Study Guide

One Hundred Years of Solitude Chapter 16

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Chapter 16

  • The rain lasts forever. Seriously. It goes on for almost five years without a break.
  • Aureliano Segundo ends up trapped at Fernanda's house and stays for several years without going back over to Petra Cotes' place.
  • Instead, he fixes stuff around the house, loses weight, and generally realizes that he's getting older because he doesn't have the same giant appetite for food and sex that he used to.
  • He also busts out an English encyclopedia and starts making up stories about the pictures for the kids, Aureliano (II) and Amaranta Úrsula.
  • Fernanda, meanwhile, is kind of excited to have her husband back, but kind of not. Why? Well, it's intentionally unclear, but basically, ever since giving birth to Amaranta Úrsula, she's had some kind of gynecological issue that prevents her from having sex.
  • She's so embarrassed about it that she's never seen a doctor. She can't even describe what's wrong to Úrsula without using a lot of euphemisms, so Úrsula ends up thinking it's something gastrointestinal.
  • This is why Fernanda has taken up with the invisible doctors.
  • One day, the funeral procession for Colonel Gerineldo Márquez goes by. It's a really sad affair.
  • Úrsula declares that when the rain stops, she will finally die.
  • All this time, Petra Cotes has been sending urgent messages to Aureliano Segundo about the fact that all the animals are drowning and getting washed away.
  • He kind of brushes all of this off, and his giant fortune goes down the tubes.
  • When he finally ends up going back to Petra Cotes, she is older, too, and their sex life seems pretty much over. He helps a little bit with the animals and then returns to Fernanda.
  • They start running out of food.
  • When Aureliano Segundo does nothing about this, Fernanda unleashes a torrent of complaints that basically summarizes her whole miserable life.
  • This is an amazing bit of writing: one sentence that goes on for three pages. We're not kidding. Go check it out right now.
  • After two days of this, Aureliano Segundo can't deal with her anymore, so in a rage, he breaks every single breakable thing in the house, one after the other.
  • The kids, meanwhile, have a ball during the rainstorm.
  • They play in puddles, dissect lizards, and hang out with Aureliano Segundo listening to his encyclopedia stories.
  • They also like to play with great-great-great-grandmother Úrsula, who tells them all about long dead relatives.
  • In all that time, though, no one can figure out where she buried the gold that someone left behind during the war. She is just lucid enough to keep that info hidden, despite all of the family's tricks.
  • Aureliano Segundo becomes obsessed with the gold.
  • He digs up all the land around the house to the point that half the house collapses.
  • And then, just like that, the rain stops.
  • Macondo has been totally decimated. Most of it has washed away, and most of the people are gone. It's a miserable, horrible place with almost nothing left.
  • When Aureliano Segundo goes to see Petra Cotes, she still has one animal left. It's a mule that she's kept alive by feeding it sheets and clothes from her bedroom.
  • She decides to raffle it off.

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