One Hundred Years of Solitude | Study Guide

Gabriel García Márquez

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One Hundred Years of Solitude | Chapter 20 | Summary

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Summary

The Catalonian sells his bookstore and leaves. He begins corresponding with Germán and Aureliano (II). The Catalonian urges them to leave, and they eventually obey. Aureliano and Amaranta Úrsula begin an affair. When Gaston goes to Brussels, their relationship accelerates.

Gaston writes to say his return might take two years. Amaranta Úrsula ignores the likeliness of it. When Gaston announces his return, Amaranta Úrsula, wanting "death before separation," admits her attachment to Aureliano. Gaston sends an unexpected, calm response.

Pregnant, Amaranta Úrsula remembers Aureliano's mysterious identity. Fearing they're siblings, he unsuccessfully searches the town's baptism records. In denial, they accept Fernanda's lie. Their son Aureliano (III) is born with a pig tail. Distracted by Amaranta Úrsula's excessive bleeding, they shrug it off, and Amaranta Úrsula dies the next day. Heartbroken, Aureliano leaves to drink.

When he returns, ants carry his dead baby away, recalling Melquíades's epigraph about the end of their line. He realizes the manuscript is about his family written a century prior. As winds blow the house away, he learns about his conception, that Amaranta Úrsula is not his sister but his aunt. While reading his fate, the winds wipe the Buendías and Macondo from existence and memory.

Analysis

The theme of love, combined with the theme of past and present, help complete the circle, which the entire family has avoided up to this point. The Buendía line begins with Úrsula and José Arcadio Buendía, who marry despite being cousins. Their knowledge of a similar relationship in their family bearing a son with a pig tail haunts them and prevents them from consummating their marriage, mostly because of Úrsula's fear. The matriarch spends her entire life trying to ensure the harmonious survival of their line, but shortly after she passes, the line ends with a pig-tailed son.

As Aureliano (II) and Amaranta Úrsula withdraw from the world into the bedroom, the house begins to rot. While Macondo, a symbol of Colombia's sad history, is in disarray, the house, through all of its renovations and revivals, is a physical representation of the Buendía line and its health. The ants take over. Even though the "noise of the red ants" is loud enough to disturb sleep, the couple is happy "in their delirium" as the house crumbles around them. The only room they protect is the porch and Fernanda's bedroom, representative of their lustful, incestuous relationship that Fernanda, in a way, fosters with her actions and lies. Because of the theme of magic realism, Fernanda's guilty conscience is shown with the image of her "bones trembl[ing] with horror in her grave."

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