We get a brief summary of Colonel Aureliano's military career: 32 uprisings, 17 kids by different women, 14 assassination attempts, one firing squad (all of which he survived). This guy's a born winner and eventually goes on to die of old age.
But before that happens, let's see what our other Macondo friends get up to when Colonel Buendía goes off to organize his campaigns. (Our prediction? Nothing good.)
When Aureliano leaves, he puts Arcadio in charge. Up until now, Arcadio's been a good, upstanding young man, in charge of Macondo's school. So he should be okay with a little increase in power, right?
Arcadio immediately dials it all the way up to dictator-running-a-kleptocracy. He busts out some uniforms for himself and the students, whom he forms into a little enforcer squad that he sets loose in the city. Then he passes decree after decree.
At first, no one really cares about these kids playing soldier. But Arcadio kicks it up a notch and starts imprisoning people for no reason. Finally he strings up Don Apolinar Moscote in front of a firing squad in the name of Liberalism. Yikes.
Úrsula finds out about the execution just in time and chases off Arcadio with a whip, yelling at him like he's a little kid.
Just like that, she becomes the ruler of the town and Arcadio's reign of terror is over. That was quick.
Meanwhile, Úrsula takes care of José Arcadio Buendía, who's still tied to his tree. At first, she tells him the truth about what's happening. That seems to make him sad, though, so she begins to invent lies about the family.
Amaranta and Pietro Crespi seem like they're just about ready to set a date for the wedding. He loves her more and more each day, she seems ready for a life of happiness, and finally he proposes.
Amaranta's answer? "I wouldn't marry you even if I were dead" (6.9). Yowza.
After trying everything to get her to change her mind, Pietro Crespi kills himself. This isn't good.
Amaranta burns her hands on a stove as penance. But the man is still dead.
When Arcadio decrees official mourning for Crespi, Úrsula is relieved and thinks he's come back to sanity. But no – he was basically abandoned as a kid and grew up sad, powerless, and ignored by the whole family, so sanity isn't his strong suit.
Arcadio has no idea who his parents really are (we do: Pilar Ternera and José Arcadio [II], who is now married to Rebeca).
One day, he corners Pilar Ternera and demands to have sex with her. Uh oh, Freud would have a field day with that one.
Pilar kind of plays it off and sets a date for the next night. The following night Arcadio has sex with… not his mom, thankfully, but with a virgin named Santa Sofía de la Piedad. Pilar has paid her a bunch of money to make this happen.
From that day on, Arcadio and Santa Sofía are a thing. Eventually they have a daughter and another kid on the way.
Meanwhile, Arcadio gets tight with José Arcadio (II) and Rebeca, who are still pariahs living on the outskirts of the town. Why pariahs? Um, because of all the incest – or close enough to incest.
It turns out that José Arcadio (II) has been basically shoving his neighbors off their land and taking over their acreage.
Arcadio proposes that he do this through an official land-registry office, which would transfer land titles to José Arcadio (II) and also collect protection money from whomever wanted to hang on to their land.
When Úrsula finds all this out, she's horrified. But before she can do anything, a messenger from Colonel Aureliano Buendía comes to warn Arcadio that the Liberals are being defeated.
And just like that, a bunch of government soldiers come and sack Macondo. Arcadio manages to briefly escape, but he's captured at his house and forced to face a firing squad.
As he is about to die, Arcadio is as happy and fearless as he's ever been, mulling over his life and family and calmly thinking the whole thing is ridiculous.