One Hundred Years of Solitude | Study Guide

Gabriel García Márquez

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One Hundred Years of Solitude | Discussion Questions 41 - 50

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In One Hundred Years of Solitude, Chapters 13 and 14 what punishment does Fernanda del Carpio repeat with Aureliano Segundo and Meme? What does it say about her character?

After Aureliano Segundo doesn't come home one night, his wife, Fernanda del Carpio, sends his trunks "with instructions that they be carried through the middle of the street" to Petra's. Considering her shaming a blessing, Aureliano Segundo throws a party. When Fernanda discovers her daughter Meme kissing Mauricio Babilonia in the movie theater, she leads her home without a word, making her suffer the "shame of parading her along the noisy Street of the Turks." After locking Meme in her bedroom, Meme continues seeing Mauricio Babilonia during her showers. Fernanda's punishment is based on her own feelings of shame, which affect her and the story greatly. Because of shame she can't be treated for her uterine pain, she loses a daughter, and contributes to the extinction of the Buendía line.

Why does Pilar tell Colonel Aureliano Buendía to "Watch out for [his] mouth" in One Hundred Years of Solitude, Chapter 7?

When Colonel Aureliano Buendía returns to Macondo with thousands of men and two states under his command, he feels uneasy and suspicious, so he seeks the guidance of Pilar's tarot cards. At her reading, the only clarity she offers is mysterious advice, "Watch out for your mouth." Days later, a poisoned cup of coffee arrives at his desk, and he, forgetting Pilar's advice, drinks it. He's taken home, "stiff" and "arched" with "his tongue ... sticking out between his teeth." Úrsula flushes his stomach, cocoons him in hot blankets, and feeds him egg whites, the same solution his sister Amaranta steeps her burned hand in.

In One Hundred Years of Solitude, what is Colonel Aureliano Buendía's relationship with poetry?

Colonel Aureliano Buendía writes poetry on two different occasions: when he falls in love with Remedios; and after he's poisoned and Úrsula nurses him back to life. Both time periods are highly emotional. When he discovers poetry, he's a young man falling in love. When he returns to poetry, he's a seasoned colonel who has lost himself in war, and poetry helps him remember himself and regain clarity. Colonel Aureliano Buendía wants his poetry burned twice: when he's scheduled for execution; and before he attempts suicide. Both times he asks women to burn it (first Úrsula, who promises and decides to wait for a "body," then Santa Sofía de la Piedad, who insists he does it). Both times he's preparing for death, and both times he lives. The colonel's relationship with poetry changes throughout the course of his life but remains a way for him to express what he is unable to express verbally. When he is young, he writes down his feelings of love; as an older man he uses poetry to cope with the horrors of war, hoping to regain a sense of who he once was.

How is the mood of Aureliano Segundo's search for Fernanda del Carpio created in One Hundred Years of Solitude, Chapter 11?

The search for Fernanda del Carpio is dramatized, and the mood created by the author is both tense and humorous. Before Aureliano Segundo departs, the narrator says the feat is "impossible" because Fernanda lied to conceal her identity. With two clues—her Northern accent and funeral wreath weaving—Aureliano Segundo's journey is likened to his family's to add tension: José Arcadio Buendía's search for Macondo Colonel Aureliano Buendía's civil wars Úrsula's protection of the Buendía line Because Aureliano Segundo's motivations differ drastically from his ancestors' motivations (a family's and a country's future versus lust), the contrast, instead, makes the scene humorous. Repetition of "When he asked" (about funeral wreaths and attractive women) shows superficial distance trodden and threat-lacking scenarios overcome: searching houses sifting through women Additionally, magical elements, the plain that echoes the traveler's thoughts, and sentimental lines such as "lost in misty byways ... in labyrinths of disappointment," are intended to increase tension and invite readers to indulge in the character's lofty hopes.

How is the extinction of the Buendías foreshadowed in One Hundred Years of Solitude, Chapter 19?

At the end of the story, Amaranta Úrsula, Aureliano (II), and their baby, Aureliano (III), are the only surviving Buendías. The demise of the Buendía family and Macondo is foreshadowed in an earlier chapter. Amaranta Úrsula, bored, visits Aureliano in his workshop. While listening to his answers to her questions, she holds his finger like "she had done ... in childhood." She snaps out of the "momentary dream," remembering she wanted to kill the ants, the ants that eventually destroy the house and her baby. At the door, she throws "Aureliano a kiss with her tips of her fingers," the same goodbye she gives her father at the station as she leaves for Brussels, two innocent, familial kisses before her corruption. The family's extinction is foreshadowed by distant memories, a plague of ants, and farewell gestures mirrored in past and present generations.

In One Hundred Years of Solitude, Chapter 20 what is unusual about Pilar's death, and why is it significant?

Of Pilar's death the narrator says, "It was the end." Her last wishes are unusual: Instead of a coffin, she's buried sitting in her rocking chair (a symbol of her longevity). Instead of a grave in the cemetery, she's buried in a hole in the center of a dance floor (to symbolize the dance she was not invited to). Instead of a headstone, she has a slab with no identifying names or dates (a symbol of her premonition that all would be erased). At the funeral, the women throw their jewelry into Pilar's grave and cover it with flowers as a gesture of gratitude for Pilar providing them with employment. Afterward, they close the bordello. Throughout the story, Pilar is forbidden from: attending the inaugural dance because of her illegitimate children; helping the Buendías in Úrsula's absence because Colonel Aureliano Buendía understands she has a hand in José Arcadio's disappearance. Yet over the years, she's sought out for her kindness, intuition, and company. She is, in a way, the essence of the vanished Macondo: confident, alienated, valued, vibrant, generous, hopeful.

In One Hundred Years of Solitude, how does Aureliano (II) manipulate and ignore what Amaranta Úrsula wants?

Amaranta Úrsula's character clearly shows that she is the strong descendant Úrsula had wished for. Amaranta Úrsula has "the lively eyes that Úrsula had had at her age." She doesn't weep, or smile, exhibiting Úrsula's "strength of character." When Amaranta Úrsula returns to Macondo, her character is promising. She's modern, firm, throwing out things that, to her, seem antiquated. She has clear goals and knows what she wants, but Aureliano (II) steals or forcibly overrules her power: When Aureliano confesses his love, she becomes angry, says she's leaving soon, and he ignores her. When Amaranta Úrsula tells him to leave the bedroom when she steps out of the bath, he ignores her. When Aureliano sexually assaults her, she resists, and he overpowers her. When Amaranta Úrsula wants to name their baby Rodrigo, Aureliano insists on Aureliano.

In One Hundred Years of Solitude, why does Colonel Aureliano Buendía father so many children?

While leading 32 uprisings, Colonel Aureliano Buendía fathers 17 sons by 17 different women. While he's away at war, the mothers bring the children, individually, to the Buendía house. At the beginning, Úrsula and Amaranta try to persuade the mothers to leave the sons with them, but the women refuse, which frustrates the Buendía women. Eventually, Úrsula and Amaranta learn of the custom of families sending their virgins into the tents of war heroes with the hope of improving their blood line, like "hens are turned loose with fine roosters." Because Colonel Aureliano Buendía is "one of [Macondo's] greatest men," his tent was popular, so instead Úrsula and Amaranta record his son's names, addresses, and birthdays for their father's return. Fathering so many children is Colonel Aureliano Buendía's way of ensuring his legacy will live on and to strengthen the Buendía family line. Perhaps he is aware of his family's future and hopes he can alter it.

In what ways do the characters have or lack power in One Hundred Years of Solitude?

The Buendías live among manuscripts, prophesies precisely predicting their existence and fate from the first Buendía, who's tied to a tree, to the last Buendía, who is killed by ants. The characters are unable to read the manuscript until a century has passed. This gives the characters the illusion of power over their own lives: José Arcadio Buendía's flight—Haunted by the ghost of Prudencio Aguilar, the man he murdered, the patriarch founds Macondo, and the ghost follows him. Don Apolinar—José Arcadio Buendía forces the magistrate out of town only for him to return. Colonel Aureliano Buendía's suicide attempt—After the armistice, the colonel shoots himself in the heart and lives. Aureliano (II)'s denial—There are two unexplained references alluding to Aureliano's ability to translate Melquíades's manuscripts and avoid the Buendías' fate—the Catalonian's ignored letter, and the knowledge of the manuscripts unlocking in a century combined with the story's ambiguous use of time—but Aureliano ignores these facts, happy with Amaranta Úrsula. The idea of a person's free will and their fate, over which they have no control, is characteristic of the Buendía family history. People exercise their finite power only to realize that they are not masters of their fate and cannot change the prophesies.

How is power explored in One Hundred Years of Solitude?

When Aureliano (II) realizes Melquíades has written the "history of the family ... down to the most trivial details" a century in advance, Melquíades's character becomes a prophet. Because the Buendías' history is predestined, none of the characters have the power to control their lives. Throughout the story, Gabriel García Márquez uses literary features (such as the insomnia plague and nearly five years of rain). The founding of Macondo has an Edenic quality—then, there was no death. The existence-erasing cyclone has a Noah's Ark–like quality—giving the world a chance to start anew. If the Buendías are presented as powerless, readers should note those who do exhibit power in the story: Conservative Party Church Banana company The story, then, appears to implicate the injustices inflicted on, and the humanity withheld from, innocents at the hands of systemic powers, and the fate of the family and town becomes a warning against power presented retrospectively.

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