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One Hundred Years of Solitude | Study Guide

Gabriel García Márquez

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One Hundred Years of Solitude | Chapter 10 | Summary



When José Arcadio Segundo asks to see an execution and his brother Aureliano Segundo asks to access Melquíades's room, Úrsula wonders if the twins, who trick others by switching places, have swapped places accidentally. After reading Melquíades's stories, Aureliano Segundo asks Úrsula if they are true, which she confirms. While studying the manuscripts, the ghost of Melquíades visits Aureliano Segundo, and only he can see him. When José Arcadio Segundo takes an interest in church, Colonel Gerineldo Márquez is upset by his Conservative values, while Úrsula hopes religion enters the house.

When Aureliano Segundo begins sleeping with a woman his brother also sees, he keeps it a secret. After they both fall sick and heal, Aureliano Segundo remains with Petra and becomes rich.

José Arcadio Segundo introduces French women to the town, who promote a carnival, and Remedios the Beauty is named the queen. The carnival is attended by Fernanda del Carpio, the royal guard, and Macondo. Someone yells, "Long live the Liberal party!" Afterward, the royal guard shoots up the carnival. The twins carry the queens to safety.


The theme of past and present is explored further with the "mischievous" twins. Úrsula notices by observing the past generations that a child's name determines their attributes. She notes Aurelianos are "withdrawn" and "lucid" while José Arcadios are ambitious, obsessive, and "marked with a tragic sign." The chapter explores their development, which supports Úrsula's belief that the twins have changed identities. Aureliano Segundo becomes gigantic, and José Arcadio Segundo is skinny. Magic realism possibly explains José Arcadio Buendía's reason for talking to himself. When Úrsula discovers Aureliano Segundo talking to the ghost of Melquíades, she likens him to her deceased husband.

The circularity that is seen with names is also displayed in Colonel Aureliano Buendía, who dedicates himself to making gold fishes again. The colonel uses gold coins, a symbol of the Spanish Golden Age, which he melts and makes into fishes. After completing the process, he exchanges the gold fishes for more gold coins: "an exasperating vicious circle." He enjoys the task because the tedium distracts him from thinking about war, but his hobby gives his character a ghostlike quality: stuck in a lifeless loop.

The political unrest of Macondo, which symbolizes the turmoil of Colombia, is shown in the "bloody carnival." Thirty-nine are injured or dead. Yet the chapter ends with romantic love. After a six-month mourning and healing period, Aureliano Segundo finds Fernanda and marries her. In the same sentence, the flowers on the mass grave containing those who died in the massacre finally wither, and Aureliano Segundo and Fernanda's wedding celebration lasts 20 days, complicating the plot by contrasting the political madness with a personal milestone.

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