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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 20

Summary

Pilar dies and is buried, as per her request, in her wicker chair, under the dance floor. The Catalonian sold his bookstore and moved back to the Mediterranean. He sends Aureliano and his friends letters, the last one which states that they should leave Macondo and forget the past. All but Aureliano and Gabriel had left within a year.

Macondo is becoming hot and stifling, and even more secluded. The red ants make so much noise that it is difficult, if not impossible to sleep. Gaston has returned to Brussels. The only two happy people in the entire town are Amaranta Úrsula and Aureliano. After the first time they have sex the first time, they have been constant lovers. The care of the house is secondary. The ants are not stopped unless they come into the bedroom. Gabriel is in Paris.

Amaranta Úrsula becomes pregnant shortly after Pilar’s death. She starts to suspect that she might be related to Aureliano, but they check all the baptismal records and cannot find anything to support that idea so they do not worry about the baby. They accept that Aureliano is a foundling. Amaranta gives birth to "the only one in a century who had been engendered with love" and wants to name the child Rodrigo, but Aureliano says that his name is to be Aureliano. Only after the midwife had cut the cord and wiped him off did they notice the pig’s tail, but they had not heard Úrsula’s warnings, so they did not worry. Besides, Amaranta Úrsula was in trouble; the bleeding would not stop. She died a few days later.


Aureliano wanders the city, drinking, and looking for consolation. At one point, he remembers the baby, but is unable to move. A moment of lucidity strikes him and he understands the final line of Melquiades’ parchment: "The first of the line is tied to a tree and the last is being eaten by ants." He sees that his son is dead and is being carried away by ants. He realizes that Melquiades’ parchment is the detailed story of his family and that his fate is written in it. Aureliano states that Sanskrit was Melquiades’ mother tongue, and that the even lines were encrypted in the private cipher of the Emperor Augustus and the odd lines were encrypted in Lacedemonian military code. Aureliano reads his family’s entire story and discovers that Amaranta Úrsula was not his sister but his aunt. He does not notice, however, that a cyclone is destroying the house. He skips to the end and reads himself reading the parchment and it says that Macondo will be destroyed by the cyclone and forgotten.

Notes

The people around the Buendías are leaving Macondo fast; it could be described as the rats leaving a sinking ship. Pilar dies but most of the rest leave while living.

The giant red ants are becoming more prevalent and plague-like.

Amarant Úrsula discovers she is pregnant and she and Aureliano are worried that something bad will become of an incestuous relationship. They try to find out for sure, but since nothing definite can be found, they accept the idea that he is a foundling. Here, the silence of Fernanda and the inability of Úrsula to be heard creates the pig-tail child. The family, which began so long ago incestuously, has now been ended due to the incest.

The end of the family includes one death in childbirth and one death by neglect (and an army of ants). Aureliano, the last surviving, lasts long enough to understand the parchment, which tells that the family and town are being destroyed.

The parchment and the novel are essentially the same, and thus the reader is placed in the role of Aureliano. However, the big difference is the memory. Aureliano and the parchment state that Macondo will be forgotten, but the parchment/novel is what will keep the story alive. In this way García Márquez is writing his country’s history in such a way as to prevent forgetting: by making it fiction (or by inserting it into a fictional narrative).

It is said that the parchment was written in Melquiades’ native tongue, but Sanskrit is an ancient (dead) language; he would have had to be hundreds of years old at the beginning.

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