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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 18

Summary

Aureliano continues in earnest the process of translating Melquiades’ parchments. Melquiades returns periodically to check on the translation.

Since the death of the brothers, a basket of food has been sent each week to the house. No one knows that it is from Petra, who initiated this plan to humiliate Fernanda, but soon continued it out of compassion.

Santa Sofía de la Piedad is overwhelmed by the house and the work and decides to leave. Aureliano is the only one who sees her leave.

José Arcadio (III) and Amaranta Úrsula both write back stating that they are prolonging their studies in Europe.

Aureliano has managed to translate the first page of the parchment into Spanish, but he discovers that it is in code. He remembers that Melquiades has told him that all the books that he would need are in a local Catalonian’s bookstore.

Fernanda finally dies, but her body does not decay during the month that it takes José Arcadio (III) to arrive from Rome. When he arrives, he takes control of the house, making it suit his elevated tastes. Instead of staying in the seminary, he quit and lived the good life, sending home letters however to maintain the illusion. He also refuses to speak to Aureliano since he is illegitimate, but Aureliano does not care since he is translating and decoding Melquiades’ parchment.

Once while he was out, two children entered Aureliano’s study in order to destroy the parchment, but an unseen hand mysteriously picked them up and held them until Aureliano returned.


The treasure is found under Úrsula’s room and José Arcadio (III) turns the house into a decadent paradise. One day, Aureliano Amador, the only of the seventeen still alive, turned up as a fugitive at the front door. Unfortunately, none of the current inhabitants knew who he was; they thought he was a tramp so they turned him away. As he left, the two men who had been chasing him shot him in the forehead.

José Arcadio (III) kicks the children who had helped him find the treasure out of the house. Four of them return one morning and catch him in his bath. They hold his head under water and drown him.

Notes

The most important aspect of this chapter is the translation of Melquiades’ parchment. Aureliano knows that it is in Sanskrit and translate the first page. The fact that it is further encoded makes this a much greater puzzle, but it is a puzzle that Melquiades wants solved and will help solve. He even protects the parchment from the kids who want to destroy it. We must ask ourselves why bother writing it and encoding it and then helping the person decode it if it will only be understood at the moment of destruction?

We discover that José Arcadio (III) has been lying to his family about his studies in Rome. In this, he is another corrupt José Arcadio.

The arrival of Aureliano Amador is another confrontation with history, but no one in the house can remember their own family history and for it he is killed. From the way he is shot, we assume that these two assassins have been following him from the week his sixteen half brothers were killed. We can see that when a curse is applied to the Buendías, it seems to be fulfilled, no matter how long it takes. This bodes ill for the remaining members.

José Arcadio (III)’s death is one of the few instances of poetic justice in this novel; often the death of the Buendías seem without reason or justice, but not this one.

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