One Hundred Years of Solitude

by

Gabriel García Márquez

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José Arcadio Buendía Character Analysis

The patriarch of the Buendía family and the founder of the city of Macondo. Against his family’s wishes, he marries his third cousin, Úrsula Iguarán. Because their families have been intermarrying for centuries, the pair are warned before their wedding that any child they have will be born with the tail of a pig. They set out to discover a new city where they can live without shame for their incest and past mistakes, and they establish Macondo, parenting three biological children—Colonel Aureliano Buendía, José Arcadio (I), and Amaranta—and also the orphan Rebeca. José Arcadio Buendía becomes obsessed with the sciences introduced by the gypsy Melquíades, and he slowly transitions from being a hands-on founder and developer of the town into a solitary man, overcome with curiosity about technology. In a fit of frustration, he starts to destroy his home, and the family determines that he has lost his mind. They tie him to a tree in the center of town, where he lives out the end of his life.

José Arcadio Buendía Quotes in One Hundred Years of Solitude

The One Hundred Years of Solitude quotes below are all either spoken by José Arcadio Buendía or refer to José Arcadio Buendía. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Circularity of Time Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the HarperCollins edition of One Hundred Years of Solitude published in 1970.
Chapter 1  Quotes

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.

Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:

“We will not leave,” she said. “We will stay here, because we have had a son here.”

“We still have not had a death,” he said. “A person does not belong to a place until there is someone dead under the ground.”

Úrsula replied with a soft firmness:

“If I have to die for the rest of you to stay here, I will die.”

Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2  Quotes

They were afraid that those two healthy products of two races that had interbred over the centuries would suffer the shame of breeding iguanas. There had already been a horrible precedent. An aunt of Úrsula’s, married to an uncle of José Arcadio Buendía, had a son who went through life wearing loose, baggy trousers and who bled to death after having lived forty-two years in the purest state of virginity, for he had been born and had grown up with a cartilaginous tail in the shape of a corkscrew and with a small tuft of hair on the tip. A pig’s tail that was never to be seen by any woman and that cost him his life when a butcher friend did him the favor of chopping it off with his cleaver. José Arcadio Buendía, with the whimsy of his nineteen years, resolved the problem with a single phrase: “I don’t care if I have piglets as long as they can talk.”

Related Symbols: Tail of a Pig
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:

José Arcadio Buendía dreamed that night that right there a noisy city with houses having mirror walls rose up. He asked what city it was and they answered him with a name that he had never heard, that had no meaning at all, but that had a supernatural echo in his dream: Macondo.

Related Characters: José Arcadio Buendía
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3  Quotes

“If we don’t ever sleep again, so much the better,” José Arcadio Buendía said in good humor. “That way we can get more out of life.” But the Indian woman explained that the most fearsome part of the sickness of insomnia was not the impossibility of sleeping, for the body did not feel any fatigue at all, but its inexorable evolution toward a more critical manifestation: a loss of memory. She meant that when the sick person became used to his state of vigil, the recollection of his childhood began to be erased from his memory, then the name and notion of things, and finally the identity of people and even the awareness of his own being, until he sank into a kind of idiocy that had no past.

Related Characters: José Arcadio Buendía, Visitacíon
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:

In the meantime, Melquíades had printed on his plates everything that was printable in Macondo, and he left the daguerreotype laboratory to the fantasies of José Arcadio Buendía, who had resolved to use it to obtain scientific proof of the existence of God. Through a complicated process of superimposed exposures taken in different parts of the house, he was sure that sooner or later he would get a daguerreotype of God, if He existed, or put an end once and for all to the supposition of His existence.

Related Characters: José Arcadio Buendía, Melquíades
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4  Quotes

“Love is a disease,” he thundered. “With so many pretty and decent girls around, the only thing that occurs to you is to get married to the daughter of our enemy.”

Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:

On the next day, Wednesday, José Arcadio Buendía went back to the workshop. “This is a disaster,” he said. “Look at the air, listen to the buzzing of the sun, the same as yesterday and the day before. Today is Monday too.”

Related Characters: José Arcadio Buendía
Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

On a certain occasion when Father Nicanor brought a checker set to the chestnut tree and invited him to a game, José Arcadio Buendía would not accept, because according to him he could never understand the sense of a contest in which the two adversaries have agreed upon the rules. Father Nicanor, who had never seen checkers played that way, could not play it again. Ever more startled at José Arcadio Buendía’s lucidity, he asked how it was possible that they had him tied to a tree. “Hoc est simplicissimus,” he replied. “Because I’m crazy.”

Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:
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José Arcadio Buendía Character Timeline in One Hundred Years of Solitude

The timeline below shows where the character José Arcadio Buendía appears in One Hundred Years of Solitude. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1 
The Circularity of Time Theme Icon
Solitude Theme Icon
Progress and Civilization Theme Icon
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...every year to display their inventions. A gypsy named Melquíades displays an incredibly strong magnet. José Arcadio Buendía trades livestock for two of the magnets, believing he can use them to pull gold... (full context)
Solitude Theme Icon
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On their next visit, the gypsies bring a telescope and a magnifying glass. José Arcadio Buendía imagines using the magnifying glass as a weapon and trades in the magnets and some... (full context)
The Circularity of Time Theme Icon
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Melquíades, when he learns of José Arcadio Buendía ’s failed experiments, refunds his gold and also gives him some maps and navigation instruments.... (full context)
The Circularity of Time Theme Icon
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José Arcadio Buendía convinces Úrsula to share her gold coins with him so he might double them via... (full context)
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José Arcadio Buendía , who was once so cheerful and hardworking, becomes distracted by these newest technologies.  Úrsula... (full context)
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José Arcadio Buendía remains ignorant of the geography of the region, knowing only that there are mountains and... (full context)
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José Arcadio Buendía laments his choice of location for the city, and begins to pack to leave, but... (full context)
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José Arcadio Buendía recommits himself to family life, teaching the children to read, write and do math. He... (full context)
Chapter 2 
The Circularity of Time Theme Icon
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...named Don José Buendía and so their families have been tied ever since. Úrsula and José Arcadio Buendía are first cousins. Their families try to discourage the union because of the threat of... (full context)
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...rumors spread that a year after their marriage Úrsula is a still a virgin because José Arcadio Buendía is impotent. They go on like this for another six months, when José Arcadio Buendía... (full context)
The Circularity of Time Theme Icon
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...at the swamps spread out before them. They camp beside a river and that night José Arcadio Buendía dreams of a city built of mirrors named Macondo. In the morning, he declares that... (full context)
The Circularity of Time Theme Icon
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Aureliano Buendía has an intuition for the art of alchemy and he and José Arcadio Buendía set out to separate Úrsula’s gold from the bottom of the pot. José Arcadio (I)... (full context)
The Circularity of Time Theme Icon
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...Arcadio dreams of her in the daytimes and visits her at night. Aureliano Buendía and José Arcadio Buendía announce that they have separated Úrsula’s gold. José Arcadio tells Aureliano about his affair with... (full context)
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Úrsula tries to find José Arcadio (I), but she ends up wandering very far away. José Arcadio Buendía goes out in search of his wife, but after three days of searching, returns empty-handed.... (full context)
Chapter 3 
The Circularity of Time Theme Icon
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...Buendía house when he is just two weeks old and Úrsula welcomes him in at José Arcadio Buendía ’s urging, but they decide he will never know his true identity. They call him... (full context)
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...doesn’t know who. That Sunday, an eleven-year-old orphan named Rebeca appears with a letter for José Arcadio Buendía and a bag of her parents’ bones. The child is a second-cousin of Úrsula’s, but... (full context)
The Circularity of Time Theme Icon
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...the people who suffer from it to a state of “idiocy that had no past.” José Arcadio Buendía believes she is just being superstitious, but Ursula takes precautions to protect the other children.... (full context)
The Circularity of Time Theme Icon
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...her cards now, popularizing an imaginary reality that is sometimes more comforting than actual reality. José Arcadio Buendía attempts to invent a memory machine when a man arrives to the Buendía house, aware... (full context)
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Melquíades has brought with him the technology to produce daguerreotypes. He takes a photo of José Arcadio Buendía and of the children. Aureliano Buendía has become a master silversmith, but the town begins... (full context)
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José Arcadio Buendía resolves to use the daguerreotype laboratory to take a picture of God to prove He... (full context)
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...of white. The letter is from an authority sent by the government, Don Apolinar Moscote. José Arcadio Buendía goes to confront the supposed magistrate. He tells Don Apolinar Moscote that there are no... (full context)
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José Arcadio Buendía , not wanting to make trouble for Don Apolinar Moscote in front of his family,... (full context)
Chapter 4 
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...most current music. The family is awed by the music of the player piano and José Arcadio Buendía tries to take a picture of the ghost playing. Rebeca and Amaranta are enthralled by... (full context)
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José Arcadio Buendía , having determined that God does not exist because he could not take his picture,... (full context)
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...Pietro Crespi, though her love is unreturned. Remedios Moscote accepts the idea of marrying Aureliano. José Arcadio Buendía agrees to Rebeca marrying Pietro Crespi, but Amaranta swears to herself she will stop the... (full context)
Propriety, Sexuality, and Incest Theme Icon
José Arcadio Buendía goes to ask for the hand of Remedios Moscote. The Moscotes believe he must be... (full context)
The Circularity of Time Theme Icon
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...aging that left him in a state of dementia. He drowns in the river, but José Arcadio Buendía is reluctant to bury him, believing him to be immortal. Eventually they bury him and... (full context)
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Pietro Crespi visits often, bringing along gifts of mechanical toys that distract José Arcadio Buendía from his grief. Aureliano Buendía dedicates himself to teaching Remedios Moscote to read and write.... (full context)
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José Arcadio Buendía connects a mechanical ballerina toy to a clock mechanism and is deliriously happy when the... (full context)
Chapter 5
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...while everyone else is quite nervous. She takes the first piece of wedding cake to José Arcadio Buendía , still tied to the chestnut tree. The only unhappy person at the wedding is... (full context)
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...him enough money in a month that he can begin the construction of the church. José Arcadio Buendía is unimpressed, responding in his gibberish, which the priest recognizes as not gibberish, but Latin. (full context)
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Father Nicanor Reyna tries to prove the existence of God to José Arcadio Buendía and José Arcadio Buendía tries to disprove God to the priest. The priest challenges José... (full context)
The Circularity of Time Theme Icon
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...Remedios Moscote’s death. Remedios Moscote had been a joyful presence in the house, caring for José Arcadio Buendía and accepting the son of her husband and Pilar Ternera, Aureliano José as her own.... (full context)
Chapter 7
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A letter arrives from Colonel Aureliano Buendía advising Úrsula to take good care of José Arcadio Buendía because he is going to die, and Úrsula believes it is a premonition. It takes... (full context)
Chapter 12 
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...aimlessly. He finds Úrsula in the courtyard, kneeling at the feet of the ghost of José Arcadio Buendía , and asks what his father has to say. Úrsula tells Colonel Aureliano Buendía that... (full context)