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
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.”