Literapedia Book Notes for

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez


Note: The family tree for this novel is rather convoluted, and a graphical representation can be found here:
  • José Arcadio Buendía (ch 1) — the founder of Macondo, constantly pursuing rather esoteric knowledge from the outside world.
  • Úrsula Iguarán (ch 1) — the matriarch of the Buendía family and wife of José Arcadio Buendía who lives to be over one hundred years old.
  • Melquíades (ch 1) — the gypsy who brings technological marvels to Macondo and befriends the Buendía clan.
  • Pilar Ternera (ch 2) — a local whore and madam. With José Arcadio, Pilar is the mother of Arcadio; with Colonel Aureliano Buendía, she is the mother of Aureliano José. She is also a fortune-teller whose quiet wisdom helps guide the Buendía family. She survives until the very last days of Macondo.
  • Amaranta (ch 3) — a bitter and lonely virgin who constantly bears a deep-seated jealousy for Rebeca.
  • Colonel Aureliano Buendía (ch 6) — this second son of José Arcadio Buendía becomes a commander in the Liberal insurrection who brings into the world seventeen sons by seventeen different women.
  • Remedios Moscote (ch 5) — the bride of Colonel Aureliano Buendía, married early in life and died of miscarriage soon after.
  • José Arcadio (ch 2) — son of Úrsula Iguarán who leaves home in pursuit of a gypsy girl and returns a brutish sailor.
  • Rebeca (ch 3) — the orphan girl who eats dirt and infects the town with the insomnia plague.
  • Aureliano José (ch 8) — the son of Colonel Aureliano Buendía and Pilar Ternera who falls in love with his aunt, Amaranta, and serves and dies in the Colonel's army after she rejects him.
  • Arcadio (ch 3) — the son of José Arcadio and Pilar Ternera who, following his tenure as schoolmaster of the town, becomes a ruthless tyrant when Colonel Aureliano Buendía places him in charge of Macondo during the uprising. He is killed when the Conservatives retake the village.
  • Remedios the Beauty (ch 4) — the daughter of Santa Sofía de la Piedad and Arcadio, Remedios the Beauty becomes the most beautiful woman in the world, and desire for her drives men to their deaths. Remedios is childlike until one day, when she floats to heaven, leaving both Macondo and the novel.
  • Pietro Crespi (ch 4) — the gentle, delicate Italian musician who is loved by both Amaranta and Rebeca. Rebeca, however, chooses to marry the more manly José Arcadio. After Amaranta leads on Pietro and rejects him, Pietro commits suicide.
  • José Arcadio Segundo (ch 12) — the son of Arcadio and Santa Sofía de la Piedad, he finds purpose in leading the strikers against the banana company. He is the lone survivor of the massacre of the strikers, and when he finds that nobody believes the massacre occurred, he secludes himself in Melquíades’ old study, trying to decipher the old prophecies and preserving the memory of the massacre.
  • Aureliano Segundo (ch 14) — the son of Arcadio and Santa Sofía de la Piedad, he is immense, boisterous, impulsive, and hedonistic. Although he loves the concubine Petra Cotes, he is married to the cold beauty Fernanda del Carpio, with whom he has three children: Meme, José Arcadio (II) and Amaranta Úrsula.
  • Fernanda del Carpio (ch 11) —the wife of Aureliano Segundo and the mother of Meme, José Arcadio (II), and Amaranta Úrsula. Fernanda del Carpio was raised by a family of impoverished aristocrats; she is very haughty and very religious.
  • José Arcadio (II) (ch 17) — the eldest child of Aureliano Segundo and Fernanda del Carpio, Úrsula decides that José Arcadio (II) is supposed to become the Pope, but he in fact slides into dissolution and solitude. On his return from his unsuccessful trip to seminary in Italy, José Arcadio (II) leads a life of debauchery with local adolescents who eventually murder him and steal his money.
  • Gaston (ch 19) — the Belgian husband of Amaranta Úrsula.
  • Petra Cotes (ch #) — Aureliano Segundo’s concubine. Petra Cotes and Aureliano Segundo become extremely rich
  • Meme (ch 14) — the daughter of Fernanda del Carpio and Aureliano Segundo, Meme’s real name is Renata Remedios. Her debaucherous acts land her in a convent.
  • Aureliano (II) (ch 19) — the illegitimate son of Meme and Mauricio Babilonia, Aureliano (II) is concealed by his scandalized grandmother, Fernanda del Carpio. He grows up a hermit in the Buendía household, only gradually acclimating himself to society. Aureliano (II) becomes a scholar, and it is he who eventually deciphers the prophecies of Melquíades. With his aunt, Amaranta Úrsula, he fathers the last in the Buendía line, the baby Aureliano (III), who dies soon after birth.

Chapter Summaries

  1. José Arcadio Buendía founds the town of Macondo with the help of Melquíades and other gypsies. In his quest for knowledge and progress, José Arcadio Buendía’s obsession shifts to a desire to establish contact with civilization
  2. José Arcadio Buendía kills Prudencio Aguilar because Aguilar insulted Buendía. Haunted by guilt and the ghost of Aguilar, José Arcadio Buendía decides to leave his home, and after many months of wandering, he, his wife, and others establish the village of Macondo.
  3. Arcadio is born, and Rebeca joins the family and the town, consequently infecting the town with the insomnia plague, which is only cured when, unexpectedly, Melquíades returns to town (from the dead) bearing an antidote. Melquíades brings with him a technology never before seen in Macondo, the daguerreotype; José Arcadio Buendía sets to work trying to make a daguerreotype of God, to prove His existence.
  4. Aureliano sleeps with Pilar Ternera, and Pietro Crespi comes to town. When the gypsy Melquíades slowly passes away, he is the first person to die in Macondo.
  5. Immediately after Remedios reaches puberty, she and Aureliano are married. The priest who is building the church makes the startling discovery that José Arcadio Buendía 's apparent madness is not as severe as everyone thinks, because the gibberish he spouts is not nonsense, but pure Latin in which he can converse.
  6. Colonel Aureliano Buendía leaves Macondo with his hastily assembled troops and joins the national civil war effort, fathering seventeen children around the country as he goes.
  7. The Liberals have lost the war, and Colonel Aureliano Buendía is captured and sentenced to execution by firing squad. His last request is that the sentence be carried out in his hometown of Macondo. He is saved at the final instant, however, by his brother José Arcadio, and, immediately, Colonel Buendía launches another uprising, one of thirty-two he will lead during his military career.
  8. Time passes, and Aureliano José, the son of Colonel Aureliano Buendía and Pilar Ternera, grows to maturity. He develops an unhealthy passion for his aunt, Amaranta, which she—in her loneliness—comes dangerously close to requiting. Meanwhile, Colonel Aureliano Buendía has been hardened by his many battles: when a court martial orders that José Raquél Moncada be put to death, he refuses to commute the sentence, despite the longstanding friendship between the two soldiers and the protests of all the town’s matriarchs.
  9. It is only when Gerineldo Márquez is condemned to death that Colonel Buendía is forced to confront himself, finally acknowledging the emptiness of the war.
  10. Colonel Aureliano Buendía has withdrawn even further from society, spending his days locked in his workshop making tiny golden fishes and refusing to speak about politics. Meanwhile, in his adolescence, Aureliano Segundo begins to delve into the esoteric mysteries still preserved in Melquíades’ laboratory.
  11. A history of Fernanda del Carpio is given. Soon after the birth of Meme, the anniversary of the armistice that ended the civil war occurs, and the president of the Republic tries to honor Colonel Aureliano Buendía with the Order of Merit, which he declines scornfully. His seventeen illegitimate sons, each named Aureliano, arrive at Macondo to celebrate the anniversary
  12. The influx of modern technology that arrived in Macondo with the railroad is amazing and troubling to the citizens of the now-thriving village. But doubly confusing is the arrival in Macondo of foreign capitalists who establish a banana plantation in the village and set up their own fenced-in town right next to Macondo.
  13. Úrsula, meanwhile, has grown very old and notices that time is passing more quickly now than it did in the old days. She is going blind, but no one notices, because she always knows where everyone is according to his or her daily routine.
  14. During the mourning period for Colonel Aureliano Buendía, Fernanda del Carpio gives birth to her third child with Aureliano Segundo, Amaranta Úrsula. Meme falls madly in love with Mauricio Babilonia, a mechanic working for the banana plantation who courts her bluntly and shamelessly and whose openness and solemnity entrance Meme. He is followed always by yellow butterflies.
  15. The tragic paralysis of Mauricio Babilonia traumatizes Meme, striking her mute. Macondo is placed under martial law, and the workers respond by sabotaging the plantation. The government reacts by inviting more than 3,000 of the workers to gather for a meeting with the leadership of the province and to resolve their differences. The meeting is a trick, and the army surrounds the workers with machine guns and methodically kills them all.
  16. The rain that begins the night of the massacre does not stop for almost five years.
  17. With the end of the rains, Úrsula gets out of bed and tries to rehabilitate the Buendía house.
  18. Aureliano (II) remains in Melquíades’s old laboratory, visited occasionally by the ghost of the gypsy himself, who gives him clues and eventually helps him decipher the prophecies. Aureliano learns that the prophecies are written in Sanskrit and that they will be deciphered when they are one hundred years old. The Buendías have become poor, but they are supported by food sent to them by Aureliano Segundo’s old concubine, Petra Cotes.
  19. Amaranta Úrsula returns to Macondo from Europe, bringing Gaston, her husband.
  20. As Aureliano reads the words of Melquíades, he finds that the text is at that very moment mirroring his own life, describing his act of reading as he reads. And around him, an apocalyptic wind swirls, ripping the town from its foundations, erasing it from memory.

Student Contributors

Ben Swartz