Chronicle of a death foretold
Would you intervene to stop a murder that you knew was about to occur? Garcia Marquez depicts a society with a moral code so strict that it can lead to circumstances in which no one would consider taking action to prevent a murder. In this society, honor is the fundamental value that regulates the life of the community, and any action—including violence—is considered acceptable in order to protect one’s honor.
Bayardo san Roman is a wealthy man who marries the poor Angela Vicario. However, after the wedding, he “softly pushed his wife into the house without speaking a word” (46) because he “had discovered that she wasn’t a virgin” (21). Angela Vicario names Santiago Nasar as her “perpetrator” (100), and her brothers, the twins Pedro and Pablo, set out to avenge their sister and their family’s honor. In the end, Santiago Nasar is “carved like a pig” (4), and the brothers restore the family’s honor by killing the man who violated the moral codes of their society.
The narrator repeatedly states, “there had never been a death more foretold” (50). “The Vicario brothers had told their plans to more than a dozen people who had gone to buy milk, and these had spread the news everywhere before six o’clock” (58), but no one tries to prevent the murder. Indeed, the passive reaction of people to the upcoming murder simply encourages the brothers to carry out their plan.
People accept Santiago Nasar’s murder because in their society “affairs of honor are sacred monopolies, given access only to those who are part of the drama” (97). Thus, the death was considered proper retribution for the crime Nasar supposedly committed. “Everybody was running toward the square, as if the wedding party had started up again”(23) to witness the murder, but no one tries to stop it. In fact, Santiago’s death becomes a public lesson on the importance of following society’s rules. To further emphasize this point, his dead body is
Cited: García Márquez, Gabriel. Chronicle of a Death Foretold: A Novel. Trans. Gregory Rabassa. New York: Vintage International, 2003.