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In this novel, plot and character are nearly synonymous: essentially, the plot is the repetition of character.
A good way to think about this novel is realize that García Márquez is heavily influenced by William Faulkner. In the same way that Faulkner creates the entire county of Yoknapatawpha, Mississippi through a few families from different social strata, García Márquez creates Macondo, Columbia from its founding to its destruction by focusing on one family.
The Buendía males, according to Úrsula, repeat or follow certain patterns based upon whether they are a José Arcadio or an Aureliano: "While the Aurelianos were withdrawn, but with lucid minds, the José Arcadios were impulsive and enterprising, but they were marked with a tragic sign." Úrsula thinks that the only two who do not fit this pattern are José Arcadio Segundo and Aureliano Segundo, who seem to share each otherís being. This may seem accurate at the beginning, but as has been shown throughout the notes, all the Buendía men tend to move between both identities at some point in their life.
Just because Úrsula tells us that is the difference does not mean she is correct (remember, she does not even realize that Amaranta Úrsula and Aureliano have been playing with her like a doll until after she is dead).
More than anything, it is important to look at the repetition of names as a kind of stagnation: the names represent a failure to move forward and an inability to recognize the past as anything other than a source of names.
The women of the family, while their names only rarely repeat (because so few daughters are born into it--most marry into the family), create a pattern of sexually repressed women who are obsessed with death. It is also the women who control the family: first Úrsula and then Fernanda. When Fernanda dies, the novel effectively ends.