You’ll have to excuse me on this one. I’m not sure exactly where this post will go. I want to look at a quote from a book and break down the reasons why I like it/dislike it. I could be words, imagery, or something else entirely. Because of that, I’ll be writing based on my instinctual impressions and less on analysis. I haven’t prepared in advance and will try to voice exactly what I felt about the passage. At times I’ll fail to voice why but hopefully in time I’ll get better. So without delay, here I go.
“He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”
― Gabriel García Márquez,
I remember reading this for the first time. It wasn’t a sort of quote that seeped its way in, it was more of a punch in the face. It voiced an opinion I held dearly, but I was never able to word it exactly right. They are the exact words to my belief a person will have to endure multiple forced changes in their life. Some will be intentional, other will not be, but all will happen and it’s because of life that we do.
The first thing that strikes me about this quote is the imagery. In the way I’m thinking about it there’s two scenes: a traditional birth, and one where a woman is giving birth to herself. The first scene is normal but sets up for the second scene. A woman laying on a delivery bed. Her legs propped up. Except there are no doctors. She starts to push but what comes out isn’t a child but a spitting image of herself. The process is like a snake shedding its skin even even slower than that. There is pain. Pain that I, as a male can’t even fathom bearing but I understand it’s supposed to be there. She is sweat covered but determined. Her screams fill a quiet night as she completes the labor of herself. All that’s left on the delivery bed is a husk of flesh.
That’s the scene I pictured while reading those words. I don’t think that you would feel any differently about the words if you pictured my scene, but that’s where my mind went initially. To me it’s a profound thought. Yeah, of course a person must birth themselves repeatedly to adapt to hardship(or a lack there of) but the use of the word “birth” I feel is deliberate. It implies all the processes of birth but for every time you change. It’d be a slow painful but potentially rewarding endeavor.
The next interesting thing I see is with the first few words. “He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction…”Now this could be me overthinking/over-analyzing but it seems to represent a separation between a person and their convictions. If the idea is a conviction why would they allow themselves to be swayed? If it is a conviction you’d believe so fully that you wouldn’t need to be swayed. I really think it represents a sort of duality between one’s convictions and one’s actions. It didn’t need to be explicitly stated, I think the readers was left to draw a similar conclusion. Marquez would be able to continue with his work whether we got it or not without any major detraction from the novel.
The last note is about how “life” is used here. Life is acting on the subject. Life is obliging people to do something. This, in reality, couldn’t be because life is a sort of non-active bystander; it simply is or it isn’t. But it can’t do much else. The fact that it is, is of course pointing to things life, the tribulations and the trivial. But now that I’m thinking about it, this is a complete no brainier.
That’s all I have for this quote. I know it wasn’t much, but I gave it my best and most honest attempt. I’ll be trying again next week. If you think I missed something or have an idea on how I can make this segment better, please leave a comment below!