The story starts as a flashback, with Colonel Aureliano Buendía remembering the previous years of the founding of Macondo when a crew of gypsies often brought technological spectacles to the isolated, dreamy village.
"At that time Macondo was a village of twenty adobe houses, built on the bank of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous, like prehistoric eggs. The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point."
José Arcadio Buendía, the insatiably nosy founder of Macondo, was obsessed with gypsies' magical tools. Using supplies given to him by Melquíades, the leader of the gypsies, gave them to him so he used them regularly and immersed himself in the scientific study which frustrated his wife, Úrsula Iguarán.
Eventually, with his prodding, José Arcadio Buendía began exploring alchemy, the science of making gold from different metals. José was driven by a passion for improvement and by an enthusiastic quest for knowledge that forced him into aloneness.
Increasingly, he withdrew himself from all human contacts and became untidy, antisocial, and curious only about his search for knowledge. He was not always a lonely scientist. On the other hand, he was a supervisor of the village of Macondo, an idyllic place devoted to hard work and full of young people.
In his search for progress and knowledge, José Buendía’s fixation changed to a wish to establish communication with civilization. Since there were only mountains on the east and swamp on the west, he led a journey to the north. But he then decided that Macondo will be surrounded by water thus making it unreachable to the rest of the world.
During his plan to move Macondo to another, more reachable place, he was stopped by his wife Ursula who refused to leave.
"It's the smell of the devil," she said.
"Not at all," Melquiades corrected her. "It has been proven that the devil has sulphuric properties and this is just a little corrosive sublimate."
Frustrated, he turned his focus to his children: Aureliano who was withdrawn and enigmatic as a child, and José Arcadio, who inherited his father’s strength.
When the gypsies returned, they said that Melquíades was dead. Despite the sadness about that news, José Arcadio didn't lose interest in marvels and new technologies, so when the gypsies showed him ice, he thought it was the biggest invention in the world.
In chapter 2, the author tries to tell the story about the Macond's founding so the book moves back in time.
Úrsula Iguarán and José Arcadio Buendía were cousins born in a small village and were the great-grandchildren of people surviving Sir Francis Drake’s attack on Riohacha. Although married, Úrsula was scared to consummate their marriage, as she believed that children born in incest marriages were predicted to have genetic malfunctions. She thought that such children would have a pig's tail, or something similar. But as time passed, and Úrsula continued to refuse to be intimate with José Arcadio, the people began to ridicule José Arcadio Buendía. When Prudencio Aguilar said that Buendía is impotent, Buendía killed him. Feeling guilty, José Arcadio decided that he and his wife should leave their home. After spending many months wandering around the country, they established Macondo, a small village.
When he saw the gypsies' ice, José Arcadio remembered his dream of Macondo as a city made of mirrored walls, which he interpreted as ice. He emerged again into his scientific breakdown, but this time his son Aurelian joined his study. In the meantime, his eldest son (still a teenager) was lured by Pilar Turner, because she was attracted to him due to the size of his genitalia. In the end, he made her a child. Nonetheless, before the child was born, he met a gypsy woman and madly fell in love with her. She also was attracted to him due to its size.
Without meaning to, the woman looked at Jose Arcadio and examined his magnificent animal in repose with a kind of pathetic fervor.
"My boy," she exclaimed, "may God preserve you just as you are."
When the gypsies decided to leave the city, José Arcadio decided to join them.
Úrsula tried to follow the Gypsies but since she mourned the loss of her son, and felt sorry for leaving a newborn Amaranta, five months later, Úrsula returned. She discovered that a two-day journey through the swamp connects civilization to Macondo.
After Úrsula Iguarán's discovery of the route connecting Macondo with civilization, the village began to change. It somehow grew with the Buendía family, and the key role was played by José Arcadio. Pilar gave birth to José Arcadi who was still missing and named him Arcadio.
The Buendía family also accepted Rebecca, an orphan who mysteriously arrived in the village one day and her roots remain unknown. But Buendías accepted her and raised her as one of her own, with no exception, as she was their child. First, they thought her out of her self-destructive practices of whiteness and eating the dirt. Soon it was discovered that she suffered from insomnia
Finally, the whole city was associated with amnesia. To remember things easier, citizens started to label everything. First, they put a big sign to remind themselves that God exists. But then, they worried that one day the sign and the labels they made won't make sense to them as it might happen that the citizens will forget to read. So, Pilar, who was a fortune teller and could predict the future, used their labels and cards to tell a story.
It is discovered that insomnia could only be cured if Melquíades (the gypsies) go and find a cure. Melquíades, who appears to have been returned from the dead, brought them some sort of technology they have never seen before. So José Arcadio tried to make a God's daguerreotype, just to prove God exists, while Aureliano became a master of silver. Each day, he spent locked up in his study room where he shared his findings with Melquíades, who was also obsessively distracted with his odd research. Now older, Aureliano stayed withdrawn and lonely, indifferent to all women.
"That dedication to his work, the good judgment with which he directed his attention, had allowed Aureliano to earn in a short time more money than Ursula had with her delicious candy fauna, but everybody thought it strange that he was now a full-grown man and had not known a woman. It was true that he had never had one."
As the village and family expanded, Úrsula managed to greatly expand Buendí's home. A spokesperson of the central government Don Apolinar Moscote just arrived in Macondo and tried to decide on the color of their house. José Arcadio banished him, but soon he returned with his family forcing José Arcadio to give them permission to stay.
""Very well, my friend," Jose Arcadio Buendia said, "you may stay here, not because you have those bandits with shotguns at the door, but out of consideration for your wife and daughters."
Don Apolinar Moscote was upset, but Jose Arcadio Buendia did not give him time to reply. "We only make two conditions," he went on. "The first: that everyone can paint his house the color he feels like. The second: that the soldiers leave at once. We will guarantee order for you." The magistrate raised his right hand with all the fingers extended.
"Your word of honor?"
"The word of your enemy," Jose Arcadio Buendia said. And he added in a bitter tone: "Because I must tell you one thing: you and I are still enemies."
Nevertheless, despite his father’s aggressiveness to be the judge, Aureliano fell in love with Don Apolinar's youngest daughter, Remedios.
Desperate and lonely, Aureliano slept with Pilar, the fortuneteller his older brother impregnates. Pilar also helped Aureliano in his plan to marry Remedios. While Aureliano wanted the quite young Remedios, two girls from the Buendía family - adopted Rebecca and Amaranta - both fell in love with Pietro Crespi, a stranger who came to Macondo to set a piano in their house. They fell in love so much that Rebeca returned to her old habit of eating bleach and dirt, but Crespi still wanted to marry her. Both marriages, Remedios to Aureliano and Rebecca to Crespi had been arranged, but Amaranta was jealous of Rebecca so much that she swore she would stop the marriage.
When the Melquíades slowly passed away, he was the first person who died in Macondo. After the mourning was over, the Buendía family started to mask happiness: Rebecca and Pietro Crespiwere in love, and Aureliano was becoming closer to Remedios, his future bride. Even when he heard that Pilar is pregnant with his child didn't bother him in his intentions. But their happiness didn't last.
Amaranta threatened she would destroy Rebeca’s wedding which greatly troubled Rebecca. José Arcadio was tired of his research and slipped into madness. He had a vision of a man who he killed earlier and was now wracked with grief. He was persuaded that the same day was repeating over and over again. He began to be angry, ripped up the house. To stop his madness it took twenty men to drag him outside the house and restrain him to a tree. He remained there until the rest of his life, simply tied to the tree.
As soon as Remedios reached her puberty age, Aureliano and she married, causing Rebeca’s wedding to be postponed as it was planned at the same time. Crespi was called away and had to go take care of his ill mother. She found the letter he received and suspected that he forged it just to delay the marriage. Remedios was like fresh air in the Buendía house. She endeared herself to everyone and even determined to raise her brother's bastard son as her own child. He was named Aureliano José.
After her marriage, Remedios suddenly died of some sort of an internal disease, conceivably a miscarriage, and the house slipped into mourning. This time of grief proved another set of obstacles for Pietro and Rebecca to delay their marriage as the Buendía family was in mourning. Another knock was the tremendously long time it took to construct the first church they planned to have in Macondo. It was first visited by organized religion. The priest who was working on building the church made the shocking discovery that José Arcadio's rage was not as intense as everyone thought it was. The nonsense he spouted was not nonsense, but he spoke Latin.
"Hoc est simplicissimus," Jose Arcadio Buendia said. "Homo iste statum quartum materiae invenit."
Father Nicanor raised his hands and the four legs of the chair all landed on the ground at the same time.
"Nego," he said. "Factum hoc existentiam Dei probat sine dubio."
Thus it was discovered that Jose Arcadio Buendia's devilish jargon was Latin."
The delay and time of mourning ended when José Arcadio, the oldest son arrived home. He was a beast of a man - tattooed, quite strong, crude, and hasty. Despite planning to marry Pietro Crespi, Rebecca was fascinated by his manliness, so they began to have an affair. The affair ended in marriage, so Úrsula banished them from the house.
"She's your sister."
"I don't care," Jose Arcadio replied.
Pietro Crespi mopped his brow with the handkerchief that was soaked in lavender.
"It's against nature," he explained, "and besides, it's against the law."
Jose Arcadio grew impatient, not so much at the argument as over Pietro Crespi's paleness.
"Fuck nature two times over," he said. "And I've come to tell you not to bother going to ask Rebeca anything."
But his brutal deportment broke down when he saw Pietro Crespi's eyes grow moist.
"Now," he said to him in a different tone, "if you really like the family, there's Amaranta for you."
Nevertheless, Crespi and Amaranta started to feel love.
After the death of Remedios, Aureliano left himself in solitude, but soon found a bigger concern - the upcoming war between the Conservative government led by Don Apolinar Moscote, Aureliano’s father-in-law, and the rebellious Liberals. Bothered by the corruption and deception of the Conservatives, Aureliano partnered with the Liberals. When the war started, the town was occupied by the Conservative army. Aureliano decided to lead young men in a revolution thus defeating the Liberals. He decided to leave a small part of the Liberal army. Because of that, he was later known in the novel as Colonel Aureliano Buendía. Finally, he became the leader of the Liberal army.
Colonel Aureliano left Macondo with his impatiently gathered troops and joined the civil war, leaving seventeen children around the country. He left Arcadio, his illegitimate son, so Arcadio became a dictator, obsessed with hierarchy and brutality. When he tried to sleep with Pilar, his mother sent him Santa Sofía de la Piedad, a young virgin. He married Santa Sofie and she gave him three children: José Arcadio Segundo, Aureliano Segundo and Remedios the Beauty.
When the Liberals lost in the war and the Conservatives retook Macondo, Arcadio was executed. While the war was raging, and Arcadio’s dictatorship started, Pietro Crespi proposed marriage to Amaranta. She viciously rejected him even though she loved him, so he committed suicide. Regretful, she burned her hand, covered it with the black bandage, and wore it until her death.
The Liberals lost the war, and Colonel Aureliano with Colonel Gerineldo Márquez was arrested and convicted to execution. His last wish was that his sentence be done by his brother in his hometown. In the end, he was saved, but Colonel Buendía launched another revolt. He encountered many failures, resulting in the abandonment of the Liberal party’s official ambassadors. Ultimately, he had some success and was able to win back Macondo and other coastal territories. But has became disillusioned by the assassination attempt, so he began realizing that his fight is not everyone's ideology, but only his alone. He started writing poetry and continued his affair with Remedios.
In the meantime, Santa Sofía gave birth to twins to Arcadio, her now-dead husband and they named them Aureliano Segundo and José Arcadio. Except for this happy event, the tragedies continued to strike the Buendía family. José Arcadio died in a mysterious way and remains unclear whether he committed suicide or has been murdered. His wife Rebeca isolates herself in solitary grief. When Aureliano left for war, Colonel Gerineldo Márquez was left in command of the town. He has been in love with Amaranta for years but spurned him the same way she did Crespi.
"I'm not going to marry anyone," she told him, "much less you. You love Aureliano so much that you want to marry me because you can't marry him.
Colonel Gerineldo Marquez was a patient man. "I'll keep on insisting," he said. "Sooner or later I'll convince you.""
After spending years tied to the tree, José Arcadio Buendía died and as a mark of his death, a rain of yellow flowers fell from the sky.
As time passed, Aureliano José and Pilar grew to maturity. He formed a sick affection for his aunt, Amaranta who was still in her loneliness but was dangerously close to needing it. They touched each other and fell asleep naked without lovemaking. When they were almost discovered while kissing, Amaranta broke off and Aureliano José joined the army.
"Aureliano José had been destined to find with [Carmelita Montiel] the happiness that Amaranta had denied him, to have seven children, and to die in her arms of old age, but the bullet that entered his back and shattered his chest had been directed by a wrong interpretation of the cards."
The authorized Liberal party signed a peace deal with the Conservative government, which Colonel Buendía saw as risky. He rejected the agreement and escaped the town. Aureliano José followed him. While Colonel Aureliano was crossing throughout the Caribbean, Macondo was into relative peace and flourished in its new rank as a city under the mayor José Raquél Moncada. He was a Conservative but also an intelligent man.
Aureliano José escaped the rebel army and returned home. He hoped to marry Amaranta, who continued to reject him, repulsed by the idea of incest. When Aureliano José has killed a soldier during the disobedience, the problem of incest was brought to a tragic close. After his death, his seventeen sons were brought to Macondo to be baptized. They all were given the name Aureliano.
After Aureliano José’s death, the Colonel returned to Macondo and set himself as the head of their troops. Pale and tall, Colonel Aureliano has been toughened by his battles: when a court-martial called that José Raquél should be put to death, he declined to do it.
The death of Moncada was the beginning of the city's end. Colonel Aureliano and Colonel Gerineldo lost trust in the meaning of the war. Gerineldo Márquez dedicated himself to Amaranta, who steadily overlooked his declarations of love even when she became more used to his presence. Drawn into himself, Colonel Buendía became a shell of a man, emotionless and utterly isolated, with no memories. He was forced to confront himself and finally acknowledge the meaninglessness of the war when Gerineldo Márquez was convicted to death.
When Colonel Gerineldo Márquez was released they fought the battles again to persuade the Liberal to end the bloody war. When he signed a peace pact thinking it symbolizes the Liberal party’s failure to uphold their ideals, he thought that he had betrayed both his party and himself. He tried to kill himself but survived the bullet wound in his chest. When his mother Úrsula saw that he was alive, she made a decision to rejuvenate the house and to save it from decay.
Colonel Aureliano, even more, distanced himself from society and spent his days closed in his lab refusing to talk about politics and making little golden fishes. In the meantime, during his adolescence, Aureliano Segundo began to delve into the magical enigmas he found kept in Melquíades’s lab. He was often visited by the ghost of Melquíades himself. José Arcadio Segundo, on the other hand, began to have a religious side. Shortly he became a cockfighter and occasionally engaged in sex with donkeys. The twins, who were so similar until they were fully grown, both started being intimate with the same woman, Petra Cotes. She didn't realize that they were twins changing and not the same man.
When Jose Arcadio Segundo was scared off by a venereal infection he got from Petra Cotes, he ended the affair, while his brother decided to stay with her. They had an intense affection for each other so much that they believed that their relationship caused the farm animals to be extremely fertile. Soon, Aureliano Segundo became wealthy because of his livestock’s fertility. He threw big parties and engaged in showcasing his wealth. The whole town seems to share his wealth.
Driven by the urge to research, José Arcadio Segundo tried to arrange a passable river route to the ocean. He was successful only one time when he brought a boat full of French prostitutes who announced a carnival in Macondo. Remedios the Beauty was declared as the queen of the carnival. She became the most gorgeous woman anyone has ever seen, but she remained clueless and completely innocent. At the carnival, disaster struck. Fernanda del Carpio, a rival queen, arrived accompanied by mysterious men who began a hoot and fired rifles resulting in many celebrants' death.
The author begins this chapter by providing readers the history of Fernanda del Carpio. She was raised to believe she's superior, but her family’s fortune has been fading for quite some time now, and her aristocratic line was perishing. When he saw her at the carnival, Aureliano Segundo became smitten with her. He followed her to her city and brought her home to marry him. Their personalities, however, were totally opposite. She was arrogant and religious, while he was a loyal hedonist. Ignoring his wife’s strict morals, Aureliano Segundo continued to have an affair with Petra Cotes. They were both so sure that the fertility of the animals depends on them.
In the meantime, Fernanda tried to change the Buendía house into an aristocratic home. She ruled with an iron fist, so in the end, the house became uncomfortable and rigidly formal. Despite their separation, Fernanda and Aureliano Segundo had two children: José Arcadio (II) and Renata Remedios (whom everyone called Meme). Úrsula, now a hundred-year-old matriarch, said that José Arcadio will one day become pope.
After Meme's birth, the anniversary of the ceasefire that ended the war occurred, and the president tried to honor Colonel Aureliano with the Order of Merit, but the Colonel declined it. His seventeen sons arrived at Macondo to honor the anniversary. Aureliano Segundo welcomed their arrival with festivity, to Fernanda’s dismay. When on Ash Wednesday they received the cross of ashes, they didn't wash it off, so all of them kept their mark until their deaths.
One of them, Aureliano Triste, found out that Rebeca was still living in solitude in her house. He and Aureliano Centeno decided to stay in Macondo and open an ic factory thus fulfilling José Arcadio's wishes of making a city made of ice. In the end, funded by Segundo, Triste built a rail connection that connected Macondo with the modern, industrial world.
"It was as if God had decided to put to the test every capacity for surprise…"
The inflow of modern technology to Macondo through the railroad was amazing yet troubled the citizens of what they didn't understand. But especially confusing was the arrival of foreign tycoons who set up a banana plantation which they surrounded with fences right next to Macondo. Macondo rapidly became more worldly-wise: it got luxury imports, phonographs, the cinema, as well as many more prostitutes came to the city. It was a time of uncontrolled growth and chaos in Macondo, but Aureliano Segundo was overjoyed by the profuse energy. The only one who remained unexcited was Remedios the Beauty.
"She was becalmed in a magnificent adolescence, more and more impenetrable to formality, more and more indifferent to malice and suspicion, happy in her own world of simple realities."
She was blissfully clueless about the change that was going on around her. She was also oblivious about her beauty and she didn't realize how deadly it was and that men would die just to touch her. As a matter of fact, she remained indifferent with love and all men throughout the novel.
"Unaware of the restless circle in which she moved, of the unbearable state of intimate calamity that she provoked as she passed by, Remedios the Beauty treated the men without the least bit of malice and in the end upset them with her innocent complaisance."
While capitalism was running unchecked in Macondo, Colonel Aureliano began to regret his decision of ending war against the Conservatives, as their facilities and business raised more power. The owners of the rich banana plantation placed up their own authoritarian police force, which attacked citizens for even the smallest violations. Colonel Buendía’s threat that he and his seventeen sons will start a war resulted in tragedy: unknown killers tracked his sons down and killed all but one of them. Colonel Buendía fell into a deep depression and visited Colonel Gerineldo Márquez in an endeavor to start a new war, but Colonel Márquez ignored him.
In the meantime, Úrsula became very old, but she noticed that time is passing more quickly than before. She was going blind, but no one noticed it, as she always knew where everyone was. Úrsula was driven by a commitment that José Arcadio II will become pope. However, she was greatly saddened about all the tragedy that has happened to her family. When José Arcadio II was away and Meme was in school, the house became even emptier. Amaranta started tilting her own cover while preparing for death. Fernanda accumulated growing household control and once again tried to impose her sharp, religious discipline resulting in Aureliano Segundo moving in with Petra Cotes. Once, he almost killed himself in an eating contest against a woman called The Elephant. When the children were absent, the house became gloomy and eerie quiet.
Ultimately, the isolated and mysterious José Arcadio Segundo came around to the house just to talk with the old Colonel. But he didn't respond well and withdrew and isolated himself even further. Unable to feel emotion and yearning for some memories of his past, the isolated old soon died. He stopped working on making new golden fishes, and eventually, one morning, he passed away.
While mourning for Colonel Aureliano, Fernanda gave birth to her third child Amaranta Úrsula whose father was Aureliano Segundo. For years, Amaranta, who was the last living second-generation of the Buendía family, had been fleeing into her memories. Amaranta lived more in her solitude and regretful past than in the present. Since she had a premonition of the death, she started sewing her own funeral cover. When she finished it, she told the entire city that she would die at dusk. She then offered to take the letters of the living to the dead with her. Remaining a virgin, she died. After her death, Úrsula went to her bed and didn't get up for many years. She was often visited by little Amaranta Úrsula, who she loved very much.
The first Aureliano Segundo and Fernanda's daughter Meme grew up as foolish as her father. She feigned interest in the clavichord only because her mother forced her to study. Due to the shared interests and mutual dislike for Fernanda, she developed a companionship with her father. She became friends with some American girls and started to hang out with them. She even learned a little bit of English.
Meme madly fell in love with Mauricio Babilonia, a technician who was working on the plantation. He courted her shamelessly and bluntly and always followed her around. Fernanda found them kissing and closed the lovesick Meme in the house. When she figured that Mauricio Babilonia snuck into her house every night to make love to Meme, she posted a guard in the backyard. When Babilonia returned, the guard shot him, making him paralyzed for the rest of his life.
After the tragic paralysis, Meme was left traumatized not speaking to anyone.
"She had not spoken again nor would she do so for the rest of her life from the time that she heard the shot in the backyard and the simultaneous cry of pain from Mauricio Babilonia."
Shocked by Meme’s behavior, Fernanda decides to take her on a trip to Fernanda's birth town. Meme becomes interested in a convent, where she decides to spend the rest of her life thinking only about Mauricio.
Months after Meme stayed in the convent, one of the nuns came to the Buendía house with Meme’s illegitimate child. The father was paralyzed Mauricio whom Fernanda kept hidden in the old workshop that once belonged to Colonel Aureliano. Since she was ashamed of Meme’s actions, she pretended that she found the child and gave it name Aureliano (II).
In the meantime, José Arcadio Segundo, the solitary and silent brother, has been managing the plantation workers. He wanted them to start a protest due to the inhuman working conditions. Macondo was put under martial law, so the workers reacted by sabotaging the plantation. The government responded to their sabotage by requesting the workers to attend a meeting in order to resolve their dissatisfaction. But the organized meeting was a trick. The army surrounded the workers, pointed out machine guns, and methodically killed all of them. The corpses were collected, put on a train, and tossed into the sea.
José Arcadio Segundo was treated as dead and was thrown onto the train. He managed to jump off the train and decided to walk back to his town. As soon as he arrived, he told everyone about the horrific incident that happened. He spoke all that was in his memory before everything was wiped out. No one in Macondo remembered what really happened, so they denied and refused to believe him. That night, heavy rain fell thus destroying all physical pieces of evidence of the massacre.
The government and the army exterminated all surviving leaders in order to hide and deny all evidence of a massacre. Eventually, José Arcadio Segundo was found in the Buendía house. He locked himself in the room, and when soldiers peeped into the room, all they could see was that the room had aged immeasurably. They haven't found José Arcadio Segundo.
Scared to come out, José Arcadio Segundo took sanctuary in this old room, examining Melquíades’ manuscripts. Gradually, he stayed dead to the outside world which led him to lose his sanity. He lived only to do research of found texts and to maintain the memory of the people killed in the massacre.
The rain that began that night didn't stop for four years, eleven months, and two days. Detained by the rain, Aureliano Segundo was in a peaceful silence. He abandoned the sins of his earlier years. He began to take care of his children as well as Meme’s illegitimate son, who ultimately fled from the room where Fernanda had been hiding him for a long time. Úrsula became less coherent and more senile.
The rain destroyed all houses and decreased Aureliano Segundo’s fortune to zero because all animals died in the flooding.
"Macondo was in ruins. In the swampy streets there were the remains of furniture, animal skeletons covered with red lilies, the last memories of the hordes of newcomers who had fled Macondo as wildly as they had arrived. The houses that had been built with such haste during the banana fever had been abandoned."
Fernanda entertained herself by reaching the telepathic doctors, who were attempting to heal her from a uterus disease, and by torturing her husband who lost his temper and broke everything in the house.
Aureliano Segundo amused himself with an endeavor to locate the fortune that Úrsula hid in the backyard. When the rain finally ended, the plantation had been washed away, and the town was getting back into memory.
When the rain stopped, Úrsula got out of bed and tried to put the Buendía house back on its feet. She found José Arcadio Segundo. As he returned to Petra's house, he discovered that all the animals were dead. So, he was forced to work as he never worked before. Their festivals were only modest imitations of their old parties of debauchery, but they were at least happy as they once again madly fell in love with each other.
Aureliano Segundo spent less time with his children, who were fastly aging. Úrsula continued to revert to her past, ultimately dying as a 120-year-old woman. Rebeca also died at the same time.
After the rain another tragedy hit town. A severe heatwave fell on the town, and the citizens began to think that they were plagued. Birds died in droves, and an odd creature, a semi-human called the Wandering Jew, was found on the streets. The city was assumed to be abandoned. Amid this deprivation, Aureliano Segundo devoted himself to raising some money he plans on sending Amaranta Úrsula for her education in Europe, but his strength had left him, as he was now dying. José Arcadio Segundo was also living his last days, and he finally made some headway in solving Melquíades’ prophecies.
In the end, Aureliano Segundo was able to send money to Amaranta Úrsula so she could go to Brussels. His task was complete, so he died at the same time as his brother José Arcadio Segundo. His last words were a reminder to Aureliano (II) regarding the forgotten massacre that happened in previous years. During the burial, their coffins were mixed up so each was buried in his brother's grave.
Aureliano (II) stayed in Melquíades’s old lab and was visited occasionally by the ghost of the gypsy. The ghost gave him clues and helped him solve the prophecies. Aureliano discovered that the prophecies were written in Sanskrit and that they will be solved when they become one hundred years old. The Buendía family became poor, but Petra helped them with food. After some time, she gave up on the family and simply walked away from them after she helped them for fifty years. She never indicated where she was going.
Soon, Fernanda wrote the last letter to her children in Europe and died.
A few months later, Fernanda’s son José Arcadio (II) decided to return to Macondo. He became an isolated, self-indulgent man. It turned out that he hadn't been in school as he thought that he would inherit a large fortune when his parents died. In the end, he stays trapped in a shabby house with no memories.
When he finds the gold that Úrsula hid under her bed, he again falls into sin. In his solitude, he became friends with Aureliano (II), who now made some progress in his quest for knowledge. These two Buendías welcomed a visit from the last living son of Colonel Aureliano, who, as soon as he returned to the city, was shot down by the police just as his sixteen brothers. The relationship between Aureliano (II) and José Arcadio (II) was suddenly stopped when the fourth of the children killed himself in his bath and stole his gold.
Amaranta Úrsula returned to Macondo and brought Gaston, her husband with her. Even though he noticed that her love for her hometown was somewhat nostalgic, he followed her. She was enthusiastic about wanting to restore the house and the town, but the downfall of Macondo was irreversible.
Since Aureliano (II) wandered the town, he noticed that almost no one remembered the Buendía family who was once the most prominent in Macondo. Following the family's tendency toward love and incest, Aureliano (II) fell in love with Amaranta Úrsula. He found relief for his unanswered love in his newfound company with an intelligent Catalonian bookseller, and with four young scholars that he met in the bookstore. Together, they prowled the underworld of Macondo and visited brothels and bars.
In one of the brothels, Aureliano (II) found comfort in Pilar, his long-forgotten great-great-grandmother, who offered him a pearl of reliable intuition and wisdom. He also took a black prostitute Nigromanta as his lover. Gaston, who was bored in Macondo, became distracted with his plan to build a Latin American airmail service. Since he was preoccupied, Aureliano (II) took the opportunity to acknowledge his love for Amaranta Úrsula. Ultimately, she failed for his words, and they became lovers.
Gaston decided to travel to Belgium to realize his business plans, and, when he discovered about his wife's affair, he decided to stay and not return to Macondo. The Catalonian and Aureliano (II) scholar friends also left Macondo, a city that was now shut in its silent death throes. In the middle of the isolation of Macondo, the love affair between Amaranta Úrsula and Aureliano (II) continued happily. The Buendía name fell into complete neglect, destroyed by the couple’s uncontrolled lovemaking. In realization of Úrsula Iguarán’s fears about the risks of incest, their baby, who they also named Aureliano (III), was born with the pig's tail.
"After cutting the umbilical cord, the midwife began to use a cloth to take off the blue grease that covered his body as Aureliano held up a lamp. Only when they turned him on his stomach did they see that he had something more than other men, and they leaned over to examine him. It was the tail of a pig."
After the birth, Amaranta Úrsula bled uncontrollably and soon died. Aureliano (II) was looking for some comfort in alcohol and the arms of Nigromante so much that he forgot about his newborn baby. When he found the corpse of the baby, ants were feeding on it. He discovered that the Buendías line had finally come to an end. He locked himself up in the house and was finally capable of solving Melquíades’ prophecies which were a history of the Buendía family, starting with the time of the Macondo founding.
"…because at that prodigious instant Melquiades' final keys were revealed to him and he saw the epigraph of the parchments perfectly placed in the order of man's time and space: The first of the line is tied to a tree and the last is being eaten by the ants."
As he read the manuscripts, he discovered that the text is mirroring his life while an apocalyptic wind swirls ripped down the foundations of the town by erasing it from his memory.
"Before reaching the final line, however, he had already understood that he would never leave that room, for it was foreseen that the city of mirrors (or mirages) would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment when Aureliano Babilonia would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth."