Paradox of Character in Chronicle of a Death Foretold

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In Gabriel Garcia-Marquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold, the concept of appearance versus reality is manifested in three of the major characters around whom the novel revolves. The surface impressions of Santiago Nasar, Angela Vicario, and Bayardo San Roman are deeply rooted in Latin culture; underneath the layer of tradition, however, lies a host of paradoxical traits which indicate the true complexity of human nature.

While Santiago Nasar initially appears unethical, his traits and behaviors are simply a product of a society in which machismo overshadows morality. His wealth, influence, and popularity with women enable him to hold a position of prestige; this status grants him tacit permission to conduct himself in an otherwise unacceptable manner. Santiago treats his servants crudely in the opening chapter of the novel, grabbing the “whole pussy” (8) of Divina Flor in an unwanted sexual advance, saying, “The time has come for you to be tamed” (9). Divina’s mother, Victoria, reacts by flashing a bloody knife in the direction of Santiago and later recalls Santiago is “just like his father [...] a shit” (10). The reader learns later of Maria Alejandrina Cervantes, the town’s exalted prostitute and Santiago’s “mad passion... linked by serious affection, but without the disorder of love” (65). Despite the fact he is engaged to Flora Miguel, he has been intimate with a number of women. Exertion of power, along with sexual experience, advance the status of the males despite the moral deficiencies that lie within the actions. Santiago’s public self heavily reflects these expectations tied to machismo.

Santiago seemingly conforms to the Latin American male ideals, but a gleam of innocence breaks through his rough exterior. Marquez fails to explicitly state Santiago’s involvement (or lack thereof) in Angela’s deflowering, instead relying on vague implications of innocence to evoke sympathy from the reader. Small details such as Santiago’s white clothing and the...
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