Latin author Gabriel Garcia Marquez has written many short stories and novels that are considered to be Magical Realism. Some of these works are "The Ghosts of August," One Hundred Years of Solitude," "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings," "Chronicle of a Death Foretold," and "Light Is Like Water." In "Light Is Like Water" (December 1978), the use of various fantastic elements along with the realist elements is what defines this story as Magical Realism.
The exclusive magical element of "Light Is Like Water" is light because Toto and Joel use it as water. The use of light as water comes into use when Marquez says that the light begins to "pour out of the broken light bulb" (158) Light having the same physical characteristic as water is the use of "an 'irreducible element' of magic, something we cannot explain according to the laws of the universe as we know them" (Faris 167).
One of the realistic elements is the "beautiful aluminum boat with a golden stripe at the waterline" (158) that Toto and Joel's parents had promised to get them "complete with sextant and compass" (157-158). Marquez goes on to say that they had gotten the rowboat into the apartment when they had "invited their classmates to help bring the boat up stairs" (158). They used it to navigate "at will among the islands of the house" (158). To achieve this effect, Marquez uses the characteristic of de-familiarization or the "radically emphasizing common elements of reality" (Simpkins 150) to allow the boys to row on top of the light.
Other realist elements in the story are the "complete skin-diving outfits: masks, fins, tanks, and compressed-air rifles" (159) that the brothers had received from their father ...
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...old building hidden among the trees. It spelled over the balconies, poured in torrents down the façade, and rushed along the great avenue in a golden flood that lit the city all the way to the Guadarrama. (160)
Faris, Windy B. "Scheherazade's Children: Magical Realism and Post Modern Fiction." Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. Ed. Lois Parkinson Zamora and Windy B. Faris. Durham & London: Duke University Press, 1995. 163-190
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia. " Light is Like Water." Strange Pilgrims. Trans by Edith Grossman. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 1993. 257-262
Simpkins, Scott. "Sources of Magical Realism/ Supplement to Realism in Contemporary Latin-American Literature." Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. Ed. Lois Parkinson Zamora and Windy B. Faris. Durham & London: Duke University Press, 1995. 145-159.
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