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Historical Fiction

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Historical Fiction

The book One Hundred Years by Gabriel Garcia Marquez tells the story of the Buendia family in the village of Macondo. The patriarch of the family, Arcadio Buendia builds the village, and he manages to keep it together with the help of his family and other families living there. It records the life of different generations of the Buendia family. As the village grows, it gains access to the outside world, and this influences different aspects such as the development and politics in the village. The book discusses several themes that help in the character and plot development. It examines some controversial topics such as incestuous relationships, child marriage, and the afterlife. Other topics addressed in the novel are family, sex, war, death, isolation, insanity, and corruption. The use of the supernatural enables the writer to explore some themes, such as the afterlife, in a deeper way, and to make it more relevant in the novel. In the beginning, the village is idyllic, but different events that happen in the village cause its destruction.

I read this book some time back when I became interested in learning about different historical accounts of other places. I picked literature because it has a different way of presenting history compared to the textbooks. I was interested in learning Latin American history, and although my focus had not been Colombia, I ended up reading the book because I was intrigued by it. After reading the book, I did not immediately connect it to any relevant historical aspect since the book is fictional. However, after learning more about drugs in the text “Forces of Habit: Drugs and the Making of the Modern World” (Forces of Habit), I realized that the book is relevant, and despite its use of magic, it is realistic in different ways. The book highlights some of the principles that Forces of Habit covers extensively.

One Hundred Years shows how different events and happenings can affect people’s memories, and lead them into forgetting their past and their origin. The consequences of doing so are often severe because the people do not get a chance to learn from the mistakes that others before them have made. They continue making the same mistakes and those who come after them make the same mistakes. In the text, Forces of Habit, people have continued making mistakes concerning the use of drugs, despite the knowledge that they have. People continue consuming drugs and enduring negative health consequences because of doing so, but they do not stop. Different governments possess the knowledge needed to deal with drugs, but some are reluctant to use this knowledge and power because they benefit from the drug trade, especially through revenue collection.

The book explores different themes, which contribute to the plot development. The desire of some of the characters in exploring their sexual fantasies and desires leads them to commit inappropriate acts. This desire is so intense that people are willing to abandon their dreams and morals in a bid to achieve their desires. Many people in the novel come to accept these sexual desires as the norm, and they consider the ones who oppose their actions as being difficult, if not awkward. This shows how situations and circumstances can change over time. People can initially oppose the idea of doing something, but this soon changes over time as they come to accept it. Once many people continue practicing that thing, then it becomes the norm and the standard, and those who take any measure to oppose it are considered different. People consider the consumption of some drugs as the norm.

People consume sugar and caffeine products without a second thought. They have gained acceptance in the modern world as their consumption has increased over the years. A person who opposes the consumption of such substances seems weird to most people. The book explores the ability of those with some level of power and influence to enforce unreasonable and unjust rules on the powerless. The arrival of a foreign company to the village is the beginning of the end for Macondo. Foreigners bring in a new way of doing things. They share in the resources of the people, and they end up changing people’s lifestyles and beliefs. The Europeans introduced most of the drugs consumed in different places. They provided the resources needed for the mass cultivation of these substances, including providing a ready market for them. By doing this, they increased people’s knowledge concerning the different substances and this led to a change in people’s beliefs.

Naguib Mahfouz’s work, “Palace Walk” is a story about a Muslim family in Egypt. It examines the story of Al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad, and his family. Although Ahmad instills heavy discipline on his family, and he expects them to observe the Muslim laws and traditions, he does not abide by the same rules. He detains his wife in the house, and she cannot even go to the mosque for prayer, in the hope that this will help improve the family name and preserve it. He expects his children and wife to obey and respect him without question. On the other hand, he breaks Muslim traditions and beliefs, and he is not a model example. He drinks wine and has affairs with different women. He holds lavish parties for his friends, and he visits nightclubs. His neighbors and friends are well aware of this other side of him, which he tries to keep hidden from his family. Yasin, the elder son from Ahmad’s first wife, has taken some of his father’s characteristics. Despite being obedient while in the home, he is also a wine drinker and he has taken to women. He approves of his fathers behavior because he also does the same. The novel touches on the political affairs of Egypt and the struggle of the revolutionaries to end the British occupation. It reflects the changing political scene in the country. People are challenging the government’s way of handling situations, and they are defiant, just as Fahmy challenges his father by joining the protestors.

I picked this book out of curiosity because of the fascination I have held with Egypt’s history. Egypt is one of the few locations where it is feasible for a person to get accurate historical accounts because of its early civilization. Reading historical fiction would enable me to get a different perspective of the country, and of the situations and circumstances that people experienced. It enabled me to know more about people’s emotions during the occupation and their sentiments concerning the revolution, something that is not often recorded in history books.

The novel reflects the hypocritical society that has existed through the ages. Those in authority expect others to abide by the rules they have set and to hold moral and upright values, yet they are not willing to do the same. Like Amina in the novel, some people choose to live in ignorance, rather than deal with the challenging situations in their lives. They prefer avoiding situations that make them feel uncomfortable or which will cause them pain. Other people are more willing to face the truth, and to defy authority. These people, like Fahmy, may be torn between following authority, and challenging it. Obedience often results to avoidance of conflict. Challenging authority often means facing greater risks, which involved prison, for the people participating in the demonstrations. Some people are forced to follow rules because they have no other option. Unlike other people demonstrating for political freedom, the women in the society do not have any hope of ever changing their circumstances. Although the book is a historical fiction that touches on diverse topics, I would not recommend it as a supplement text for the specific text because it does not discuss issues that are relevant to the course unit.

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