One Hundred Years of Solitude | Study Guide

Gabriel García Márquez

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One Hundred Years of Solitude | Chapter 13 | Summary

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Summary

Learning she has cataracts prior to the birth of her great-great-grandson, Úrsula hides her blindness because she wants to remain involved. With her failing eyesight, she perceives the truth about her children. She is distressed that she can't help José Arcadio become Pope, and he leaves for seminary.

As "banana fever" calms Aureliano Segundo, an overseer for the banana company, he prefers Petra's company to Fernanda's. From his time with Petra his business prospers, and they continue entertaining. When he challenges "The Elephant," he loses consciousness and, fearing death, asks to be taken to Fernanda.

After he heals, fond feelings return for his wife, and he spends more time with her. Colonel Aureliano Buendía stops selling his gold fishes and withdraws from the family. José Arcadio Segundo returns home, and Úrsula is certain the twins have switched identities. During the carnival parade, Colonel Aureliano Buendía dies while urinating in the courtyard.

Analysis

As the Buendía matriarch's eyesight deteriorates, her clairvoyance strengthens. Through deep motherly love, she recognizes Colonel Aureliano Buendía's "incapacity to love," as well as Amaranta's "hardness of heart" and "concentrated bitterness." She realizes the only child who has the bravery she tried to cultivate in her family is Rebeca—their adopted, estranged child—and suffers guilt over turning her away.

Colonel Aureliano Buendía witnesses several signs of his impending demise. On the day of his death, Santa Sofía de la Piedad asks him the day, October 11th. It makes him recall a lover who died next to him in bed on the same day. The moments preceding his death are full of images foreshadowing his end. When he counts the gold fishes, there are 17, the same number of his sons who were tagged by permanent ash crosses for extermination. The labeling and the murder suggests corruption in the church. During his siesta, he dreams a recurring dream set in a house that recalls his father's vision before death, a house filled with identical rooms. The first thing he sees in the approaching circus is a woman dressed in gold, a symbol of the Spanish Golden Age, which he has rebelled against most of his life.

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