Miss Brill's Stream of Conciousness

Monday, September 15, 2008

Set on a “brilliantly fine” day, readers witness the isolation of Miss Brill from her society as she struggles to play a recognizable role in it, despite a seemingly inviting environment. Katherine Mansfield’s short story of an old lady, Miss Brill, characterizes the feeling of isolation and rejection from society. Mansfield employs the use of a stream of consciousness point of view in order to exemplify the brutality of being in isolation and alienation through a relatable Miss Brill as she is confined to her own thoughts and secluded from any outside interactions. Told in such a point of view, Mansfield enhances the feelings of seclusion by allowing readers to only see, feel and hear through the thoughts of a lonely woman.

As Mansfield leads readers on a journey though the thoughts of the aged Miss Brill, her struggles to separate herself from brutal reality and a self deceiving idealism, is evident. In her evasion, she lives in her own thoughts where she shields herself from the harshness of her disconnection from society. Through her detailed recollections of the visitors in the park, her keen attention to the couples that appear, and the capacity in which her imagination takes in order to create company for her misery, it is seen that the feeling of being alone is so powerfully upsetting, that one must struggle to avoid it. Throughout the short story Miss Brill shares no physical dialogue with any of the appearing characters despite the numerous people that walks past. Miss Brill’s monologue continues as she deceives herself into believing “how fascinating it was” and “how she enjoyed it” while in reality, her loneliness is manifesting within herself. Through the use of a stream of consciousness narrative, Mansfield is able to allow readers to pry into the private thoughts of a suffering yet, proud old woman who refuses to accept her solitary state. She refuses to be defeated, and in her resistance she leads herself to self deception.

However, despite being in a “play” that “even she had a part [that] came every Sunday” the performance nonetheless must come to an end. With an “old couple”, “two young girls in red” and “two young soldiers in blue” Miss Brill cannot escape reality as she is forced to face the fact that she is alone. She, among all the “twos” and the “couples”, sits on the bench, behind a mask of thoughts struggling to blind herself from the truth. She wants to be included, play a part, be someone but it is only within her thoughts that she is. The way in which she wants reality to be is, unfortunately not her reality. Although Mansfield places Miss Brill in a fall setting “with a number of people out” and a “band [that] sounded louder and gayer”, where possibilities seem ever present, she never fully allows her to break out of her isolation and interact with others. The confinement to her thoughts disallows her any opportunity of communications with others. It is through this stream of Miss Brill’s thoughts that readers are able to truly emphasize with her and understand the cruelty of living in such a crowded world and yet feel so alone. In many ways, the point of view of Mansfield short story is to help place emphasis on one’s separation from society and the consequences its victims must face. Though the cause of Miss Brill’s loneliness is not revealed through her thoughts, she does expose that “yes, [she has] been an actress for a long time” and in that period she has been in denial of being just like the people who all appear to be “odd, silent, nearly all old, and from the way they’d stared they look as thought they’d just come from dark little rooms or even—even cupboards.” Her thoughts, no matter how much they try to deflect reality, is interrupted as a young couple, ironically deemed as “the hero and heroine”, brings her daydream to a halt. They insensitively push her back into her “cupboard”, asking “Why doesn’t she keep her silly old mug at home?”

As Mansfield’s short story of an old woman’s struggle to stay within the acceptance and inclusion of society comes to an end, it is evident that Miss Brill’s stream of thoughts which helps her to create that fantasy must come to an end as well. In the flow of ideas, one after another, in which she pretends to live a life in which she is not alone, in which she is with the old couple sitting on the bench, or the band playing lively music, it is evident that Miss Brill holds hopes of finding companionship. However this false allusion to reality is destroyed as her thoughts come to a halt. Miss Brill realizes that she is in fact alone. Mansfield captures the feeling of loneliness through Miss Brill, creating a character that expresses a feeling that everyone experiences and is able to use a point of view that constantly hints at the impact of such a feeling as it leaves one with constant thoughts of how to evade such a terrible fate.

Stevens's Journey

Friday, September 5, 2008

Instead of taking a journey towards the future, Stevens of The Remains of the Day takes a journey back into his past. His personal growth result not from a physical journey but from his journey in reexamining his life, and what he ultimately discovers to be the “remains of [his] day.” Though Ishiguro is taking Stevens on a trip to meet the lovely Miss Kenton, he in fact also takes him on a journey in search of the significance of the life he has led as a butler. From the journey that Stevens takes, he transforms himself internally, and goes through a process of self discovery. Ishiguro incorporates the literary technique by creating a character who journeys on a trip to become surprised at what he discovers about himself in the end. The very use of this element in his novel allows readers to see the process in which Stevens comes to realize who he really is. Along with travelling through the beautiful lands of England, Stevens not only encounters magnificent picturesque scenery but, also encounters past recollections that he begins to look at under a new light. His solo venture out of the secluded life he led in Darlington Hall allows Stevens to view life from a different perspective and grow as a person.

Stevens introduces himself as a butler who strives towards perfection in his profession. He however begins to recognize an unmistakable change in his methods of carrying out his work as he becomes “responsible for a series of small errors in the carrying out of [his] duties.” (5) Stevens ventures out of his isolation and is encouraged by beginning for “the first time to adopt a frame of mind appropriate for the journey” (26) as he stands in the serenity of the landscapes of England. Ishiguro has now propelled Stevens out of his sheltered life, with a seemingly plausible reason. However, with a journey in progress, there no doubt exists a greater significance to be found on his quest. As Stevens stumbles upon small road blocks, he is given a chance to stop and reminisce about his days under the service of Lord Darlington. As readers travel through the pages of the novel, it is evident that we only catch glimpses of the present and is constantly pulled back into the glory days of Stevens as a “top-notch” butler. His constant referral to past events leaves readers to question, whether he regrets his rather pathetic past in which his profession dominated his life. His inability to live his life in the present is no doubt one of the personal road bumps he encounters in his quest. Ishiguro paves the road for Stevens in both a literal and a figurative sense. Along the way it can be seen that the conflict Stevens has is with himself. He struggles against his definition of success as he leads himself on a blinded struggle to achieve “dignity.” As he strains himself to achieve a sense of dignity within his character he allows his duties to surpass his personal desires. Through his reflections it can be seen that he does not allow his emotions to interfere with his job even at the death of his own father for despite “its sad associations, whenever [he recalls] that evening” he does so “with a large sense of triumph” (110) at the way he was able to compose himself in the face of such tragedy. As Ishiguro creates two journeys, a physical quest to find Miss Kenton, and also an emotional journey, Stevens begin to merge the two journeys into one as he begins to reveal signs of his emotions along the way.

Despite going on a quest that takes him far away from the walls of Darlington Hall, the memories and experiences he has seems always to be at the end of every thought he shares and in turn is always incorporated in his experiences along the trip. The bind that his service under Lord Darlington has on him stubbornly refuses to release Stevens and holds him hostage in the past. However, as the journey progresses, Stevens for a moment puts aside his intended reasons for travelling so far away from home and begins to truly interact with people who readers know not through his recollections. In his stay with the hospitable couple in the village, Stevens begin to recognize a distinction of social status between him and his employer. Though he is mistaken to be a “gentlemen” by the villagers, he does not pause to correct them. The journey has, as a result, brought Stevens to a realization of his blindness to all other aspects of life besides that of his job. His loyalty has been so unwavering throughout all his years of service that he fails to enjoy life. In his disregard of being mistaken for someone else, he does not correct them because it allows him to become someone else, to experience life as a being who is not defined by what he does but who he is. With no task awaiting him to be completed, Stevens’ quest allows himself time to truly speak to himself and at last hear his own thoughts. The quest can be viewed as a period of self reflection for Stevens, as he verbalizes his past experiences and looks at himself from the sidelines. The trip becomes more than a tiny vacation, but becomes a revelation for Stevens in understanding that in life there is no such thing as the perfection he tries to achieve and that there is in fact more to life then fulfilling duties, there are points in which one must strike a balance between selfless and selfish in order to be able to enjoy the subtleties of life.

Disguised as an errand, his journey proves to be more than just a duty for his job. Ironically, the journey which begins through motivation to correct a “faulty staff plan” ends with Stevens’s recognition of himself, not as a butler but as a man. Though the intentions of the journey begin simply as a professional duty, Stevens learns that “the evening is the most enjoyable part of the day.” (244) He comes to realize that in a day, an analogy to life, what matters most is to be able to truly enjoy what he has accomplished by the end it. Finally coming to terms with his past, and surpassing the ignorance he once had towards the world, he accepts the outcome of his life but still continues to try “to make [his] small contribution count for something true and worthy.” (244) Stevens takes a step forward from his past and brings a new source of optimism in his return to his post. He emerges from the journey not as the Stevens he began as but becomes reborn with new found realizations and wisdoms of life. Though he neglects to see a possibility with finding love and partnership with Miss Kenton, he realizes that tomorrow is a new day and that he wants to take advantage of its new possibilities so that by the end of it he can enjoy what remains.

Things Fall Apart


As the novel begins, Achebe wastes no time in introducing Okonkwo as a powerful and prestigious character who is "well known throughout the nine villages and beyond." (3) I also have noticed the savagely and almost barbaric characteristics that Achebe associates him with. The animal-like descriptions sets the novel in a world that though seems organized by their religious belief in gods and spirits, is in fact uncivilized. The irony at work seems to be seen throughout the novel, as with the relationship and feelings Okonkwo holds towards his father. I find his hatred and intolerance with "unsuccessful men" and "his father" (4) to be the stem of an inevitable downfall. It is this intolerance that leads him to do everything and anything to avoid following the footsteps of his father who died as a disgrace without gaining any titles in the village. Though his motivations lead him to success, his obsession to avoid becoming his father leads him to become a man who lacks morality, sympathy and sentimentality. He is so blinded by the goal of becoming the total opposite of his father that he ignores all conscience. He is under the false impression that through abuse towards his wife, that through strict training of his children, and that through holding back his emotions he is powerful and he is respected. However, it is clear that beneath the facade that he displays for the world, he is a weak man trying to hide his insecurities about his shameful upbringing.

I find that the yams maybe in fact a symbol of Okonkwo himself. He like the yams, the most important and prized crop, holds a prestigious position in his village. However, the fate of the yams may be a foreshadowing of the fate of Okonkwo himself as “yams of the old year were all disposed of...the new year must begin with tasty, fresh yams and not the shrivelled and fibrous crop of the previous year.” (36) Through the life of the yams, it can be seen that though one may experience a period of glory, it is inevitable that that surreal moment is bound to come to a close. When one’s purpose becomes useless, one is sure to be cast aside, without regards to one’s prior status or accomplishments. Okonkwo’s strives for perfection in his yams as he “looked at each yam carefully” (32) just as he leaves no room for weakness in his life. His life in fact is dominated by this fear of being weak, which is ironic since this is his greatest weakness.

Nwoye can be viewed as the living version of Okonkwo’s fear and Ikemefuna on the other hand maybe symbolic of the ideal image he holds for what he sees as a strong man. However, when Okonkwo becomes the one to kill Ikemefuna, he in a way is killing that unrealistic ideal he has held. After the murder, we are able to catch a glimpse of the humane side of Okonkwo in which his guilt sent a “cold shiver [that] descended on his head and spread down his body.” (63)


In the second part of the novel, "things [really do] fall apart" as many of you have noted and also the title is beginning to make sense. Okonkwo’s inability to show his “weaknesses” is ultimately what causes his life to fall apart. His drive to prove himself to be a man creates an overpowering pride that requires him to reflect and restart his life. The change takes place as a result of a very ironic incident as most have already mentioned. Okonkwo loses all that he strived for in one gun shot, an accidental one at that. The gunshot penetrates into his ego, and releases the one fear that he has tried to avoid. Along with losing the status he holds in his village, he becomes the "weak" man he had always despised. He now has to become dependent on his kinsmen,family from his mother's side.

In response to gypsyloo's comment that the exile is a chance for Okonkwo to learn of the importance of women, I completely agree. Okonkwo is no longer in a land which encourages the inequalities of genders, but rather respects females. Though Okonkwo is given a second chance to change his life, by starting from scratch in Mbanta, I don’t believe that he has taken the opportunity. Achebe shows Okonkwo’s inability to change through the rainstorm that occurs right before his departure back to Umuofia. A rainstorm, normally representing some sort of cleansing does little to help erase the misguided ideals Okonkwo holds for his family and himself. In spite of the storm, Okonkwo does not return a changed man, but rather a man that wants to pick up from where he left off. However, irony is continually in play as he returns to find a shift in Umuofia itself. Its so called “men” are no longer fighting back against the intruders to their village (missionaries).

To address And The Benefactor Is... Dario’s question on what the significance of Enzima being taken to the cave is, I believe that it shows the corruption of Umuofia and the blinded willingness of the people to follow along. Also it exposes readers to a side of Okonkwo that have not been seen before. Umuofia is a village deeply rooted in it’s following of spirits and gods to a point in which some actions are questionable morally. In the treatment of twins, burial of men who died dishonorably, and even of children who was born dead, we see the brutality of Umuofian traditions. In some ways Umuofia bears a parallel to Okonkwo himself since he is also “feared by all its neighbors.” (11) The invasion by the missionaries causes not only Umuofia to fall apart but he himself as well (Nwoye leaving him in shame, being held hostage by the whites, manliness being taking out of the warriorlike citizens). The immortal spirits that passes judgment to me resembles an organized group of dictators. However getting back to the question, Okonkwo finally shows his paternal side as he comes to the cave to go after Enzima, showing his emotions for the first time. He actually cares about his children. This is a revelation to the cold man Okonkwo portrays himself as.


In the last third of the novel, things get more chaotic as we are brought back to Umuofia again. The missionaries have definitely had an influence on certain people of the village, drawing them away from beliefs that they had questioned before. Nwoye was the primary example of the doubts that the Umuofian traditions created amongst its people. I can understand why Nwoye had decided to join with the missionaries, and that Okonkwo was part of the blame for his son’s betrayal of his own religion. Beginning from Nwoye’s rebellion, the life as Okonkwo has envisioned falls to pieces. His village, once characterized by men of bravery, is now under the power of the white missionaries. This shift in the novel isolates Okonkwo from the rest of his village. A sense of change is coming about and as we all know, Okonkwo is too stubborn to accept anything apart from his own beliefs. His pride and ignorance causes his own death.

The ending to the novel is very dramatic. I had not expected Okonkwo to commit suicide. Gypsloo’s analysis of Okonkwo as a Christ figure seems to be quite accurate. Though he was once a man of importance in his village, Achebe continues to employ irony as he ends the novel stating that Okonkwo will only be commemorated by not “a whole chapter but a reasonable paragraph.” (209) Okonkwo who has attempted throughout his life to die not as his father had, without any honors, ironically follows his father’s example. Achebe seems to be making a very realistic yet harsh point about life. Achebe uses Okonkwo to demonstrate the cynical side of life in which one’s accomplishments is disregarded in that even “one of the greatest men in Umuofia…will be buried like a dog.” (208)

Overall I enjoyed reading this novel and I have to agree with angela that there are many similarities between this novel and One Hundred Years of Solitude.

The Remains of the Day


My very first impressions of Stevens were that of a polite, restrained, and highly matter-of-fact man. Ishiguro wastes no time in letting us know that his occupation as a butler, is more then just a job to him, it is in fact his life. He has lived so many years in the confines of the walls of Darlington Hall that when presented the opportunity by Mr. Farraday to “see around this beautiful country” (4), he responds by saying that “It has been my privilege to see the best of England over the years, sir, within these very walls” (4). The dedication to his job and his employer leaves him at a disadvantage of knowledge of the outside world. He only learns of the different landscapes and regions of Britain through Mrs. Symons’s, The Wonders of England. Also the trip he takes reminds me of the “quest” described by Foster in How to Read Literature Like a Professor. Going by the guidelines of what is defined to be a quest, the quester is obviously Stevens, the place to go is to visit Miss Kenton, the reason to go is to try to seek her services due to the shortage of staff at Darlington Hall, and the challenges and real reason to go has yet to be revealed. As predictions, I believe that the trip he undertakes will lead him to discover truth about the Lord Darlington he so highly praises, to develop a relationship with Miss Kenton, and also to learn of life outside of that of a butler.

In my opinion, Stevens’s overly analytical personality with respect to his job is a bit pathetic. His life has been so consumed with creating “staff plans”, organizing events, and keeping flaws to the minimum that I question whether he has had time to develop a social life. I wonder if he has ever been in love, (Miss Kenton perhaps?). Though he is the narrator of the novel, he reveals little about his emotions, maintaining what he deems as “dignity”. I find that Stevens has yet to reveal his true self to us, under the self controlled exterior, there must be a man of emotions.

I agree with Kevin in saying that his sophistication in speech and manner surpasses that of his employer. Even though much time seems to have passed in his days as a butler, Stevens cannot adjust to the changes in relationship between employer and employee. I find it both funny and awkward that he tries to “smile appropriately” every time Mr. Farraday jokes with him.

One last thing, I was wonder how close to the facts are the history described by Stevens, or is everything made up? (i.e. Lord Darlington, the conference to discuss the Treaty of Versailles, ect)


After getting through two thirds of the book, I'm continued to be impressed by Stevens' eloquence. However, Stevens continue to tell his story in a documentary-like style in which he conveys information of a more factual base rather then an emotional base. He continues to recollect his past memories at Darlington Hall under the employment of Lord Darlington. It seems to be a point being emphasized that as he recalls certain moments of his past, he reflects and discovers an aspect in which he had not recognized before. There seems to be moments in which he reconsiders past actions and goes through tiny revelations. “The nature of coming away on a trip such as this that one is prompted towards such surprising new perspectives on topics one imagined one had long ago thought through thoroughly.” (117)

Throughout his journey, though he says that he only has professional intentions in mind, it seems as though he is rather using it as an excuse to see Miss Kenton after the many years that has passed. His composure disallows him to even reveal his true emotions to readers. He has “spend some long minutes turning those passages over in [his mind]” (141), as he ponders the true meaning of Miss Kenton’s letter. I find that the reason for his self-control over expressing his emotions as a “normal” person would to be because it is connected to his definition of dignity and his view of what a “great butler” should be.

To respond to Kris10, I find that the village people help to bring new definitions to Stevens own debate on the word of dignity and what it embodies. They present a view from the “common people” and declare that “Dignity’s not just something for gentlemen”.

As I read, I continue to wonder about the title and its true significance. What do you guys think it means? Do we have enough information to know yet?


So now for the ending…

Personally I found the ending to be somewhat disappointing because I had expected Miss Kenton and Stevens to return to Darlington Hall together. Throughout Stevens’s final reminiscences, he brings back more and more memories he has had with Miss Kenton. I found his recollection of the incident in which Miss Kenton announces her engagement to be the most revealing about his and her underlying emotions towards each other. Throughout their exchange, Miss Kenton seems to be searching for Stevens to find an excuse to hold her behind from leaving. It seems as though Miss Kenton wants Stevens to give her a reason to remain behind. However, his curt responses caused Miss Kenton to be in disbelief that “after the many years of service [she] has given in [that] house, [he has] no more words to greet the news of [her] possible departure…” (219). She even goes to state that Stevens had “been a very important figure for [her] and [her] acquaintance.” (219). As I read this scene, I wonder if in Stevens’ recollection he sees the obvious signs of Miss Kenton’s hints of her feelings towards him. I find that this incident is a great example of how restricted and how sacrificing his profession as a butler has lead him to be.

When Stevens finally sees Miss Kenton, I find it interesting that he addresses her as Mrs. Benn, when throughout the novel readers have grown to know her to be Miss Kenton. It is as though Miss Kenton has transformed into a new person with her new title. I found their reunion to be bitter-sweet. It is obvious that over the years, Miss Kenton has no doubt contemplated the possibilities of a different life if she had stayed with Stevens at Darlington Hall. She makes that point clear by recalling that at times “[she] gets to thinking about a different life, a better life [she] might have had. For instance, [she gets] to thinking about a life [she] may have had with [Stevens]” (239).

It seems as though this meeting with Miss Kenton has awaken Stevens in a sense from his stoic nature. Though he recognizes that “it is too late to turn back the clock” (239), he does see that he may have overlooked and missed out on opportunities in his life. However, as the title of the novel now seem to reveal, that at the end of it day, we are all left with what remains, that is the good and the bad, the joys and the hardships, and the success and the failures. What “remains of the day” cannot be changed, but it can be used to help one strive towards a better day, as Stevens in the end announced that it “perhaps is in deed time [he] began to look at [the] whole matter of bantering more enthusiastically”. As a man who seems so stuck in his days under Lord Darlington, his journey seems to have helped him progress into adjusting to the changing times.

One Hundred Years of Solitude


There is a lot going in the novel as Marquez tries to develop each of his many characters. Since the novel begins with Aureliano Buendia “as he [faces] the firing squad…remembering that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice” (1), I’ve been focusing more on his progression in the novel. What could his exposure to ice mean and why of all things that have occurred in his life did he remember that single event? Like all the men of the Buendia family, Aureliano seems to follow in their footsteps of first being successful and then suffering a tragic fate. He begins as a prosperous goldsmith but as soon as he reaches manhood, he not only marries a child, Remedios, but also becomes a colonel who loses all sentimentality. Marquez seems to be making a statement about manhood in general, about its savagery. Marquez’s message is put into words by Ursula who declares that “at first [the Buendia men] behave very well, they’re obedient and prompt and they don’t seem capable of killing a fly, but as soon as their beards appear they go to ruin.” (152) Unlike his brothers and father, his destruction does not come as a result of his own doing but rather because of the tragic fate he suffers. He loses his wife, of whom he is deeply in love with, he loses himself in the brutality of war, and he loses all sense of emotions as he have sex with numerous woman without truly loving any of them. In that sense he differs from the rest of the Buendia men. He is different in that his sufferings does not come as a result of the chase towards wild dreams like Jose Arcadio and Jose Arcadio Buendia but rather comes ironically as a result of his passion to bring justice to the town of Maconda. It can also be noted that he does not have a very strong physical presence throughout the first third of the novel as he is away at war for most of the time. His absence from Maconda led to its slow corruption by Jose Arcadio and further steers it away from the utopian society many of you have agreed the town to be at its founding. Aureliano is a character that epitomizes both goodness as he goes to war to fight for the ideals of liberals, but becomes corrupted to epitomize brutality instead as he ignores relationships to friends and family in his quest for power.

On another note, I also find the character of Ursula to be one of significance. She, unlike the men of the novel is the constant reminder of morality. Despite all the shame her family has brought about, and the devastating fate suffered by the men in her life, she is uncorrupted and strangely strong in her endurance of the tragedies she faces, from the losing of her husband to his mental illness to the losing of her sons and daughters to shame. Amongst all the madness and chaos of the novel, Ursula is a recurring symbol of hope for the continuance of life despite events that would draw anyone away from sanity. She has witness many falls and yet she herself is still standing in spite of it all. I completely agree with ashley8 in that Ursula is like the glue trying to hold the Buendia family together.


In the second part of the novel, I too notice that there exists a sort of a cycle in events and names. History is constantly repeating itself in the fates of each Buendia. The Buendia men at one point experience immense success whether it be Colonel Aureliano Buendia’s prominence in the war or Aureliano Segundo’s prosperity with his farm animals. However with each case of success, a cycle repeats itself as each man faces a downfall in which they are banned to their own solitude. Marquez personifies solitude on many occasions making it seem as a companion that the Buendia’s have “an honorable pact” (199) with. Each case of solitude leaves the Buendias isolated from the outside world. To me the title may refer to a one hundred year curse the Buendias have in their family in which each generation carrying the same cursed names will repeat a cycle of facing solitude unto death.

The corruption and chaos brought on by the introduction of technology as well as different markings of modern day society shows Marquez’s view on the modern world. He seems to mock the impacts of modern technology and advancements as it transforms a peaceful city to a destructive and uncivilized one. He calls the arrival of all the deathly temptations to be a “tumultuous and intemperate invasion.” (228) This invasion undoubtedly lures the innocent city of Macondo into temptations and ways of the outside world that only serve to turn the people towards savagery fuelled by a hunger for power as steph113 has mentioned. (i.e. the mass killing of workers by the banana company pg. 302) In many ways the arrival of the foreigners is like the opening of Pandora’s Box, releasing all evils of man.

Mary makes a good point about Marquez’s use of irony as exemplified in Ursula who sees clearly despite her physical blindness as she realizes that “time was not passing…but it was turning in a circle.” (335)

On a final note, I find the character of Aureliano Buendia II to be quite interesting because he is the only character to experience solitude immediately, from the moment of his birth where he is banned to isolation.


In the last part of the novel, Ursula’s long time fear of having a child in the family bearing the stamp of incest, a pig’s tail came true. Marquez’s use of irony again is evident in that after the many generations of the Buendia family that come about due to incest, it is the last offspring that bears the notorious pig’s tail. The pig’s tail can be called a motif as it is a constant fear of Ursula’s. It reemerges with every act of incest. What is ironic is that the pig’s tail seems to be a punishment better then that of the curse of solitude that all the Buendias face. In a literal sense, the pig’s tail is the symbol of consequence for incest but it may also be a symbol of the end to the century long suffering of an entire family. The pig’s tail is the sign of the end to not only the years of solitude but also the end to the Buendia family line. The fear and expectation of Ursula is confirmed but in some ways it is a relief that the last Buendia will not suffer from unrelenting solitude. Going on bond_smoka’s comment on the recurring animal imagery in the novel, I find that Marquez contrasts and combines human characteristics with animal ones to produce a primitive feeling in the city of Macondo and in its inhabitants. The disobeying of all rules of acceptable behavior by societal standards reinforces this idea of primitiveness that Marquez conveys. They have no boundaries as to whom they love.

There also exists a surreal element to the novel as Stevie wonder ii and c-rod has pointed out. This sense of unreality contributes to the unexplainable events that occur in the novel such as Remedios the Beauty’s elevation into the heavens. Melquides and the gypsies as well add to the sense of surrealism. I find the parchment of Melquides and his influence in Macondo to be critical. Once deciphered, Aureliano II discovers that it is Melquides who writes the life story for each member of the Buendia family. Melquides was the person who introduces Macondo to the new inventions and discoveries and it is also he who has sparked the interest of the Buendia men in their thirst for knowledge. Melquides becomes the true writer of the novel as he decides the fates of all of its characters. By the end of the novel, I, like ashley8, believe that Marquez wants to show the consequences of solitude, of its suffocating isolation that disallows one to live life to the fullest. At times, solitude may seem to be a blessing of peace such as in the case of Ursula, but in many cases, solitude not “[having] a second opportunity on earth” (417) at life.

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