and the isolation it suffered, was made apparent by 100 Years of Solitude. It took a problem that people within Latin America were aware of and told the story in the novel. It not only told the story to those who were aware of it, but also to those in the rest of the world who were not aware. The way Marques highlighted the biggest struggles that Latin America suffered throughout history made their isolation and suffering noticed by the rest of the world.
Marques voice, in the form of the 3rd person narrator, told the story of the Buendias and Macondo. The narrator is assumed to be reliable, so the story he tells is assumed to be accurate. Because of this, Marques is able to tell the story of South America through the stories in the novel and the narration of south America appears reliable. The reliable voice of the narrator further increases the truth of the parallels between the two stories Marques is really telling. The power of Marques narrator is apparent in the fact that his version, in 100 Years of Solitude, of the uprisings on the banana plantations were assumed to be the true events (Ronan). Marques story was so powerful that it changed the way the readers viewed the history of Latin America.
The magical realism throughout 100 years of solitude not only made it a more interesting story, but also connected Latin America’s past too what it was currently experiencing. Much like Marques grandmother once told him fairy tales with lessons still applicable to his life, Marques told the story of Maconda with magical elements to present issues still applicable to present Latin America (Finnigan 264) The very thin line between what was real and what was magical allowed the reader to determine what was not just part of the story, but also part of Latin America’s story. Some parts of the story that appear magical to the characters in Macondo do not to the reader, because the reader knows that they are technological advancements that Macondo is not aware of. Marques used this, not as he did true magical realism, to show how isolated the people are from the rest of the world.
The way Gabriel Marques told the story of Latin America through Macondo and the Buendia family made it more relatable to many of the people who read 100 Years of solitude. The power of story showed the struggles of Latin America, and the power of Marques reliable narrator made the parallels stronger between the stories. The magical realism, and what appeared to be magical realism only helped Marques show the isolation of Latin America.
Ronan, McFadden. “The Reliability Of The Narrator In Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children And Gabriel Garcia Marguez’s One Hundred Years Of Solitude.” Opticon1826 5 (2008): Directory of Open Access Journals. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.
Finnegan, Pamela May. “Vicente Leñero: The Novelist As Critic, And: García Márquez: 100 Years Of Solitude, And: García Márquez: The Man And His Work, And: Borges And His Successors: The Borgesian Impact On Literature And The Arts (Review).” MFS Modern Fiction Studies 2 (1991): 280. Project MUSE. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.
Columbus, Claudette Kemper, –. “The Heir Must Die: One Hundred Years Of Solitude As A Gothic Novel.” MFS Modern Fiction Studies 3 (1986): 397. Project MUSE. Web. 27 Nov. 2016
Posada-Carbo, Eduardo. “Fiction as History: The Bananeras and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude.” Journal of Latin American Studies 1998: 395. JSTOR Journals. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.
Hanging Tree Road
When I got home for spring break this year, I decided to go fishing at Hanging Tree Creek. After loading my cane pole and tackle box into my truck, I drove alone across town to the bait shop to buy minnows. The bait store was in the old part of town out towards the lake; the houses around it were dirty and needed new paint jobs, and many of them had an old trailer in the back yard that was probably at some time used to cook meth. After getting my minnows in an air filled plastic bag, I drove five miles out of town to Hanging Tree Road. The road sign was missing, as it often is, probably stolen by some high school students skipping class. I turned down the road and put the truck in four-wheel drive to get down the worn and rutted road that is always in bad shape due to people repeatedly driving through it after a rain. Looking at the tracks, I wondered how many of the drivers had ever actually fished at the creek. Most people who go to hanging tree go there for other reasons. The road ends right in front of the creek so I pull of onto high ground to park before I reached the bank. There was only one other truck there, and an old man set in the back watching the creek run. I had seen him a few times before, his grandkids had grown up with me and I had played high school football with his grandson. Looking downstream, I see two brothers that grew up, and still live, across from the bait shop laying in the bottom of johnboat with old shotguns waiting to poach a turkey. I walk the other way towards the old man and he looks up and nods without speaking so I nod back and go on. He, like most of the people you meet at the creek fishing, didn’t seem to want to say much. I walk down to the deepest pool in the creek, put on a minnow, cast it out into the water, and lean back onto the tree trunk in the shade.
When the fish are biting, it’s easy to think about fish. When the fish aren’t biting, it’s nearly impossible to think about what happened at Hanging Tree many decades ago. The fish aren’t biting. The hanging happened, as far as I know, in the 1940s. It’s hard to say for sure because people around here don’t like to talk about the details of the lynching. There are still some old timers around here that know exactly what happened, but they get real quiet when you ask about what happened. The run down houses I passed on the way hadn’t always been that way. In the early 1900s those houses were where the black families lived in town. They say, the houses were once clean and well-kept and the community there once had their own stores, restaurants, and parks. In the 1940s, two black men were accused of raping a white girl. Many of the white people in town didn’t feel the need to wait for their guilt and punishment to be determined the law. The group turned into a lynch mob and went and got the two men from their homes. The mob threw the men into the back of pickup trucks and drove them outside of town. The men in the trucks weren’t the only ones in the mob at that point, and the lynch mob had grown into a procession of cars. They drove towards the lake and turned off on a dirt road that headed to the creek; they drove down to the bank and stopped at the first decent sized oak tree. They hanged the men from the tree on a branch jutting out towards the creek. The lynch mob drove back into town and stormed the houses on the black side of town. They threw furniture into yards and pulled people out of their houses. Before they left, they told them that any black man left in town the next day would meet the same end that the two men had earlier.
The next morning the houses were all empty, and there was not a black family left in town. Over time, poor whites unable to pay their rents moved into some of the abandoned houses because they had no owners or rent to pay. Other houses were taken by people in town and sold, without deeds, to people moving in to town. What had been the black part of town became the roughest neighborhood in town.
Over time the legend of the lynching grew, and the road and creek were both named after the hanging tree, As the tree grew its branches stretched out over the creek and created a deep shaded pool. A few years after the hanging, kids from the high school tied a rope on the branch that the men were hanged from and it became a tradition to swing from the rope into the water. The sign that said Hanging Tree Road had to be replaced every few months because teenagers started stealing the sign as a souvenir to hang in their room. At night, groups would drive out to the hanging tree to build a bonfire, tell ghost stories, party, and swing from the tree.
Some people still have a disturbing sense of pride about what had happened there. It was never a coincidence that people from town go out to the hanging tree, they go because it is the hanging tree. No one will ever really know who was in the lynch mob, because those who were there are never going to say. But there is no doubt that most of those people never left, and that many of the people who went to swing from the tree or steal the road sign are likely their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Almost eighty years later they still go.
I looked up from the pool at the big tree shading me; there were rope marks worn into the branch over my head from people swinging into the pool. Or, as some people liked to tell the story, the marks were burnt into the tree by the two men that were hanged that night. I wonder how the old tree has managed to live so long; it has survived on the constant water the creek offers from countless floods. Looking back down at the shaded pool, I know it’s the best spot to fish on the creek, but I decide that I’m not going to catch any fish today. I grab my pole and walk back up the creek bank, as I pass the old man he’s still sitting in the back of his truck. I head up the worn and rutted road, past the bare sign post, and drive into town away from Hanging Tree Road.