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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
Colonel Gerinaldo Márquez discovers the emptiness of the war and tells his friend, Colonel Aureliano, not to let the war consume his soul. General Teófilo Vargas assumes overall control of the Liberal forces through a coup, and then Aureliano has him killed and takes over. After this, he is not able to sleep for two months. His supporters ask him to let the Liberal landowners keep there land and to permit the church to keep its role. Aureliano says that if they agree to that, then they have the same platform as the Conservatives, so all that they are fighting for is power. He then says that he is willing to fight just for power. Colonel Gerinaldo Márquez objects, but Aureliano tells him to turn himself in, where he is condemned to death for treason. Úrsula goes up to Aureliano and tells him that she will kill him with her own hands for what he has become, and that it is as if he had been born with a pig’s tail. This affects Aureliano, and that night he goes into Gerinaldo’s cell, frees him, and sets off on a campaign to end the war. It takes over a year, but he gains back the integrity which he had originally been fighting for.
Aureliano returns to Macondo where he is to sign the peace treaty. The family notices that he is preparing to die: he destroys all his belongings and all evidence of himself. On the day of the peace treaty signing, he takes a gun and one bullet, goes out and signs the treaty, and then shoots himself. Unfortunately for Aureliano, the bullet manages to miss every vital organ in his chest. He is furious, and to add insult to the injury, the failed suicide attempt makes him a hero. The president of the republic awards him the Order of Merit.
Aureliano loses the moral integrity that had marked himself and the Liberals as different. He is no longer fighting for ideals but for power. In this, he is like most political figures who taste power and like it. It is only when Úrsula confronts him that he realizes the extent to which he has lost sight of his earlier objectives that he leaves Macondo again and begins his guerrilla tactics. He returns to sign a peace treaty and die, thinking that his contribution is over and his time is up. His suicide is a failure in a Quixotic manner. He could not have failed more embarrassingly: he missed every major internal organ. In this failure, he is made a hero by the state. The man who had earlier been a hero is now pathetic and "heroic" for his failure.