Just as Edmund Spenser believes in the ever-whirling wheel of Change; that which all mortal things doth sway, so too does Gabriel Garca Mrquez. In One Hundred Years of Solitude, Colonel Aureliano Buenda experiences life and the changes which accompany it. Spenser views human life as a constant change from one stage to another. The change may be either good or bad; but one thing is certain, change is inevitable. Colonel Buenda is a dynamic character who transforms from an idealistic leader into an increasingly cynical and corrupt man.
Toward the end of his life, he isolates himself from he rest of the world. In the beginning of Aurelianos career, he is an idealistic leader who is respected by his peers. He leads an uprising of twenty-one men under the age of thirty, armed with table knives and sharpened tools against the Conservatives occupying Macondo. He adamently disagrees with their form of government and begins the reform movement led by the anticlerical and democratic bourgeoisie. After the Liberal victory, Aureltio becomes Colonel Aureliano Buenda.
Aurelianos leadership parallels his fathers leadership of these young mens fathers who helped him found the village of Macondo. Similarly, Aureliano commands respect from his subordinates and has enormous power over other men as well. After being captured by the enemy, Aureliano is not executed because the Conservative firing squad is only too happy to switch sides and follow him into the Liberal army. Colonel Aureliano appears to be immortal and ubiquitous, returning triumphant, surviving numerous assassination attempts, and continuing to hold the loyalty of his friends.
When his comrade in-arms and oldest friend, Colonel Gerineldo Mrquez, proposes marriage to Aurelianos sister, Amaranta boldly rejects him because [Gerineldo] oves Aureliano so much [he] wants to marry [her] because [he] cant marry [Aureliano]. The Colonel has great allegiance and affection from those below him. However, as Aurelianos attitudes change, he loses their love and respect. After fighting many battles, Aureliano becomes increasingly cynical and corrupt. He comes to understand his own thoughts by writing out his experiences in verse. In this way, he comes to the terrible realization that [he] is fighting for pride.
As for what Gerineldo calls the Great Liberal party, Aureliano declares that it doesnt mean anything to anybody because the only difference between the Liberals and the Conservatives is the different hours that each party attends mass. Worse, he determines that his heroic struggle has simply been another Latin American power play. Likewise, Aureliano is a sell-out. He is easily persuaded to give up everything that he has gained for the Liberal cause: land reform, anticlericalism, and the aspiration for equality of rights between natural and legitimate children for money from the Conservatives.
The warfare is futile and has caused him to rot alive. Power has gripped the Colonel, distorting his idealism and his values from his earlier days, when he thought it important to redistribute ands and protect civilian lives. In the same way, he orders Gerineldo Mrquez executed because of a trivial matter. He then spends the night trying to break the hard shell of his solitude in order to recover some compassion for others. What results, though, is not love, but a new burst of pride and power.
He decides to end the civil war by force rather than negotiation. Aurelianos cynicism and debauched view of the world lead to the final tragic stage of his life. In the latter part of his life, the once glorious Colonel Aureliano Buenda isolates himself from the world around him. He does not have the capacity to love, and the fact hat he has had sex with countless women, without ever learning their names or even waiting for daylight to see their faces, shows his inability to experience true love.
He has fathered seventeen children of all ages, all colors, but all males and all with a look of solitude that left no doubt as to the relationship. His indifference to his surroundings and circumstances lead to his loneliness. Like his father before him, the Colonel begins to lose contact with the world. He reaches the extreme of self-isolation when he orders a chalk circle drawn around him and refuses to let anyone, even his mother, come closer than two eters. The futility and desperation of his solitude is shown by his frustrated suicide attempt.
After the Conservative victory, he tries to kill himself by aiming the gun to his chest. But the bullet misses all his vital organs. For the remaining years of his life, Aureliano busies himself destroying all trace of his passage through the world…and the trunk of poetry that he has written. In addition, he repeatedly makes, melts down, and then remakes little fishes out of gold, just to keep himself from thinking about his condition. He dies, finally, in solitude, leaning against the same chestnut tree where his ad father passed away.
Throughout Aurelianos life, he undergoes a transformation from a lively leader to a corrupt cynic, and ultimately dies a dispassionate loner. The civil war causes him to continually alter his attitude on life. The views which he once had, slowly disappeared, just as the hands of time turn into fading memories. As the present becomes the past, his once idealistic approach to his existence withers into withdrawal from society. While the spokes of Aurelianos wheel are becoming loose going downhill on the road of life, the wheel of change never ceases to stop rolling.