Lesson 1: Magical Elements in Magical Realism

The term “magical realism” is broadly descriptive and recently has been applied to the works of such diverse authors as Salmon Rushdie, Toni Morrison, and Louise Erdrich; however, critiques usually recognize Gabriel García Márquez as first among equals in writing in this fictional genre. What does this term mean? Commentators disagree, and the divide seems to be both geographical and linguistic: English-speaking critics emphasize the magic in One Hundred Years of Solitude, while Spanish speakers stress the reality of the events in the novel.

It is generally recognized that rather than explaining reality using natural or physical laws, the magical realist creates a new reality. This is characterized by the matter-of-fact inclusion of fantastic or magical elements into seemingly realistic fiction. At one point García Márquez confessed, "My most important problem was destroying the line of demarcation that separates what seems real from what seems fantastic.” Although this strategy appears in the literature of many cultures in many ages, the term is a relatively recent designation and is used to characterize a number of contemporary writers of Latin American literature such as Jorge Luis Borges, Isabel Allende, Laura Esquivel, and Juan Rulfo.

The first two lessons in this unit look at both sides of this novel, the magical and the realistic elements, in an effort to come to understand magical realism. In Lesson 1, students begin their analysis through a study of how García Márquez used fantastic elements to enrich the story of the Buendía family and the history of Macondo.

This lesson is one part of a three lesson unit on One Hundred Years of Solitude. The three lessons may be taught in sequence or each lesson can stand on its own. It is expected that students will have read the novel before beginning the unit. Teachers may link to the full unit with Guiding Questions, College and Career Readiness standards and Background. Lesson 1 aligns with CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.3.

Guiding Questions

No guiding questions provided.

Learning Objectives

Students will identify “magical” elements of the novel and analyze how García Márquez used a “realistic” voice to give them credibility.