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 Post subject: CLASSIC READ: One Hundred Years of Solitude - Ch 14
PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 9:06 am 
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“Meme’s last vacations coincided with the period of mourning for Colonel Aureliano Buendia.”

This chapter is about life and death. In the last chapter we saw the death of the Colonel and this chapter will see the death of Amaranta. Thus the second generation is dying, while Ursula still persists as a decrepit relic of the family’s origins. Yet while the older generation is dying off, the fifth (I counted) generation of the family is coming of age. Meme has finished school and come home, a young woman full of the joy of life. So this chapter is a study in contrasts. Since both parts are happening at the same time, I found it easier to describe by focusing first on the dying older generation and then coming back to the story of Meme, who is really the focus of this chapter so that we can see the tragic effects on her life.

So, Meme has returned from school and her main desire is to avoid conflict with her mother and to escape her control long enough to go have fun with her friends.

In the beginning of the book the Buendia family house was filled with children and life and action. Now it is inhabited by ghosts and old people. Ursula is still wandering around, completely blind though surprisingly no one realises this. The only person she can still see is her husband’s ghost underneath the chestnut tree in the garden (so we can assume that she isn’t seeing him with her eyes). Fernanda has had another baby late in life, Amaranta Ursula (this is also a third child relatively late in life, just like the first Amaranta). The baby is apparently sickly though we don’t know why or how and Fernanda must be going crazy since she is carrying on a correspondence with imaginary doctors who are going to operate on her telepathically.

Fernanda and Amaranta are still hostile towards each other after all this time. But where Fernanda is blinded by her own religious prejudices, Amaranta is more clear-sighted about people. We see the scene where Meme comes home and sees her mother and Amaranta eating dinner together in silence after having spent an agreeable evening with a girl friend. When Meme replies to her mother’s inquiry by saying “I was only now discovering how much I loved you both.” Amaranta sees right through to the “obvious burden of hate that the declaration carried” and is startled by it. So while Meme carries on with her girl friends, playing the clavichord, going to parties, getting drunk and making friends with the American girl, Patricia Brown we return for a last look at Amaranta.

Amaranta is wrapped up in nostalgia. Colonel Aureliano was her favourite brother and when they saw her preparing his body for the funeral no one realized how much love she put into those acts. Now Amaranta spends her time reminiscing about Pietro Crespi and Colonel Gerineldo Marquez. We also see how, perhaps remembering her relationship with Aureliano José, she caresses her great nephew, the future priest, José Arcadio the 5th in the bath, “not like a grandmother but like a woman would have done with a man”. What keeps her alive however is her hatred of Rebecca. Her goal in life is to outlive her. The shroud that she kept sewing was intended to be for Rebecca. She had mad very complex plans for how she would bury her adopted sister. But one day she had a visit from death herself (because death was a woman dressed in blue). Death told her to sew her own shroud and that she would die the day her shroud was complete. Amaranta was therefore able to plan the day of her death and burial with precision and announce the event ahead of time to her family. She finally realizes that the way she made and un-made her shroud was just like the way her brother recycled his gold fishes every day.

While Amaranta has been wrapped up in dying, and Fernanda consumed by her craziness, Ursula is still the only one who knows what is going on around her. And what is happening is that Meme is getting closer to her father who spoils her with presents, making his concubine jealous and she is getting closer to the American girl, Patricia Brown, learning English and having a crush on an American boy. Eventually Meme meets the Brown family mechanic, Mauricio Babilonia. It seems ironic that the local girl is eventually hooked up with the mechanic rather than the son of the American banana plantation owners. There does seem to be more than a hint of racism there. In other respects Mauricio is made out to be well below the social level of the Buendia family so her family is not in favour of him.

We spoke of yellow in connection with an earlier chapter. Everything connected with Mauricio is yellow. He has sallow skin and Fernanda calls it “bilious” which basically means the same thing: a yellowish tinge to his skin tone. He works at a banana plantation, wears a straw hat (which I imagine as being yellow although I guess it doesn’t have to be) and most of all he is followed by swarms of yellow butterflies. The butterflies precede him; announce his presence wherever he goes, even indoors. The also remind me strongly of the rain of yellow flowers that announced the death of the family patriarch, José Arcadio Buendia. What I can’t figure out is what they mean and why yellow?

In any case, Meme has fallen so much in love with him that she has become obsessed with him. Her great grandmother, Pilar Ternera arranges for her to spend 9 nights with him and advises her to use mustard plaster (another yellow) to avoid getting pregnant. Afterwards they begin to have trysts in the bathroom and at first only Ursula figures out what is going on. Eventually though Fernanda connects the butterflies with the mustard plaster and figures out what her daughter is up to. (How do butterflies + mustard = sex? I wouldn’t make that connection myself although I may have made it earlier). Does Fernanda confront her daughter? No. She sets up a trap for Mauricio by asking for guards around the house because of a suspected chicken thief. Mauricio is shot in the lower spine while he sneaks into the house to see Meme. He ends up crippled and spends the rest of his life alone, in a wheel chair, surrounded by butterflies and ostracized for stealing chickens. What a tragic ending. It’s worse than Romeo and Juliet.

- Well I asked several questions within the text that you may want to discuss regarding Amaranta and Fernanda and of course Mauricio.

- Why yellow and what do the butterflies mean?

- I am shocked by what Fernanda did to her daughter's lover. It is so cruel! I think it must be a measure of my innocence the first time I read this (when I was 12) that I wasn't shocked at all at the time. I must not have understood what really happened.

- I think the last question to ask is: what has become of the Buendia family? They have changed through the generations. Macondo is also very much changed.

_________________
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: One Hundred Years of Solitude - Ch 14
PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 11:50 am 
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Clan Fraser
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Thanks for a great summary, Naomi, and for making sense of some of the strange events. I had not picked up on the other allusions to yellow concerning Mauricio. I agree that Fernanda treated him cruelly, but that was in keeping with her nature. I am so glad that Meme seems to have developed an independent spirit. For a time it seemed like she would be able to escape from Macondo, with her talent at the clavichord, but I guess she is destined to be shackled to the community like the rest of her family.

Amaranta seemed the most lively in the hour of her death!
It was not totally clear why she gave up on the shroud and died before Rececca. If she had been given the power to set her own date of death, then why not just wait for Rebecca to keel over first? (I had to give my book back to the library on Friday, so cannot remember all the details.)


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 Post subject: Re: CLASSIC READ: One Hundred Years of Solitude - Ch 14
PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 1:50 pm 
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Thanks for the thorough and organized summary, Naomi. The events in this chapter really did veer from happy and lively for Meme (at times) to death for Amaranta not long after CAB, so that was a helpful way to discuss it.

The yellow butterflies immediately reminded me of the yellow flowers at JAB's death, but I couldn't see the connection with the color yellow and with those characters, so like you, I have no idea what that means.

I thought it was interesting that Amaranta offered to take messages from everyone to the dead once she knew she was going to die and that she considered it making up for her earlier meanness. I wonder how effective she was at relaying those messages. And, until these discussions, I wasn't quite clear on whether Rebeca was still alive. I know they found her in a previous chapter, but hasn't even more time passed? Has anyone checked her house to be sure she is still alive?

Macondo is certainly changing and one of those changes was the connections between the original inhabitants and the Americans from the banana company who were living in the fenced area. Meme has quite a bit of interaction with them and there was mention of mixed dances, so others do too. I can't decide whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, but overall the changes in Macondo don't feel like very good ones.


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 Post subject: Re: CLASSIC READ: One Hundred Years of Solitude - Ch 14
PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 5:18 pm 
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Great summary, Naomi. I feel like sorting the chapters too, :lol:. What does García Marquez have against chronological order? It's like he wrote on index cards and then shuffled them, like Tarot cards.

I don't think the issue with Mauricio Babilonia is racism but elitism, on Fernanda's part. And it doesn't seem any of the Buendías have that problem. The men, at least, sleep with women of all races and social statuses, it looks like. And Ursula and Amaranta accept the children of those relationships as part of the family. And now we see that Meme doesn't discriminate on the bases of social class or national origin either. Which reminds me of a certain red-haid...no, not for the women in his life, just brought him to mind.

I laughed out loud when Meme played popular music...of the 17th century. Poor girl, what a mother she had the misfortune to pick. I wonder how the future pope is doing away from her.

Oh, like others said, I hadn't noticed all the yellow hues either. You're right, I totally missed the skin tone and that the mustard birth control had to be yellow. What does it mean? I'm sure it's not a sunny, warm vibe. The image of Fernanda killing the butterflies was surely foreshadowing but she didn't shoot that bullet into his spine, so it's not like she paralyzed him. She was protecting her daughter, and With all her faults, I give her credit for that.


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 Post subject: Re: CLASSIC READ: One Hundred Years of Solitude - Ch 14
PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2017 8:48 am 
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That's right I did say racism. It's not what I meant. Elitism is closer to what I intended. And yes, the problem does seem to be Fernanda's not anyone else's.

I laughed too about the "popular music of the 17th century". I suppose that would have been what today's music students study as classical music: Vivaldi, Bach, etc. My son has to learn all that for his music theory and solfège classes.

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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: One Hundred Years of Solitude - Ch 14
PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 6:48 pm 
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Clan Fraser
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Thank you Naomi for your thorough summary. I wish I had time to reread these wonderful chapters and our threads. So much going on. I'm so glad we are reading this classic. Latin American Lit is so very rich.

I enjoyed reading this chapter. Amaranta's shroud activity and her generous act of taking messages to those passed on was so sweet, and I did chuckle along with Aurealiano Segundo. It seem farcical but she did believe her time was coming. I liked that she accounted for those who needed their message carried verbally.

I thought Mauricio's injury could have been avoided. I was disappointed in Pilar Ternera for providing easy access and convincing the child that the mustard plaster would prevent pregnancy.

Fernanda was also a disappointment. Her relationship with her daughter was practically non existent and as for A.Segundo, he was encouraging his daughter because he wanted to be the "cool" parent. But Meme fooled even him and I suppose he felt betrayed. The contrasts between Fernanda and Aureliano were on the extremes of the spectrum. The lack of cohesion between them led to Meme not knowing whom to trust or how to trust. Surely, she realized that her father was leading a double life. And I want to say she did discover that her parents were creating a pretense to protect the children rather than to bring it all out in the open, although I can't remember if Meme did know.

Fernanda's vision of the invisible doctors. That one's got me. Can she only actually see them or are they invisible to her as well, but she senses them. What do they represent?

Great interpretation and connection, Naomi, with Mauricio's bilious, yellowy look and the color of the butterflies. Were the butterflies representing death? The banana industry certainly let in evils that hadn't been in Macondo. That yellow train; the author wasn't kidding. I'm guessing it will get worse.

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"'I wish to God,' said Gideon with mild exasperation, 'that you'd talk--just once--in prose like other people.'"
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 Post subject: Re: CLASSIC READ: One Hundred Years of Solitude - Ch 14
PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2017 2:36 pm 
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It seems we are losing readers to this book. I hope they come back. The more the merrier. I'm trying very hard not to read the next chapter yet. More comments would help :)


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 Post subject: Re: CLASSIC READ: One Hundred Years of Solitude - Ch 14
PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2017 3:11 pm 
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I agree. It's a great book and I'm so glad we're reading it together because I'm getting so much out of it than I ever did before - not to mention that this has given me the courage to re-read it in the first place after so many years. But I'm missing the others who usually comment. Maybe they're on vacation or busy with work?

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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: One Hundred Years of Solitude - Ch 14
PostPosted: Mon May 22, 2017 12:44 am 
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Clan Fraser
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Sorry to be so late to the discussion. Life and a crashed laptop have limited my time online.

Thank you for the great summary, Naomi. The color yellow really did stand out in this chapter and reminded me of the yellow flowers that poured down when CAB died and the yellow train and bananas that have infiltrated Macondo. The yellow butterflies represent Mauricio and are almost part of his aura. It was sad to have him shot just for loving Fernanda's daughter. We do learn that "he died of old age in solitude, . . . tormented by memories and the yellow butterflies, who did not give him a moment's peace" (p. 313 Haper Perennial pb).

We have discussed the meaning of the color yellow previously. According to colorsmatter.com "it's the color of happiness, and optimism, of enlightenment and creativity, sunshine and spring. Lurking in the background is the dark side of yellow: cowardice, betrayal, egoism, and madness. Furthermore, yellow is the color of caution and physical illness (jaundice, malaria, and pestilence). Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the sources of yellow pigments are toxic metals - cadmium, lead, and chrome - and urine."

There definitely is a sense of madness running throughout the novel. Fernando is consulting "invisible doctors" about a telepathic surgery.

Good point about Ursula being blind but being able to "see" her husband under the chestnut tree. She must sense his presence like she senses everyone's ailments.

Amaranta' s passing was s bit anti-climatic as opposed to the shooting of Mauricio Babilonia (Babylon). I loved it that he taught Meme to drive a car even though it wasn't considered proper for a lady to drive at the time.

I have hope for Amaranta Ursula, who is described as being just like Ursula.

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 Post subject: Re: CLASSIC READ: One Hundred Years of Solitude - Ch 14
PostPosted: Mon May 22, 2017 3:35 pm 
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Thanks so much Lady Jayne for your explanation about yellow. I remember that it was commented in one of the threads but I couldn't remember which one or where. I think that interpretation of the color is very fitting in this context: the happy bright side representing the romance and love between Mauricio and Meme but the darker side showing the lunacy that destroyed their lives.

It's a crazy family but other people were capable of keeping their craziness to themselves in their own little corner but Fernanda actively harms those closest to her such as her own daughter.

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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: One Hundred Years of Solitude - Ch 14
PostPosted: Mon May 22, 2017 5:16 pm 
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I wonder,if the yellow butterflies mean happiness and sadness why they were all over the place where Mauricio was from, the poor area, and nowhere else. I think they just represented him and they followed Meme because she had something of his in her. Of course that would work better if the butterflies had followed the baby back to Macondo and the Buendía house. Can you imagine Fernanda's reaction? :)


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