José Arcadio Buendía
The patriarch of the Buendía clan is the discoverer of Macondo. Over the objection of relatives, he has married his cousin Úrsula Iguarán. The two families had been intermarrying for centuries in a small town. Near the eve of their wedding, the couple is warned that consummation of the marriage may result in children with pigs' tails, or child-iguanas. Úrsula becomes frigid while José' Arcadio takes up cockfighting. After an insult following a cock bout, he kills Prudencio Aguilar, whose ghost causes the couple to seek refuge in Macondo. José Arcadio becomes the father of the later Colonel Aureliano Buendía.
Colonel Aureliano Buendía
Aureliano Buendía is the first human born in Macondo. "Silent and withdrawn," his fetus weeps in Úrsula's womb. His eyes are open at birth. Clairvoyant, he is possessed of prophetic powers. He impregnates his brother's mistress, Pilar Ternera, who bears his son, Aureliano José. The Colonel casts the longest shadow in the novel. As the most outstanding member of the second generation, it is through his triumphs and failures that we come to understand the theme of solitude.
José Arcadio II
José Arcadio II is the oldest child of José Arcadio and Úrsula Buendía. At the age of fourteen, his prodigious sexual development stirs Úrsula's latent, newlywed fears of years past. Soon enough he becomes the lover of the fortune teller Pilar Ternera, attracted to her, so we are told, "by the smell of smoke" under her armpits and skin. To avoid confusion, their son is called "Arcadio," although baptized as "José Arcadio." Arcadio saves the Colonel from execution by firing squad. His own death, however, is violent yet ambiguous.
Aureliano Segundo, the twin of José Arcadio Segundo
The male character next to the Colonel in significance is the son of Santa Sofía de la Piedad and Arcadio. He is also the twin brother of José Arcadio Segundo and younger brother of Remedios the Beauty. The Colonel, therefore, is his uncle. His story begins midway in the novel, in the retrospective future, a technique that parallels the beginning of the novel: "Years later on his death bed Aureliano Segundo would remember the rainy afternoon in June when he went into the bedroom to meet his first son."
José Arcadio Segundo IV, Aureliano's twin
Both twins reflect, in the words of critic Jack Richardson, "the melancholy transition" of Macondo. But if Aureliano is a genial lover of orgies, a reckless no-good, and a creature of passion, José Arcadio proves to be a fanatic who reacts against injustice out of moral outrage; he is impulsive and enterprising "but marked with a tragic sign." He also has a morbid interest in executions. He and his brother fulfill the Buendía legacy of tragic forerunners, doomed to failure and solitude yet achieving a perpetuation of the line.
Aureliano Babilonia, the last adult Buendía
Aureliano Babilonia is the illegitimate offspring of Renata Remedios (Meme) and Mauricio Babilonia, the auto mechanic. Aureliano takes up the obsessive quest of José Arcadio IV Segundo, his great-great-grandfather, in deciphering the parchment manuscript containing the Buendía family's destiny and history. He and Amaranta Úrsula are the parents of the baby Aureliano, a child who fulfills the prophetic curse of Buendía incest when he is born with "the tail of a pig."
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