914 Words of Solitude

In Latin American tales, metaphors and symbols are extremely powerful means of conveying hidden meaning within the stories. Three examples of such literary devices are within the book 100 Years of Solitude, various poems by Pablo Neruda, and the movie Il Postino. Each of these examples contain many images that stand for something greater than themselves.

In “100 Years of Solitude” metaphors are used to show how different the developed world is compared to Macondo. It shows the difference by giving ordinary objets and occurrences in both societies a more mysterious and fantastical connotation. The objects and events symbolize the divide between two very different worlds inhabited by people that under similar circumstances could just be one and the same but instead seem like aliens in the eyes of outsiders. Examples of this arise very early in the story to make that divide very obvious and finalized without question. The way in which the objects are brought into the story is through the gypsy characters that bring objects from foreign lands to Macondo. They are simple things like ice, magnifying glasses, and magnets but to the people of this land they seem like magical instruments. Such regular objects are introduced in order to show how little these two worlds understand about one another. This goes the other way too because to a reader, the events that occur in the book seem extremely strange and convoluted but are actually based in fact. One example is the insomnia plague that sweeps through Macondo. It is a contagious disease that causes everyone to be unable to sleep and leads to the entire city to begin forgetting the names and purposes of everyday items and eventually their own lives. It symbolizes not only how fantastical this other land can seem, but also is there to represent the impermanence of history. Though people try their best to record and document everything, the reality is that we are only humans and our ability to remember or even believe events is often based in what we are told. But often people don’t remember what to tell or they chose to lie.

Pablo Neruda writes many poems and all are immersed in metaphors intended to portray a thought more eloquently. His poem “I Like For You To Be Still”employs metaphor when Neruda says “You are like the night 
with its stillness and constellations your silence is that of a star 
as remote and candid
.” In this poem he is trying to convey the message that he would rather experience his lover’s presence through all means except talking and listening. Sometimes words ruin what otherwise could be a precious moment. What better way to convey this than through such a metaphor as the one he uses? Neruda chooses what is probably the most silent and distant thing out there. The lonely stars millions of miles away, floating alone in the vacuum of space. It is far away but also beautiful and  something worth just observing to understand that all problems are so insignificant beneath the vastness of everything else. This is the feeling he has with that woman and without being wordy- and therefore using exactly what he wants to avoid- he chooses his comparisons carefully. Another example is in the poem “Ode To The Dictionary” when in describing the dictionary- a mere book, a tool for people to research information- he dresses it “Dictionary, you’re not
 a tomb, sepulcher, casket, 
burial mound, mausoleum,
 but a preserver.” This dwells so deeply into the very concept of the dictionary itself. It makes the reader think about something they may not even have considered, that the book traps words in it, but immediately shows the wrongness in that assumption by showing that the dictionary protects wisdom. In this way it is the sort of thing that the people in “100 Years of Solitude” lacked because in the blink of an eye many things were erased from history.

The movie “Il Postino” outwardly disguises itself as a simple love story and a tale of the bonds of friendship but evolves into something much more meaningful. The entire movie that at first glance seems very on the surface actually is filled with the deeper meaning of things. The main character, Mario, “is really a more complex individual. He occasionally makes some startlingly insightful observations, such as ‘the whole world is a metaphor for something.'” (James Berardinelli) The movie’s entire plot shows how poetry can affect lives, and alongside the symbols within it, it also goes to define metaphors consistently throughout so that one can understand their impact.When Mario discovers what Metaphors can do, he begins to see the world differently, and as Pablo Neruda makes poetic comparisons throughout the film, the viewer begins to see things differently as well. “We see that Mario, too, might have developed the soul of a poet, had he not been born in such a backwater.” (Roger Ebert) The film has an enchanting quality to it that is able to bring about a higher appreciation of poetry and the strength in Symbol and Metaphor.

In all of these instances the literary devices play a huge role in defining their stories and bringing more depth into them. Symbols and Metaphors are everywhere throughout our existence. That’s why there are writers out there to comprehend such inner workings of the universe and put them on paper or in film so that it can be apparent to others that may experience such things without acknowledging them.







In both the book “The House of the Spirits” (THOTS) and the movie “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” (WVNB) there are very compelling similarities in regards to the tone of women’s empowerment. Both of these stories try to prove false the idea that women are hysterical or illogical in situations that require reasoning. Gary Nunn’s “The Feminization of Madness is Crazy” is an article that describes the sexism in the very root of words like “hysterical” and “lunatic.” They are associated with women at the most basic level and it is due to a misconception about how women behave. These two stories work to disprove such accusatory implications by portraying the strongest and most willful female characters.

In THOTS this is done by not only villainizing men, but also putting women in harsh situations and exploring how they work through these things. Women are different from men, that is obvious, but it does not make their methods crazy or absurd. When the character in the book, Alba, is captured, taken to a prison camp, tortured, beaten, and raped she never gives up hope. She becomes more independent as she realizes that no one, not even her powerful grandfather, can save her. She tries during her imprisonment to use a method her uncle taught her to elevate above bodily pain but his methods do not help her in the slightest. In the end it is a ghost of her grandmother than advises her to document her story in her head to stay sane and she uses this very immaterial and spiritual practice to keep her head and her will. Then to prove women’s strength even more, it is a former prostitute who ends up saving Alba and not the grandfather who thought he could do anything with wealth and earthly power.

In WVNB the protagonist of the movie, Pepa, is thrown into a mess when her lover Ivan leaves her and won’t face her, her best friend Carmen finds herself in a mess with terrorists, and she has to face the psychotic former wife of Ivan who has a vendetta out for him and her. This plot throws Pepa into countless absurd situations including an “ecstatic murder-suicide pact” (Canby) but throughout the movie, although she is stressed and angry, she acts the most rationally and strongly. Peppa knows the inner workings of everything in her life and is confident enough in her abilities to investigate people by following them around, snap herself and a friend back from both of their suicide attempts, lie to and drug police, stop a murder, and so on. Her strong character never falters through the story which is what aptly allows the titles to say that the woman is on the verge of, not in the middle of a nervous breakdown.

Pedro Almodovar is a director that openly wants people to understand the power of women, “that’s clear from the affection he feels for his heroines” (Kempley) and Isabel Allende who has lived through the horrors of sexist suppression strives for such acknowledgment as well. Each of these people takes different approaches towards gaining awareness for the unique power and intelligence that women possess, but both do so very successfully. Although both of these stories were very strange and at times hard to understand, they never lose sight of this one goal.


Canby, Vincent. “Review/Film Festival; Concentric Eccentricities in Almodovar Tale.” Movies. The New York Times, 23 Sept. 1988. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.

Kempley, Rita. “‘Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown’ (NR).” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 22 Dec. 1988. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.

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The House of The Spirits Pt. 2



The movie Volver by Pedro Almodovar and the book The House of The Spirits (THOTS) by Isabel Allende have a few notable similarities throughout them. They both “portray no-nonsense women” (Lozito) with strong bonds, cruel male characters, and whimsical elements of mystery in the lives of its characters. Each story follows “a tragic chain of events” (Lozito) that reveals the hidden flaws and ties and tragedies of every character.

I find that the relationship between any of the mothers in THOTS and their daughters can be comparable to the relationship between Irene and Raimunda, and Raimunda’s relationship to Paula. In THOTS the mothers have a long line of good relations with their daughters, while in Volver there are many problems at first with the relationships. The movie shows the development of these bonds as the women overcome the struggles of estrangement, poverty, and even murder. Such hardships as “[facing] off against the demons she believed to be buried”(Sheep) brings Raimunda to develop strong bonds, very similar to those that Clara has in THOTS. They are people that learn over time how to care for one another and eventually go through so much trouble to do good that it would be impossible to sever the love they create.

Each of these stories portrays men as central figures in causing women trouble. They also show them as very greedy, power hungry figures that feel entitled to women. In THOTS this is most accurately seen in Esteban’s obsession with women that leads to him to rape and hurt many innocent girls. His character is mirrored perfectly in Raimunda’s husband who has no regards for good behavior, or respect for women in general. He attempts to rape his step daughter after displaying very off-putting behaviors in earlier scenes. He loses his job, takes to drinking, and continually argues with Raimunda- showing where many problems for her might have stemmed. We learn later that Raimunda’s relationship with her mother had been severed because she never noticed for years that Raimunda’s father was abusing her. There are deep-seated issues in this movie revolving around male troubles.

The movie, Volver, is also similar to THOTS in the more whimsical and mysterious elements to it. THOTS is outright paranormal, discussing anything from making objects float to predicting death. The book professes strange incidents almost as a natural occurrence due to the frequency with which they appear. However Almodovar likes to make the occurrences in Volver a bit more of a mystery. The ambiguity allows for a very unusual tone to arise throughout the movie and then be completely changed during the big reveal in the end of the movie where it is known that Irene was never a ghost and the whole movie has been more of a subtle murder mystery.




Lozito, Joel. “Volver Movie Review.” BigPictureBigSound. Big Picture Big Sound, 26 Oct. 2006. Web. 08 Sept. 2016.


Sheep, Black. “VOLVER.” Black Sheep Reviews: A Film Review Site.:. Blogger, 21 Dec. 2006. Web. 08 Sept. 2016.

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