Amaranta watches Aureliano José shave for the first time, noting that he is now a man. Aureliano José has been attracted to Amaranta for some time. When he was a boy he would crawl into bed out of fear, but he continues to sleep beside her now, no longer out of fear, but out of comfort and attraction, and Amaranta feels the same change in their dynamic. They sleep together naked, touch each other, and almost get caught kissing by Úrsula. Amaranta cuts off the relationship immediately. Aureliano José goes to Catarino’s store and makes love to a woman he imagines is Amaranta. The rebel forces secretly return to Macondo on the eve of an armistice and Aureliano José leaves with them. After the opposition announces the end of the war, Colonel Aureliano Buendía attempts several more revolts and continuing on his expeditions.
Despite her raising him as her son, the comfort Amaranta and Aureliano José find in each other has taken on a sexual aspect. Amaranta, older and having refused herself the opportunity to act on all of her more proper desires, doesn’t stop Aureliano José. Though they don’t go so far as to consummate their feelings for one another, they are quite intimate, which shows that they believe that respecting a technical line that they refuse to cross will spare them from their otherwise sinful behavior. Only the threat of someone finding out about what they’ve been doing is enough to separate them, and Aureliano José removes himself from his temptations even further by joining the army.
Visitación, the Indian servant, dies after turning down a throne in her tribe for fear of the insomnia. She wanted her savings sent to Colonel Aureliano Buendía, but Úrsula doesn’t send them, having heard a rumor that the colonel has been killed. Six months later though, news arrives that he is alive and trying to unite the federalist forces of Central America. Úrsula receives a letter from him in Cuba and shows it to the Conservative mayor, José Raquel Moncada, a man who befriended Colonel Aureliano Buendía over the years, teaching him to play chess, and brainstorming if there was a way to combine the best of the two parties. Under his rule, Macondo becomes a peaceful, less militant place.
A second leader, José Raquel Moncada, is able to rule Macondo in a mostly peaceful way, even though he is Conservative, indicating that political party is not necessarily an indication of a person’s character or the way they’ll be received by the people they rule. Visitacíon’s refusal to take the throne for fear of the insomnia accompanied by amnesia shows how a woman is uninterested in political power, especially when she knows it will threaten her decision-making abilities, a crucial skill to ruling well.
Father Nicanor is replaced with Father Coronel, a veteran of the war. Bruno Crespi has married Amparo Moscote. Don Melchor Escalona is put in charge of the newly rebuilt school. Aureliano Segundo and José Arcadio Segundo are among the first students. The young Remedios is given the name Remedios the Beauty. Úrsula fails to grow old, growing her business and restocking her savings in the gourds buried beneath her bed.
Macondo develops, establishing an official school and welcoming a new pastor. The children of Santa Sofia de la Piedad and Arcadio are of an age that readers start to understand their individual personalities. Úrsula remains the most hardworking of the family, putting money aside for the future, proving her prudence in addition to her work ethic.
Aureliano José deserts the federalist troops and returns home, determined to marry Amaranta. He asks her how long she will wear the black bandage on her hand. She fails to bar the door to her bedroom, and they continue to sleep naked together. While fighting he had tried to kill her by having himself killed, but the plan did not work. One evening he heard an old man tell the story of a “man who had married his aunt, who was also his cousin, and whose son ended up being his own grandfather.” Aureliano José asks if a person can marry his aunt and the old man tells him yes, and that the war’s purpose is to allow a person to marry their own mother. Two weeks later, he deserted.
Despite his status as Amaranta’s nephew, Aureliano José is committed to formalizing his love of his aunt because of the opinion of one old man he met in the war; he needed only to know that it was acceptable. His interest in her removing the black bandage from her hand echoes his interest in her virginity. She refuses to answer, but also doesn’t go so far as to refuse him their old ways of comforting one another. Aureliano José’s attempt to transfer his aunt’s death onto himself doesn’t work, an echo of the way Amaranta considered killing Rebeca, but Remedios Moscote died instead.
Amaranta tells Aureliano José that he needs dispensation from the pope to marry his own aunt and that any of their children would be born with the tail of a pig. Aureliano José goes to Catarino’s store and makes love to a prostitute. Amaranta begins to think again of Colonel Gerineldo Márquez and bars her door so that Aureliano José can no longer visit her in the night.
Aureliano José also transfers his passion for his aunt onto a prostitute, but it fails to sate his desire. Amaranta, worried about how close she is getting to committing a sin with her nephew, and experiencing regret over the way she refused the affections of her more appropriate suitors, again cuts off romantic contact with her nephew.
A woman arrives with a child she claims is the son of Colonel Aureliano Buendía, born with his eyes open and resembling his father. They christen him Aureliano with his mother’s last name, and though Úrsula offers to take over his upbringing, the woman refuses. Nine more sons arrive to be baptized, the oldest over ten years old. All of them have Colonel Aureliano Buendía’s look of solitude. In twelve years, they baptize a total of seventeen sons of Colonel Aureliano Buendía. Ursula tells General Moncada that she wishes Colonel Aureliano Buendía would return and be reunited with his sons in her house. He tells her it will happen soon enough, knowing that Colonel Aureliano Buendía is on his way to head up the bloodiest rebellion of them all.
Though, we’ve already learned about the 17 sons that Colonel Aureliano Buendía fathered while off fighting in the war, the rest of his family is unaware until the first of the mothers and sons appears in Macondo to be baptized. Each son was born with his eyes open, indicating the gift of psychic powers that Colonel Aureliano Buendía has possessed since birth. None of the mothers agree to turn over their sons’ care to Úrsula, contrasting the way that Pilar has allowed her sons to be raised by other women. The length of time Colonel Aureliano Buendía has been gone is made clear in the fact that the 17 sons appear over the course of 12 years, indicating that he has not returned in all that time to hear the news of his progeny.
Aureliano José begins to behave badly, sacking Úrsula’s money and gadding about town. He learns that his mother is Pilar Ternera, who becomes his accomplice in solitude. She lends her rooms to people’s casual affairs and Aureliano José takes naps there. She predicts his death in the cards. He goes to see a play and sees soldiers searching the audience. He tries to run, but the captain shoots him, saying he only wishes that it were Colonel Aureliano Buendía instead. The captain is immediately shot and the Liberal party believes it has gained power.
Aureliano José’s being refused the company of Amaranta can be seen as one cause of his bad behavior. He reunites with his biological mother only long enough for her to tell his fortune. Aureliano José is the first of Colonel Aureliano Buendía’s sons to be murdered, though all of the rest will die in similar ways, punished for their father’s actions. Again, the Liberal party is misguided in its sense that it gains power from any individual act.
General José Raquel Moncada takes up civil and military leadership of Macondo, afraid the soldiers are too hotheaded on their own. The regime won’t admit to a state of war. Colonel Aureliano Buendía seizes two states on the coast and returns to attack Macondo. General Moncada is disappointed that the rebels are fighting well, though sympathetic to his old friend’s cause. He is captured trying to escape Macondo and he and Colonel Aureliano Buendía have lunch together at Úrsula’s.
Though General José Raquel Moncada has been a mostly peaceful leader up until now, he fears what will happen if he doesn’t step in to provide his more level-headed military guidance. The two old friends are able to meet with one another, calling out the disparity between the relative calm of person-to-person relations and the exaggeratedly violent nature of political conflict.
Colonel Aureliano Buendía replaces all of the Conservative laws with new ones. He reverts all the land his brother had stolen back to its original owners and visits Rebeca to tell her his plans. He can barely see her and he advises her to scale back her mourning. Rebeca, though, likes living in the house, alone with her memories.
As a way of proving his dominance, Colonel Aureliano Buendía replaces all of the laws, refocusing the governance of Macondo, not out of necessity so much as pride. He does right by the people of Macondo when he restores the land stolen from them by his brother and nephew. Rebeca’s ephemeral existence shows the way a person fades when left in complete solitude, becoming a ghost even before death.
Court-martials demand the execution of all of the regular army officers, including José Raquel Moncada. Úrsula begs Colonel Aureliano Buendía not to follow through, saying that the town had been its most peaceful under his rule. Colonel Aureliano Buendía refuses to commute his sentence though. He visits his old friend in his cell to say that he is not the one executing him, but rather the revolution. General Moncada tells Colonel Aureliano Buendía that, out of his hatred for the military, he has become just like them. Colonel Aureliano Buendía accepts his friend’s personal affects, agreeing to deliver them to his wife.
Colonel Aureliano Buendía refuses to pardon his friend, despite their amicable relations and despite the reasonable pleas of his mother. Again he obscures his own guilt by blaming the revolution, rather than accepting that he has any personal responsibility. Even while agreeing to kill his friend, he still agrees to do him the favor of visiting his wife, a clear indication of the contradictory way he lives, which Moncada can’t reconcile as being any better than the status quo against which Colonel Aureliano Buendía has claimed to fight all these years.