CharactersSantiago Nasar - The protagonist of the story. He is killed the day after Angela Vicarios wedding.Angela Vicario - The dishonored bride. She becomes a seamstress after being returned home on herwedding night. She was very beautiful in her youth.Pedro Vicario - The more serious of the two twins. It is his idea to kill Santiago Nasar. He spent time in thearmy, and after being released from prison he joins the army once again.Pablo Vicario - He is the twin who insists that the twins go through with the crime. He is betrothed toPrudencia Cotes, who he marries when he is released from jail.Bayardo San Roman - The man who marries Angela Vicario. He comes from a wealthy and prestigiousfamily. When he arrives in town, he is described as having a slim waist and golden eyes.Purisima del Carmen - The mother of Angela Vicario. When her daughter is brought home by Bayardo SanRoman, after he discovers she is not a virgin, Purisima beats her daughter; she is a strict mother.Poncio Vicario - He is Angelas father. He used to work as a goldsmith until the strain of the profession madehim go blind. He dies shortly after his twin sons are sent to prison.Placida Linero - Santiagos mother. She has a well-earned reputation as an interpreter of dreams. She neverforgives herself for misinterpreting the dream about trees and birds that her son had the night before his death.Maria Alejandrina Cervantes - An elegant whore with eyes like an "insomniac leopard." She eats excessivelyto mourn Santiago Nasars death.Prudencia Cotes - Pablo Vicarios finance. She says she would not have married Pablo if he had not upheldthe honor of his sister by killing the man who took her virginity.Ibrahim Nasar - Santiagos father, an Arab. He seduced Victoria Guzman when she was a teenager. Hetaught his son the art of falconry and his love of firearms.Victoria Guzman - TheNasars cook. She violently guts rabbits on the morning of the murder. She had anaffair with Ibrahim Nasar when she was a teenager.ClothildeArmenta - The proprietress of the milk shop where the Vicarios wait to kill Santiago. She is aninsightful woman, and can tell that the Vicario twins are tired and are killing Santiago only out of obligation.Don Rogelio de la Flor - ClothildeArmentas husband. He doesnt listen to her when she warns him about theVicario twins plan. He dies of shock at age eighty-six when he sees the brutal way that the Vicarios murderSantiago.DivinaFlor - Victoria Guzmans daughter. Santiago desires her sexually, but Victoria watches carefully tomake sure he does not do anything to her.Margot - The narrators sister. She feels that Santiago Nasar would be a good catch for any girl, since he isyoung, handsome, and wealthy.Cristo Bedoya - A friend of the narrators and of Santiago Nasar. He runs all over town at the end of the booktrying to warn Santiago of the Vicarios plan.Luis Enrique - The narrators younger brother. He plays the guitar very well, and goes around with Santiago,Cristo, and the narrator when they go to serenade Bayardo and Angela on the night of their wedding.Father Amador - The local priest, who forgets to warn Santiago Nasar about the plot against him.Colonel Lazaro Aponte - The lazy Colonel who fails to prevent Santiagos murder because he is checking onhis game of dominoes.
Faustino Santos - The local butcher who alerts a local police officer that the Vicario brothers are talking aboutmurdering Santiago.General Petronio San Roman and Alberta Simonds - Bayardo San Romans parents. Alberta Simondsused to be the extremely beautiful; General Petronio San Roman and she drive up in a model T Ford. TheGeneral is impressively bedecked with war medals.YamilShaium - An Arab man who warns Cristo Bedoya about the Viacrio twins plan to murder Santiago. Heand Santiago have an Arabic play on words that they exchange whenever they meet.Flora Miguel - The pretty, but uninteresting woman that Santiago Nasar was betrothed to marry.Nahir Miguel - The father of Flora Miguel. He is the one who warns Santiago that the Vicario brothers arewaiting to kill him.Xius - A widower who owned the most beautiful house; he died of sadness because he sold it; the house heldall of his dead wifes possessions.Mercedes Barcha - The narrators eventual wife (and the name of Gabriel GarcíaMárquezs real wife). Thenarrator proposes to her at Angela and Bayardoswddiing party.Main Character AnalysisSantiago NasarAlthough much of the narrative is focused on him, Santiago Nasar remains a mystery throughout much of thenovel. We are told that he was a child of a marriage of convenience and that he is open hearted. Hisappreciation of valor, prudence, firearms, and falconry, comes from his father, who is no longer alive. We alsoknow that Santiago, had he lived longer, probably would have seduced DivinaFlor, just as his father seducedher mother, Victoria Guzman. The narrator gives us somewhat random, fragmentary information with which topiece Santiago together.The narrative never explains any ambitions Santiago may have had, what motivated him to do things, orwhether or not he actually loved his fiancée. The narrators sister, Margot, tells us that he is handsome andrich, but we are never shown more that these facile, superficial traits. The reader learns that Santiago Nasarfrequently dreams about trees, or birds in trees, and that he wakes up with a headache, but we dont knowwhat he dreamed about when he was awake. The narrator seems so focused on collecting others views of theday of the murder that the narrative neglects to give the reader a comprehensive picture of the victim of thecrime.The narrator strongly implies that Santiago was innocent of the crime, and it does seem clear by Santiagosconfused words right before his death that he had no idea what he was being killed for. That he was neverseen with Angela Vicario also points to his innocence. But on the other hand, the reader knows that he wouldhave had sex with DivinaFlor if given the opportunity, so it is not entirely clear that he would not have beeninclined to do so with Angela Vicario if given an opportunity.
Angela VicarioAngela Vicario is in many ways the main character of the story. She is the most quoted character in the novel,and has the strongest narrative voice. In addition, she is center of the mystery that the narrator is trying tounravel, since she is the only one who knows whether or not Santiago was truly the one who took her virginity,and she remains enigmatic at the end of the story because she never reveals whether or not he was guilty.Angela Vicario is a distant cousin of the narrator. As a young girl, she was the most beautiful of her four sisters.However, the narrator says she had a "helpless air and a poverty of spirit that augured an uncertain future forher." She used to sit in the window of her house, making cloth flowers, and the narrator thought she lookedmore and more destitute every year. He says that her "penury of spirit had been aggravated by the years," somuch so that when people discovered that Bayardo San Roman wanted to marry her, they thought it was anoutsiders plan.Angela says she did not wish to marry him because he seemed like too much of a man for her. She thought hewas stuck up, and that he was a Polack. She also felt that he did not court her, but merely ingratiated himselfwith her family, and that also irritated her. However, her parents would hear none of her objections; her mothertold her that love could be learned.Her mother appears to have been right, though not in the sense that either she or Angela expected—Angelafell in love with Bayardo San Roman after he returned her to her house. When the narrator went to visit heryears later, she answered all his questions "with very good judgment and a sense of humor." He says that "shewas so mature and witty that it was difficult to believe that she was the same person." When he asks he onceagain if Santiago Nasar was the guilty party who had taken her virginity, she replied, "Dont beat it to death,cousin. He was the one."Her inexplicable obsession with Bayardo San Roman takes the form of a ritual: she begins writing letters tohim, and it becomes a weekly habit of hers for seventeen years. The fact that he ultimately returns to her is nostranger than the act of writing a letter a week to someone who does not respond. Because he does come backto her, Angela Vicario triumphs in a sense-she has found the resolution she desired in her life. However, theconclusion of her love affair with Bayardo does not shed any light on the murder of Santiago Nasar-in terms ofhim, she would never say anything save to name him as the one who took her virginity. Though she seems likean honest person, it is difficult to tell whether she would have been willing to reveal the name of the man whotruly took her virginity, especially if she still had feelings for him.Themes, Motifs, and SymbolsThemesRitualManifestations of love in Chronicle of a Death Foretold are ritualistic, and the novel itself is a ritual which re-enacts Santiago Nasars death. When Bayardo San Roman first comes to town, he decides to marry AngelaVicario, whom he has never met. His courtship of Angela demonstrates the rituals of Latin American marriage
culture. He brings her a gift of a music box inlaid with mother-of-pearl for her birthday, and obtains everythinghis future bride asks for. The purpose of this courtship ritual is not to cause the lovers to fall deeper in love butrather to demonstrate the mans affluence and power. Personality does not determine worthiness; rather, theirfamily and wealth do.Angela Vicarios obsessive letter writing is another example of ritual. Angela does not care what she says in herletters; she is more concerned with the fact that Bayardo is receiving them. The ritual of writing brings herhappiness. Similarly, Bayardo San Roman does not read her letters, but receiving two thousand letters over thecourse of seventeen years gives him the certainty that she is serious in her desire for him to return to her.The novels style is itself a ritual repetition of the events surrounding a crime. It does not follow a traditionalnarrative arc, but rather is told for the cathartic value of the act of telling. The only thing we gain from readingthe story is the same limited knowledge of the occurrence that is available to the narrator. In this sense, thenovel can be seen as a mere ritual of investigation as an end in itself with no other results or discoveries.HonorIn the culture of the Colombian town in which the narrative takes place, honor is taken very seriously. Nobodyin the novel ever questions any action that is taken to preserve someones honor, since it is commonly believedto be a fundamental moral trait that is vital to keep intact. A person without honor is an outcast in thecommunity.All of the characters in the novel are influenced by this powerful construction of honor. The defense of this idealis directly responsible for Santiago Nasars murder. The Vicario brothers kill Santiago in order to restore thehonor of their sister. She dishonors her family by marrying another man when she had already slept withsomeone else. In order for this wrong to be righted, her brothers must kill Santiago, the man who supposedlytook her virginity, in order to clear her name. Though a few people in the community, like ClothildeArmenta andYamilShaium, try to prevent the death from occurring, most people turned the other cheek, because theybelieved that the severity of the crime deserved a cruel punishment. The fact that death was considered areasonable retribution for the crime of taking a girls virginity indicates how awful it was to sleep with anunmarried woman; doing so ruined her chances of marrying well, and marriage was womens one way toadvance in the world.MotifsMagical RealismGabriel GarcíaMárquez repeatedly uses strange, surreal details to highlight otherwise ordinary events. Oneinstance of this is his description of the local brothel, which sounds so nice that the reader at first has troublediscerning what exactly Maria Alejandrina Cervantes does—though she is a whore, the description of herhouse is so beautiful that if one were to gloss over the description, they might perceive her house as an elegantdomicile.Márquez uses magical realism in Chronicle of a Death Foretold to illustrate untrustworthy digressions or detailsabout characters that are not at all essential to the plot, though they are interesting. In the opening of the book,the narrator discusses the dream that Santiago Nasar has right before his death: "Hed dreamed he was going
through a grove of timber trees where a gentle drizzle was falling, and for an instant he was happy in hisdream, but when he awoke he felt completely spattered with bird shit." This whimsical sort of detail worksagainst the journalistic investigative style of the narrative, and sends the reader into several differentconceptual areas between reality and fiction that he then has to disentangle.SymbolsWe learn that both the narrators and Santiago Nasars mothers interpret symbols from dreams, but the overallimportance or significance of symbols in the novel is never clearly linked to any other concept or idea thatinforms the work as a whole. This is especially true because the work is supposed to be journalistic and factual,so any such symbols work against the narrators purported intent of clarifying the events surrounding SantiagoNasars death, becoming purely anecdotal. Because they occur randomly, constantly, and without any easilydiscernible premeditated purpose, it is difficult to distinguish any recurring symbol that has a greatersignificance in the text as a whole.Chapter 1SummaryOn the day he is eventually killed, Santiago Nasar wakes up at 5:30 a.m. to wait for the boat which is bringingthe bishop. The night before, he had dreamt about trees. He woke up with a headache. Some peopleremember that the weather was cloudy that morning, others that it was fine, but all recall that Santiago was in avery good mood. The narrator, lying in the lap of Maria Alejandrina Cervantes, was wakened by the clamor ofalarm bells.Santiago is wearing a shirt and pants of white linen exactly like the ones he had worn to the wedding the daybefore. Santiago goes to the house of his mother, Placida Linero, to get an aspirin for his headache.Santiago is slim and pale, with Arab eyes and curly hair. He is the only child of a marriage of convenience. Heinherited his sixth sense from his mother. From his father, Ibrahim Nasar, he learned his love of firearms,horses, and falconry, as well as the qualities of valor and carefulness. He and his father spoke Arabic with eachother. After his father died, Santiago abandoned his studies at the end of secondary school in order to takeover the family ranch.Victoria Guzman is sure that it did not rain on the day of Santiagos death. She recalls that she had been in thekitchen, quartering rabbits for lunch, when Santiago came in. DivinaFlor, her daughter, had served Santiago amug of coffee with a shot of cane liquor, as she did every Monday. When she came again to take the mugaway, he grabbed her arm and said, "The time has come for you to be tamed." Victoria Guzman says that shewill never be tamed while she is alive. She was seduced by Ibrahim Nasar, Santiagos father, when she was anadolescent. Both women had heard that Santiago was going to be killed, but neither was certain whether or notthe rumor was true.
The whole house is awakened by the bellow of the bishops steamboat. DivinaFlor leads Santiago to the frontdoor. Even though the front door is usually closed and barred, Santiago always uses that door when he isdressed up. Divina remembers that when he went out the door, the boat stopped tooting and the cocks beganto crow. There is an envelope under the door warning Santiago that someone is waiting for him to kill him, but itisnt found until long after Santiagos death.As everyone makes their way toward the bishops boat, the two men who are waiting to kill Santiago, PedroVicario and Pablo Vicario are waiting at the local milk shop, the only place that is open at that hour. They arestill wearing their dark wedding suits, and holding knives wrapped in newspaper.Though everyone has amassed roosters and firewood to give to the bishop, Father Carmen Amador, he nevergets off the boat-he just stands on the upper deck and crosses himself until the boat disappears. The narratorssister, Margot, invites Santiago over for breakfast. She finds Santiago attractive, and imagines the good fortuneof his betrothed, Flora Miguel. He accepts her invitation, but says he must go home first to change into hisriding clothes.Many people on the docks know that Santiago is going to be killed, but many also think that he isnt in dangeranymore. Everyone thinks Santiago has been warned that he is going to die. Margot learns that Angela Vicario,the bride of the day before, has been returned to her parents house because her husband has discovered thatshe isnt a virgin. Margot is unsure how Santiago Nasar is involved in the mix-up. When she comes home, shetells her mother what she has heard, and her mother, Luisa Santiaga, goes to warn Placida that people aregoing to kill Santiago. However, someone running by tells Luisa not to bother, because he has already beenkilled.AnalysisAlthough Márquez never explicitly reveals the storys setting within the narrative, the story is based on an trueevent that Márquez read about. In the city of Sucre, in Colombia, a young medical student and heir to a largefortune was killed with a machete outside his front door. The young man was killed by the two brothers of a girlwho had been married but was returned to her family by her husband after he discovered that she was not avirgin when she married him. When she accused the young medical student of taking her virginity, her twobrothers killed the man.The novel resembles a mystery. We immediately learn that Santiago Nasar is going to die and continue readingto find out how and why this event will occur. However, Chronicle of a Death Foretold is not a chronicle; thenarrative does not present the events chronologically, as the title misleadingly suggests. The first chapterrecounts the morning of the assassination by two brothers, Pedro and Pablo Vicario, but versions of themorning are retold from various different viewpoints throughout the rest of the book. The reader is shownrepeatedly the circumstances of Santiago Nasars murder, but the overarching question of Santiago Nasarsguilty is never answered.Despite the journalistic style of the novel, much of the narrative is comprised of repeated events that seem tocarry ambiguous symbolic meaning. For example, the narrator repeatedly highlights the disputes over what theweather was like on the day of Santiago Nasars murder—some people think it was nice out; others believe that
it rained. But significance of the rain is left unclear. The narrative is particular about irrelevant details, andvague about matters of real importance.The novel reminds us of the difficulty of understanding events as they are experienced, and the arbitrary waysthat the mind chooses to pattern events in retrospect. The arrival of the bishop, for example, is an event thatwas seen as potentially very significant in the novel, but turns out not to be especially noteworthy at all, sincethe bishop never steps off the boat. At the time, everyone thought that the bishops arrival would be the biggestevent of the day. In retrospect, the murder overshadows all other memory.Memory, reality, and symbolism are further confused by the names Márquez chooses for his characters. InChronicle of a Death Foretold, he includes fictional names along with the names of his own mother, LuisaSantiago, and of his own wife, Mercedes Barcha. The inclusion of the names of real people ties the eventsmore strongly to a fixed reality.Chapter 2SummaryThe narrator tells the story of Bayardo San Roman, the bridegroom of Angela Vicario. Bayardo arrives inAugust, six months before his eventual marriage. He is about thirty years old, but seems younger because hehas a slim waist and golden eyes. He says he has come to find someone to marry.He first sees Angela when she is crossing the town square with her mother, dressed in clothes of mourning; thetwo of them are carrying baskets of artificial flowers. The next time Bayardo sees her, she is singing out thenumbers to a raffle at a town event. He buys all of the raffle tickets and wins a music box inlaid with mother-of-pearl, which he then has delivered to her house as a gift. She never discovers how he found out it was herbirthday.The Vicarios are a family "of scant resources." Poncio Vicario is a goldsmith, but has lost his sight from doingso much fine work. Purisimadel Carmen, Angelas mother, had been a schoolteacher until she married. Angelais the youngest and the prettiest of the family. Pura Vicario wants Bayardo San Roman to identify himselfproperly; to gain her approval, he introduces his whole family. The family drives to the village in a Model TFord. Bayardos mother, Alberta Simonds, is a mulatto woman from Curacao, who in her youth had beenproclaimed the most beautiful woman in the Antilles. He has two young sisters, and his father is famous:General Petronio San Roman, hero of the civil wars of the past century.Angela does not want to marry Bayardo. Their engagement only lasts four months. Bayardo asks Angela whathouse she likes best, and she replies that she liked the farmhouse belonging to the widower Xius, which is on awindswept hill and overlooks the purple anemones of the marshes. The widower insists that the house wasntfor sale, but Bayardo keeps offering more and more money until Xius gives in.
Nobody knows that Angela isnt a virgin. They have a huge wedding, with extravagant gifts and days and nightsof dancing and revelry. The narrator says that he and his brother, Luis Enrique, along with Cristo Bedoya, werewith Santiago Nasar all the time, at the church and after at the festival. The four of them had grown up together,and it was hard to believe that one of them could have had such a big secret.The narrator has a confused memory of the festival—he remembers proposing to marry Mercedes Barcha assoon as she finished primary school. At six in the afternoon, the bride and groom take their leave and drive totheir new house. The narrator, Luis, Cristo and Santiago all went to Maria Alejandrina Cervantes house, wherethe Vicario brothers also went and were singing and drinking.Pura Vicario goes to bed at eleven oclock and has fallen into a deep sleep when there is a knocking at thedoor. She opens the door and sees Bayardo and Angela standing there. Bayardo pushes his wife into thehouse and kisses Pura on the cheek, thanking her for everything. After he leaves, Pura holds Angelas hair withone hand and beats her with the other. She does this so stealthily that she does not wake her husband andother daughters. The twins return home, and Pedro asks Angela who has taken her virginity. She says that itwas Santiago Nasar.AnalysisThis chapter explains the motive for the murder of Santiago Nasar. The narrator implies that Santiago is not, infact, guilty of the crime he dies for. However, even if Santiago truly is innocent, we never learn who was guiltyof taking Angela Vicarios virginity. Nor does the narrator—he questions Angela at length later in life, but shequietly persists in saying that Santiago was the one.After Bayardos family comes to visit the Vicarios, it becomes clear to the town that Bayardo can marrywhomever he wants to. Angela Vicarios parents are highly in favor of the match, since Bayardo is handsome,wealthy, and comes from a prestigious family. Earlier in the narrative, the narrator says that the Vicario boys"were raised to be men," and that the Vicario daughters "were raised to be married." In this culture, the bestway a woman could improve her life was to marry a husband who would provide for her well. Angela Vicarioprotested to her parents that she did not love Bayardo, but her mother dismissed that idea, telling her that lovecould be learned.The brutality of the social conventions surrounding women becomes clear in this chapter. Because she was nota virgin when she married, not only is Angela abandoned by her husband, but she is beaten by her mother. Thedouble standards of her culture are highlighted by the fact that the narrator, Santiago, Luis Enrique, and Cristoare all at a whorehouse doing whatever they please. It is culturally acceptable for men to have premarital sex,even if they are already betrothed to marry other women.The importance of the ritual of courtship is also very evident in Colombian culture. Bayardo will do whatever ittakes to win the approval of Angela by showering her with gifts. The economy behind the match is made clearthrough this method of courting. Bayardo does not seem tbo concern himself with getting to know AngelaVicario; he merely demonstrates the amount of money he will be willing to spend on her. Bayardodemonstrates that he will get the music box and that he will buy the house. It is a way of showing not only thebride, but the brides parents, that she will be well taken care of. Another ritual is that the entire family of each
spouse must meet before the match can be approved—understanding the background of the spouse is vital, sothat the daughter does not dishonor herself by marrying someone from a questionable family with little money.Chapter 3SummaryThe Vicario twins later tell the narrator that they began looking for Santiago Nasar at Maria AlejandrinaCervantes place, where they had been with him until two oclock. Since he wasnt there, they went toClothildeArmentas milk shop, which was near Santiagos house, to wait for him to come out.After Angela Vicario reveals Santiagos name to her brothers, they immediately go to the pigsty. They pick outthe two best knives, wrap them in rags, and have them sharpened at the meat market. Faustino Santos, abutcher, wonders why they are coming—he thought they were so drunk that they didnt know what time or whatday it was. They talk about the wedding, and Pablo declares that they are going to kill Santiago Nasar.Because the twins are known to be good people, nobody pays any attention to them. After they leave, Faustinoreports the conversation to a police officer who comes by.At ClothildeArmentas milk shop, the twins drink two bottles of cane liquor. They tell her that they are looking forSantiago to kill him. Clothilde tells her husband, Don Rogelio de la Flor, but he responds that she is being silly.Meanwhile, the police officer informs Colonel Lazaro Aponte about the Vicario brothers plan. The Colonel hassettled so many fights the night before that he is in no hurry to settle another. The Colonel hears that AngelaVicario had been brought home on her wedding night, and realizes the connection between that event and theimpending murder. The Colonel goes to ClothildeArmentas shop, takes the knives away from the boys, andtells them to go home. He explains later that he thought the twins were bluffing.The Vicario brothers go home, get two different knives, and go to have them sharpened. Faustino is confused,believing that the boys have brought the same knives. Although Pedro makes the decision to kill Santiago,Pablo insists on following through with the plan. Pablo Vicarios fiancée, Prudencia Cotes, says she neverwould have married him if he hadnt upheld his sisters honor by killing Santiago. She waits the three years heis in jail, and when he gets out he becomes her husband for life.The twins go back to the milk shop, their knives wrapped in newspaper from Prudencias house.ClothildeArmenta gives them rum, hoping to make them so drunk they cant do anything.The narrator then describes Maria Alejandrina Cervantes house, where there are musicians, a dancingcourtyard, and "pleasurable mulatto girls." The girls have all been working without rest for three days, takingcare of all who were "unsated" by the wedding bash. The narrator says it was Maria who did away with hisgenerations virginity.But on the night before the murder, Maria wouldnt let Santiago dress up her mulatto girls as he usually did, soSantiago and Cristo Bedoya and Luis Enrique and the narrator set off with the musicians on a round of
serenades. The first house they stop at is the newlyweds, though they dont know that only Bayardo SanRoman is there at that point. They all go to get breakfast, but Santiago says he wants to get an hour of sleepbefore the bishop comes.ClothildeArmenta has told Father Carmen Amador about the Vicarios plan, but because of the Bishops arrival,the Father forgets, and, on his way to meet the bishops boat, walks right by the milk shop where the murderersare waiting.AnalysisThis chapter relates the events on the evening of the wedding, the night before Santiago Nasars death. Thischapter chronologically precedes the first chapter of the book. This disjunction in time indicates the temporalconfusion within the story as a whole. The first chapter tells about the morning of the assassination, and thethird chapter relates the events leading up to that morning.The novel explores the complexities of the concept of honor. The Vicario brothers believe themselves to bedefending the honor of their sister and family, which is so important to them that they kill a man to preserve it.The severity of their crime reflects the severity of the limits imposed upon women. The brothers reason thatsince whoever took Angelas virginity ruined her chances of finding a suitable husband, that man must bepunished with a comparable degree of severity. Even after Santiago is killed, Angela and her family leave thetown because of the scandal the event has created.The narrator mentions several times that the Vicario brothers are good people. They do not kill Santiago in aheated fury; the unfolding of the event takes hours. The town is divided into people who know what is going tooccur and feel that the event should be stopped, people who think that the brothers are joking, and authorityfigures who are negligent in their duties and allow the murder to occur. The towns tacit acceptance of honorand gender codes within their society condones the murder.Class differences influence the course of events in the novel. Santiagos family represents the upper class.They have become affluent while others around them exist in poverty. Santiagos difference, resulting from hisbeauty and his wealth, makes him an object of suspicion in the town. Poorer residents envy him because of hissuperior financial status. Young men in the town are jealous of his proficiency with women. But the combinationof economic and personal interests surrounding Santiago Nasar is never fully elucidated, making his death anunsolvable puzzleChapter 4SummaryBecause Doctor DionisioIguaran is absent, the mayor orders Father Carmen Amador to perform the autopsy onSantiago Nasar. They perform it at the public school with the help of a druggist and a first-year medical student.
The report concludes that the death has been brought on by a massive hemorrhage caused by any one of theseven fatal wounds. After the poorly executed autopsy, they quickly bury the body.The narrator goes to see Maria Alejandrina Cervantes after the autopsy, but she wont sleep with him becauseshe says he smells like Santiago. The Vicario brothers also complain that they cant get his smell off of theirbodies, nor can they sleep. They are placed in the local prison, and Pablo Vicario gets a serious case of theruns.The whole Vicario family leaves town. Angela Vicarios face is wrapped so that no one would see the bruisesfrom the beating her mother gave her, and she was dressed in bright red so that nobody would think that shewas mourning for her secret lover. Poncio Vicario died shortly thereafter. The twins were transferred to a prisonin Riohacha, a days trip from Manaure, the town that the Vicario family moved to. Prudencia Cotes moves toManaure three years later to marry Pablo Vicario after he gets out of jail. Pablo learns to work with preciousmetals and becomes a goldsmith. Pedro Vicario goes back into the armed forces, and is never heard fromagain.The mayor goes to check on Bayardo San Roman a week after the murder and finds him lying in his bed,almost dead with alcohol poisoning. Dr. Iguaran treats him, but as soon as he recovers he throws the mayorand the doctor out of his house. The mayor informed General Petronio San Roman of the situation, and hesends his wife and daughters to get Bayardo. They arrive in mourning with their hair loose, and wail as theywalk barefoot to the house. They carry Bayardo out on a cot, put him on the boat and take him away.Angela Vicario ends up in a town called Guarija, making her living as an embroiderer. When the narrator finallygoes to see her, he finds her with glasses and with yellowish gray hair. He says she is so mature and witty thatit is hard to believe she is the same person. The narrator asks Angela if it was really Santiago Nasar who tookher virginity, and she calmly says it was, even though, as the narrator says, Angela and Santiago were neverseen together.The narrator says that the true misfortune for Angela is that as soon as Bayardo brings her home, he is in herlife forever. She begins to think about him constantly. She says that when her mother beat her, she wasntcrying because of anything that had happened—she was crying because of him.Angela begins to write him letters. She writes a weekly letter to him for seventeen years. Then, halfway througha day in August, he comes into her workplace. He has gained weight and is balding. He takes a step forwardand lays his saddlebags on the sewing machine, saying, "Well, here I am." He is carrying one suitcase filledwith clothing, and another suitcase filled with the letters she has sent him, arranged by date and tied withcolored ribbons. They are all unopened.AnalysisThis chapter forms a corollary to the main narrative, which is primarily concerned with clarifying the factsaround Santiago Nasars death. The love story between Angela and Bayardo is tangential to the plot because itdoes not give more information about the murder.
The sexism of the characters world is evidenced by the towns view of Bayardo san Roman as the ultimatevictim after losing his wife. Even though Angela Vicario loses a husband, is beaten by her mother, and isdishonored for having premarital sex, she does not receive the same consideration as Bayardo.At the narratives beginning, Márquez includes a quote by Gil Vincente: "The pursuit of love / is like falconry."Falconry is mentioned several times in the narrative. The word "falconry" refers to both the actual practice ofhunting small game with falcons and the art of training the falcons to hunt. The definitions of the word reflectthe roles of Bayardo and Angela. In the beginning, Bayardo is hunting Angela as though she is the small game;by leaving her, he trains her to hunt, and she then hunts him.The letters that Angela sends to Bayardo explore the notion of the love letter. Whereas the function love lettersis traditionally to express emotion or convey longing, Bayardo does not value Angelas love letters for theircontent. By not opening any of the love letters, Bayardo shows that the repeated act of sending a love letter,rather than the love letters actual content, demonstrates the love that Angela feels for him. Love letters areoften formulaic and interchangeable; their content is less persuasive to Bayardo than the fact that they continueto arrive. His attitude makes the love letters part of the ritual of love, and underscores his relationship withAngela as another ritual within the story.Chapter 5SummaryThe narrator says that for years, nobody could talk about anything but the murder of Santiago Nasar. Mostpeople felt at the time that they couldnt intervene too much because it was a matter of honor. Placida Lineronever forgave herself for mixing up the bad omen of birds with the good omen of trees in her sons dream, andtelling her son, before his death, that his dream boded good health.Twelve days after the crime, the investigating magistrate arrives. Everything the narrator knows about hischaracter has been derived from the margins of the pages of the brief that the narrator salvaged twenty yearslater in the Palace of Justice.What alarms the magistrate most is that there is not a clue that Santiago Nasar has taken Angela Vicariosvirginity. Angela herself never specified how or where, but insisted that he was the perpetrator. The narratorspersonal viewpoint is that Santiago Nasar died without understanding his death.Cristo recalls that as Santiago and Cristo Bedoya walked through town on that fateful day, people were staringat them. A man named YamilShaium, stood in the door of his shop so that when Santiago passed by, he couldwarn him of the planned murder. Yamil called Cristo Bedoya to see if Santiago had already been warned.Cristo left Santiago to go talk to Yamil, and Santiago continued on his way home to change clothes in order tohave breakfast with the narrators sister.
As soon as Yamil related the Vicarios plan to Cristo, Cristo ran to try and find Santiago. Frantic, he checkedSantiagos house on the off chance that he was already home. Santiago wasnt there, and Cristo took the gunout of Santiagos night table and stuck it in his belt, not realizing it wasnt loaded.The people coming back from the docks began to take up positions around the square to witness the crime.Cristo Bedoya went into the social club and ran into Colonel Lazaro Aponte, and he told the Colonel what wasgoing on. The Colonel did not believe him at first because he had taken away the knives, but then realized theyhad gotten other knives. But because he was slow in leaving the club, the crime had been committed by thetime he arrived. Cristo ran to his own house, thinking that maybe Santiago went to breakfast without changinghis clothes.Meanwhile, Santiago Nasar was in the house of Flora Miguel, his fiancée. She had heard about the plannedkilling, and thought that even if they didnt kill him, he would be forced to marry Angela Vicario in order to giveher back her honor. She was upset and humiliated, and when Santiago came in she was furious. She handedhim a box with all of the letters he had ever sent her. She told him that she hoped they did kill him, and shewent into her room and locked the door.Santiagos frantic knocking on her door woke everyone else up. Nahir Miguel, her father, told Santiago that theVicarios wanted to kill him. Santiago said, "I dont understand a god-damned thing." He left the house, andstarted to head home. ClothildeArmenta yelled at Santiago to run, and he ran the fifty yards to his front door.Placida Linero, Santiagos own mother, had just closed the front door because DivinaFlor lied to her and saidthat he was already home and had gone up to his room.The Vicario twins caught up with him and began stabbing him. After his entrails had fallen out of his body, hefell to his knees, then managed to stand. He walked more than a hundred yards, completely around the house,and went in through the kitchen door, and fell flat on his face in his kitchen.AnalysisThis chapter demonstrates the complicity of the town in the murder of Santiago, and shows how they sawthemselves as spectators rather than actors. The division between spectator and actor is blurred by thenarrators role. He himself acknowledges that he is not absolved of blame. Because the narrator is a part of thecommunity in which the murder took place, he cannot be an objective observer. The blurring of journalism andfiction in the story is shown most clearly in the character of the narrator himself, since he hardly discloses anyrevealing information. In many ways, he is the most enigmatic of all the characters.Despite the narrators interviews of town residents throughout the story, and despite the investigativemagistrates report, the narrator does not shed any new light, twenty years later, on the murder of SantiagoNasar. This failure to fully explain events shows that the object of the investigation to be not the discovery ofthe truth, but rather the determination of how such a publicized death could have taken place. In the end, thereader is left with a series of coincidences, moments of personal weakness, and assumptions whose randomvariety evades any sort of an overarching explanation or understanding of the crime.Throughout the novel, the narrators steady tone and method of progressively disclosing more information,leads us to think that the truth is about to be revealed. Especially because the narrator repeatedly insists upon
Santiago Nasars innocence, the reader feels that the true identity of whomever took Angela Vicarios virginitywill be clear by the end of the book.The absence of conclusion also illustrates the importance of ritual in Chronicle of a Death Foretold. In a sense,the entire story is a ritual in that it re-enacts the murder, with no other result than merely showing the reader theevents that happened before and after the event.Important Quotations Explained1."The brothers were brought up to be men. The girls were brought up to be married. They knew how to doscreen embroidery, sew by machine, weave bone lace, wash and iron, make artificial flowers and fancy candy,and write engagement announcements… my mother thought there were no better-reared daughters. Theyreperfect, she was frequently heard to say. Any man will be happy with them because theyve been raised tosuffer."This excerpt shows the severity of the lives women lead in the reserved Colombian culture of the town. Thenarrator describes the upbringing of Angela Vicario and her siblings. Women are not allowed to get jobs orfollow their own dreams; their lives are bounded on all sides by tradition and the expectation to get married andhave families. All of the chores they are taught to do-washing, making flowers-are household chores. Awomans worthiness as a wife was measured by her beauty in conjunction with her ability to gracefully run allaspects of a household. The idea that the woman in a marriage is expected to suffer is significant-no womanenters marriage expecting to be happiness unless she is fortunate enough to love whichever man decides tocourt her. In this Spanish culture, unlike Western culture, marriage is not based on love.2."Pedro Vicario, the more forceful of the brothers, picked her up by the waist and sat her on the dining roomtable. All right, girl, he said to her, trembling with rage, tell us who it was. She only took the time necessary tosay the name. She looked for it in the shadows, she found it at first sight among the many, many easilyconfused names from this world and the other, and she nailed it to the wall with her well-aimed dart, like abutterfly with no will whose sentence has always been written. Santiago Nasar, she said.This quote, taken from the end of the second chapter, describes the scene when Angela tells her brothers whotook her virginity. This event demonstrates the escapist ambiguity of Márquezs writing style that runs throughthe book as a whole.The image of a butterfly pinned to a wall is symbolic of both Santiago Nasars situation and of Angela Vicarios.Once she has proclaimed that Santiago is the one who took her virginity, his fate, like her own, becomes
bounded by cultural mores. Angela Vicario herself was pinned by other darts—if she did not give her brothers aname, they would have become furious at her for protecting the man who had dishonored her. She "pins"Santiago with her words, but she herself is "pinned" by the sexism of the culture.Márquezs description of Angelas thought process as she spoke Santiagos name is interesting because hesuggests that many names, not only of people who are alive, but of people who have passed away, come toher. The image of the butterfly paired with the evocation of living and dead names floating around in Angelasmind is a somewhat whimsical and fantastical. This use of magic realism in Chronicle of a Death Foretoldworks against the journalistic style of the novel as a whole and obscures what is actually going on. The readeris presented with a surreal version of what Angela thought, but never finds out if what she said was true.3."Wed been together at Maria Alejandrina Cervantes house until after three, when she herself sent themusicians away and turned out the lights in the dancing courtyard so that her pleasurable mulatto girls couldget some rest…Maria Alejandrina Cervantes was the most elegant and the most tender woman I have everknown, and the most serviceable in bed, but she was also the strictest. Shed been born and reared here, andhere she lived, in a house with open doors, with several rooms for rent and an enormous courtyard for dancinglit by lantern gourds bought in the Chinese bazaars of Paramaribo."This quote, taken from the middle of the third chapter, highlights another way that magic realism works withinthe narrative. Maria Alejandrina Cervantes is a whore, but the description of her persona and her home doesnot seem to condemn her or her girls for their profession, which comes as a surprise in a culture that censorswomens sexuality so strictly. In the novel, Maria is not depicted as a shameful woman with a dirty profession,but as a beautiful woman who taught all the men of the community about sex. It seems that women in thisColombian culture can either accept the strict social codes governing their sexuality, or they can completelydiscard them; no in-between is presented.Márquezs incorporation of details such as the musicians, the dancing courtyard, and the lanterns all makeMarias house seem like some sort of paradise with colored lamps; it seems a far cry from the neon glow of ared light district in a city. This illumination of the mundane by means of almost fantastical imagery is notable inthis instance because it praises something that is usually degraded. Márquezs use of magical realism allowshim to avoid invoking traditional cultural perceptions when he so desires, and present reality in a refreshing wayto the reader.4." The truth is I didnt know what to do, he told me. My first thought was that it wasnt any business of minebut something for the civil authorities, but then I made up my mind to say something in passing to PlacidaLinero. Yet when he crossed the square, hed forgotten completely. You have to understand, he told me, "thatthe bishop was coming that day."
This quote is taken from the end of the third chapter; the speaker is Father Amador. Father Amador is anexample of the many authority figures who all had the power to stop the crime, but ended up being completelyineffective in preventing it. The bishop, the priest, a police officer, and the Colonel had all been warned thatSantiago Nasar was going to be murdered, and yet none of them took this news seriously enough to takeeffective preventative action.The book calls the so-called "authority" of these characters into question. They all fail not only to rise abovecultural prejudices and personal weakness, but also to recognize the severity of the event that was about tooccur. Their failure allows the towns view to prevail. Prudencia Cotes illustrates the gravity that thetownspeople afforded matters of honor when she tells us that she would not have married Pablo Vicario if hehad not killed Santiago Nasar. And after the murder, the official verdict seemed to indicate that the Vicariosaction was just-the twins were only sentenced to three years in prison.5."She wrote a weekly letter for over half a lifetime. Sometimes I couldnt think of what to say, she told me,dying with laughter, but it was enough for me to know that he was getting them. At first they were a fianceesnotes, then little messages from a secret lover, perfumed cards from a furtive sweetheart, business papers,love documents…nevertheless, he seemed insensible to her delirium; it was like writing to nobody."This quote is taken from the end of the fourth chapter, in which Angela Vicario explains the letters sheobsessively wrote to Bayardo San Roman. It is significant that Angela says that it was enough for her to knowthat Bayardo was receiving the letters, because it was apparently enough for Bayardo to receive the letterswithout knowing what it was that she wished to tell him-he never opened them. The fact that Angela Vicariodidnt know what to write, and that Bayardo didnt want to know what she had written, highlights the importanceof the ritual of writing and receiving letters as opposed to the importance of the content. This disinterest in thecontent seems contrary to the purpose of writing letters, just as the novels overall disinterest in the truthsurrounding the murder belies the journalistic mode employed throughout it. It also shows us that the conceptsof love in Colombia are firmly rooted in the actions between two lovers, as opposed to the understandingbetween them. Love is defined by ritualMajor ThemesShared VictimizationNo one in Chronicle of a Death Foretold is purely guilty; Marquez makes everycharacter in the story a partial victim. Angela Vicario, though she names Santiagoas her lover and thus condemns him, is a victim of the double standard betweenthe genders in her society; she is persecuted for having premarital sex, returned toher family and beaten, whereas men are expected to go to brothels and have asmuch premarital sex as they want. She is required to name a lover, and name shecould have given would have been a death sentence for that man. Bayardo SanRoman is also a victim of deceit, as he married Angela under the pretext that shewas a virgin. While we may think that Angelas virginity or lack thereof shouldntconcern him, Bayardo, as a product of his culture, cannot help but return her.
Santiago Nasar is obviously a victim as well; he is killed for taking Angelasvirginity, an act that he likely did not commit. Finally, the Vicario twins are alsovictims of societal expectations: they are bound by honor to try to kill the manwhom Angela cites as her lover. If they hadnt made this attempt, they would havebeen seen as weak and unmanly. Prudencia Cotes, for instance, told the narratorthat she wouldnt have married Pablo Vicario if he hadnt been a man and killedSantiago.Shared GuiltJust as Marquez gives all of his characters a measure of innocence in Santiagosdeath, so too he gives them a measure of guilt for the murder. Angela, clearly, tellsSantiago was her lover, which likely is not true. Bayardo and the Vicario twins arealso clearly guilty-the one for returning the bride, which set vengeance in motion,the others for actually committing the murder. But other less likely characters shareguilt in the story as well. Santiago Nasar himself, for instance, sexually abuses hisservant, DivinaFlor, and in turn Divina-who admits that in the bottom of her heartshe wants Santiago dead-likely allows the twins to kill him.This causal chain of guilt touches less central characters as well-the mayor, forinstance, who is too busy worrying about his dominoes game to prevent themurder, and the priest, who is too busy worrying about the bishops visit. GarciaMarquez suggests that the members of the town-almost all of whom could havestopped the murder-abet it both through their actions and their inactions.HonorThe importance of honor to the culture portrayed in Chronicle of a Death Foretold isevident throughout the novel. The murder itself is committed in order to gain backthe honor that Angela lost when she had premarital sex, and the honor that waslost to the family with her sex and then failed marriage. Most people in the societytend to think that disputes over honor are better left to those involved; even thejury in the Vicario twins case find them innocent, because they killed Santiago towin back Angelas honor.Familial DutyThis is another important theme linked to the novels depiction of Latin Americanculture. When Angela has premarital sex, and married as a non-virgin, she not onlydishonors her family but also fails in her duty to them. According to the societyportrayed in Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Angela has an obligation to stay a virginand marry to as high a station as she can (even though she doesnt love the manshe marries); if she hadnt had premarital sex, she would have married a verywealthy man. Other characters also have a duty to their family. Among theVicarios, Pedro goes off to war to earn money for the family, while Pablo stayshome to take care of his parents.GossipThe first sentence in chapter five reads "For years we couldnt talk about anythingelse." Garcia Marquez depicts a society in which everyone in the town knows aboutthe murder that is going to happen except for the man who is going to bemurdered-until its too late. This is one of the central ironies of the book: that
everyone is so eager to talk about the murder, but no one is willing to talk about itto the murderer. The natural human tendency to "talk behind someones back" thusbecomes responsible, in part, for a killing.Also, Garcia Marquez shows us that human memory, as represented by gossip, isfragmented and inconsistent. Like a "big fish" story, the tale of Santiagos deathhas undergone a gradual transformation in the towns memory up until the time,twenty-seven years after, when the narrator records it. In fact, no one can evenagree what the weather was like, let alone the details of the murder.Human RoutineHuman beings live by pattern and routine-that is how were most comfortable-andthe denizens of Santiagos town are no different. Garcia Marquez writes, "Our dailyconduct, dominated then by so many linear habits, had suddenly began to spinaround a single common anxiety." The murder of Santiago Nasar throws off thewhole town and disrupts the peaceful balance of life, thus changing the lives ofmany people forever. This unusual event, in turn, is patterned into a new way oflife for the townspeople, who for years and years after the event discuss itregularly. What had been new becomes routine again.Another example of the cathartic effect of routine and ritual in human live is thehabit of writing to Bayardo that Angela develops. She sends him a letter everyweek for seventeen years, filled with her deepest feelings. Even though he neverreads them, the mere act helps Angela to develop and strengthen as a person.Indeed, her display of tenacity and love is so overwhelming that it eventuallyconvinces Bayardo to come back to her. He doesnt need to know what the letterssay; the fact that she has written them so dutifully is enough to convince him of herconstancy.Fate as an avoidance of GuiltThe townsfolk in the novel obsess over Santiagos death "...because none of uscould go on living without an exact knowledge of the place and mission assigned tous by fate." The narrator of the novel spends much of his ink in convincing us, orconvincing himself, that Santiago Nasar was fated to die under the knives of theVicario brothers at the specific time and place that the event happens. He fills hisnarrative with forebodings and omens, all of which clearly point to his death beforeit happens, though no one is able to interpret them and deter the act.However, the book also invites consideration that the role of fate is not so strong asthe townspeople come to believe. They all share a part in Santiagos murder-whether because they endorse the sense of "honor" that insisted upon a death orbecause they actually neglected to warn Santiago of the danger he was in. So theemphasis on fate, in this light, acts as a collective alleviation of guilt. The townsfolkdesperately want to believe that the death was truly "foretold," that it couldnt havebeen stopped, thus disburdening them of the moral weight of having killed aninnocent member of their society.MachismoMachismo-an important part of Chronicle of a Death Foretold-can be seen in theemphasis on male pride in the novel and on the sexual behavior of the male
characters. The men take pride in visiting Maria Cervantess brothel, where theyuse women for sex. They are not ashamed of their actions, because their societyendorses such desires and deeds. When Bayardo San Roman returns AngelaVicario, he demonstrates machismo-a woman is only worth marrying, he suggests,when she is a virgin; after that she is soiled. The Vicario brothers murder ofSantiago Nasar is also a machismo act-an attempt to take back Angelas honor bykilling the man who deflowered her. As the string of events in the novel shows, thesevere emphasis on masculine and feminine behavior leads to injustice. One mansmachismo commits another mans-Bayardos refusal to accept Angela leads theVicarios to kill Santiago without trial or evidence.In Chronicle of a Death Foretold, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, geographical as well as culturalsetting is significant throughout the book.Gabriel Garcia Marquez uses the setting and values of his Colombian society, along withsurrealism, to enhance the depth of the plot and make the reader empathize with the travestythat is the death of Santiago Nasar.First, Marquez uses the natural setting of Columbia to establish surrealism, and also give thereader a sense of what Latin superstition is, which makes the death of Santiago that much morepersonal. For example, when Santiagos mother Placida is interpreting the dream that he hasthe night before his death, she interprets the birds as a good omen, and the trees as a badomen. After she realizes that she mixed up the meaning of the omens, this is one of the keymoments that make the reader empathize with the murder. The dramatic irony makes it so thatyou cant help but feel sorry for Santiago, because everyone in the city, even his own mother,fails to warn him about the savage murder thats about to happen to him.Marquez then talks about the cultural setting and the cultural values of his city. This plotwouldnt have worked in any other type of society than Marquezs Latin society, which is why hechose to base the story in such a setting. Let me elaborate, even though Marquez puts the faultand the responsibility of Santiagos death on the shoulders on every individual that didnt takeany 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, andthere is no action that isnt justified in order to get it back.Even men of the cloth, such as Father Amador and the archbishop, decide that the murder isnot only justified, but also trivial, and they both decide to ignore it. I thought that forgiving wasdivine, apparently not. I also noticed that in this society, its ironic that its unacceptable to sleepwith a woman without having married her, and yet its completely acceptable to have brothels inthe city, such as when Marquez describes Maria Cervantes as almost an elegant whore, andalso describes the brothel as such a wonderful place.Clearly honor is the most important aspect of ones being, and ones reputation. Santiagossituation becomes a lot more personal because even though the Vicario boys try to avenge theirsister, no one ever actually has any proof of his crime.Thisis why such a plot would only work in Marquezs society.Another reason why the murder was so personal was because of gender roles. In thisColombian society, men dominate, undoubtedly, and a womans true chance to find financialsecurity is through marriage, and that cant happen if she sleeps with a man while unmarried,which is the other perspective on the severity of this crime. (Angelas marriage to Bayardo SanRoman)The next thing that I want to discuss is the significance of where all of the important events inthe novel take place, for example, the knives. When the Vicario boys search for a weapon to killSantiago with, they go to the barn. They search for and find the same knives that are used toslaughter pigs. This event, and where it takes place already foreshadows the fact that Santiagowill 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 guiltytook place at the bar. The Vicario twins announce their plan to murder Santiago right in front ofeveryone. Now, the argument that one might have, and that most of the townspeople had, isthat since they were in a bar, the twins were drunk, and they clearly didnt know what they weresaying. Well, this is important because the townspeople shouldve assumed that when honor ison the line, and the people trying to reclaim are thinking irrationally, its even more of a threatthan it normally would be. Furthermore, people who hear this like the mayor, just ignore it, as hetakes the knives and just tells the twins to "go home." And people, who already knew, decidedto continue ignoring it. This is the single event that cements Santiagos fate, and demonstratesthat no one is willing, or desires to prevent this murder.
Also, the site of the murder is extremely important, at Santiagos home, right in the eyes of hismother, the person who accidentally predicted his grim fate, and who once again, accidentallyrefused 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 its nighttimefor 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 SantiagoNasar, unfortunately, he had the power and influence of an entire society up against him, and tomaintain the values of this society, his savage murder was necessary. HonorThe motive for the murder of Santiago Nasar lies undetected until halfway through Chronicle ofa Death Foretold. While everyone knows that Nasar will be murdered, no one knows the reason.Then, after a night of carousing, the Vicario twins, Pedro and Pablo, return home at theirmother’s summons. The family presses a devastated Angela, the twins’ sister, to tell the reasonfor her humiliated return from her marriage bed. When Angela says, “Santiago Nasar,” the twinsknow immediately that they must defend their sister’s honor. The twins’ attorney views the actas “homicide in legitimate defense of honor,” which is upheld by the court. The priest calls thetwins’ surrender “an act of great dignity.” When the twins claim their innocence, the priest saysthat they may be so before God, while Pablo Vicario says, “Before God and before men. It wasa matter of honor.” RevengeWhile the twins say the murder was necessary for their sister’s good name, and the courtsagree with them, many disagree, viewing the murder as a cruel act of revenge. The manner inwhich they kill Santiago appears to be much more vicious than what a simple murder for honorwould entail. The twins first obtain their two best butchering knives, one for quartering and onefor trimming. When Colonel Aponte takes these knives from them, the twins return to theirbutchering shop to get another quartering knife-with a broad, curved blade-and a twelve-inchknife with a rusty edge. Intent on making sure Santiago is dead, the twins use the knives to stabhim over and over again. Seven of the wounds are fatal; the liver, stomach, pancreas, and colonare nearly destroyed. The twins stab him with such vengeance that they are covered with bloodthemselves, and the main door of Placida Linero’s house, where Santiago was killed, must berepaired by the city. Further supporting the view that the twins acted in revenge is the fact thatthey show no remorse for the murder.After the murder, the twins fear revenge from the Arab community. Even though they believethey have rightfully murdered Santiago for their sister’s honor, the twins think that the tightly knitcommunity of Arabs will seek revenge for the loss of one of their own. When Pablo becomes illat the jail, Pedro is convinced that the Arabs have poisoned him.Sex RolesPurisimadel Carmen, Angela Vicario’s mother, has raised her daughters to be good wives. Thegirls do not marry until late in life, seldom socializing beyond the confines of their own home.They spend their time doing embroidery, sewing, weaving, washing and ironing, arrangingflowers, making candy, and writing engagement announcements. They also keep the old
traditions alive, such as sitting up with the ill, comforting the dying, and enshrouding the dead.While their mother believes they are perfect, men view them as too tied to their women’straditions.Purisimadel Carmen’s sons, on the other hand, are raised to be men. They serve in the war,take over their father’s business when he goes blind, drink and party until all hours of the night,and spend time in the local brothel. When the family insists on Angela’s marrying Bayardo, aman she has seldom even seen, the twins stay out of it because, “It looked to us like womanproblems.” “Woman problems” become “men’s problems” when the family calls the twins homeupon Angela’s return. She feels relieved to let them take the matter into their hands, as thefamily expects them to do.DeceptionAngela Vicario is not a virgin when she marries Bayardo, but no one would suspect otherwise.Her mother has sheltered her for her entire life. Angela has never been engaged before, nor hasshe been allowed to go out alone with Bayardo in the time they have known one another.Angela, however, is concerned that her bridegroom will learn her secret on their wedding night,and considers telling her mother before the wedding. Instead, she tells two of her friends, whoadvise her not to tell her mother. In addition, they tell Angela that men do not really know thedifference and that she can trick Bayardo into believing that she is a virgin. Angela believesthem. Not only does Angela wear the veil and orange blossoms that signify purity, she carriesout her friends’ plan of deception on her wedding night.SupernaturalThroughout Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Marquez weaves elements of the supernatural. Fromthe dreams that Santiago has the night before his death to the signs that people note foretellinghis death, a sense of an unseen force prevails. For example, Santiago has inherited his “sixthsense” from his mother, Placida. Margot feels “the angel pass by” as she listens to Santiagoplan his wedding. Supernatural intervention pervades all aspects of the characters lives. Forexample, Purisimadel Carmen tells her daughters that if they comb their hair at night, they willslow down seafarers.