One Hundred Years of Solitude | Study Guide

Gabriel García Márquez

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One Hundred Years of Solitude | Discussion Questions 11 - 20


How do Úrsula and Fernanda del Carpio's characters contrast in One Hundred Years of Solitude?

When Úrsula, the matriarch of the Buendía family, weakens with blindness and age, Fernanda del Carpio controls "the destiny of the family." As soon as Fernanda arrives at the house, she imposes her traditional customs, forbidding others to eat anywhere other than the dining room. She imposes prayer before dinner, which is served with silver and linen by candlelight. When Fernanda insists on continuing her parents' traditions, she contradicts Úrsula's impulsive "superstitions." While Fernanda enforces a "circle of rigidity," Úrsula, who took great care to "preserve family harmony and ... suffered in secret from the domestic friction," partakes in the family's mockery of Fernanda with one insult. Two matriarchs in their own right, both women approach family dynamics in a different manner. Úrsula's intuition is a stark contrast to Fernanda's tradition.

What is mysterious about José Arcadio's death in One Hundred Years of Solitude,Chapter 7?

Because of the "threat of a storm," José Arcadio returns home early. While Rebeca is in the restroom, he goes to the bedroom and shuts the door. Immediately a shot rings out, and a trickle of blood from his ear travels to Úrsula at the Buendía house, who follows the trail to her son's corpse. No evidence of a weapon or a wound is found, but the smell of gunpowder lingers. Even though they scrub him until his tattoos "fade," the smell remains until his grave is covered with concrete. Except for José Arcadio's death, the narrator always reveals whether a character is murdered (Aureliano José) or commits suicide (Pietro Crespi). Rebeca has no motive, so no charges are brought against her. Heartbroken, she withdraws into their house. Considering the repetition of names and fates, those with the name José Arcadio traditionally suffer tragedy.

What are some examples of how Gabriel García Márquez makes Fernanda del Carpio's character sympathetic in One Hundred Years of Solitude?

Raised in "a gloomy city" by parents who shield her from the world, Fernanda del Carpio, her peers, and the nuns believe she's being raised for monarchy. She believes in the "legendary kingdom" despite the house's contents disappearing to support her and her ill mother. On her first excursion into the world, she witnesses a massacre. When she returns, she locks herself in her room, crying and inconsolable, until Aureliano Segundo arrives. She believes him finding her is an "impossible fate" because she lied about her origins. Shortly after they marry, she obeys her "spiritual adviser" and only sleeps with her husband on the approved 42 days. On their first romantic night together, he laughs at her because she wears a long-sleeved, floor-length nightgown. She promptly leaves him. He begins an affair with Petra, after taking a mean-spirited photo of his new concubine dressed as a queen. The author elicits sympathy for Fernanda and her plight, seeing as she must endure her husband's mockery and his decision to take a concubine and show her off to Fernanda's dismay.

What does José Arcadio Buendía mean when he says "Love is a disease" in One Hundred Years of Solitude, Chapter 4, and how is this statement significant?

When José Arcadio Buendía says "Love is a disease," his son, Colonel Aureliano Buendía, has just confessed he wants to marry the youngest daughter of his enemy Don Apolinar Moscote. However, love, a theme explored throughout the narrative, is significant because it has many forms: lustful, familial, incestuous. With the theme of past and present, the past influences the present characters, and events repeat, giving time a feeling of circularity. The story begins with cousins José Arcadio Buendía and Úrsula marrying despite a history of an incestuous relationship in their family and the birth of a child with a pig's tail. Throughout the story, Amaranta only involves herself romantically with family, Arcadio seeks his mother Pilar's physical company, and Amaranta Úrsula bears a child with a pig's tail by her nephew Aureliano (II). This love is a disease and a curse on the Buendía family as it has no cure, is transmitted through the generations, and shows physical symptoms in the form of a pig's tail.

How are Petra and Fernanda del Carpio's characters different, and similar, in relation to Aureliano Segundo in One Hundred Years of Solitude?

Throughout his life, Aureliano Segundo remains involved with both women and both women influence him. While he's married to Fernanda del Carpio, Petra remains his concubine. He alternates between both houses—summering with Fernanda for their daughter, walking from one house to another in the deluge. The women take turns being favored by him. With the exception of the attention he pays Meme, Petra practices patience, knowing Aureliano Segundo will return to her, which he does. Petra is able to encourage the "reserved" boy to host great parties and, later, to mature. Fernanda, impatient and unyielding, sends his things to Petra's house after she learns of the affair. She holds a reign of responsibility over him. He sends her food, and when he thinks he's dying he asks to be carried to her. When Fernanda leaves after two months of marriage, he persuades her to return.

In One Hundred Years of Solitude, how does writing alter the mood of the Buendía house?

With the introduction of romantic love in the Buendía house, the children begin writing: Colonel Aureliano Buendía writes poetry with "no beginning or end." He writes everywhere—on paper, walls, his body. His obsession is displayed in the repetition of "Remedios" in his poems and the text. In a single sentence her name appears seven times, "Remedios in the steaming morning bread, Remedios everywhere and Remedios forever." Even though the mail arrives every two weeks, Rebeca waits for Pietro's letters every day. When a delivery is late Rebeca eats earth. Both girls keep their letters—Rebeca's from Pietro, Amaranta's written to Pietro and unsent—locked in a trunk, tied with pink ribbon and flowers. Úrsula discovers both. Romantic love, in all of its different forms—controversial, marriage, failed engagements, unrequited, spiteful—drives the narrative's plot. Writing becomes a way to express this romantic love.

In One Hundred Years of Solitude, Chapter 5 what is the significance of José Arcadio Buendía reverting to Latin in his madness?

When José Arcadio Buendía suffers a mental breakdown, he breaks everything the gypsies exposed him to, yelling fluently in a language no one recognizes. When he speaks to Father Nicanor, he answers questions in Latin. Latin is popularly known as the language of religion and scholarship. When Father Nicanor tries to use their shared language to make José Arcadio Buendía a religious man, he refuses, asking for scientific proof of God. The two oppose each other, Father Nicanor representing religion and José Arcadio Buendía representing scholarship. By speaking in Latin to Father Nicanor, José Arcadio Buendía shows that he is the Father's equal in language and intellect and will not be swayed in his beliefs. This causes Father Nicanor both to abandon his cathedral-building project and to question his own faith. No one else can speak Latin but these two men. Latin being a dead language also foreshadows the death of both men and the fate of Macondo, a symbol of Colombia.

When Arcadio faces a firing squad in One Hundred Years of Solitude, Chapter 6, what is significant about his last wish?

Responsible for the death of 350 soldiers, Arcadio is sentenced to death. When stating his last wish he asks that Santa Sofía de la Piedad name their daughter Úrsula and their son José Arcadio after "his grandfather." The moment before his death, he realizes he forgot to ask Santa Sofía de la Piedad that if the second child is a girl to name her Remedios. When they shoot him, he curses them and pledges his allegiance to the Liberal Party instead of clarifying his wish. Coincidentally, Santa Sofía de la Piedad decides against the name Úrsula, giving her daughter the name Remedios. She bears twins, José Arcadio Segundo and Aureliano Segundo. The circularity of the novel returns as Arcadio requests that the children be given family names, thereby continuing the Buendía tradition and dictating their future.

What supports Úrsula's belief that the twins have switched places in One Hundred Years of Solitude?

Because not even their mother Santa Sofía de la Piedad can tell them apart, José Arcadio Segundo and Aureliano Segundo often switch places to trick others. "The insistent repetition of names" in their family makes Úrsula "certain" of some patterns in names. These qualities of José Arcadio Segundo are atypical of José Arcadios: antisocial clearheaded skinny interested in war These qualities of Aureliano Segundo are atypical of Aurelianos: obsessive ambitious enormous "marked" by tragedy reclusive interested in Melquíades's manuscripts able to see Melquíades At the twins' death, their caskets are mixed up, letting them rest in their true places.

What are Amaranta's motives for rejecting Pietro Crespi's proposal in One Hundred Years of Solitude, Chapter 6?

Amaranta's mother Úrsula says her daughter's "hardness of heart" scares her and her "concentrated bitterness ma[kes] her bitter." While the parents negotiate the engagements of their children, José Arcadio Buendía lobbies for Rebeca and Pietro Crespi's engagement because Úrsula supports Colonel Aureliano Buendía and Remedios' union. Knowing Amaranta is in love with Pietro, too, they plan a trip to the capital to distract her. Amaranta's motives for rejecting Pietro's proposal include: a deep-seated jealousy of Rebeca her anger at Pietro for trying to pawn her off on his brother her inability to thwart Rebeca and Pietro's wedding plans

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