Study Guide

One Hundred Years of Solitude Chapter 17

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Chapter 17

  • Remember how Úrsula promised to die when the rain stopped? Well, that didn't happen.
  • Instead, she gets her lucidity back for a while and starts to yet again set the house in order and clean up after the destruction of the rains and floods. She's over 120 years old at this point and totally blind.
  • She even reopens Melquíades' old room, where José Arcadio Segundo has been sitting this whole time. He's totally off his rocker at this point and still very much obsessed with the midnight train of death he lived through. It was pretty horrific and traumatic, so no one can blame him.
  • Fernanda is psyched to hear that José Arcadio (III) might be coming home before taking his final priest vows, so she jumps on the clean-up wagon.
  • She also tries to hurry the invisible doctors to fix her already.
  • Aureliano Segundo has gone back to Petra Cotes again. They start up a sad little lottery, raffling off animals. Most people buy tickets out of pity, but each raffle day ends up being a little party. It's kind of a sad shadow of their former awesomeness.
  • The hard work of doing this, plus the fact that they are both way too old for this kind of debauchery, means that they spend a lot of time together and actually fall very deeply in love.
  • But the magic with the animals breeding crazily is over.
  • The lottery takes up so much time (and is so important, since it's the only way to get any money to feed the family) that Aureliano Segundo has no more time for the kids.
  • Fernanda sends Amaranta Úrsula off to private school, but she locks up Aureliano (II) in the house. He just gets scraps of education from Úrsula and Santa Sofía de la Piedad.
  • One day, Úrsula mistakes Aureliano (II) for her son Colonel Aureliano Buendía.
  • Her mind is wandering more and more, and she's confusing things from the past and the present. She shrinks down to the size of a baby, and Amaranta Úrsula and Aureliano (II) play with her like with a doll.
  • Finally, Úrsula dies.
  • Her funeral is followed by a horrible heat wave that feels like a plague. The people of the town have all sorts of crazy, superstitious ideas about what brought on the heat.
  • They've all regressed to a premodern state. So when the gypsies come back, they again show the people magnets, magnifying glasses, and false teeth, and they pass for amazing marvels.
  • Rebeca dies. Her house is so destroyed that it's impossible to restore and sell it.
  • The old also priest dies and a new one is sent in his place. At first, he is all gung-ho on converting people, but the heat and the laziness of the town gets to him and he stops doing anything at all, just like all the other Macondoans.
  • After Úrsula's death, the house is in tatters again.
  • This town has not had it easy.
  • Fernanda is finally ready to have her telepathic operation, but when she does, the invisible doctors tell her they can't figure out what's wrong with her other than a simple uterine problem that can be solved with some suppositories.
  • Her son starts sending them to her from Rome.
  • Aureliano (II) grows into a loner, which is probably not surprising given how horrible and isolated his childhood has been. He does become very close to his uncle, José Arcadio Segundo, who teaches him to read and write and tells him all about the banana company massacre.
  • José Arcadio Segundo classifies the letters of Melquíades' manuscripts, and Aureliano (II) finds the alphabet in the old English encyclopedia. (A quick Google search turns up the fact that the Sanskrit alphabet has 53 letters and it's written with characters dangling off an upper line, so that's probably Melquíades' secret language.)
  • Aureliano Segundo starts feeling a horrible pain in his throat.
  • Pilar Ternera tells him that it's probably Fernanda doing voodoo. He ransacks the house but finds nothing suspicious other than Fernanda's suppositories. Neither he nor Petra Cotes know what they are, but they destroy them just in case. Ha! That's almost like something out of a sitcom.
  • He also sacrifices a chicken, but that doesn't work either.
  • Wow, this is how far they've sunk? Instead of looking to medicine, they're looking to animal sacrifices and voodoo curses? Sigh.
  • Aureliano Segundo realizes that this throat thing is probably going to kill him. (Shmoop's diagnosis: either throat or thyroid cancer.)
  • He works extra hard on the lottery, sells off everything he owns, and eventually puts together enough money to send Amaranta Úrsula off to Belgium to study.
  • Just after she leaves, Aureliano Segundo and his twin José Arcadio Segundo die at the exact same moment.
  • In death, they again look identical and indistinguishable from one another.
  • At the funeral, the mourners get wasted, mix up the caskets, and end up burying the twins in the wrong graves.

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