Study Guide

One Hundred Years of Solitude Chapter 18

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Chapter 18

  • Aureliano (II) never leaves Melquíades' room. He learns everything he knows from the books there, so he ends up full of medieval wisdom but knows nothing about the modern world.
  • The only person who deals with him at all is Santa Sofía de la Piedad, who feeds, clothes, and cleans him.
  • Eventually Aureliano (II) sees Melquíades, who confirms that the secret language of the scrolls is Sanskrit and starts to teach it to Aureliano (II).
  • Melquíades apparently doesn't have all the time in the world, since he's going to have to die soon – for real this time. So he has to cram all the learning he can into Aureliano (II) as fast as possible.
  • The family eats through the secret charity of Petra Cotes, who gets a kick out of humiliating Fernanda this way.
  • Santa Sofía de la Piedad is slowly losing her crazy work ethic and getting old and tired.
  • One day, she just decides the house is too big to keep slaving away in, so she packs up her things and leaves. No one knows where she goes, and no one ever sees her again.
  • (This might be a good time to point out how, in theory, this is about the time in a book when all the plot and character threads are starting to be tied off. Check out how García Márquez does that here; let's just say there are definitely no loose ends.)
  • So it's down to just Fernanda and Aureliano (II), who is still not allowed to leave the house. And really, he doesn't even want to any more, since his whole life is all about imprisonment.
  • The two of them avoid each other as much as possible.
  • Aureliano works on deciphering Melquíades' texts, and Fernanda starts to slowly go senile, becoming paranoid that someone is moving around the objects of the house to annoy her.
  • Finally, Aureliano (II) has translated Melquíades' Sanskrit to Spanish, but he still can't read any of it because the text is in code. He needs some books to decode it and asks Fernanda permission to go get them at the bookstore in town.
  • She says no.
  • Then, a couple days later, she dies.
  • Four months after her death, her son José Arcadio comes home. He is obviously not a priest and hasn't been studying at a seminary at all.
  • He and Aureliano (II) avoid each other at first as well. During those four months, Aureliano (II) managed to leave the house once to get the books he needed, and now he just spends his days decoding.
  • José Arcadio (III) is obsessed with his great-aunt Amaranta, who it turns out semi-molested him when he was little. He thinks about her, takes long baths, and lives a strange and fearful life.
  • A year after this kind of lazy, do-nothing life, José Arcadio (III) invites a bunch of kids to hang out in the house.
  • There are no rules, and they are destructive and loud. It's kind of a mockery of the wild partying and fun times the house used to be filled with when Úrsula was still alive and well.
  • Once, the kids get into Melquíades' room and try to destroy the parchments. They can't, though, because they are magically lifted into the air until Arcadio (II) gets them down.
  • José Arcadio (III) gets close with four of the older kids. It's unclear what's really going on between them, but they are constantly naked, and one of them lives at the house, so it seems like there's something sexual involved. It's also not clear what gender these kids are.
  • One day, they see a strange golden glow from the floor under Úrsula's old bed. Can you guess what it is?
  • Yep, they've found the gold that Aureliano Segundo had been looking for.
  • José Arcadio (III) spends wildly and then becomes overcome with rage and chases the four kids out of the house with a whip. (Oh my.)
  • José Arcadio (III) and Aureliano (II) slowly bond and grow closer. It turns out that somehow Aureliano (II) knows everything about Rome – not just stuff from an encyclopedia but things that you could only know from having lived there.
  • He mysteriously explains that actually everything is already known. Hmm.
  • One day a hobo-looking guy knocks on the door and begs for sanctuary. It's Aureliano Amador, the last of the seventeen Aurelianos.
  • Neither José Arcadio (III) nor Aureliano (II) remember him, so they don't let him in. Immediately, two policemen who have been chasing him all these years pop out of the bushes and shoot him through the ash mark on his forehead.
  • Okay, another loose thread tied up.
  • José Arcadio (III) has big plans to sail to Naples on an ocean liner. But that's a dream that won't come true, as it turns out.
  • A few months after the Aureliano Amador thing, the four kids break into the house, drown José Arcadio (III) in the bath, and steal the gold.
  • Aureliano (II) realizes just then that he had grown to love José Arcadio (III).
  • This is just getting more and more grim, no?

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