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Free Study Guide-100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez-Book Notes
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

CHAPTER 15

Summary

Meme gives birth to a son, but the only one who knows his identity as Meme’s son is Fernanda. She claims that he is a foundling that she has taken in. Fernanda takes Meme away from Macondo to a distant convent. She is left there, and all we know about her after this is that she dies an old woman in Cracow without ever having spoken since Fernanda takes her away.

While Fernanda is gone, José Arcadio Segundo is inciting the banana workers to strike. After two weeks, the strike ended and the workers won one concession: they would not have to load bananas on Sundays.

Aureliano Segundo wants to rescue Meme, but Fernanda shows him that Meme signed herself into the convent and tells him that Mauricio had been shot trying to steal chickens. Although he does not believe either, he sees that she has the power and does not wish to contest it. She sends a letter to José Arcadio (III) that his sister has died. The baby is brought to the house, but has been baptized before Fernanda could name him; since Meme did not say anything, they named him Aureliano. Fernanda is upset.

One year later, José Arcadio Segundo organizes more strikes. The police break them up and arrest him. He is freed after a few weeks. The workers try presenting their complaints before the local authorities and courts, but the banana company runs the town. The army is sent in to quell the strike, but all they do is help the banana company harvest the fruit. The workers flee to the jungle and start acts of sabotage.

The government says that it will have the disagreement arbitrated, and asks that all the workers arrive in the town square. They do, and a captain declares them criminals and orders that they be shot en masse. The dead are loaded onto a train and taken away. José Arcadio Segunda is in the pile of the dead, but is still alive. He finally makes it off the train and heads back to town. A woman takes him in; he identifies himself and tells her what has happened. She answers that there were no dead and that since the time of Colonel Aureliano Buendía, nothing has happened in Macondo. The government, through the newspapers, states that the demonstration broke up peacefully and everyone went home. José Arcadio Buendía discovers that he is the only survivor.


He hides in the house and one night soldiers come to search the place. He does not have time to leave, so he goes into Melquiades’ room, where he is protected by its magic. After this, he becomes interested in the parchments

Notes

Fernanda refuses to accept Meme’s son as a Buendía, and this ultimately leads to the downfall of the family. Fernanda is again placed in the role of matriarch, especially when she exiles Meme. However, one thing which she is not able to prevent is the naming of Meme’s son Aureliano.

Aureliano Segundo and José Arcadio Segundo switch roles in this section. Aureliano Segundo gives in and accepts Fernanda’s version that Meme wanted to leave, becoming like José Arcadio sitting under the chestnut tree. José Arcadio Segundo switches from helping the banana company to leading strikes against. In that sense, he seems to be more like Colonel Aureliano Buendía who tries to rescue the town.

The banana company massacre reveals to José Arcadio Segundo the role of history in Macondo: it does not exist. No one can remember the past as we know it to have happened and the townspeople accept the version of the present that the authorities give them. García Márquez is not saying that the Colombian people are ignorant, but that they leaders are adept at deception. History surrounds them but they do not have the information to connect names and images.

José Arcadio Segundo’s escape from the authorities provides the opportunity for him to become interested in the parchment. Melquiades’ room protects him: the room has taken on the magical and immortal qualities of Melquiades himself.

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