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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 12

Summary

Along with the introduction of the train to Macondo, the villagers are introduced to electric lights, phonographs, movies, and a telephone. The ghost of José Arcadio Buendía also appears under the chestnut tree. Following the train into Macondo is Mr. Herbert and later Mr. Jack Brown. Before anyone can realize it, they quickly establish a banana plantation and bring in workers of African descent from the West Indies. The banana plantation is built in the same place that the old Spanish galleon had been discovered so long before.

One foreigner to Macondo happens to see Remedios the Beauty taking a bath one day and removes a tile from the roof so that he can see her better. He talks to her while she bathes, and she is not bothered by this. He becomes so enchanted by her beauty that he asks her to marry him and decides to jump down to her. He falls and kills himself. Since two other men had died since Remedios would not marry them, the people of the town begin to speculate that she gives off poisonous vapors. After this, another man tries to attack her, but is trampled to death by a horse. Even to her family, she is becoming more strange. Not much later, Úrsula notices that she is becoming very pale and asks her how she is doing. Remedios answers that she has never been better and suddenly ascends into the clouds, never to be seen again.


Aureliano Buendía sees this as an omen. Two more of his sons come to work for Aureliano Triste and Mr. Brown introduces the automobile to Macondo. A young man accidentally spills his soft drink on a patrol officer of the banana company and is immediately killed. Aureliano Buendía voices his outrage, stating, "Iím going to arm my boys so we can get rid of these shitty gringos." By the end of the week, sixteen of his sons had been killed. The only one who survives is Aureliano Amador, who had been shot at twice, but the shots missed and he ran away to the mountains. The Colonel is so distraught that he writes angry telegrams to the president (so inflammatory that the telegraph operator will not send them) and accuses the priest of intentionally marking his sons so that they would be easy targets. He also stops making the gold fishes.

Notes

The train that Aureliano Triste brings to Macondo for the ice factory brings technology and more of the outside world in. The biggest change is the introduction of the banana company. The banana company executives represent American involvement in Latin America and its politics. The conflicts between the Liberals and the Conservatives seem much less violent than those caused by the banana company influenced police. The association of the banana company with the Spanish galleon is indicative of the new type of colonialism and conquest: multinational corporations. Just as the Spanish stripped the land of it's gold and oppressed the native populations, so also do the Americans strip the land of its valuable products and abuse and kill the citizens.

The murder of the young man who accidentally spills a soft drink by the banana company police officer foreshadows the dire events of the massacre. Aurelianoís outrage is similar to his earlier outrages concerning Conservative politics. This equates the atrocities and presents them as a cycle of problems afflicting the people of Macondo. But, like his earlier responses, this one is crushed as well. The death of his sons indicates the magnitude of the opposition and the futility of rebellion or protest.

Remedios, like the other Buendía women, is also a death figure. While she is not directly responsible for the deaths of these four men, her family and the others in the town start seeing her as bad luck. Her association with death aligns her with the other Buendía women, Fernanda, Úrsula, and Amaranta. Her ascension adds to the asexual nature of the Buendía women as well; she is like the Virgin Mary who in Catholic mythology ascends to heaven and is without sexuality.

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