Study Guide

One Hundred Years of Solitude Chapter 5

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Chapter 5

  • A couple months later, Remedios gets her period and runs in to show her sisters her underwear while they're chatting with Aureliano.
  • Remedios is still a child, but a deal is a deal. She and Aureliano are married by Father Nicanor Reyna, a priest brought in just for the wedding.
  • Actually, it was supposed to be a double wedding, but just the day before, Pietro Crespi got a letter that his mom was about to die and rushed off home. It turns out that his mom is fine, but he ends up missing the wedding.
  • The assumption is that Amaranta sent the letter (so he wouldn't marry Rebeca), but it's never proven.
  • Anyway, Father Nicanor is very disturbed by the absence of religion in Macondo. He decides to stay and fix things himself by begging for money to build a giant cathedral.
  • When begging doesn't work, he starts to levitate. No, seriously, he drinks hot chocolate, which makes him rise up off the ground. People start to chip in a lot more dough.
  • When Father Nicanor does the levitation trick near the tree to which José Arcadio Buendía is tied, the crazy old man shrugs, unimpressed, and says something. It turns out that he hasn't been speaking gibberish this whole time – he's been speaking Latin.
  • The only person who can communicate with him is Father Nicanor. Hurray for church Latin, everybody! At first Father Nicanor tries to convert him, but that doesn't work. So he just hangs out with him as a humanitarian thing.
  • After a while José Arcadio Buendía's denial of God's existence starts to shake Father Nicanor's faith, so he stops coming by.
  • Úrsula thinks the cathedral is a great idea, and Amaranta piggybacks onto this by passive-aggressively suggesting that Rebeca and Pietro Crespi's wedding should be the first big event held there. The thing is, it won't be built for another ten years or so. (Very clever, Amaranta!)
  • Rebeca, not surprisingly, is less than pleased. She and Pietro Crespi try a few tricks to hurry things along. First they start making out all over the place. Then Pietro Crespi gives the priest all the money he'll need to build the church.
  • But it's kind of an arms race, and Amaranta has some tricks up her own sleeve. She lets loose moths onto Rebeca's wedding dress. She eventually decides to poison her, but prays for some horrible thing to happen so she won't have to go through with it.
  • And the horrible thing does happen. Remedios dies in the middle of the night from a uterine hemorrhage from the early stages of a pregnancy.
  • Whoa. No one signed up for this bit of plot development.
  • This is a disaster not just because a young girl is dead, but because Remedios was really bringing some peace to that crazy household.
  • Meanwhile, a whole other insane drama is starting to mount.
  • The magistrate, Don Apolinar Moscote, has a lot more authority now that his daughter is married into the Buendía family, and he's starting to wield power in the town.
  • What does that mean exactly?
  • Well, for one thing, he brings back those six armed soldiers that José Arcadio Buendía made him get rid of earlier. Nobody remembers that agreement anyway, now that José Arcadio Buendía is crazy and tied to a tree.
  • With the Buendía house deep in mourning for Remedios, along comes a giant, muscled, tattooed, unexpected visitor.
  • José Arcadio (II)! He's back! He's been a sailor! He's turned into a hulking super-testosterone bear of a man!
  • At first he goes to the local brothel and gives himself to the prostitutes there. (Remember, he is beyond well-endowed.)
  • At home, though, Rebeca takes one look at him and is a goner. Compared to José Arcadio (II), Pietro Crespi is a wimpy nothing.
  • One day Rebeca and José Arcadio (II) get it on. Then three days later, they get married.
  • It's, um, kind of incestuous, right? Since they grew up together? They aren't biological siblings, but… a bit of a gray area, we guess.
  • In any case, the sex is awesome, and even though they end up as total outcasts in the town, they don't seem to care.
  • Pietro Crespi is too proper and uptight to be devastated. Instead, he warms up to Amaranta and asks her to marry him. She agrees but postpones the wedding.
  • Okay, back to Don Apolinar and politics.
  • Aureliano gets close to his father-in-law and they play a lot of checkers together. Don Apolinar is a Conservative, which in those days basically means that he is a government man.
  • Time for a quick history lesson, so pull up a chair and get comfy. We're going to tell you about the Thousand Days' War, which took place between 1899 and 1902 in Colombia between the Conservatives and the Liberals. The Conservatives were the party in power; the Liberals were the challengers. What was the war about? Well, there were philosophical disagreements about personal freedom and the role of the church in public life: basically, Conservatives wanted more church and less freedom, and the Liberals wanted the opposite. But the way García Márquez describes it, they were mostly fighting over power, and there were good and bad men on both sides. You know, real-life style.
  • When it's time for elections, Don Apolinar sends his soldiers to confiscate all the weapons from every Macondo house. They're pretty thorough and collect everything down to kitchen knives. Then they hand out ballots, elections take place, and Aureliano watches the soldiers remove most of the Liberal ballots from the boxes and replace them with Conservative ones. This is called election fraud, folks.
  • The people demand their weapons back, but Don Apolinar tells Aureliano that the soldiers are using the weapons to show how the Liberals are gearing up for war. Um, okay, fraud number two.
  • Aureliano is worried and goes off to a secret meeting with the town's main Liberal: a fake doctor.
  • We were sympathizing with the Liberals up to this point, but Dr. Alirio Noguera is basically a cold-blooded terrorist and would-be murderer. His plan is to kill all the Conservatives, along with their families and children. Wow, nice. (Oh, and García Márquez has a lot of fun with the name – no guerra is Spanish for "no war.")
  • Aureliano is disgusted by Noguera's plan. He guards his father-in-law's house on the night when Dr. Noguera's assassination attempt is supposed to take place.
  • War between Conservatives and Liberals has already been going on for three months by now, but Don Apolinar didn't want to tell anyone because a secret platoon of soldiers was making its way to Macondo.
  • The platoon gets there by night, and confiscates more stuff from the residents – this time, farm tools – and then kill Dr. Noguera by firing squad without a trial. Then they start a campaign of terror in the town. It's clear that Don Apolinar is no longer in charge; he's just a figurehead for the real power: martial law. (Again, check out his name: in Spanish, mascota means mascot, or pet; while mosca means housefly. So you know, an insignificant lackey.)
  • So: what to do, what to do?
  • Aureliano plans a revolt with his buddies. They attack the barracks, take back the weapons, and execute some of the soldiers who had killed a woman in town.
  • Aureliano then names himself Colonel Aureliano Buendía. Sound familiar? That's because we're almost back to the flashback that starts off the novel: this is the colonel who is facing the firing squad in the first sentence of the book.

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