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One Hundred Years of Solitude | Study Guide

Gabriel García Márquez

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One Hundred Years of Solitude | Chapter 11 | Summary



After two months of marriage, Fernanda leaves Macondo because Aureliano Segundo has initiated an affair with Petra. When Fernanda confronts him, he claims it's only to secure fortune through the luck she brings with his animals, and the three ignore the reality of their situation.

Because of Fernanda's "rigidity," the environment of the Buendía house and the family dynamics change. After Úrsula becomes blind and weak due to age, Fernanda takes control of the house. She gives birth to a son and daughter by her husband, José Arcadio and Meme.

When Colonel Aureliano Buendía is honored with a jubilee, his 17 sons stay with the family. When each leaves with a permanent Ash Wednesday cross on their head and a gold fish from their father, Aureliano Triste stays and begins an ice factory. When the Aurelianos return, Aureliano Centeno stays and improves production at the ice factory. To expand the business, Aureliano Triste leaves and, eventually, returns with a train.


This chapter explores the backgrounds of Fernanda and Petra. Guided by a "spiritual adviser," Fernanda carries a calendar with little gold keys. It lists 42 days when the couple can have physical contact. Gold, a symbol of the Spanish Golden Age and its influences, estranges the spouses. Aureliano Segundo seeks out Petra to continue their lustful relationship.

Magical elements appear throughout the chapter, which support the theme of magic realism. Before the Aurelianos leave, Amaranta takes them to Ash Wednesday mass. Later, after scrubbing with numerous objects and products, they discover the crosses on their foreheads are permanent, an ominous target.

This chapter introduces the railroad, symbolic of Macondo's transition into a thriving hub, to the village. When Aureliano Triste draws a diagram of how to connect with the outside world, Úrsula, again, suffers déjà vu, overlapping the past and present. When a villager, hand-washing laundry in the river, hears the train approaching, she is scared by the sound of "a kitchen dragging a village behind it." The railroad symbolizes progress and the future but also brings with it an increase in population and its associated problems.

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