One Hundred Years of Solitude
How we cite our quotes:
For Santa Sofía de la Piedad the reduction in the number of inhabitants of the house should have meant the rest she deserved after more than half a century of work. Never a lament had been heard from that stealthy, impenetrable woman […] who dedicated a whole life of solitude and diligence to the rearing of children although she could barely remember whether they were her children or grandchildren. [Santa Sofía de la Piedad] liked to stay in the corners, without a pause, without a complaint, keeping clean and in order the immense house that she had lived in ever since adolescence […]. But when Úrsula died the superhuman diligence of Santa Sofía de la Piedad, her tremendous capacity for work, began to fall apart. […] With neither the time nor the resources to halt the challenge of nature, Santa Sofía de la Piedad spent the day in bedrooms driving out the lizards who would return at night. [ . . . ] Santa Sofía de la Piedad continued struggling alone, fighting the weeds to stop them from getting into the kitchen, pulling from the walls the tassels of spider webs which were rebuilt in a few hours, scraping off the termites. But when she saw that Melquíades' room was also dusty and filled with cobwebs even though she swept and dusted three times a day, and that in spite of her furious cleaning it was threatened by the debris and the air of misery that had been foreseen only by Colonel Aureliano Buendía and the young officer, she realized that she was defeated. Then she put on her worn Sunday dress, some old shoes of Úrsula's, and a pair of cotton stockings that Amaranta Úrsula had given her. […]
[Aureliano (II)] saw her cross the courtyard with her bundle of clothing, dragging her feet and bent over by her years, and he saw her reach her hand through an opening in the main door and replace the bar after she had gone out. Nothing was ever heard of her again. (18.6,8)
Here's another account of the struggle to singlehandedly maintain a huge household in the middle of a jungle. Check out the persistence on both sides. On the one hand, Santa Sofía de la Piedad is fighting off lizards, spiders, termites, and weeds. On the other hand, Mother Nature is giving as good as she's getting. Sweeping and dusting three times a day sounds pretty hard to maintain if you ask us.