One Hundred Years of Solitude/Cien Anos de Soledad : The Buendía Family
Bibliography w/3 sources The family is at the center of Latin American society. It provides a sense of stability amidst economic and political instability. Blood ties often become business contacts, and keeping in touch with as many relatives as possible is an economic advantage.
The male is the dominant figure in Latin American families. He supports the family financially and decides the family's residence. As a result of his authority, he is often distant from his children (Barroa 75). He must prove himself muy macho (very much a man) through the conquest of several women (74). In fact, many Latin American men maintain separate houses from their family with a mistress (74). Poet Octavia Paz comments on machismo, saying that the ideal male "must never give in,' that is, allow the exterior world to penetrate his interior self, his maleness" (74).
In Latin America, the female runs the household (74). She educates the children and manages the finances. As a result, the Latin American family is matriarchal. Whereas the father is distant, the mother is "linked with love and proximity" and has a greater influence on the children (75).
The Buendías of One Hundred Years of Solitude fit this model in several ways. Family ties are strong within the family. Everyone lives in the same house. One of two family names--Aureliano and José Arcadio-- is passed down to all male Buendías.
The men in the novel fit into one of two categories (Bell-Villida 95). The José Arcadios are on one side of the spectrum, exhibiting an extreme form of machismo. When they make a decision, no one (except their mothers, in a few cases) can "penetrate" them, or change their minds. Many have extramarital relationships. Aureliano Segundo spends most of his time away from his wife and children in the home of his lover Petra Cotes, and Colonel Aureliano has seventeen illegitimate children, all by different women.
The Aurelianos tend to be aloof from the family, another trait common to Latin American males (Barroa 75). However, these men are extreme cases. Colonel Aureliano, Aureliano José, José Arcadio Segundo, and Aureliano Babilonia live like hermits. They confine themselves to the house's small workshop, either studying ancient manuscripts or constructing the silver fish that eventually become relics. The only contact they have with the rest of the family occurs when their food is brought to them.
Unlike the male head of the traditional Latin American family, the male figures in One Hundred Years of Solitude do not carry full authority over the family. Their other male characteristics--the José Arcadios' extreme machismo and the Aurelianos' extreme introspection--are amplified until they dominate the men's lives and make them ineffectual family leaders.
The female characters have the power in the Buendía...