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The Effects of Unexpected Isolation

Categories: LiteratureShort Story

Does the thought of being separated, dislocated, and isolated from all previous and familiar contacts create fret? Maria, in “I Only Came to Use the Phone”, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, has been so isolated and dislocated in the past that she has been accustomed to it. The world, as a whole, views isolation and solitude as a bad concept which forces those who are isolated to be frowned upon. Maria is consistently forced to withstand isolation which comes upon her unexpectedly and unwillingly at various times throughout her life.

During these isolated events and occurrences, Maria is forced to conform and adapt to her new surroundings to fit in with others around her.

Maria goes through multiple involuntary and out of control situations that involve her being isolated and dislocated from her formerly known life. “One rainy spring afternoon, while Maria de la Luz Cervantes was driving alone back to Barcelona, her rented car broke down in the Monegros desert” (Marquez 71).

Maria is put into a horrible situation that is completely out of her control. This horrible situation leaves Maria isolated and secluded in unfamiliar territory where she desperately looks for any aid and help. Maria quickly decides to attempt to wave down others driving in the area in an attempt to signal them for help. These drivers, who “sped past her in the storm” (Marquez 71), did not have the decency to check up on Maria who was desperate need of help. This could directly suggest that these drivers viewed Maria in a bad light do the circumstances she was in.

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This allows the reader to think about how people react and view others in desperate times. Instead of doing the right and moral thing of helping an innocent girl, people assume the worst of the situation and continue on the path they were heading. As the story progresses, Maria ultimately waves down a bus which is said to not be going very far.

As Maria gets situated on the bus, she finds herself in isolation again, but this time she is isolated even though there are several other girls with her. “While they smoked, Maria gave in a desire to express her feelings and raised her voice over the noise of the rain and the clatter of the bus. The woman interrupted by placing a finger on her lips” (Marquez 72). Maria attempts to reach out and have social interaction with a fellow passenger while immediately ends badly. Maria obviously felt the need to talk to someone and express herself but is denied and sent back to isolation to ponder her thoughts. People today often desire for social interaction in times of dire need in an attempt to escape isolation and seclusion. This situation between Maria and the passenger enables the reader to create a connection to how others view people in desperate times. The passenger, who the reader later learns is most likely mentally unstable, refused to listen to Maria’s thoughts. As the story goes on, Maria arrives at the asylum where she is isolated from the rest of the patients due to the fact, she was not on the list of entering patients. This is ironic as it seems as if one isolated moment leads on to another.

Maria’s personal life shows many signs of unexpected loneliness as well. Maria is known to have many “past lovers” and has left her current husband, Saturno, multiple times. Maria, willingly and knowingly, leaves the people she loves unexpectedly. In return, this leads to the unexpected loneliness of her past partners. Throughout the story, Maria repeats and demands to have access to a telephone so that she can contact her husband, Saturno. Being in a mental asylum, she has no access to a phone which essentially drives her crazy. “Maria seemed to mature. She renounced her dreams of being an actress and dedicated herself to him, both in work and in bed” (Marquez 80). It seems as if Maria is genuinely staying with Saturno this time and really does feel bad that she can’t contact him to inform him where he is. In addition, it is possible that Maria sought after independence and exploration of solitude which is why she never settled down until meeting Saturno. Even while they were together it could be possible that Maria left in hopes to explore solitude again. “Hardest of all was her loneliness at night” (Marquez 83). This suggests that Maria, like most of the world, has a longing for connection and social interaction. Being isolated and secluded takes an effect on a person’s morale.

In Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s short story, “I Only Came to Use the Phone”, Maria is consistently forced to withstand isolation which comes upon her unexpectedly and unwillingly at various times throughout her life. The reader witnesses Maria face several different versions and circumstances of isolation depending on the situation that has put Maria in this form of seclusion. Many people in today’s world are unwillingly subject to isolation which changes and affects a person’s outputs and mental status. Throughout the story, we observe Maria go through this isolation which ultimately makes the reader have to think that Maria might be insane after all. This story is important as it shows how isolation is viewed by the world and what effect it can have on a person.

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The Effects of Unexpected Isolation. (2019, Dec 05). Retrieved from

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