One Hundred Years of Solitude

by

Gabriel García Márquez

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Tail of a Pig Symbol Analysis

Tail of a Pig Symbol Icon

Throughout the story, whenever a relative threatens to marry another relative, Úrsula warns them of the genetic defects that could result from incest, specifically a baby being born with the tail of a pig. When she and her first cousin José Arcadio Buendía decide they want to marry, they are warned about a child from an incestuous union generations before who was born with a tail of a pig and who died when they attempted to cut the tail off. Despite the specter of a pig-tailed child, many generations of Buendías are tempted towards incest, although they largely avoid it: adopted siblings marry, but not biological ones. Aunts and nephews find themselves attracted to one another, but they don’t consummate their attraction. Men father children with prostitutes, but not their wives who are their relatives. Only when Amaranta Úrsula sleeps with her nephew Aureliano (whom she doesn’t know to be her nephew) is a child born with the tail of a pig. Though the couple assumes that the child’s deformity can be corrected with modern surgery, his fate is sealed, and he is eaten alive by red ants while his father is mourning his mother who died in childbirth.

Tail of a Pig Quotes in One Hundred Years of Solitude

The One Hundred Years of Solitude quotes below all refer to the symbol of Tail of a Pig. 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 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:
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Tail of a Pig Symbol Timeline in One Hundred Years of Solitude

The timeline below shows where the symbol Tail of a Pig appears in One Hundred Years of Solitude. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2 
The Circularity of Time Theme Icon
Solitude Theme Icon
Progress and Civilization Theme Icon
Propriety, Sexuality, and Incest Theme Icon
...defects caused by inbreeding, warning about an aunt and uncle who produced a son with the tail of a pig . José Arcadio Buendía makes light of the warning, and the couple is married, but... (full context)
Chapter 8 
The Circularity of Time Theme Icon
Solitude Theme Icon
Propriety, Sexuality, and Incest Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 12 
The Circularity of Time Theme Icon
Solitude Theme Icon
Progress and Civilization Theme Icon
Propriety, Sexuality, and Incest Theme Icon
...Buendía will be attracted to Remedios the Beauty and they will produce a child with the tail of a pig . She keeps a close eye on all of them to be sure this doesn’t... (full context)
Chapter 20
The Circularity of Time Theme Icon
Solitude Theme Icon
Propriety, Sexuality, and Incest Theme Icon
Magic vs. Reality Theme Icon
...says they will name him Aureliano. When the midwife cleans off the newborn, they find the tail of a pig . Aureliano and Amaranta Úrsula are unaware of the precedent in the family though, and... (full context)