Light Is Like Water As Magical Realism

1113 words - 4 pages

Light is Like Water as Magical Realism

Latin author Gabriel Garcia Marquez has written many short stories and novels that are considered to be Magical Realism. Some of these works are "The Ghosts of August," One Hundred Years of Solitude," "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings," "Chronicle of a Death Foretold," and "Light Is Like Water." In "Light Is Like Water" (December 1978), the use of various fantastic elements along with the realist elements is what defines this story as Magical Realism.

The exclusive magical element of "Light Is Like Water" is light because Toto and Joel use it as water. The use of light as water comes into use when Marquez says that the light begins to "pour out of the broken light bulb" (158) Light having the same physical characteristic as water is the use of "an 'irreducible element' of magic, something we cannot explain according to the laws of the universe as we know them" (Faris 167).

One of the realistic elements is the "beautiful aluminum boat with a golden stripe at the waterline" (158) that Toto and Joel's parents had promised to get them "complete with sextant and compass" (157-158). Marquez goes on to say that they had gotten the rowboat into the apartment when they had "invited their classmates to help bring the boat up stairs" (158). They used it to navigate "at will among the islands of the house" (158). To achieve this effect, Marquez uses the characteristic of de-familiarization or the "radically emphasizing common elements of reality" (Simpkins 150) to allow the boys to row on top of the light.

Other realist elements in the story are the "complete skin-diving outfits: masks, fins, tanks, and compressed-air rifles" (159) that the brothers had received from their father after they had won a prize in school. They used the outfits to dive "under the furniture, including the beds, and salvaged from the bottom of the light things that had been lost in the darkness for years" (159) after they had "filled the apartment to a depth of two fathoms" (159). To achieve this effect, Marquez also uses the characteristic of de-familiarization of the skin-diving outfits to allow the boys to go diving into the light.

The light having the physical properties of water happens "when a metaphor becomes real" (Faris 176). The metaphor that I'm speaking of is when Toto asks Marquez "why the light went on with the touch of a switch" (158). Marquez answers the boy by saying, "Light is like water. You turn the tap and out it comes" (158) This characteristic allows the brothers to row on top of the light as if it is water.

The use of light as water is an example of the "closeness or near-merging of two realms, two worlds" (Faris 172). The two realms that I speak of are the realm of reality and the realm of the imaginary. This element becomes obvious when the two brothers "filled the apartment to depth of two fathoms, dove like tame sharks under the furniture, including the beds, and salvaged from the...

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