1. Read the first sentence very closely. How many time periods are covered? The beginning of this novel is considered one of the most fabulous openers in the history of literature. What do you like about it? Why do you think it's considered to be so unique?
2. Discuss the opening chapter. How do you feel it sets up the novel? What do you learn about Macondo that is important? What do you learn about the author's style?
3. In the first chapter, José Arcadio Buendía (the patriarch of the novel) uses the lab built by Melquíades to distill his wife's inheritance, essentially wiping it out. What do you think this act represents in the broader context of the book?
4. What is the significance of the fact that Macondo is surrounded by water and hidden from the rest of the world? How does this fact impact the way you read the events that happen in Macondo? Do you see similarities between Macondo and other historic or literary places?
5. In the first chapter, we are introduced to José Arcadio and Aureliano. These two names are then passed down from one generation to the next throughout the history of the Buendía family. Read carefully the way each is described. What can you take from the information García Márquez has provided you about each type of man?
6. What is the significance of the fact that in this novel, ice is considered the "greatest invention of our time?" What does this say about Macondo or its culture?
7. The gypsies return to Macondo with each spring season. Why is this significant? How do you read the gypsies are different from or similar to the inhabitants of Macondo?
8. Plagues that have affected humanity throughout the ages have been diseases that impact the body. What is the significance of the fact that the insomnia plague is a plague of the intellect? How do you read the fact that even though they can't sleep, the inhabitants of Macondo don't die?
9. Talk about the ghosts that crop up in the first part of this novel.
10. José Arcadio Buendía doesn't die, but at the end of Part One he ceases to participate in the activities of his family— his wife essentially takes his place at the head of the family. Why do you think this happens? How do you feel about the way it happens?
For a deeper understanding of Part One, read the chapter explanation!