One Hundred Years of Solitude | Study Guide

Gabriel García Márquez

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One Hundred Years of Solitude | Plot Summary

See Plot Diagram


One Hundred Years of Solitude is the story of the rise and fall of the Buendía family, which is mirrored by the development and destruction of their fictitious village, Macondo. Through a series of flashbacks, scenes, and backstory, readers learn about the seven generations of the cursed bloodline as they live, love, and die in their town.

The narrative begins with one of the most iconic lines in contemporary literature, which features Colonel Aureliano Buendía, moments before his execution, remembering "that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."

First Generation

The narrative returns to the beginning of the Buendía line with its patriarch, José Arcadio Buendía, and matriarch, Úrsula, who meet and marry in their hometown.

Haunted by the ghost of a man José Arcadio Buendía murdered to defend his marriage, he, along with a group of men and women, leave to find the sea and settle a new town. They search for almost two years. While sleeping by a river, José Arcadio Buendía hears the name of the town in a dream. He convinces the families to stay to found Macondo.

Second Generation

Every March the gypsies arrive, toting new inventions. Exposure to the outside world inspires ambitious José Arcadio Buendía.

When José Arcadio, the eldest son of José Arcadio Buendía and Úrsula, runs away with the caravan, his mother forbids the gypsies from returning. José Arcadio Buendía insists Melquíades, the head of the gypsy caravan and his friend and mentor, is always welcome, and Melquíades visits across the generations.

When Rebeca, the Buendía's adopted daughter, and Amaranta, the Buendía's biological daughter, reach adolescence, Úrsula expands the house to fit the next generations. During construction, the appointed magistrate arrives, introducing government to the village. Following the marriage of Colonel Aureliano Buendía (son of Úrsula and José Arcadio Buendía) and Remedios (daughter of Don Apolinar Moscote), Father Nicanor decides to build a church in Macondo, introducing religion.

Third Generation

Infamous for her tarot card readings, Pilar Ternera bears two children: Arcadio with José Arcadio and Aureliano José with Colonel Aureliano Buendía. Even though their fathers are absent, both children are sent to live with the Buendías. Both sons are drawn to their mother with whom they have no relationship.

While Colonel Aureliano Buendía leads the rebellion, he fathers 17 sons with 17 different women. Individually, each mother brings her son to be baptized in Macondo with the name Aureliano. Each son keeps his mother's surname.

Fourth Generation

When Arcadio, whom Colonel Aureliano Buendía leaves in charge of Macondo to the inhabitants' dismay, seeks a sexual relationship with Pilar, Pilar pays Santa Sofía de la Piedad to take her place, and she gives birth to Remedios the Beauty. At the time of Arcadio's execution, their daughter is eight months old, and Santa Sofía de la Piedad is pregnant with twin boys, Aureliano and José Arcadio Segundo.

Fifth Generation

Following José Arcadio Segundo's introduction of the French matrons to Macondo, they organize a carnival. Remedios the Beauty is named queen, and Fernanda del Carpio is scheduled to be crowned queen of Madagascar. When someone voices Liberal sentiments, the occasion turns into a bloody massacre. The twins save the two women. After the mourning period, Aureliano Segundo finds Fernanda in her "gloomy" northern city, proposes, and brings her to Macondo, where she bears three of his children, Meme, José Arcadio, and Amaranta Úrsula. The banana company arrives.

Sixth Generation

During the banana plague days, Meme is befriended by the Americans. While touring the plantation, she meets Mauricio Babilonia and begins seeing him in secret. When her mother discovers their relationship, she forbids Meme to leave. Every night the couple spends time showering together. Unknowingly, she becomes pregnant with his child. After Fernanda sends Meme to a distant convent, a nun delivers Aureliano to the Buendía's house, and Fernanda keeps his identity a secret.

When the banana workers strike, the government is called in to mediate the conflict. They massacre 3,000 people, then erase the event from the town's memory. They release a statement and claim to grant the workers their wishes after the rain stops. It rains for almost five years. When it stops, the banana company has vanished.

Seventh Generation

After Amaranta Úrsula returns to Macondo with her husband, Aureliano falls in love with her. While Gaston busies himself with projects, biding his time, the two begin an affair. After Gaston leaves for business, she becomes pregnant. Amaranta Úrsula suffers and dies from birth complications. Aureliano, in shock, roams the town, leaving his pig-tailed infant, Aureliano, at home.

When he returns, ants are carrying his dead son, the last of the Buendías, away. He translates the manuscript's epigraph. Realizing it's about his family, he reads to discover what went wrong. Amaranta Úrsula is his aunt, and his family's fate is sealed as the storm winds destroy him and Macondo.

One Hundred Years of Solitude Plot Diagram

123456789101112131415ClimaxResolutionIntroductionRising ActionFalling Action


1 Úrsula marries José Arcadio Buendía; they found Macondo.

Rising Action

2 José Arcadio Buendía takes his sons to see ice.

3 Government arrives; the colonel marries Remedios.

4 Religion arrives; Remedios dies.

5 José Arcadio Buendía goes mad and is tied to a tree.

6 Colonel Aureliano Buendía commits to the Liberal Party.

7 The colonel leads uprisings and returns hardened by war.

8 At the colonel's execution José Arcadio saves him.

9 Colonel Aureliano Buendía returns to finish his war.

10 Colonel Aureliano Buendía attempts suicide after armistice.


11 The banana company arrives.

Falling Action

12 Colonel Aureliano Buendía dies.

13 The army kills striking workers, erases event, flees town.

14 Amaranta Úrsula dies having Aureliano's pig-tailed baby.


15 Aureliano reads the manuscripts; he and Macondo disappear.

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