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SHORT PLOT SUMMARY (Synopsis)
The plot of the novel is secondary.
José Arcadio and Úrsula found a seemingly Edenic village, Macondo, after leaving a town where he had killed a man.
The town grows as the country does. Civil government is introduced and it brings in certain corrupting elements. Aureliano helps remove some of the corruption only to later aid in creating more.
Years and generations later, a United States organized banana company builds a plantation and exploits the workers.
Eventually, during a strike, the striking workers are gunned down and the town instantly forgets the atrocity.
Years and generations after that, the great-great grandson of José Arcadio translates a parchment which had been written by one of José Arcadio’s friends.
The parchment says that the family and house will be swept off the map and out of history.
Time is cyclic; history is repetitive. This is expressed most evidently through the family’s use of repeated names and the cycles of disaster which hit Macondo.
Forgetting history does lead to its repetition. Because the Buendías and the town of Macondo repeatedly forget the abuses of the past, they are condemned to repeat them in the present and the future. The Spanish conquest is followed by the attack by Sir Francis Drake is followed by the Conservative-Liberal battle is followed by the new republic is followed by the banana company.
One cannot avoid fate. Úrsula and José Arcadio commit incest, for which the family punishment is the curse of the pig’s tail. Although they do not suffer that fate and Úrsula tries to keep their descendants from repeating that sin, eventually it happens, and the curse is acted out.
The mood of this novel is fatalistic. Úrsula’s constant reference to the family myth of the pig’s tail keeps the reader in a state of anticipation that the family myth/curse will be fulfilled.