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One Hundred Years of Solitude | Study Guide

Gabriel García Márquez

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One Hundred Years of Solitude | Chapter 18 | Summary



Aureliano (II) immerses himself in Melquíades's manuscripts. At Melquíades's suggestion, Aureliano asks Santa Sofía de la Piedad to buy a primer from the Catalonian's bookstore for translating. After her sons die, Santa Sofía de la Piedad admits her exhaustion. She leaves to live with family in Riohacha. Aureliano (II) assumes the domestic chores while Fernanda, believing elves are toying with her, loses touch with reality and time.

It takes three years for Aureliano (II) to translate the first sheet. When Melquíades recommends more books from the Catalonian's, Aureliano waits until he finds Fernanda dead. He visits the bookstore and attempts to pay with a gold fish, but the Catalonian gives him the books.

José Arcadio returns and restores Meme's room. To distract himself, he entertains kids at the house who, while snooping, discover the gold. After the four children destroy the house, José Arcadio orders them to leave. While José Arcadio bathes, the four children break in, murder him, and steal the gold.


Even though these last chapters are filled with death, there's much evidence of the theme of love, too. Santa Sofía de la Piedad, an example of motherly love, fulfills her promise to ensure that José Arcadio Segundo is dead by cutting his throat. After outliving her kids, she leaves Macondo. Even though she's a minor character, she's a positive one: hardworking, respectful, pleasant. When she says goodbye with a peso and 25 cents, Aureliano gives her 14 of the 16 gold fishes, a symbol of his familial love and a sign of his appreciation. After Aureliano Segundo's death, Petra continues sending Fernanda food—first out of spite, then out of ego, then out of platonic, human love.

In the story the power of names is explored, their repetition working like logic. In this chapter, a similar effect is created with rooms. When José Arcadio moves into Meme's old room, he takes on qualities she exhibited while living there: the restless lovesickness in his pacing and breathing. Also adopting qualities of Remedios the Beauty in his bathing ritual and minimalistic clothing, he displays Meme's obsessiveness in his repetitive thoughts of Amaranta, who initiated an incestuous relationship with him during baths. After falling in love with Mauricio Babilonia, Meme never went a day without thinking about him. This quality is shown in José Arcadio's differing actions that are haunted by the same thoughts, in life and death, and represent unrequited love:

  • "pacing, breathing like a cat and thinking about Amaranta"
  • "floated on his back ... remembering Amaranta"
  • "bloated and still thinking about Amaranta"
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