The marriage of Fernanda del Carpio and Aureliano Segundo is nearly broken up when Aureliano Segundo allows Petra Cotes to dress as the Queen of Madagascar and takes her picture. When Aureliano Segundo married Fernanda del Carpio, Petra Cotes remained unthreatened, and indeed Aureliano Segundo returned to her immediately after his honeymoon ended. When he returns to her, naming her the lifetime ruler of Madagascar, she can tell this extravagant act of reconciliation proves he feared losing her. She can see that he is intent on keeping up the charade of his marriage, and so she keeps as a souvenir of him in her home only the patent leather boots that he wants to buried in, insuring that he will need to return at some point, if only for the boots.
Despite Aureliano Segundo’s marriage to Fernanda del Carpio, he continues to visit his mistress, even allowing her to dress in Fernanda’s clothes, an action his wife sees as an insult. He also awards Petra Cotes the arbitrary distinction of lifetime ruler of Madagascar, a title he doesn’t have the authority to award and which echoes his wife’s nonsensical title. The extremity of his actions reveals that he is more concerned with losing his mistress because of his wife than he is of losing his wife because of his mistress. Petra Cotes holds only one item belonging to her lover, a symbol of the end of his life, indicating they will stay together until then.
Fernanda is out of her element in Macondo. She had been raised in an insular city. Her sickly mother speaks only of the prosperous past, telling her daughter that they are rich and powerful and that one day she will be queen, despite evidence to the contrary. At twelve, she is sent to a convent for school, but she refuses to mingle with the other girls, thinking herself better than them. Eight years later she returns from the convent to her nearly empty home to weave funeral wreaths. Her trip to Macondo is her first time out of her home city and it opens her eyes to all that her parents have hidden from her throughout her life.
Fernanda was brought up just as out of touch with the reality of past and present as the people of Macondo. Her parents raised her believing that they prospered even as their house crumbled around them. Fernanda’s erroneous sense of privilege is so extreme that she refuses to even befriend other people at her school. The family business of weaving funeral wreaths is an apt metaphor for the death of their prosperity. Fernanda, though, has been wholly unprepared for the life she now lives, very different from what she’s been promised.
After the carnival, Aureliano Segundo has little to go on in his search for Fernanda. Eventually he finds her inside the home that bears a sign advertising funeral wreaths. With her she brings her trousseau, a candelabra, a silver service and a gold chamber pot. She carries a calendar that allows for sex on only 42 days of the year. Fernanda insists on two weeks of abstinence with her new husband, and when she finally permits him into her bedroom, he finds her in a modest nightgown with a hole to allow penetration. Aureliano Segundo exclaims that the garment is the most obscene thing he has ever seen.
The items Fernanda packs for her life in Macondo show her extreme lack of awareness of what her life will be like. The gold chamber pot is the perfect symbol of her conspicuous wealth and the foolishness of her need to appear fancy. Her Conservative adherence to the church calendar allows for sex on only 42 days of the year, a number too low for the sexually voracious Aureliano Segundo. Her nightgown points to the sex act far more lewdly than a simpler gown or even a nude body, indicating only one purpose for the garment, when it’s supposed to maintain modesty.
Shortly before their first child is born, Fernanda realizes that her husband still secretly visits Petra Cotes. Aureliano Segundo claims he must visit her so that the animals will remain fertile, and in time she is convinced of this reasoning. Fernanda is not embraced by the family though, as she refuses to assimilate. Amaranta speaks in gibberish to Fernanda, insulting her and making fun of her way of speaking, until they stop speaking to one another. Fernanda insists on formal meals where they pray the rosary beforehand. She insists the candy business is put to a stop.
Aureliano Segundo justifies his affair to his wife by appealing to her desire for wealth, claiming that his passion for Petra Cotes is what keeps the animals procreating at such an incredible rate. Fernanda’s greed is even greater than her sexual morals, and so she accepts this story as fact. Fernanda’s way of talking differs from the Buendías in her propriety and her refusal to call anything the least bit improper by its real name, relying instead on often indecipherable euphemisms.
When Fernanda and Aureliano Segundo’s first daughter is born, Fernanda asks that she be called Renata, but Úrsula has already decided on Remedios. They compromise on Renata Remedios, with Fernanda calling her Renata and the rest of the family and town calling her Meme. Fernanda talks constantly and reverently about her saintly father. Each Christmas, he sends them life-size stone statues, the last of the family’s possessions. On the tenth Christmas, they open the large box to discover a lead chest sealed shut. Inside is the dead Don Fernando, Fernanda’s father.
Úrsula continues to assert her influence on the family in deciding the names of her great-great-granddaughter. The distance between Fernanda and the rest of the family is reinforced in how she insists on calling her daughter by a name that no one else uses. Fernanda’s regard for her father persists, even as he sends the last of their worldly possessions, including his own dead body to be disposed of, indicating the way in which her reverence for him is unwarranted.
A jubilee is held by the government for Colonel Aureliano Buendía, but none of the family attend. Seventeen men arrive to Macondo for the celebration. Aureliano Segundo throws them a party. Colonel Aureliano Buendía is skeptical of the men claiming to be his sons, at first, but he gives them all a gold fish before they leave. Aureliano Segundo offers the opportunity for all of them to stay and work for him, but only Aureliano Triste takes him up on the offer. On Ash Wednesday they attend church with Amaranta and receive the sign of the cross on their foreheads. The marks prove permanent for the seventeen half-brothers.
Though the Buendía family wants to participate in the jubilee held for Colonel Aureliano Buendía, his seventeen estranged sons see it as an opportunity to finally come meet their father, who is less than welcoming, though he finally acknowledges their legitimacy with gold fish. The marks they receive in church, a cross usually delivered with the words “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return,” end up serving as bulls-eyes in marking them as targets for assassination, ending their lives and indeed returning them to dust as the cross predicts (a symbolic representation of the circularity of time).
Aureliano Triste sets up the ice factory his grandfather had dreamed of on the edge of town. He looks for a home for himself and inquires about the house in the square where Rebeca and José Arcadio (I) had lived. When he breaks down the door, he finds Rebeca still alive inside, aiming a pistol at him. She mistakes him for the ghost of her dead husband and tells him to get out. When he tells the rest of the family about this, Úrsula can’t believe that Rebeca, who she had forgotten, is still alive. Amaranta is the only one who knew Rebeca survived, her hatred of her adopted sister as strong as ever. Aureliano Segundo attempts to return Rebeca to the Buendía house, but she insists on remaining in her home.
The only one of Colonel Aureliano Buendía’s sons that stays in Macondo sets about fulfilling the dream of José Arcadio Buendía, creating the ice factory that represents the vision of the City of Mirrors. Though many characters have experienced solitude in the book up until this point, the discovery of Rebeca, alone in her abandoned home, is the most literal representation of this solitude, since she is forgotten by all but the vindictive Amaranta. Rebeca, similar to the way José Arcadio Buendía preferred to remain tied to his tree alone, prefers to stay alone in her home even when she is invited back to the Buendía house.
When the sixteen sons of Colonel Aureliano Buendía return in February, Aureliano Triste recruits them to help repair the outside of Rebeca’s house. She tries to pay them with coins that are no longer in circulation. On another visit of the sons to Macondo, a second son, Aureliano Centeno, remains behind to help Aureliano Triste and significantly increases the production of ice. Aureliano Triste declares that they will need to bring the railroad into Macondo so that he can sell ice to the surrounding towns. Úrsula thinks the idea of the railroad is as fanciful as her husband’s vision of solar warfare, and again, deems time to be running in a circle.
Rebeca’s commitment to her solitude is so extreme that she even refuses their offer to help her fix up the interior of her house, preferring to remain alone. She is so disconnected from society that she attempts to pay with coins that were used in a different time. The increased productivity of the ice factory prompts Aureliano Triste to pursue the introduction of the railroad, an innovation that will deliver to Macondo a variety of influences and inventions that will change life in the town. The pattern of inhabitants of Macondo being incapable of distinguishing fantastic inventions from real possibilities shows the way that they remain detached from modernity.
Aureliano Segundo donates the money needed to develop the railroad. Aureliano Triste leaves to enact his plan and Aureliano Centeno invents sherbet. A whole summer goes by with no word from Aureliano Triste, until the sound of a whistle shakes the town. Aureliano Triste waves from the newly arrived yellow locomotive.
Aureliano Segundo finances the railroad in the same way he financed the boat’s passage to Macondo, supporting new technologies no matter the likelihood of their prosperity via the money he’s earned from the magical fertility of his livestock. The arrival of the yellow train echoes the yellow flowers that rained on the day of José Arcadio Buendía’s death.