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 Post subject: CLASSIC READ: 100 Years of Solitude - Ch. 13
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 12:47 am 
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Clan Fraser
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One Hundred Years of Solitude
Gabriel Garcia Marquez


:bagpipe:The contents of current chapters and previously summarized chapters may be discussed as they relate to the story. Please do not post any spoilers in the chapter threads.

Note: Because this book does not include chapter numbers, we decided that it would be helpful to include the first line of each chapter in the summary so people can make sure they are in the right place.

Chapter 13
In the bewilderment of her last years, Úrsula had had very little free time to attend to the papal education of José Arcadio, and the time came for him to get ready to leave for the seminary right away.


Úrsula’s doubts and deteriorating physical condition open this chapter. Everything has changed since the time when Macondo was first discovered, and the children are growing up more quickly than in the past. Úrsula is resisting growing old even though she has lost count of her age and can barely see, using her heightened sense of hearing, smell, touch and taste to help her through the day. She discovers that every member in her family is a creature of habit and repeats the same path and actions every day.

“Nevertheless, in the impenetrable solitude of decrepitude she had such clairvoyance as she examined the most insignificant happenings in the family that for the first time she saw clearly the truths that her busy life in former times had prevented her from seeing” (p. 266 Harper Collins pb). Now Úrsula can see everyone clearly for who they truly are. Úrsula realizes Colonel Aureliano Buendía (CAB) has never loved anyone, not even his wife Remedios or any of his children. The reason he fought so many wars was not out of idealism, but pure and sinful pride. He was simply incapable of love. She recalls hearing CAB weeping when she had carried him in her womb. The lucidity of old age allowed her to see this as an unmistakable sign of an incapacity for love. Likewise, Úrsula recognizes that Amaranta is not bitter but struggling between measureless love and an invincible cowardice. The irrational fear that Amaranta has always had of her own tormented heart had triumphed in the end. Rebecca, who has been neglected for some time, was the only one who possessed unbridled courage and who did not carry the Buendía blood in her veins.

Pilar Tenera is almost one hundred years old, but fit and agile in spite of her obesity. She also is beginning to become more alert in her old age. Fernanda is still mumbling about her vanishing sheets, and Aurielano Segundo (AS) is back to his old ways of partying. Úrsula herself has grown prone to cursing, “drawing out the infinite stacks of bad words that she had been forced to swallow over a century of conformity” (p. 270).

José Arcadio, sprinkled with rose water, is heading off to the seminary, but his trunk resembles a coffin more so that a piece of luggage. Is this a foreshadowing?
Everyone sees the boy off except for CAB who is against the idea of having a Pope in the family.
Meme, Aureliano Segundo and Fernanda’s daughter is a bright child who is accomplished at playing the clavichord. The banana fever has calmed down but Fernanda is still against anything and anyone associated with the banana company, including her brother-in-law José Arcadio Segundo (JAS) who had become a foreman of the company.

Eventually AS returns to his mistress, Petra Cotes, and transfers all of his belongings to her home. Petra in turn is bursting with a second youth, and she and AB experience the restored passion of their younger days. AB becomes more of a carouser and spendthrift than ever and drags the improvised cumbriamba or a musical group that plays slow Columbian dance music. Sadly, he begins to slaughter his animals in a manic frenzy. His gluttony takes a dramatic turn when he participates in a drawn out eating contest with The Elephant, also known as Camila Sagastume. They both consume an obscene amount of food but Camila has mastered the art of eating unhurriedly and calmly, savoring each bite. They reach a standoff and The Elephant suggests they claim the contest a tie. AS is totally irresponsible and loses consciousness after consuming turkey beyond his incredible capacity.

AB requests to be taken to Fernanda for his final hours. However he recovers in less than a week and two weeks later is celebrating his survival with unprecedented festivities. Roles are reversed and in effect Fernanda becomes his concubine and Petra his wife. Fernanda however keeps their family life a secret from her children and walks among the three living ghosts (Úrsula, CAB and Amaranta) and the dead ghost of José Arcadio Buendia who occasionally listens to Fernanda play the clavichord.

CAB has become a recluse and Amaranta is busy weaving her death shroud. Fernanda wonders why Amaranta writes occasional letters to Meme but doesn’t want to hear about José Arcadio. Amaranta’s answer is “They’ll die without knowing why” (p. 277). What does she mean by this?

Amaranta seemed to carry the cross of the ashes of virginity on her forehead. In reality she carries it in her hand in the black bandage she never removes. Her life has been spent weaving and unweaving her shroud.
Meme has a penchant for inviting friends home for the summer and one day appears with four nuns and 68 classmates whom she had invited to spend a week with her family. This pleases no one in the Buendía household and Melquíades’ room becomes the “chamberpot room.” Is this the author’s way of saying the spiritual life of the Buendía family has now become a place of refuse?

JAS resurfaces and is observed by Úrsula who is convinced he had indeed exchanged places with his twin brother. She also notices that JAS and CAB both share the same “impermeability of affection.” One day JAS has a human reaction. It is October 11 and the circus is parading through town. This date brings his thoughts to a woman who had sworn to love him until she died, which she did on Oct. 11. JAS later returns to his workshop and works on his 17 gold fishes (one for each son?). His routine is rather lonely and he repeatedly dreams of walking into an empty house with white walls.

Watching the circus parade, CAB “saw the clowns doing cartwheels at the end of the parade and once more he saw the face of his miserable solitude when everything had passed by and there was nothing but the right expanse of the street and the air full of flying ants with a few onlookers peering into the precipice of uncertainty” (p. 286-287). His final moments are spent at the chestnut tree where Santa Sofia de la Piedad discovers him the next morning.


Úrsula has become even sager in her old age. Did you find her clarity of the nature of her family members ironic given that her actual eyesight is deteriorating? Old age has virtually “opened her eyes.”

The reader has a recap of the status of each remaining character, both remembered and forgotten over the years.

Here we read about the death of another Buendia, CAB, who after so many battles and years of violence dies a peaceful death at the same location where JAB’s ghost lingers.

What is the significance of the circus in the last scene?

Please share your thoughts about this chapter.

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 Post subject: Re: CLASSIC READ: 100 Years of Solitude - Ch. 13
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 8:50 am 
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Clan Fraser
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Wow! I listened to the chapter last night and this morning and just read through the summary and I'm not sure I have a single thing to add. :scared:

I agree that Ursula sees her family much more clearly now that she has lost her eyesight. It's interesting that the family members are all surrounded by many other people but are still described in their solitude.

On a completely silly note, when Meme brought home all the girls and the nuns, I was thinking that their families must have been sad that they didn't get to spend the break with their daughters. I'm not surprised that Ursula went with the flow to deal with all those guests - as she's been doing that for decades - but I would think Fernanda would be less willing to deal with the unexpected influx.

I noted the number of gold fish as 17 also, probably representing the sons - speaking of which, we didn't hear anything about the last one who was still alive. I think we probably will, but not in this chapter.

And, we came to the end for CAB. Interesting that he died in the same location as his father JAB, despite the fact that he couldn't see/hear him as the others could.


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 Post subject: Re: CLASSIC READ: 100 Years of Solitude - Ch. 13
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 9:56 am 
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Thanks, LJ. Interesting comments you made. The young future pope's trunk resembling a coffin could be foreshadowing or just a way of showing the family's reaction to his leaving the house. He should be the one perpetuating the family name, but he's becoming a priest, so this would be the death of the Buendia line, right? I thought Aureliano Segundo and Fernanda had three children. Where is the other one? It was mentioned earlier but I don't think it was ever named. If it's a boy, it will be up to him.

I took it as Amaranta will not be talking about her intimacy with anyone. Maybe she's afraid to feel for the boy what she felt for Aureliano José?

I found it very interesting that CAB is the only one who doesn't see his father's ghost, which people who never met him like Fernanda and the children see. He's also the one who sees Melquiades' room looking dirty after all these years. So CAB did not foretell his own death but his father did through Ursula. We no longer know what is reality and what is not, which brings us back to the previous chapter when the people of Macondo couldn't tell which of the new technologies or the gypsy marvels were real or imaginary.

I was glad to see José Arcadio Segundo back and to see him having a relationship with his uncle before he died. Oh, I need to re-read that part but I was shocked when it said Aureliano was only fifty years old...that would make Ursula 50 when she had him and more like 60 when she had Amaranta...not that that would compare to flying carpets, but quite unlikely :)


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 Post subject: Re: CLASSIC READ: 100 Years of Solitude - Ch. 13
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 10:01 am 
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Amazing summary Lady Jayne!

I thought Ursula's observations about the family were amazing. It's as though she sees more clearly without sight than she did with. Before in her youth she was so busy and active that she didn't see much at all really. Actually, I don't remember much from the first time I read the book, it was so long ago, but that part stuck in my mind and for years I was convinced that even in real life blind people could, for example, see colors by touch. It took me some time to realize that Ursula's powers of observation were a little supernatural!

About José Arcadio (does he have a suffix to distinguish him from the previous generations?) I can't remember enough to know if that is a foreshadowing. It feels like it. It could also be symbolic : entering the church and therefore an enforced celibacy as a sort of death? He is the last male heir of the line isn't he? Aureliano Segundo had two daughters so they can't carry on the family name and his brother hasn't had any children. So if he enters the church there won't be any more Buendias - or am I missing something?
It seems clear that between the living ghosts and the talking dead man the Buendia family as a whole has a symbolic foot in the grave already.

I was pretty glad of the recap of everyone's status. I hadn't realized that Pilar Ternera was still alive too. And I was wondering about José Arcadio Segundo too. How odd that he too has a repeated memory of when someone took him to see something. He really is a CAB redux! I wonder what other characteristics he is going to repeat.

About that circus at the end, I was wondering about its significance too. Hopefully one of you has some ideas. At the moment I don't but I will think about it.

I just saw Demetria's post, just as I was about to hit submit. I agree about the Colonel's age. That seemed odd. How could he be only 50 when he was born at around the time that Macondo was founded. It seems like a mistake. I have an easier time believing that Aureliano Segundo is fifty, maybe that is what was intended?
It is also pretty powerful that he is the only one who can't see his father so he urinates constantly in the exact spot where his father died and then that is the place where he dies himself. What is the meaning of that?

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Da mi basia mille, deinde centum, dein mille altera, dein secunda centum, deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum.

Donne-moi mille baisers, et puis cent, et puis mille autres, puis une seconde fois cent, puis encore mille autres, puis cent.


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 Post subject: Re: CLASSIC READ: 100 Years of Solitude - Ch. 13
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 12:45 pm 
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Clan Fraser
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Thanks for a great summary, Lady Jayne, :bow: :bow: and for pointing out various things that I had missed.

I am glad that Ursula gives us a summary of the characters, as it helps to remind us of who is who and what they did. (If I ever read this book again, I am going to do it on a device where you can make notes, and I will tag everybody's age relative to everybody else, and I will rename all the Jose Arcadios and Aurelianos as Tom, Dick, Harry, Pete, etc :wall: ).

We see a rare glimpse of Santa Sofia de la Piedad in this chapter - I had almost forgotten about her. So, Meme gets to come home for vacations but Jose Arcadio does not? Poor boy. (Or maybe lucky boy, considering his odd family.) I hope we find out why Amaranta only writes to Meme.

The role reversal between Fernanda and Petra is funny. I was wondering what the eating contest symbolised - was it using up of resources?

The tree in the courtyard seems to play a central role in this story, with JAB living there for so long, and now CAB dying there.

The circus seems to be bringing us back to the beginning, in some way, but my head is spinning in circles from this chapter, so who knows?

I kept thinking of the translator as I read this chapter, and what a difficult job this book must have been. There is one sentence (turn of page 249-250) that appears not to have a main clause, but maybe the typesetters became so exhausted that they put a period instead of a comma, giving themselves a chance to breathe.


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 Post subject: Re: CLASSIC READ: 100 Years of Solitude - Ch. 13
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 1:46 pm 
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About Aureliano's age, I just went back to the book and see he wasn't fifty yet when he was brought home sick after the war. I guess it's talking about the day of the Treaty, when he shot himself in the chest. It's been quite a while since then, maybe 15 years so he must have been at least 65 when he died. I say 15 years because he was there when Fernanda came and it was a while before she had the little future pope who is now a teenager.

DLT, I don't want to discourage you, but there is no way to tell the relative ages with accuracy. I've been trying, but time jumps around here. All we can tell for sure is that the Segundos are the same age and the birth order of the children. And even that is not one hundred percent. I remember Rebeca was 11 when Amaranta and Arcadio were toddlers but then the two girls had the same group of friends and even fell in love with the same guy at the same time, erasing the age difference. Now we know the new José Arcadio is the oldest of Aureliano Segundo's children but in the same chapter Ursula carries him around on her hip and he goes away to seminary while his younger sister brings her teenage friends home for school vacation.


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 Post subject: Re: CLASSIC READ: 100 Years of Solitude - Ch. 13
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 1:49 pm 
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So basically time is a fluctuating concept and therefore ages also ...

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Da mi basia mille, deinde centum, dein mille altera, dein secunda centum, deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum.

Donne-moi mille baisers, et puis cent, et puis mille autres, puis une seconde fois cent, puis encore mille autres, puis cent.


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 Post subject: Re: CLASSIC READ: 100 Years of Solitude - Ch. 13
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 3:29 pm 
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Clan Fraser
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Thanks for saving me fruitless hours of head-scratching, Demetria. Each time I read something that does not sound quite right, I resolve to go back to the start and try to figure it out, but somehow I cannot find the energy. No wonder we are all confused, if people's ages keep fluctuating. I'm just glad that the book has a family tree at the start, even if everybody does have the same name, as it helps with sorting out the generations. Maybe somebody should have had a baby with a pig's tail - they surely would not have called it Jose Arcadio or Aureliano, and it would have made keeping track of everybody much easier!


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 Post subject: Re: CLASSIC READ: 100 Years of Solitude - Ch. 13
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 3:32 pm 
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Clan Fraser
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I'm glad the age issue (particularly CAB being 50 which seemed impossible to me too when I heard it) has come up and that I am not the only one confused.


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 Post subject: Re: CLASSIC READ: 100 Years of Solitude - Ch. 13
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 9:06 pm 
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Clan Fraser
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Wonderful summary Lady Jayne. I think you covered all the events.

Some thoughts:
José Arcardio going off to the seminary and Úrsula's hopes are that he will be Pope: the trunk looking as a coffin is a dire image. The anticlerical sentiment is high. The liberals are always anti-church. Many priests and religious find themselves in danger. Having a religious/cleric in the family is shameful for a liberal, not to mention that JA will be in constant danger. I wonder what this reflects of GGM's own view of the church.

The poor record keeping of the ages of the family members is difficult. Who remembers? Everyone lives so long they forget. It doesn't seem to matter. The author may also be trying to bring up the poor record keeping the government has. I think the ages are off because time seems to stand still and loops back even.

The repetition of the names seems to show a repetition of the histories. We do the same things throughout history. In a way, the repetitious behaviors of the Buendía family members, throughout an ordinary day help Ursula to see and foresee. The same can apply to historical events. Like the microcosmic family, one could predict the circular events on a grander scale. History repeats itself--and so do their names.

The most momentous occasion in the book seems to be the ice. The circus was the first time JAB brought the children to see it. Again, the circus is like time looping back as AB remembers the event. It's at this point that AB can die. And he does.

My take on AB being the only one who can't see his father is that he is too preoccupied with seeing with his physical eyes rather than with the eyes of the soul. He is also incapable of love, according to Úrsula's clairvoyant understanding. My interpretation is that AB has been blinded by pride and by fighting wars, causing the deaths of many, for no reason one can call honorable. He is the revolutionary who just can't see the beyond this world. He is so blind, and has learned nothing from the wars that he wants to begin another.

Amarantha is weaving and unweaving her death shroud. She reminded me of Penelope waiting for her Odysseus and since he isn't coming, would accept no other suitors. What did the bandaged hand mean? Did she love? What was Amaratha really of afraid of? Of losing her sense of self through marriage? Here is another element of repeating the same steps. Time literally looped throughout the weaving of the pattern and its undoing, only to repeat it.

I found the whole idea that the two brothers could have been living out their lives as the other rather perplexing. A switch.
The concubine becomes the wife and the wife the concubine--was also another switch.

The gluttony. I'm wondering if there was a commentary on hunger in the whole scene with A.Segundo and the Elefanta. The latter had started partaking of this sport to feed her family. How ironic. People would give her prizes for being the best eater so that she could feed her family. Meanwhile, Aureliano Segundo was slaughtering animals without thinking of the needy. Who might he represent?

The chamberpots were rather interesting, but one could not escape the lines repeating. If the maids were not lining up to use the bathroom in the evening, they were lining up to clean out the chamberpots in the morning. One cannot escape these repetitive needs.

Anyway, those were my thoughts.

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--Game of Kings


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 Post subject: Re: CLASSIC READ: 100 Years of Solitude - Ch. 13
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2017 10:19 pm 
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Good comments, ND, I agree with most of them except for "The liberals are always antichurch." As far as I know many priests have been killed by rightist for siding with the leftists. But back to the book...

About the clowns, I have to admit when I read LJ's summary I realized it didn't register on my two times reading it :) Then the "where are the clowns" music came to mind followed by "ridi pagliaccio" from the opera. Here is a little piece of the translation:

laugh, clown, so the crowd will cheer!
Turn your distress and tears into jest,
your pain and sobbing into a funny face – Ah!

Laugh, clown,
at your broken love!
Laugh at the grief that poisons your heart!

So, my take on it is that that's what the author was thinking of with that image as well, about sad clowns and how they are not what they seem to be.

And here is an example of what Cumbia, the Colombian national music, sounds and looks like when not danced as a folkloric exhibition or for a ballroom dancing competition:

https://youtu.be/3ObfWT5o4rk


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