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Pride And Dignity In No One Writes To The Colonel, By Gabriel Garcia Marquez

986 words - 4 pages

In a state of martial law one individual does not have much to say. This statement holds true in the novel, No One Writes to the Colonel, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The author discusses the political climate of one man, the Colonel, who after fighting to create the government in power is being controlled by the bureaucracy. A corrupt government can ruin a man, sap his will, and drive him mindless with hunger; although times are hard the Colonel keeps his dignity and pride.

     The government, through the use of martial law, controls the people quite readily. The government maintains itself through "Big-Brother" tactics that include the use of censors, secret police, and ordinances like "TALKING POLITICS FORBIDDEN." The sweeping control that is present under this martial law is evident in the every day life of the Colonel and the people of his town. The first example of the nature of their lives is shown through the funeral. A poor musician has died of natural causes; the first in a long period of time. The government in attempt to avoid a demonstration and possibly a riot, reroutes his funeral procession to avoid the police barracks. Since the musician is a first to have died of natural causes, we can assume that martial law has resulted in the untimely death of many people. Another example is the death of the Colonel's son, Agustin, Whom after his death has become the embodiment of the underground. It is rightly so, being that he was the writer of the "clandestine" papers.

    "'Agustin wrote.'

     The Colonel observed the deserted street.

     'What does he say?'

     'The same as always.'

     They gave him the clandestine sheet of paper" (p.32)

Martial law has restricted the free flow of ideas; therefore, they have had

to become accustomed to using secrecy. The doctor is part of the

information transfer by passing uncensored news articles to the Colonel.

The government is undoubtedly aware of these happenings, nevertheless it

allows the people some sanctity in them. This fact is evident in the

instance where a soldier that stops the Colonel, does not search him.


     Although the oppression is difficult, the Colonel's dignity and pride

helps him to not give up on the pension claim he made to Congress 15 years

ago. He shows impressive perseverance through his patient wait for the

letter recognizing his request. The Colonel's dignity is important to him;

he would much rather write a letter requesting the change of lawyer by hand

than ask someone to type the letter as a favor to him. This dignity and

pride has caused much hardship in his family's life. They have had to

literally scrape by to survive. The novel begins with the Colonel preparing

his wife a last cup of coffee by scraping a coffee can with a knife, mixing

"bits of rust" with "the last scrapings of ground coffee." (p.1) Themes of


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