Lesson 85 Chapter 3 Module 8
I know I mentioned in the email that today we were learning about loneliness and solitude, but that is not what today’s lesson is actually about.
While we’ve looked at titles like Love, Anger, and Madness and War and Peace to give us guidance to the primary premise for a book, today’s title can be read in a few different ways.
That is because unlike a concept or premise (the main point of the story), a book or longer essay can have multiple themes or lessons to share. And it isn't always stated in a title (often it isn't!)
Today’s excerpt, from Gabriel García Márquez’s masterpiece One Hundred Years of Solitude, is no exception.
For most, the premise that jumps out here is the solitude. But a quick reading of the concept and synopsis tells you that the book is actually about the life and events of seven generations of a family, over one hundred years, in the town of Macondo, Colombia.
As you start to read the story, you learn that the town is where the solitude exists, as the patriarch of the first generation, José Arcadio Buendía, founded it and kept his family there—secluded from the rest of the passing world.
And passing is what today’s excerpt is about.
José’s wife, Úrsula, is the recurring character in it, first speaking with her son and then having the same conversation with her great-grandson (named after his great-grandfather, in the family tradition.)
It is a complex telling of this particular theme and lesson, so let’s break it down:
This is a technique that is often used with important themes or takeaways in in a piece: repeating them.
You usually don’t want to restate the same exact words without new context, that just feels redundant. (As an editor, I would make that exact note in the sidebar: “Consider word choice, this is redundant.”)
But when you can frame them in a new situation or scene, to add depth to their lesson and allow the reader to see how the theme itself has evolved and changed along with the characters and concept, it stays with them much longer.
Sure, this is a book about the solitude of an entire family (and, by extension, an entire town—so characters AND setting). But one of the most important lessons to take away is that for some of us time will just pass by, while for others it doesn’t pass so much.