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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
This chapter begins with Pilar Ternera bringing her son to Úrsula and José Arcadio. They grudgingly accept his, and name him José Arcadio (III) after his father; in an attempt to keep names straight, he is called Arcadio. The entertainment gypsies return, but José Arcadio (II) is not with them, so they are not welcomed in the town. This group of gypsies says that Melquiades tribe has been wiped off the face of the earth for going beyond the limits of human knowledge.
Aureliano takes over his fatherís laboratory and begins his own experiments with alchemy. Aureliano predicts that someone will come, and the eleven-year-old Rebeca arrives, carrying her parentsí bones with her in a bag so that they would receive a proper Christian burial. The first description we get of her is ominous; words such as "scapular," "scaly," "green," "fang," "carnivorous," and "black" are used to describe her appearance. Since there is no cemetery in Macondo, the bones stay in the house. Rebeca is attracted only to the sound of clocks, and eats dirt.
By the time Rebeca is cured of eating dirt, the insomnia plague begins, which carries with it forgetfulness. Soon the entire town has contracted insomnia by eating the candies that José Arcadio Buendía made in his house. Another consequence of the insomnia plague is that the people begin dreaming while they are awake, and oneís dreams are visible to others. Aureliano is the first to realize that he and the rest of the townspeople are forgetting the names of things; this leads him to begin writing the names of things on the thing itself. Then he realizes that even if he knows the name of things, unless he remembers what it is used for, it will be useless; this leads he to write the name and the use on the thing. Signs are put up with the name of the town as well as things like "GOD EXISTS" and other philosophical and theological statements that might be forgotten.
It is also during the insomnia and forgetfulness plagues that Melquiades returns. With his return, the town regains its memory. José Arcadio and Melquiades revive their friendship, and Melquiades says that he has been dead, but it was too lonely so he came back.
Aureliano meets the girl that José Arcadio (II) had run away with, and he has sex with her. He wants to save her, but she has gone by the next day. Melquiades has recorded everything printable in Macondo; he has also introduced photography to them.
A magistrate, Don Apolinar Moscote, arrives from the government and orders that all the houses be painted blue in honor of the anniversary of independence. José Arcadio is upsets and threatens him, but eventually decides that the magistrate and his family (which includes Remedios) can stay, but only if the soldiers leave and the townspeople can paint their houses whatever color they wish. The magistrate agrees.
Aureliano becomes the central male figure in the novel. He takes over his fatherís experiments. It is also he who comes up with a way for the town not to forget things during the forgetfulness plague. He begins by writing the name of each thing on it, and then later he adds the function or use of the thing as well. Aureliano is thus representative of an attempt to maintain oneís sense of history. The irony of this is that he succeeds here, but later he is the one who is forgotten, even when there are signs with his name on them. This plague is indicative of the larger forgetfulness of Macondo: the town repeatedly forgets its past.
At this time, there is also an insomnia plague, which is cured only after Melquiades returns. He return signals the "magical" element of the novel. He is not constrained by death. This also sets him up as a prophetic figure and what he writes we should expect to be significant.
Finally, the arrival of Don Apolinar Moscote signifies the infusion of the political into the social. The new government has sent him in as magistrate. No longer is Macondo secluded entirely. We might be tempted to read this as the point at which Macondo begins to decline, but its very origins are troubled, so this should be read as merely another part of the cycle in a very downward spiral.
Rebecaís arrival with her parents bones prepares us for her own "self-entombment" later on. She is another representative of death and seclusion.