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PLOT STRUCTURE ANALYSIS
While most of the plot is tied to the repetition of family names, there is also the repetition of similar events or cycles. From the discovery in the jungle of the Spanish galleon and the suit of armor, we can project backwards to events of the Spanish conquest and later the English pirate raids.
The settlement of Macondo is described in Edenic terms. This is significant because that is how Columbus describes the Americas when he arrives; more importantly, Columbus believes that the Orinoco leads to earthly paradise. From the earliest arrival of the Spaniards, this land was seen as Edenic, as pure and innocent. As we know, the Americas were not innocent, but also the Spaniardsí arrival to this paradise did nothing to maintain its paradisiacal status. If there was ever a paradise, it is gone within years. Similarly, Macondo keeps its paradisiacal status (no one dies--like in the Garden of Eden) for only a brief period. Soon corruption enters the area.
From the founding of Macondo, the events create cycles of disaster. From the political fighting between the Conservatives and the Liberals which ultimately does nothing for the people in the town (except determine the color of their houses) to the banana company which massacres the workers, the town can never remember the past. It is stuck in a perpetual present which repeats the past of conquest. Unfortunately for the people of Macondo, there does not seem to be an escape for them.
All of the Themes of this novel are related to time. The cyclic nature of time in Macondo is represented through the characters and the plot. The danger of forgetting is exemplified through the forgetfulness plague and the fact that no one in the town remembers the heroics or deeds of Colonel Aureliano Buendía. No one can remember the massacre of the banana company workers even the night after it occurs.
Fate also plays an important part of this novel. There are two narratives which must conclude for the destruction of the Buendías and Macondo: the first is the incest narrative and the second is the parchment narrative. As long as the family looks outward for new members, the family will be okay, but when Fernanda closes up the house, Aureliano and Amaranta Úrsula are thrown together. Secondly, the parchment must be translated. Unless the parchment is translated, the narrative cannot be completed. Whenever it appears that interest is fading in the parchment, something happens to bring it back to the fore; and then, Melquiades must return and help them translate and decipher it. Melquiades, ultimately, is pushing the narrative towards destruction (remember, he is the one who tells Prudencio Aguilar where José Arcadio lives which leads to his going mad).