International Writers And Literature

Analysis of Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez



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In Chronicle of a Death Foretold, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, geographical as well as cultural setting is significant throughout the book.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez uses the setting and values of his Colombian society, along with surrealism, to enhance the depth of the plot and make the reader empathize with the travesty that is the death of Santiago Nasar.

First, Marquez uses the natural setting of Columbia to establish surrealism, and also give the reader a sense of what Latin superstition is, which makes the death of Santiago that much more personal. For example, when Santiago's mother Placida is interpreting the dream that he has the night before his death, she interprets the birds as a good omen, and the trees as a bad omen. After she realizes that she mixed up the meaning of the omens, this is one of the key moments that make the reader empathize with the murder. The dramatic irony makes it so that you can't help but feel sorry for Santiago, because everyone in the city, even his own mother, fails to warn him about the savage murder that's about to happen to him.

Marquez then talks about the cultural setting and the cultural values of his city. This plot wouldn't have worked in any other type of society than Marquez's Latin society, which is why he chose to base the story in such a setting. Let me elaborate, even though Marquez puts the fault and the responsibility of Santiago's death on the shoulders on every individual that didn't take any action to prevent it, Marquez never once questions the basis of the murder, or even implies that the basis of the murder should be questioned. The honor of Angela Vicario was taken, and there is no action that isn't justified in order to get it back.

Even men of the cloth, such as Father Amador and the archbishop, decide that the murder is not only justified, but also trivial, and they both decide to ignore it. I thought that forgiving was divine, apparently not. I also noticed that in this society, it's ironic that it's unacceptable to sleep with a woman without having married her, and yet it's completely acceptable to have brothels in the city, such as when Marquez describes Maria Cervantes as almost an elegant whore, and also describes the brothel as such a wonderful place.

Clearly honor is the most important aspect of one's being, and one's reputation. Santiago's situation becomes a lot more personal because even though the Vicario boys try to avenge their sister, no one ever actually has any proof of his crime.

This is why such a plot would only work in Marquez's society.

Another reason why the murder was so personal was because of gender roles. In this Colombian society, men dominate, undoubtedly, and a woman's true chance to find financial security is through marriage, and that can't happen if she sleeps with a man while unmarried, which is the other perspective on the severity of this crime. (Angela's marriage to Bayardo San Roman)

The next thing that I want to discuss is the significance of where all of the important events in the novel take place, for example, the knives. When the Vicario boys search for a weapon to kill Santiago with, they go to the barn. They search for and find the same knives that are used to slaughter pigs. This event, and where it takes place already foreshadows the fact that Santiago will be brutally murdered, as if he were some kind of lesser animal.

Another important event, and probably the single event that made most of the citizens guilty took place at the bar. The Vicario twins announce their plan to murder Santiago right in front of everyone. Now, the argument that one might have, and that most of the townspeople had, is that since they were in a bar, the twins were drunk, and they clearly didn't know what they were saying. Well, this is important because the townspeople should've assumed that when honor is on the line, and the people trying to reclaim are thinking irrationally, it's even more of a threat than it normally would be. Furthermore, people who hear this like the mayor, just ignore it, as he takes the knives and just tells the twins to "go home." And people, who already knew, decided to continue ignoring it. This is the single event that cements Santiago's fate, and demonstrates that no one is willing, or desires to prevent this murder.

Also, the site of the murder is extremely important, at Santiago's home, right in the eyes of his mother, the person who accidentally predicted his grim fate, and who once again, accidentally refused to give him refuge, while he was being continually stabbed.

Finally, the time of day is very crucial to the events and the murder. I noticed that it's nighttime for most of the novel. This gives it an especially dark atmosphere. (Specifically during murder)

In conclusion, Marquez uses setting and values to create a sense of sympathy for Santiago Nasar, unfortunately, he had the power and influence of an entire society up against him, and to maintain the values of this society, his savage murder was necessary.

More about this author: Troy Brown

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