In One Hundred Years of Solitude, it is apparent that Rebeca kills José Arcadio, her husband. What mythology or post-colonial meaning does this event hold generally? How do you understand it emotionally, spiritually, or from Rebeca's life particularly?

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It is not at all clear from the text of the novel that the author of the murder of José Arcadio is Rebeca.

The doctoral thesis by Sylvia Koniecki, who mentions that it's a known fact that Oedipus Rex is one of García Márquez's favorite literary works

en lo cual debe jugar un papel importante el hecho conocido de que Edipo rey es una de las obras literarias favoritas de García Márquez

explains that several authors have pointed out a parallel between this and other events narrated in the novel with the myth of Oedipus:

    Selma Calasans Rodrígues [1995] descubre una serie de paralelos entre los acontecimientos narrados en la novela y el esquema básico del mito de Edipo, [...]. Del mismo modo que Edipo recupera su identidad al momento que descifra el misterio de su nacimiento –ya que recupera su origen al descifrar el texto oral de los mensajeros, testigos parciales de su vida-, en Macondo todos los Buendía intentan descifrar los manuscritos de Melquíades y persiguen un amor incestuoso. [...].


    La comparación más exhaustiva entre este mito y Cien años de soledad lo realiza Josefina Ludmer [1972], para quien la novela está edificada sobre un árbol genealógico y sobre el mito de Edipo. Para la autora existen numerosos rasgos del mito de Edipo en el texto. [...]. En tercer lugar, huyendo de las predicciones del oráculo, Edipo abandona Corinto y regresa, sin saberlo, a su lugar originario, Tebas, donde matará a su padre y se casará con su madre: en el libro de García Márquez hay varios viajes cuyos regresos están marcados por el surgimiento o recrudecimiento de relaciones incestuosas (José Arcadio vuelve y se casa con su hermana adoptiva Rebeca; Aureliano José regresa con la intención de casarse con Amaranta, su tía y madre adoptiva; José Arcadio, el seminarista, vuelve para encontrar la imagen de Amaranta, su tía bisabuela, y Amaranta Úrsula regresa de su viaje para protagonizar el último incesto, con su sobrino Aureliano Babilonia). Un cuarto paralelo entre ambos se da a partir de la escena en que Edipo mata a Layo en la encrucijada y después comete incesto con su madre, pues en la novela, el asesinato es el mito más variado y mediatizado: José Arcadio Buendía mata a un amigo (fratricidio figurado) y luego tiene relaciones sexuales con su prima, y, en general, los hombres que cometen incestos son objeto de crímenes (José Arcadio –el hijo del fundador– muere misteriosamente por un disparo; Aureliano José es asesinado por militares, y José Arcadio –el seminarista- es ahogado por un grupo de niños). [...].

My translation:

    Selma Calasans Rodrígues [1995] finds out a series of parallels between the events narrated in the novel and the basic scheme of the myth of Oedipus, [...]. In the same way that Oedipus recovers his identity at the moment that he deciphers the mystery of his birth -since he recovers his origin by deciphering the oral text of the messengers, partial witnesses of his life-, in Macondo all the Buendías try to decipher the manuscripts of Melquíades and pursue an incestuous love. [...].


    The most exhaustive comparison between this myth and One Hundred Years of Solitude is made by Josefina Ludmer [1972], for whom the novel is built on a family tree and on the myth of Oedipus. For the author there are many features of the Oedipus myth in the text. [...]. Third, fleeing from the predictions of the oracle, Oedipus leaves Corinth and returns, without knowing it, to his his native place, Thebes, where he will kill his father and marry his mother: in García Márquez's book there are several trips whose returns are marked by the emergence or recrudescence of incestuous relationships (José Arcadio returns and marries his adoptive sister Rebeca; Aureliano José returns with the intention of marrying Amaranta, his aunt and adoptive mother; José Arcadio, the seminarian, returns to find the image of Amaranta, his great-grand-aunt, and Amaranta Úrsula returns from her trip to commit the last incest, with her nephew Aureliano Babilonia). A fourth parallel is given from the scene in which Oedipus kills Laius at the crossroads and then commits incest with his mother, since in the novel, murder is the most varied and mediated myth: José Arcadio Buendía kills a friend (figurative fratricide) and then has sexual relations with his cousin, and, in general, men who commit incest are the target of crimes (José Arcadio –the son of the founder– dies mysteriously from a gunshot; Aureliano José is assassinated by soldiers, and José Arcadio –the seminarian- is drowned by a group of children). [...].


The article defines the narrative of the book as being bound to the themes of identity and colonisation, namely the ways in which each character responds to a diversification of both culture and attitudes.

In the perception of the citizens of Macondo and similar tribes such a Riohacha who have not undertaken this ‘diversification’ by Western societies- symbolised by characters such as Malquiades and Piesro crespi this alteration of identity is often presented by Márquez as turbulent and aggressive, in which the character undergoing said transition often undergoes turmoil when fluctuating between the conflicting previous culture and new ones.

When inspecting the elements on the novel with regards to this notion, we can analyse Rebeca’s initial reluctance to speak Spanish- instead deciding to only acknowledge the language of the indigenous people, despite Márquez later exposing her fluency in both, as symbolic of her intransigence to the idea of change. The juxtaposition of the ideals of Macondo and Rebeca become apparent in her initial description in which she carries the bones of her ancestors and eats dirt- of which denotes her rejection of the urban civilisation Macondo is becoming. Rebeca is even prepared to go to the extent to which she becomes physically ill, having to be force fed by Ursula, in order to satisfy her sense of identity.

Rebeca’s marriage to Pietro Crespi is defined within the link as a combination of both the Freudian and Quixotic- however while the reasoning is unclear as to what she intended to gain out of her marriage, the fact that Pietro Crespi’s description matches that of the man dressed in ‘white linen’ who brings her ‘flowers’ in her dream is undisputed. This idealised cosmopolitan figure can then be attributed the status of the epitome of the ideal of western societal values- having demonstrated his charm, generosity, sophistication, all of which have been absent in the play up to his arrival. The failure of Rebeca and Pietro’s marriage, effectuated by the death of Remedios, warrants Rebeca’s subsequent violent withdrawal, once again reverting to her infatuation with her “ancestral” urges. Rebeca’s withdrawal, with regards to the symbolism of Pietro Crespi denotes her disenchantment with Western civilisation and urban civilisation as a whole.

Antecedent to analysing Rebeca’s relationship with Jose Arcadio it is important to specify that Rebeca’s fluctuations and withdrawals have become more aggressive as she ages, with initially her hiding pieces of mud and earth in her pockets to extended periods of isolation whereby she is not seen for weeks. Rebeca’s relationship with Jose Arcadio acts as the fulfilment of her current perception of society, his animalistic tendencies and demeanour are prevalent within the novel, yet in her sedentary, rudimentary lifestyle we begin to see a shift in Rebeca who suddenly begins to once again uptake embroidery and even send letters to the Bishop, both of which posses connotation of refinement and discipline which arguably opposes the “rural” lifestyle she has currently adopted. Rebeca hints her hatred of animalistic traits referencing ‘her only companion’ to he ‘a pitiless servant woman who killed tiny animals… that got into the house’- voicing her passive aggressive opinions of such actions.

Thus in Rebeca’s fluctuation we can gain some perspective into a potential reasoning behind the murder of Jose Arcadio. Within the novel there are a plethora of characters who adopt varied methods to cope with the societal change, whilst some such as Jose Arcadio Buendia completely assimilate the new identity, constantly trying to build and diversify one’s own understanding- ultimately losing both his original identity through extensive alterations and new identity through impracticality and its inability to provide relevance to their current surroundings and infrastructure- thus leaving Jose Arcadio Buendia without an identity, floating through the countless “rooms” of his minds.

There's Jose Arcadio who completely embraces the new identity, rejecting his old culture and ideals, and colonel Aureliano who rejects the new ideals and tries to hold onto the old by fighting for the liberalist movements. Interestingly Rebeca’s method is the one that is most diverse, she instead adopts both the new western civilisations and the old, however the adoption of one, means the complete rejection of the other and all that symbolise or uphold its values- Thus justifying her murder of Jose Arcadio.


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