30 Day Book Challenge: Book from My Favorite Author
Gabriel Garcia Marquez captures the beautiful, eccentric, and capricious nature of love in Memories of My Melancholy Whores. By conveying the love story from the perspective of a strange and lonely old man who never truly feels love until the age of ninety, Marquez asks the reader to pose the age-old question: what exactly is love?
The narrator is a disturbing and incredibly sad figure. In order to replace the loss of his parents, lack of friends, and most importantly, the absence of romance or love, he has spent his life paying for sex. He refers to his need for touch versus companionship with Rosa Cabarcas’ whores as a substitution for what is missing in his life. He says, “Sex is the consolation you have when you can’t have love (69).” A writer and hermit, the man spends his days lying in a hammock in his mother’s old house and contributing articles to the paper he’s worked for his entire life. Although his editor and readers take interest in the life of a man who has lived so long by requesting articles regarding his wisdom and experiences, he makes the reader wonder what exactly constitutes a full life.
At first, when the old man goes to Rosa Cabarcas after staying away for several years , and attempts to find comfort in the arms of young girl, a virgin, the reader views him as a sort of sexual predator. The man is thought to overstep his bounds in wanting to deflower, and, in the eyes of many, violate a child. After all, no girl could want to sleep with a wrinkly and eerie old creature. But, when he spends his first night and many afterward with the 16-year-old Delagadina only to watch her sleep, find comfort in one-sided conversation, and bring her gifts of jewelry and paintings which once belonged to his mother, his intentions gain integrity. Through his very real emotions, thoughts, and actions, an odd beauty and legitimacy develops in his declarations of love, which at first, seem more like lust or perversion.
In conveying the story from the first-person perspective, Marquez slowly unfolds for the reader, a man who is not merely using a young girl for pleasure, but a person who has lived his life in isolation and lacks human affection. When the man finally finds a connection, a feeling of intimacy most people are lucky enough to experience in youth, as a nonagenarian, the reader must acknowledge the possibility of truth and beauty may be found in the strangest places and times.
The power of love is limitless and does not fit neatly into a box that most humans recognize. Marquez takes a man in his final year of life, a female pimp, and a helpless virgin, to mold a familiar notion into something unique and refreshing. The reader goes from harsh judgment to acceptance that love transforms people, regardless of the conditions under which it comes into existence. When the narrator expresses the revelation, “I became aware the invincible power that has moved the world is unrequited, not happy, love,“ there is no doubting his accuracy (65). The concept and significance of emotion, reverence, and dedication being different for each individual is mind-opening and altering. We come to ask ourselves if tangibility makes for more validity than abstraction, and answer with certainty: no. What may not be real to others could not be truer for the narrator, and this makes for a compelling first and final love in his life.