IB World Literature
27 October 2010
The Rationality of Murder
The theory of cognitive dissonance is a prevalent driving force in human nature that people often fail to acknowledge. Cognitive dissonance suggests that when faced with conflict, people are capable of manipulating ideas in order to rationalize their actions. This concept is put to the ultimate test when the people from the unnamed town in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold and the boys from the gang in Yukio Mishima’s The Sailor who Fell from Grace with the Sea are faced with decisions that could mean the difference between life and death. As a result, the two novels assert that human beings can rationalize anything, even murder. In Chronicle of a Death Foretold, “there had never been a death more foretold” (Marquez 50), putting not only the murderers on trial for the eventual murder of Santiago Nasar, but the entire town, because it was their inaction that failed to prevent the death. This is where the theory of cognitive dissonance comes into play; the entire town knew that Angela Vicario implicated Santiago for deflowering her, and at the same time the town knew that the Vicario brothers were out for his blood. “Divina Flor confessed […] after her mother had died, that the latter hadn’t said anything to Santiago Nasar because in the depths of her heart she wanted them to kill him. She, on the other hand, didn’t warn him because she was nothing but a frightened child at the time, incapable of a decision of her own” (Marquez 13). Here, both blatant truth and subtle rationalization are exposed in the reasoning behind the inaction of the town, Divina Flor and her mother in this particular case. Divina Flor makes up the excuse that she was too frightened to take action, metaphorically comparing herself to a child who is rendered obsolete in the responsibility of the foreknowledge of murder. Her mother, on the other hand, raises the notion that because...
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