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One Hundred Years of Solitude | Study Guide

Gabriel García Márquez

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One Hundred Years of Solitude | Chapter 12 | Summary



The railroad introduces new things and people to Macondo weekly. When Hotel Jacob is full, Aureliano Segundo invites visitors to stay at the Buendías'. When Mr. Herbert appears in their dining room, he eats every banana while examining the fruit. Shortly after, his colleagues arrive to study the land. Before a year passes, the original inhabitants hardly recognize Macondo.

A year after Mr. Herbert's initial visit, the town learns of the plans to plant banana trees in the "enchanted region." Two more of the Aurelianos arrive. Remedios the Beauty continues bewitching men. While helping fold sheets one day, she floats to heaven.

After Colonel Aureliano Buendía, angry at the development, claims to plan another war, all of his sons are executed, except Aureliano Amador. He disappears in the mountains. Colonel Aureliano Buendía mourns for three months, then seeks Colonel Gerineldo Márquez's support in ending the war they began. Márquez refuses.


The polarities alluded to in the previous chapter's last sentence are explored further in this chapter. Macondo's changes and period of adjustment are outlined as the town is flooded with "foreigners," then electricity, and finally, the banana company. The effects on Macondo's original inhabitants consist of "a permanent alternation between excitement and disappointment, doubt and revelation."

The changes affect the family, both past and present. The train takes the place of the gypsy caravan of yore. Colonel Aureliano Buendía withdraws from the visitors and into his workshop. José Arcadio Buendía's ghost begins pacing the house again, invoking the theme of magic realism. An encampment of zinc-roofed houses and a separate town for mansions with "palm trees" and "screened windows" are erected, symbolizing Colombia's colonization.

Remedios the Beauty's attractiveness possesses men. Her beauty and presence have magical elements. Úrsula quarantines her, making the 17 Aurelianos sleep elsewhere. No matter what she does, even shaving her head, her beauty and scent disturbs others. When a man climbs onto the roof to watch her bathe, he tries to jump down into the bathroom, against her warning, and falls to his death. Because of the violence she causes, people believe she has "powers of death," and she remains alone because no one can love her, causing her to move in a "restless circle." This restlessness is created with a long paragraph detailing her daily existence, which spans over two full pages, in which she sleeps and eats according to her "whims," and between her whims indulges in a "ceremonial" bathroom routine.

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