One Hundred Years of Solitude

by

Gabriel García Márquez

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One Hundred Years of Solitude: Chapter 16  Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The rain last for four years, eleven months and two days. Aureliano Segundo stays home for the entire time and slowly loses weight. Everything in the house is incredible damp, even the humans, proved when they find Úrsula’s back covered in leeches. Aureliano Segundo, locked in the house with young Aureliano, knows what Fernanda has kept secret from all the others: Aureliano is a true Buendía. Aureliano Segundo shows the children the old encyclopedias, making up stories as he goes along because he does not speak English.
Locked in the house, Aureliano Segundo takes the education of the children on himself, though he can’t read the English encyclopedias, so he reverts to his great-grandfather’s method of making things up as he goes along. The result of the rain is exaggerated to show it as lived experience, rather than technically factual truth, and the neglect of Úrsula (being covered with leeches) is similarly hyperbolic. The family’s seclusion in the house is not dissimilar from the isolation of the Buendías in the early days of Macondo.
Themes
The Circularity of Time Theme Icon
Solitude Theme Icon
Propriety, Sexuality, and Incest Theme Icon
Magic vs. Reality Theme Icon
Fernanda fears that Aureliano Segundo will want to have sex with her while he is trapped at home, but she is incapable, suffering from severely painful cramps. She writes to the invisible doctors, hoping for an answer. Fernanda is happy that the rain keeps people from going outside because she feels that “doors have been invented to stay closed.” Colonel Gerineldo Márquez dies and his funeral procession passes the house. The Buendía family watches the sorry spectacle. Even Úrsula is present, blessing the young man she treated like a son and telling him that she will see him again when the rain stops, predicting her own death.
Fernanda continues to suffer from her abdominal pain and claims this as her excuse for not wanting to make love to Aureliano Segundo, showing a connection between her physical health and her desires that suggests possible hypochondria. Fernanda is happy about their solitude, though, believing that doors are meant to keep people in, rather than to allow people out. Úrsula’s claim that she will die when the rain stops marks one more instance in which a person pins their future on an event that is not specific to a particular date.
Themes
The Circularity of Time Theme Icon
Solitude Theme Icon
Propriety, Sexuality, and Incest Theme Icon
Magic vs. Reality Theme Icon
Aureliano Segundo goes to the home of Petra Cotes to check on the animals, but they have all died in the floods. Petra Cotes has not seen him since the rain started. He stays for three months, getting up the will to go back out into the rain. He tries to seduce Petra Cotes again, but she refuses his advances. He returns home with his trunks, convinced that everyone in Macondo is waiting for the rain to stop so they might die. The Buendías run low on food. Fernanda’s protests about Aureliano Segundo’s indifference to their needs is emitted as a long drone of sound. Eventually, when Aureliano Segundo complains about the noise, Fernanda unleashes a long monologue of grievances about the life that she was been forced to live by marrying Aureliano Segundo. Aureliano Segundo listens to her all day, not saying a word, until she tells a fib, and he calls her out on it.
Aureliano Segundo braves the rain under the pretense of checking on the livestock at Petra Cotes’ house, but he has waited too long. His excuse for staying there for three months is that he is getting up the courage to face the rain again, but the implication is that he both went to her home to visit her, and stayed with her as long as he did because he enjoys her company. Fernanda sees herself as having suffered significantly for her choice in who she would marry, believing she has no fault in their lack of harmony. Aureliano Segundo shows exceeding patience, perhaps evidencing his indifference to her arguments.
Themes
Solitude Theme Icon
Propriety, Sexuality, and Incest Theme Icon
Magic vs. Reality Theme Icon
Fernanda goes on humming. The next morning Aureliano Segundo asks for an egg, oblivious that they ran out of eggs sometime before, and Fernanda begins another monologue about men who are so self-centered as to “ask for larks’ livers” when there is no food at all. He goes to show the children the encyclopedia, even claiming that Colonel Aureliano Buendía is featured there. When he goes out to the porch to sit with Fernanda afterward, she continues her rant until he can bear it no longer and he tells her to shut up. In a rage, he smashes as many breakables as he can get his hands on, leaves the house, and returns with some food for the family.
Their argument continues as Aureliano Segundo shows further evidence of the dire conditions in which the family is living. He tries to step away from the argument, spending time with the children, and extending his made-up account of the contents of the encyclopedia to include Colonel Aureliano Buendía, but Fernanda’s stubbornness persists until he acts out in a rage that reflects his great-grandfather’s violence just before he was declared mad and tied to a tree. When he goes out to get food for the family, it is assumed he has gathered the provisions from his mistress Petra Cotes.
Themes
The Circularity of Time Theme Icon
Solitude Theme Icon
Propriety, Sexuality, and Incest Theme Icon
Magic vs. Reality Theme Icon
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Amaranta Úrsula and Aureliano think the rainy time is fun, splashing in puddles and playing with the senile Úrsula. Around the third year of the rain, Úrsula’s mind has started to confuse the present with the past, and the children play along, making up imaginary visits from relatives who lived at different time, but have been long dead. She takes incredible joy in being reunited with them all.
While Amaranta Úrsula and Aureliano are very close in age, they are, in fact, aunt and nephew. Úrsula’s confusion of past and present reflects the circular nature of time, but also allows the children to use her as a plaything, willing to go along with their pretend scenarios like a child. In this way, old age is indeed a second childhood of sorts, which shows the circularity of time.
Themes
The Circularity of Time Theme Icon
Solitude Theme Icon
Magic vs. Reality Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Aureliano Segundo remembers that there is a large fortune buried somewhere on the property, waiting for its proper owner to appear to claim it. He consults Pilar Ternera about the where the gold is buried but she can tell him only it is within a certain proximity of Úrsula who buried it. He digs up the courtyard to such a degree that the foundation of the house is weakened, but he finds nothing.
Aureliano Segundo destroys the grounds of the house while hunting for money in an attempt to provide for the Buendía family, but Úrsula is too senile to remember the money’s whereabouts, and Pilar Ternera either withholds the information for fear of Aureliano Segundo misusing it, or is also growing incapable of  seeing the present clearly.
Themes
The Circularity of Time Theme Icon
Finally, one Friday afternoon, the rain clears and it does not rain again for ten years. Macondo is in ruins. The banana plantation and city has been deserted. When Aureliano Segundo finally returns to Petra Cotes, he is so thin that she is convinced he is José Arcadio Segundo. In the bedroom, he finds a skinny mule who Petra Cotes has been feeding the fancy linens of the house when no proper food remained.
The exaggerated rain is followed by exaggerated drought, ensuring the demise of Macondo. The knowledge that the drought will last 10 years, though, is a prediction that seals the towns fate before the people of Macondo realize it themselves. During the rains, Aureliano Segundo has clearly grown ill, having lost a significant amount of weight in the time he was home in the Buendía house. He and his brother again look so much alike that they might be confused, which suggests the circularity of time.
Themes
The Circularity of Time Theme Icon
Solitude Theme Icon
Progress and Civilization Theme Icon
Propriety, Sexuality, and Incest Theme Icon
Magic vs. Reality Theme Icon