Death and Metaphor in Cien años de soledad, La casa de los espíritus and Paula

Carmen Serrano
2019 Latin American Literary Review  
Volume 46 / Number 91 2019 It's not easy to live every moment wholly aware of death It's like trying to stare the sun in the face: you can stand only so much of it. Because we cannot live frozen in fear, we generate methods to soften death's terror Irvin D. Yalom At a wake or funeral, we might realize that our stay on earth is brief and thus minimize this threat by turning to other thoughts that suppress death's ubiquitous presence. To this point Ernest Becker, in The Denial of Death, deftly
more » ... of Death, deftly illustrates that "the idea of death, the fear of it, haunts the human animal like nothing else," and, therefore, we have created elaborate ways of making it illusory in order to avoid confronting our mortality (ix). In literature, authors, too, circumvent the terror of death and its accompanying corpse by using words to highlight the heroic or peaceful aspects of the character's end, or by employing euphemisms that invoke an affected beauty. Literary descriptions of corpses frequently encourage readers to see the body through trope, as something other than death, in which the deceased turn into mythic heroes, sleeping beauties, or otherworldly celestial splendors; all of this is to avoid the encounter with the corruption of the body and the abyss that death portends. 1 This article examines notable representations of death and corpses in Cien años de soledad (1967) by Gabriel García Márquez to better understand how Isabel Allende iterates and reimagines similar experiences in La casa de los espíritus (1982) and her memoir Paula (1994). Collectively, the texts underscore the frailty of human Death and Metaphor in Cien años de soledad, La casa de los espíritus and Paula. ABSTRACT: This article briefly analyzes the representation of death and the dead body in Cien años de soledad (1967) by Gabriel García Márquez to pave the way for a comprehensive examination of Isabel Allende's novel La casa de los espíritus (1982) and her memoir Paula (1994), both of which draw from García Márquez's novel. Collectively, the texts underscore the frailty of human life but quickly mask death's threat by employing hyperbolic metaphors and analogies skewed in degrees that make characters' deaths implausible and unreal. That is, the literary descriptions of corpses, especially those of young female ones, frequently encourage readers to see the body through trope, as something other than death, in which the deceased turn into sleeping beauties or otherworldly celestial splendors all of which suppress death's ubiquitous and threatening presence. Because Allende and García Márquez more often describe female corpses than male ones, this article, in particular, analyzes the metaphoric language used to describe these female bodies, which are often transformed into mythic goddesses, sirens, or holy virgins, or transmogrified into foodstuffs or other non-human entities. The literary devices allow for the sublimation of death in Allende's texts as they do in Cien años de soledad.
doi:10.26824/lalr.63 fatcat:pf73masgrjh2tlpltmncwgdpxy