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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 17

Summary

The rains cease and so Úrsula must die. She realizes that she has been a plaything for the children for three years and is upset. The house has become even more unstable because enormous red ants have built a colony under it.

José Arcadio Segundo is discovered by Úrsula in Melquiades’ room. His hair is tangled all over the place and his teeth are green; apparently, he has been studying the parchments and has not moved in years. José Arcadio (III) writes to say that he is coming home before taking his final vows.

Aureliano Segundo moves back in with Petra, but they have very little money. The start a lottery where people buy a ticket for a few cents hoping to win a pig or a calf. The drawings become so popular that they take on carnival status. He uses the money much more wisely now, and still supports Fernanda and the rest of the Buendías.

Amaranta Úrsula is sent to a very small girls’ school, but Aureliano is not allowed to go to any school.


Úrsula becomes smaller and smaller, until she is described as a fetus. She sees all her dead relatives in her room. She can no longer distinguish the present from the past. One day, while Amaranta Úrsula and Aureliano are playing with her, Amaranta Úrsula cries out that she is dead. Úrsula tries to tell them otherwise but they cannot hear her. She dies on Good Friday. The day of her funeral, birds start flying into walls and dying. Rebeca dies later that year.

The gypsies returned that year as well. The yellow train of the banana company is broken down.

Fernanda boarded herself and the rest of the family up within the house. José Arcadio Segundo teaches Aureliano about the parchments. José Arcadio Segundo has determined that the language of the parchment is comprised of 47-53 letters, which Aureliano recognizes from an encyclopedia that they have in the house.

Aureliano Segundo, who is dying, sends her daughter to Brussels to continue her education.

José Arcadio Segundo is talking to Aureliano when he suddenly dies. At the same instant, Aureliano Segundo is in bed with Fernanda when he dies. They are buried in identical coffins and the men who take them to the cemetery inadvertently bury each in the other’s grave.

Notes

Úrsula’s death is reminiscent of Melquiades’ and José Arcadio Buendía’s in that she stays around after she dies. The difference is that in this instance we are given the narrative from her perspective, but she does not realize that she has died. The children realize that she is dead but her spirit thinks because it is around that she is still alive.

Aureliano Segundo has one last period of success, but it is a mere shadow of his earlier self. We can see his generation fading quickly. When he and his brother die, it is the death of another generation.

The gypsies return, creating another cycle. The yellow train is now a relic like the Spanish galleon. Macondo is falling into history.

Fernanda’s closure of the house is symbolic; it is a self-burial. While there are still a few Buendías left, the legacy is over. We know that the end is close.

The switch between Aureliano Segundo and José Arcadio Segundo’s coffins indicates that there really was not that great of a difference between the two of them. Despite Úrsula’s earlier comment about what the family names mean, it is rather clear that all of the Buendía men are quite similar. They may adhere to different ideologies during their lives, but overall, they are more alike than different.

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