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Free Study Guide-100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez-Book Notes
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

CHAPTER 2

Summary

The second chapter begins with a reference to Sir Francis Drake. Úrsula’s great-great grandmother was frightened in an attack by him on Riohacha. We then are presented with the curse of the pig’s tail, which has already claimed the product of one incestuous relationship. This curse, however, does not prevent José Arcadio Buendía and Úrsula Iguaran from being married. Úrsula’s mother instills in her an utter terror regarding the curse, and encourages her to refuse to consummate the marriage. She is so frightened that she creates for herself a gown reinforced with leather to prevent her husband from raping her in her sleep.

After a year, rumors were rampant that José Arcadio was impotent, and he implores his wife to reconsider. Another six months pass, and after winning a cock fight with Prudencio Aguilar, he is insulted by Prudencio who impugns his "manliness." José Arcadio is furious and goes home, fetching his grandfather’s spear. He returns and kills Prudencio. Then, he goes home and tells his wife in no uncertain terms to take off her chastity pants. She has no choice and tells him that the fate of their children is his responsibility, and he responds by saying that no more people will die because of her.

That night, Úrsula sees Prudencio’s ghost, and for many nights thereafter, she sees it. José Arcadio sees it one night as well, and tells it to leave; it doesn’t. Since Prudencio’s ghost will not leave, José Arcadio decides to leave, and ultimately founds Macondo.

A third child is born, Amaranta, who is "light and watery, like a newt, but all of her parts were human." A new group of gypsies arrives which has as its focus, not advancement and invention like Melquiades’ group, but entertainment.


José Arcadio (II) has an affair with a fortuneteller, Pilar Ternera, after his mother has taken him to her to ask his future. She becomes pregnant, which leads José Arcadio (II) to start up a relationship with a young gypsy girl and then run away with her and the other gypsies. Úrsula leaves to find him, but after five months of no contact, she returns. She has not found her son, but she has returns with a new set of clothes and she brings people from a town she finds nearby. This is the beginning of the intrusion by outside elements into Macondo.

Notes

This chapter provides us with some pre-Macondo history. We are told about Sir Francis Drake, the marriage and early marriage of Úrsula and José Arcadio, and the death of Prudencio. The mention of Drake is another reference to a past of conquest which the characters seem to have forgotten, but the reader is to use to create in his/her head a cycle of conquest. We should not be surprised by the actions of the Conservative government or the banana company because they are continuing the cycle.

Úrsula is revealed in this chapter to be one who is entrenched in the myths of family and church. Her mother tells her about the pig-tail curse and she incorporates it. She refuses to let her husband have sex with her. José Arcadio can do nothing about it, but after one year and a half, the rumors about his masculinity get to him and he kills a man, then blames it on her and forces her to have sex with him. Thus, the origin of the Buendía family is a triple violation: incest, murder, and rape. One can only expect from such a beginning a disastrous end.

José Arcadio (II) runs off with the gypsies. Like many of the other Buendías, he tries to escape Macondo, but like the rest, he is eventually brought back. This town, at least for the Buendías, seems to allow no escape.

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