Gabriel García Márquez once said in a novel that, “Humanity, like armies in the field, advances at the speed of the slowest.” Márquez was a Colombian writer during the time when much of the world was escaping from the grasp of traditional colonial powers. Much of his work reflects this, and the troubles that ensued once the colonizers left. “The Sea of Lost Time” is one such story. It is about a village that is surrounded by a cruel sea that is growing ever harsher and viler. A man named Mr. Herbert then arrives in the town, and tries to use his vast wealth to repair problems that the villagers didn’t know that they had until his initial appearance. Because this situation closely mimics that of the Western penetration of Latin America, Mr. Herbert has come to represent the West. Márquez relies heavily on magical realism, which is when a story has a realistic setting but incorporates fantastical elements and hyperbole, as well as symbolism to portray his themes. In “The Sea of Lost Time,” it is made evident that Márquez believes that his culture ought to be respected, but instead is being convoluted and abolished due to Western influence, as is exemplified by his use of magical realism, and symbolism, particularly the sea, the smell of roses, and the turtles.
Perhaps the most obvious and important symbols in “The Sea of Lost Time” would be the sea, which represents the state of the culture of the village, and by extension Latin America, over time. Márquez personifies the sea, by saying that it “sent” the smell of roses, and that, “…the sea was growing harsh, it was beginning to dump its heavy garbage on the town, and a few weeks later, everything was contaminated with its...
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...that Western influence has ruined almost to the point of nonexistence, but the heart still remains. The sea represents the state of Latin American culture over time. It is divided into layers, with each layer a bit more corrupted than the previous one. The roses foreshadow the convolution of the culture, as well as the different reactions that were had by the townsfolk to Mr. Herbert, and the turtles represent the heart of Latin American culture. Márquez once said that “Humanity, like armies in the field, advances at the speed of the slowest.” By this, he means that it will be a long time before cultures are accepting of each other, which, in the end, is ultimately the message he is trying to portray in “The Sea of Lost Time.” He is saying that Western influence has ruined Latin American culture, and that it will be a long time before anything will ever change.
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