A Framework for Expansion: The First Half of Gabriel García Márquez’s Strategic Postcolonial Thought

By Faith N. Mishina.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

When Gabriel García Márquez accepts the Nobel Prize for literature in 1982, he presents
the nucleus of his postcolonial thought. Crystallized by a personal experience captured in “Cien años
de soledad,” the recording of the aftermath of colonialism becomes a life-long protest. “Cien años”
then reflects a “carefully constructed Caribbean reality of despair” (Stavens). In his speeches, García
Márquez hints at the literary device that will characterize some of his novels. He claims that colonialism
and imperialism have inverted the history that Latin American should have had. The use of inversion
to represent this “upside down reality” that Latin America has suffered will be analyzed. The catalyst
for documenting this upside down reality is the banana massacre in “Cien años de soledad” (1967),
and “El otoño del patriarca” (1975) portrays the loss and the corruption of the innate model of government
as perceived by the colonized. García Márquez examines the first of two political models of
Simón Bolívar that have dominated Latin America’s thinking in the 19th and 20th centuries. Like the
Greek god, Janus, Bolívar has two faces that turn in opposite directions. The east-facing visage of
Bolívar symbolizes the politics of the colonized, the Venezuelan perspective of Bolívar. The west-facing
visage of Bolívar represents the politics of the colonizer, the Colombian perspective. In “El otoño del
patriarca”, he creates a terrible parody of the Venezuelan perspective of Bolívar, an ugly inversion
wrought by imperialism. The reduction of this catholic Caribbean father figure to a muñeco, a puppet
on a string, is a bitter statement about imperialistic intervention. Formerly the position of hope for
the anti-colonial factions of the coast, the Venezuelan model has been completely corrupted by imperialistic
dollars. This novel documents the destruction of the Venezuelan model which was the hope of
the colonized caribeño. Using a metaphoric form of inversion, García Márquez forces his reader to
experience the grotesque reality that was imposed on Latin America in the military dictatorships that
were supported by U.S. conservative politics. The novel, the patriarch and the lives of the colonized
have all suffered an ugly inversion due to colonial and imperialistic aftermath.

Keywords: Colonial Aftermath, Imperialism, Simón Bolívar, Inversion, García Márquez

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 7, pp.273-284. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 805.745KB).

Dr. Faith N. Mishina

Assistant Professor at the University of Hawaii, Department of Languages, Humanities, University of Hawaii, Hilo, HI, USA

Dr. Faith Mishina was raised in Japan, educated in the US, France, Spain and Latin America. She has two Masters degrees in languages and a Doctorate of Modern Languages. She teaches at the University of Hawaii, a location that incorporates linguistic and cultural diversity. Though she is an Assistant Professor of both literatures and languages, her research has centered on the political novels of Gabriel García Márquez, the elegant design and theory in his labyrinths, the concentration of opposing poles that reflect Latin American politics and the postcolonial aftermath.

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