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16. The theme of incest is connected to the theme of solitude, and are both consistent throughout the entire novel. Incest marks the Buendia family on two levels, and deepens their feeling of isolation and solitude. Above all else, incestuous relations are to be kept private because they are not sociably acceptable, hence those engaged in such relations must keep to themselves, and are thus unable to develop deep and meaningful relations with the world around them. This also applies to the Buendia family. They are solitary and eventually become disengaged with their surroundings. Also, the prophecy of Ursula in the beginning of the novel comes true, and at the very end of the story, a Buendia is born with the tail of a pig. This is a profoundly metaphorical image: the tail of a pig is a sign of the sin committed by the parents of the child. The fact that the child is born with a tail is both a sign of his parents' sin and of the fact that he is a result of the sin committed, one which he or she cannot escape; the child is physically marked hence emotionally scarred for life.
In One Hundred Years of Solitude, incest is at the beginning of everything as far as the plot of the novel. The first to have an incestuous relationship are Ursula and Jose Arcadio Buendia whose families will interbreed over decades. Incest shuts the Buendia men inside the boundaries of their own women-mothers-daughters, unable to love anyone else; fratricide is the way in which men finally end up contacting other men, under the mask of death and violence. The Buendia men cannot be saved because they do not learn from their mistakes, and are unable to assume responsibility for their actions. The act of incest has the emotional and psychological effect of making prisoners out of the Buendia men; they are caught in a situation which repeats itself generation after generation. Amaranta Ursula and Aureliano are the sixth - and final - Buendia generation to commit the sin of incest. They actually perform an investigation as to their ancestors in their attempt to determine whether or not they are related. Although no other Buendia has done this before them, they are not thorough and readily "accept the version of the basket" (Marquez: 415) meaning what is convenient to them. The couple are given the chance to break the incestuous cycle but take the easy path instead which leads to their destruction when their child is born with the tail of a pig.
Garcia Marquez, Gabriel. One Hundred Years of Solitude. Perennial, 1998