1. Describe the state of the presidential palace when the book opens.
At the opening of the novel, the presidential palace is in shambles. Cow have overrun the palace, and lepers are sleeping outside. The General is dead and no attempt has been made to salvage the palace or move the body.
2. Discuss the significance of the cows in the opening scene.
Cows have overrun the palace. Their presence in the General's home degrades the palace from a place of high esteem to a common grazing ground for cattle. The cows are seen wandering the halls as though they are the rightful residents of the palace, and even strolling up onto the General's balcony, the place from which he gave presidential addresses. Their role in the opening is to undermine the General's significance and demonstrate that all things come to an end.
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