Chronicle of a Death Foretold: a Crime Novel?

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DECLARATION I, the undersigned, hereby declare that this is my own and personal work, except where the work(s) or publications of others have been acknowledged by means of reference techniques. I have read and understood Tutorial Letter CMNALLE/301/2011 regarding technical and presentation requirements, referencing techniques and plagiarism. EA Swanepoel 48170399 26 March 2012

Elaine Swanepoel Student Number: 48170399 WLL2602 Assignment 02 Unique Number: 756601

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CONTENTS Essay SOURCES CONSULTED

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Elaine Swanepoel Student Number: 48170399 WLL2602 Assignment 02 Unique Number: 756601

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Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold is a narration spoken from the different viewpoints of the residents of a river town in Colombia. The novel embarks on an exploration into an unsettling crime to arrive at a solution in order to explain a murder. Many years after the death of protagonist, Santiago Nasar, his close friend returns “twentyseven years later” (Marquez 1981:1) to question the residents present on the day of the murder. Through analysing into the past, the story turns investigative and portrays elements of a detective novel. A typical crime novel usually portrays the author opening the story with a problem (Sansalvador, G. 2010. Film, Literature and Society. Only study guide for WLL2602. Pretoria: University of South Africa), such as the need to solve a crime and discover the perpetrators, the victim or motives behind the crime. The reader is not kept in suspense to be headed to the crime, but is instead made aware of the crime from the beginning. The rest of the novel usually details the crime, obtains clues and solves the problem. The problem is known to the reader beforehand; it is the development of the problem that the reader is oblivious to therefore, the solving plays a crucial part in a detective novel. Such can be found in Chronicle of a Death Foretold, when the first paragraph sets the crime for the reader. The opening statement, “On the day they were going to kill him” (1981:1), portrays the crime. The reader realises the offense before discovering how it happened. Thus, it is the duty of the narrator, acting as detective, to examine facts and study reports. The narrator does indeed act as detective. He comes “back to search out the last pieces of testimony” (1981:87) and tries “to put the broken mirror of memory back together from so many scattered shards” (1981:5). According to Hannah Wallace and W.C. Miller (2006) the narrator continues to give a journalistic explanation of an actual murder.

Elaine Swanepoel Student Number: 48170399 WLL2602 Assignment 02 Unique Number: 756601

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More details are given in the first line of the book. Perhaps like a true detective, the narrator provides little details which otherwise would be forgotten or deemed irrelevant. We learn that the victim is Santiago Nasar; that he “got up at five-thirty in the morning” and that he had waited “for the boat the bishop was coming on” (1981:1). As is seen throughout the novel, the narrator often states the time in which certain affairs take place, in order to give the reader a timeline of events. The first line refers to “they”; the perpetrators of the crime, indicating that the narrator already knows who “they” are (later to be confirmed on page 14). As an investigative narrative unfolds, the detective finds and reveals clues along the investigative journey. The detective goes forth undertaking various methods of investigation, such as questioning and reading reports. In doing so, he finds evidence that would allow for the consummation of the solution. The detective in Chronicle of a Death Foretold questions numerous people in order to hear their side of the story. It is here where the novel adopts many narrators, each recalling events from his or her point of view. “All the many people he ran into after leaving his house… remembered him…” (1981:2) and gave accounts of that day. The...
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