One Hundred Years of Solitude

One Hundred Years of Solitude Summary and Analysis of Section 3, Chapters 5-6

As soon as Remedios Moscote reaches puberty and is cured of her child-like habits such as wetting the bed, she and Aureliano are married. Remedios proves to be more graceful and responsible than others had imagined she would be‹caring for Jose Arcadia Buendia under his tree, intervening in fights between Rebeca and Amaranta, and taking in Aureliano Jose, the bastard son of Aureliano and Pilar Ternera, as her own child. The Buendias are thrilled with her and Aureliano "found in her the justification that he needed to live." Therefore it is a horrible tragedy when she dies suddenly and painfully from a stomach ailment, with a pair of twins "crossed in her stomach."

Remedios' death plunges the household into a long period of mourning. Rebeca's marriage to Pietro Crespi is postponed indefinitely‹it had already been postponed once before by Amaranta's suggestion that Rebeca's marriage be the first event to inaugurate Macondo's first church. The church's building, presided over by the levitating priest Father Nicador, is certain to take at least three years. Rebeca is completely demoralized.

Fortunately or unfortunately, Rebeca's troubles come to an end with the return of Jose Arcadio, the eldest son of Jose Arcadio Buendia and Ursula. He strides into the house "and the braces in the foundation shook with such force that Š.[everyone] had the impression that an earthquake was breaking up the house." Huge, covered with tattoos, and completely lacking in social graces, Jose Arcadio has sailed the world sixty-five times and come back to prostitute his huge sexual organ to the women of Macondo. Although the rest of the family is repulsed by Jose Arcadio's appearance and behavior, Rebeca lusts after him. They have ferocious sex and are married three days later, after Jose Arcadio violently announces his decision to Pietro Crespi. Disgusted, Ursula forbids them to enter the house. Despite his humiliation, Pietro Crespi manages to keep enough of his dignity to begin courting Amaranta.

Aureliano, meanwhile, resigns himself to a life without female companionship. He continues to play dominoes with Remedios' father, Don Apolinar Moscote, and it is through him that Aureliano learns about the two reigning political parties, the Conservatives, Moscote's party, and the Liberals. After witnessing the corruption of the Conservative Party, Aureliano mentions offhand to his friends that he would rather be a Liberal. They send him to a radical homeopath who indoctrinates Aureliano with the concept of political violence. Then war breaks out, and a brutal Conservative army occupies Macondo. Aureliano, furious at the violence and the oppression, leads twenty-one young men in a desperate revolt against the army. They win and set out to join the Liberal army, with Aureliano in charge. Before he leaves, Aureliano‹now known as Colonel Aureliano Buendia--puts Arcadio in charge of keeping the peace in Macondo.

The courtship between Amaranta and Pietro Crespi flourishes. They seem very happy and everyone expects that they will be married. But when Crespi finally proposes, Amaranta cruelly rejects him. Desperate, Crespi tries all matters of wooing to receive her love, but Amaranta refuses to speak to him. Despondent, he commits suicide. Horrified at what she has done, Amaranta burns her hand and covers it with a black bandage, which she wears for the rest of her life.

Arcadio has, as Marquez's narrator puts it, "a very personal interpretation" of power. To put it bluntly, he is a tyrant. He issues constant orders, most of them senseless, and is drunk with power. He agrees to let Jose Arcadio usurp the lands of his neighbors and makes Ursula ashamed to no end. He also begins an affair with a local girl, Santa Sofia de la Piedad, who bears him a daughter. But his reign comes to a screeching halt when the Liberals are defeated in the war and the Conservative army recaptures Macondo. When they place him before the firing squad, the Conservatives ask Arcadio for his final request. He responds that his daughter's name should be Ursula, and the child that is in Santa Sofia de la Piedad's stomach must be named Jose Arcadio if he is a boy.


In this section of the book, Marquez picks up an important theme that will follow throughout the rest of the book‹Latin American political violence. The fact that, in Solitude, politics are necessarily linked with violence says a great deal about Marquez's feelings and the history of Latin America in general. This theme is vital for a number of different reasons. Without it the rest of the novel might seem comical, fanciful even. Critics would have been able to dismiss it as an uproarious romp through the lives of some colorful, and admittedly exaggerated, characters. But not only does the inclusion of Latin American political history ground the novel in the serious and the tragic, but it allows Marquez to make fascinating links between the fantastic, which is a vital part of this novel, and the realistic, which is often even more fantastic than the levitating priests and gypsy fairs that populate the book. Essentially, Marquez compares reality as it is seen in Latin American politics‹the corruption, the dishonesty, the violence, the dictatorial behavior‹to the unreality of the world he spins in this book, and dares the reader to decide which one is harder to believe.

It is also important to note the role coincidence plays in this section. Solitude takes a great deal of its spirit from folklore and old-fashioned storybook yarns, and this is reflected in a number of coincidences that are quietly dropped throughout the book. At the very end of the chapter, for example, Arcadio wishes for his son to be named "Jose Arcadio" not for his uncle, but for his grandfather. Arcadio means that he wishes for his son to take after Jose Arcadio Buendia, the scientist under the tree, rather than the hulking, repulsive land-grabber Jose Arcadio. But what Arcadio does not realize is that he, Arcadio, is the son of the land-grabber, not of Jose Arcadio Buendia. Therefore his son will take after Jose Arcadio and not Jose Arcadio Buendia. This unfortunate coincidence‹made even more confusing by the repetition of names‹underlines the cyclical nature of time and history in this book. The Buendias should be progressing, but they are simply making the same mistakes over and over again‹a circumstance pointed out by how often the characters, wishing to provide good role models for their children, name them after the worst family antecedents.