A Note About the Names
One of the themes of One Hundred Years of Solitude is
the way history repeats itself in cycles. In this novel, each generation
is condemned to repeat the mistakes—and to celebrate the triumphs—of the
previous generation. To dramatize this point, García Márquez has
given his protagonists, the Buendía family members, a very limited
selection of names. One Hundred Years of Solitude spans
six generations, and in each generation, the men of the Buendía
line are named José Arcadio or Aureliano and the women are named
Úrsula, Amaranta, or Remedios. Telling the difference between people
who have the same name can sometimes be difficult. To a certain
extent, this is to be expected: after all, García Márquez’s point
is precisely that human nature does not really change, that the
Buendía family is locked into a cycle of repetitions. To preserve
a clear notion of the plot progression, however, it is important
to pay attention to the full names of the protagonists, which often
contain slight distinguishing variations. José Arcadio Buendía,
for instance, is a very different character than his son, José Arcadio:
although it is true that José Arcadio’s last name is also “Buendía,”
he is never referred to, either by García Márquez or in this SparkNote,
as anything but “José Arcadio.” And so on.
In cases where two characters are referred to by the exact same name
(for instance, Aureliano Segundo’s son is also known as “José Arcadio”),
we have added a roman numeral to the character’s name for the sake
of clarity, even though that roman numeral does not appear in García
Márquez’s book: the second José Arcadio, then, appears as José Arcadio
(II). Keep in mind that José Arcadio (II) is not the son of the
first José Arcadio; he is merely the second José Arcadio in the
The Buendía Family
José Arcadio Buendía
The patriarch of the Buendía clan, José Arcadio
Buendía is Macondo’s founder and its most charismatic citizen. He
is a man of great strength and curiosity. Impulsively, he embarks
on mad pursuits of esoteric and practical knowledge, and it is his
solitary and obsessive quest for knowledge that drives him mad at
the end of his life; he spends many years, in the end, tied to a
tree in the Buendía backyard, speaking Latin that only the priest
understands. José Arcadio Buendía is married to Úrsula Iguarán and
the father of José Arcadio, Colonel Aureliano Buendía, and Amaranta.
in-depth analysis of José Arcadio Buendía.
tenacious matriarch of the Buendía clan, Úrsula lives to be well
over a hundred years old, continuing with her hard-headed common
sense to try and preserve the family. Every now and then, when things
get particularly run-down, Úrsula revitalizes the family both physically
and emotionally, repairing the Buendía house and breathing new life
into the family. She is the wife of José Arcadio Buendía and the
mother of José Arcadio, Colonel Aureliano Buendía, and Amaranta.
in-depth analysis of Úrsula Iguarán.
daughter of Úrsula Iguarán and José Arcadio Buendía, Amaranta dies
an embittered and lonely virgin. She bears deep jealousy and hatred
for Rebeca, whom, she believes, stole Pietro Crespi from her. In many
ways her life is characterized by a fear of men; when Pietro Crespi
finally falls in love with her, she rejects him, and he kills himself.
As penance, she gives herself a bad burn on the hand and wears a
black bandage over it for the rest of her life. When she is much
older, she finds real love with Colonel Gerineldo Márquez, but she
spurns him because of her ancient fear and bitterness. She is also
the object of the unconsummated incestuous passion of Aureliano
José, whom she helped to raise. Amaranta is the sister of Colonel
Aureliano Buendía and José Arcadio.
Colonel Aureliano Buendía
The second son of José Arcadio Buendía and Úrsula
Iguarán. Aureliano grows up solitary and enigmatic, with a strange
capacity for extrasensory perception. Outraged by the corruption of
the Conservative government, he joins the Liberal rebellion and
becomes Colonel Aureliano Buendía, the rebel commander. After years
of fighting, he loses his capacity for memory and deep emotion,
signs a peace accord, and withdraws into his workshop, a lonely
and hardened man. He is the widower of Remedios Moscote and the
father, with Pilar Ternera, of Aureliano José, and of seventeen
sons—each named Aureliano—by seventeen different women.
in-depth analysis of Colonel Aureliano Buendía.
The child-bride of Colonel Aureliano Buendía, Remedios
Moscote brings joy to the Buendía household for a short while before
she dies suddenly, possibly of a miscarriage.
first son of Úrsula Iguarán and José Arcadio Buendía, from whom
he inherits his amazing strength and his impulsive drive. After
running off in pursuit of a gypsy girl, José Arcadio returns a savage
brute of a man and marries Rebeca, the orphan adopted by the Buendías.
He is the father, with Pilar Ternera, of Arcadio, and brother to
Colonel Aureliano Buendía and Amaranta.
in-depth analysis of José Arcadio.
earth-eating orphan girl who mysteriously arrives at the Buendía
doorstep. Rebeca is adopted by the Buendí family. Rebeca infects
the town with an insomnia that causes loss of memory. Rebeca seems
to orphan herself from society and the Buendía family when, after
her husband José Arcadio’s death, she becomes a hermit, never seen
outside her dilapidated home.
son of Colonel Aureliano Buendía and Pilar Ternera. Aureliano José
becomes obsessed with his aunt, Amaranta, and joins his father’s
army when she ends the affair. He deserts the army to return to
her, however, but she rejects him, horrified. He is killed by Conservative
son of José Arcadio and Pilar Ternera. Arcadio, seemingly a gentle
boy, becomes schoolmaster of the town. When Colonel Aureliano Buendía
places him in charge of Macondo during the uprising, however, Arcadio
proves a vicious dictator who is obsessed with order. He is killed
when the conservatives retake the village. Arcadio marries Santa
Sofía de la Piedad and is the father of Remedios the Beauty, Aureliano
Segundo, and José Arcadio Segundo.
in-depth analysis of Arcadio.
Santa Sofía de la Piedad
The quiet woman, almost invisible in this novel,
who marries Arcadio and continues to live in the Buendía house for
many years after his death, impassively tending to the family. She
is the mother of Remedios the Beauty, Aureliano Segundo, and José Arcadio
Segundo. She does not quite seem to exist in the real world, and
when she grows old and tired, she simply walks out of the house,
never to be heard from again.
Remedios the Beauty
The daughter of Santa Sofía de la Piedad and Arcadio,
Remedios the Beauty becomes the most beautiful woman in the world:
desire for her drives men to their deaths. Not comprehending her
power over men, she remains innocent and childlike. One day, she floats
to heaven, leaving Macondo and the novel abruptly.
José Arcadio Segundo
The son of Arcadio and Santa Sofía de la Piedad,
José Arcadio Segundo may have been switched at birth with his twin
brother, Aureliano Segundo. Appalled by witnessing an execution
at an early age, José Arcadio Segundo becomes thin, bony, solitary,
and increasingly scholarly, like his great-uncle Colonel Aureliano
Buendía. A cockfighter and a drifter, he finds purpose in leading
the strikers against the banana company. He is the lone survivor
of the massacre of the strikers, and when he finds that nobody believes
the massacre occurred, he secludes himself in Melquíades’ old study,
trying to decipher the old prophecies and preserving the memory
of the massacre.
The son of Arcadio and Santa Sofía de la Piedad,
Aureliano Segundo may have been switched at birth with his twin
brother, José Arcadio Segundo. Despite an early interest in solitary
study—characteristic of his great-uncle, Colonel Aureliano Buendía—Aureliano
Segundo begins to show all the characteristics of the family’s José
Arcadios: he is immense, boisterous, impulsive, and hedonistic. Although
he loves the concubine Petra Cotes, he is married to the cold beauty
Fernanda del Carpio, with whom he has three children: Meme, José
Arcadio (II) and Amaranta Úrsula.
Fernanda del Carpio
The wife of Aureliano Segundo and the mother of
Meme, José Arcadio (II), and Amaranta Úrsula. Fernanda del Carpio
was raised by a family of impoverished aristocrats; she is very
haughty and very religious. Her hedonistic husband does not love
her and maintains his relationship with his concubine, Petra Cotes.
Fernanda del Carpio, meanwhile, tries unsuccessfully to impress
her sterile religion and aristocratic manners on the Buendía house.
José Arcadio (II)
The eldest child of Aureliano Segundo and Fernanda
del Carpio, Úrsula decides that José Arcadio (II) is supposed to
become the Pope, but he in fact slides into dissolution and solitude.
On his return from his unsuccessful trip to seminary in Italy, José
Arcadio (II) leads a life of debauchery with local adolescents who eventually
murder him and steal his money.
The daughter of Aureliano Segundo and Fernanda del
Carpio, Amaranta Úrsula returns from her trip to Europe with a Belgian
husband, Gaston. She wants to revitalize Macondo and the Buendía household,
but it is too late: both are headed for inevitable ruin. She falls
in love with her nephew, Aureliano (II), and gives birth to his
child, whom they also name Aureliano (III) and who proves the last
in the Buendía line. Born of incest, he has the tail of a pig. Amaranta
dies in childbirth.
Belgian husband of Amaranta Úrsula, Gaston is loving and cultured
but feels isolated in the now-desolate Macondo. He travels to Belgium
to start an airmail company, and, when he hears of the relationship
between his wife and Aureliano (II), he never returns.
daughter of Fernanda del Carpio and Aureliano Segundo, Meme’s real
name is Renata Remedios. She feigns studiousness and docility to
please her mother, but she is actually a hedonist like her father.
When her mother discovers her illicit affair with Mauricio Babilonia,
she posts a guard in front of the house; the guard ends up shooting
Mauricio. He ends up paralyzed, and Meme is imprisoned in a convent
where she spends the rest of her life. The product of her affair with
Babilonia is Aureliano (II).
illegitimate son of Meme and Mauricio Babilonia, Aureliano (II)
is concealed by his scandalized grandmother, Fernanda del Carpio.
He grows up a hermit in the Buendía household, only gradually acclimating
himself to society. Aureliano (II) becomes a scholar, and it is
he who eventually deciphers the prophecies of Melquíades. With his
aunt, Amaranta Úrsula, he fathers the last in the Buendía line,
the baby Aureliano (III), who dies soon after birth.
in-depth analysis of Aureliano (II).
Characters who are not members of the Buendía Family
gypsy who brings technological marvels to Macondo and befriends
the Buendía clan. Melquíades is the first person to die in Macondo.
Melquíades serves as José Arcadio Buendía’s guide in his quest for knowledge
and, even after dying, returns to guide other generations of Buendías.
Melquíades’ mysterious and undecipherable prophecies, which torment
generations of Buendías, are finally translated by Aureliano (II)
at the end of the novel—they contain the entire history of Macondo,
local whore and madam. With José Arcadio, Pilar is the mother of
Arcadio; with Colonel Aureliano Buendía, she is the mother of Aureliano
José. She is also a fortune-teller whose quiet wisdom helps guide
the Buendía family. She survives until the very last days of Macondo.
Segundo’s concubine. Petra Cotes and Aureliano Segundo become extremely
rich—their own love seems to inspire their animals to procreate unnaturally
quickly. Even after the poverty caused by the flood, she stays with
Aureliano Segundo; their deepened love is one of the purest emotions
in the novel.
The sallow, solemn lover of Meme. Fernanda del Carpio
disapproves of their affair, and she sets up a guard who shoots
Mauricio Babilonia when he attempts to climb into the house for
a tryst with Meme. As a result, Mauricio lives the rest of his life
completely paralyzed. He fathers Meme’s child, Aureliano (II).
gentle, delicate Italian musician who is loved by both Amaranta
and Rebeca. Rebeca, however, chooses to marry the more manly José
Arcadio. After Amaranta leads on Pietro and rejects him, Pietro commits
Colonel Gerineldo Márquez
The comrade-in-arms of Colonel Aureliano Buendía.
Colonel Gerineldo is the first to become tired of the civil war.
He falls in love with Amaranta, who spurns him.
Don Apolinar Moscote
Father of Remedios Moscote and government-appointed
magistrate of Macondo. Don Apolinar Moscote is a Conservative and
helps rig the election so that his party will win. His dishonesty
is partly why Colonel Aureliano Buendía first joins the Liberals.