Study Guide

One Hundred Years of Solitude Chapter 12

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Chapter 12

  • So the railroad brings with it a whole bunch of new technology, kind of like the gypsies did back in the day.
  • Macondo gets electricity, a movie theater, a phonograph, and a telephone. All of which means we're now probably in the 1910s or so.
  • Along with all that stuff comes a white guy named Mr. Herbert.
  • Mr. Herbert comes to the house, eats a bunch of bananas, then goes off to study the rainforest where José Arcadio Buendía and his men got lost when they were trying to find the sea.
  • Next comes Mr. Brown driving a car, then a whole bunch of people who very quickly build a walled-off town next to Macondo and start to plant banana trees.
  • With these new people comes disorder, crime, lots more prostitutes, and just general chaos and insanity in the streets.
  • Aureliano Segundo and Úrsula are pretty psyched about the newcomers. Many of them come to eat at the house as soon as they get off the train, even though they don't know whose house it is.
  • After a year of this, two more ash-foreheaded Aurelianos come to town, too.
  • The only one who doesn't care about any of this is Remedios the Beauty.
  • She lives totally in her own world. She has shaved her head because it's annoying to have to deal with hair. Her only clothing is a sheet that she wears over nothing at all. (Try to picture this: not only is she naked under basically just a linen sheet, but this is a time when women were wearing some pretty complicated corsets and dresses and hiding their bodies much more than we do now.)
  • Her effect on all the men around her is almost scary, but she doesn't notice, understand, or care about it.
  • One guy sees her taking a bath and is so overcome that he ends up falling to his death. That's some hard-core beauty right there.
  • Everyone traces her magical sexiness to the smell of her body, which is so arousing that it's disturbing to all the new people in town.
  • It's clear that Remedios will never live a normal life, even though Úrsula tries to teach her a little bit about being domestic.
  • But Úrsula has other things to worry about. For instance, she's taken charge of educating José Arcadio (III), with the idea that he will become Pope someday.
  • One day, Remedios looks unusually pale. As Amaranta watches, she floats up to the sky, never to be seen again. Huh.
  • But just as gossip about this is getting out, an even more earthshaking event takes place: sixteen out of the seventeen Aurelianos are murdered.
  • Wait, what? Okay, let's backtrack a bit.
  • When Colonel Aureliano Buendía sees the banana plantation start up, he realizes that the white people have taken over. They've replaced Macondo's police with their own hired thugs, who are committing all sorts of horrible violence without any repercussions. Clearly they are in cahoots with the Conservative government.
  • Colonel Aureliano Buendía starts to feel the call to arms again. He threatens to arm all of his sons and go to war. So by the following week, all of them are found and shot through the ash-marks on their foreheads. Only one escapes.
  • So what's an old colonel to do? He sends off an angry letter to the president of the country. He bans the family from ever going to Ash Wednesday mass again. He begs everyone he knows for money and then even goes over to Colonel Gerineldo Márquez's house to talk him into starting another military campaign.
  • Colonel Gerineldo's response? Man, you've gotten seriously old.

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