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Magical Realism in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “Erendira”

As many Latin American writers, Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a prominent representative of literature style known as “magical realism”. Literature of this kind is characterized by fantastic elements with a special way of presentation. Like other writers of this style, Marquez tends not to romanticize reality, but reveal its nature by representing life in an unusual way. In author’s works, the plot reveals the real world in many aspects that at first are hidden from the reader. Nevertheless, when trying to come closer to details, the hidden aspects become so real and, at the same time, so fantastic that real world comes to light.

Marquez really pays special attention to initially unknown details which come clear after some comments or thinking. When reading Marquez’s tales, one must be able to read very deeply and catch sense behind the lines of a novel or short story. Author’s style is characterized by a good manner of presenting hidden aspects of life that tend to catch attention. Some other readers can hardly understand the hidden sense of the tales; this opens a huge space for misunderstanding.

Although the magical realism style opens a way for combining real life features with fantastic, this is not only the new method of writing and reading, but also an improved method of thinking and perceiving the real objects in unusual way. For example, in Marquez’s novella “Erendira”, the situation is very real. In a poor family, the grandmother forces her granddaughter to a prostitution with a demand of paying financial debt for the house which this 14-year-old girl set on fire. Then, as the plot develops, some fantastic elements begin to appear vividly; the situation becomes very fantastic. For example, Erendira’s lover’s name is Ulisis. This name is related to a mythical hero Odyssey who travelled around a lot of lands with an intention to reach his homeland. Ulisis’s character is represented by a nature of a fantastical warrior who is intended to save Erendira by killing her grandmother. In the final scene of the myth, Odyssey from Ithaca kills his enemies to save his land and wife from cruel warriors. The things, characters, scenes, and events are so realistic in terms of presenting reality that they cannot be compared to an old myth about Odyssey from Ithaca. Odyssey always hopes to get help of ancient gods. What Erendira’s Ulisis hopes for? He has nothing to do but to hope for himself with the belief in his own physical and mental power. He has only one way – to save his beloved Erendira from her grandmother is to kill the latter. So when finally killing, grandmother’s blood appears to be green like fairy-tale witch’s blood. It presents the most vivid example of magical realism in Marquez’s works.

Magical realism is described by various researchers in a number of ways. Lois Parkinson states, “Magical realism is a term that describes the fictional space created by the dual inscription of alternative geometries” (Parkinson 225).

The researcher thinks that this interpretation is regarded in a great number of ways. In one of the ways, something different and inconsistent stands against ordinary experience. It emerges from outside a real world which is taken for granted. The other way of representing magical realism is when one world lies hidden within another. In this case, hybrid construction comes out from a secret, which is already contained within presenting an occulted dimension of the real surface world. This often happens in fiction by Garcia Marquez. If to take only one example, the most vivid pattern is seen in Marquez’s tale “Erendira”. In this work, the principle of hybrid construction presents itself clearly in the green blood lying occulted, but permanently waiting to be revealed in the veins of Erendira’s cruel grandmother. Natural but not foreseen, green blood lurks waiting like gems which hide within the oranges being grown by Ulisis and his father.

These vivid examples reveal the most colorful scenes of the novel which seems to be written by a skillful and talented writer like Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The tale about Erendira also shows the readers more examples which we will discuss further by going deeper into the plot of the novel.

Marquez’s magical realism begins to reveal in the first three chapters of “Erendira”. It is approved by the eccentric content of this novel, for example, when a grandmother forces her granddaughter to take the wrong way – prostitution. The author points to the way of storytelling that he inherited from his grandmother: “My grandmother…used to tell me about the most atrocious things without turning a hair…I realized that it was her impassive manner and her wealth of images that made her stories so credible” (Mendoza).

Reader’s attention in this novel is turned to the desert and remote area of Colombia named La Guajira (birthplace of writer’s grandmother). It is located near the border with Venezuela and is regarded as a place for fortune hunters, smugglers, and poor population who coexist in the space of lawlessness.

In the next two chapters (Marquez 80-98), the writer’s background as well as magical realism become more vivid. So, when a widower slaps Erendira, she is “lifted…of the ground and suspended…in the air for an instant” (Marquez 69). When reading further, the loaders, for example, talk about the trunk which contains Amadises’ remains weighing “as much as a dead man” (Marquez 70). We should consider the remarks about the girl’s financial debt – 872315 pesos (Marquez 70) that would take “8 years, 7 months, 11 days” to be paid (Marquez 74) with the reference to a mailman who earns for living “from what other people are waiting for” (Marquez 73) and comment by Ulises to Erendira: “My mother says that people who die in the desert don’t go to heaven but to the sea” (Marquez 78). It is worth to mention a senator – Onesimo Sanchez, who is shooting a cloud to “perforate it to bring rain” (Marquez 82); Erendira’s grandmother is ambiguous with musicians “…because they are much sadder (Marquez 94): “Well, this week you’ll play us two happy numbers for each waltz I owe you for and we’ll be even” (Marquez 94). In addition to these quotes, let us consider the situation when grandmother tells Erendira that Thursday is really “the longest day of the week” (Marquez 95). This is not the full list of examples.

These examples give us the chance to understand the nature of “magic realism” and its way of presenting reality. The combination of real and fantastic is represented not only in “Erendira” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez but also in his other works as well as in novels and short stories by other Latin American writers. “Magical realism” is very important stage of the process modern literature development. In spite of this, it is worth pointing out that every author has its own way of presenting the facts and organizing fabula and events. Anyway, literature always creates magic which is close to human hearts and souls even if this magic is used for describing real facts and human nature. So, “magical realism” plays a very important role in the world literature. It helps to better understand the plot and its sense.