"Remedios the Beauty was proclaimed queen. Úrsula, who shuddered at the disquieting beauty of her great-granddaughter, could not prevent the choice. The most impetuous men would go to church with an aim to see, if only for an instant, the face of Remedios the Beauty, whose legendary good looks were spoken of with alarming excitement throughout the swamp." — from One Hundred Years of Solitude
Remedios' beauty is so renowned that it brings men to Macondo—to worship at the alter of a beauty so legendary that she has become a "magical fascination." Yet no matter how princely the man or the grand the gesture, Remedios seems oblivious to her hold over men, and her physicality altogether: "She accepted the yellow rose without the least bit of malice, amused...and she lifted her shawl to see his face better, not to show hers" (p. 213). From the first time we meet her, we know Remedios is not meant for the kind of flesh and blood love that consumes so many Buendías. Her role as sovereign ruler, or Queen, of Macondo's biggest festival of the year is by its very nature to put her on a pedestal for worship. It is as if to say that she serves no worthy purpose in Macondo other than to represent something purely supernatural and outside the fray of daily living.
Later it is assumed that Remedios the Beauty possesses "powers of death." One thing often said of the dead is that they were "too good for this life," and surely this notion plays into her strange demise, rising away from the world, "abandoning with her the environment of beetles and dahlias and passing through the air" (p. 255). She leaves the world just as she came into it, "even from the time when she was in her mother's womb, [Remedios the Beauty] was safe from contagion" (p. 214).
What is most interesting about Remedios the Beauty is not what she does but what she represents. She is a break from three strong female archetypes that pervade One Hundred Years of Solitude: the strong, capable, earth-bound mother we see in Úrsula, the lusty Pilar Ternera and the bitter and lonely Amaranta. These women seem to overpower us with the solidity of their natures—their feet are so solidly on the ground they may as well be tacked down. Remedios the Beauty is a whimsy, a flight of fancy as light as a feather. She is a beauty that can't be possessed, a smell that you can't get out of your head—literally—and every other cliché about love you can conjure up. She is a goddess whose intelligence is irrelevant, who moves through the world in wide-eyed innocence unbothered by the concerns of man—or even clothes! By worshipping the goddess in her, we can see the same goddess in ourselves...the one that lives outside of earthly cares and watches the world as a silent, unaffected, perfect observer.
Use these questions to discuss pages 197-313 with your book club or answer some questions on your own!