Writing & Literature
October 22, 2014
Magical Realism in Chronicles of a Death Foretold
Magical realism is a style of fiction writing in which an author uses magical or improbable events intermingled into a realistic atmosphere to skew the readers sense of reality. Many novelists who use this style do it in order to enhance the depth of the readers understanding of the material. In this style of writing, the author presents extraordinary events as ordinary occurrences, deceiving the reader into accepting these supernatural events as normal. This literary genre is very popular amongst cultures in which the metaphysical is typically accepted. It is particularly popular in Latin American fiction. The book Chronicles of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez uses magical realism to aid in the development of its storyline and main characters. Throughout Chronicles of a Death Foretold, Marquez uses many aspects of traditional magical realism as a main component of the text. The narrator tells the story in a non-chronological order, contrasting sharply with the book’s title, which implies the storyline is in a chronological sequence. The use of the warped timeline is a prime example of magical realism in this text because Marquez blends the line between past and present. The distorted timeline forces the reader to try to distinguish the characters’ perception from reality based on their individual viewpoints. The ambiguity of the timeline also reflects in the characters credibility, as they often have varying and contradictory recollection of the events as they transpired that day. Their conflicting accounts Many people coincided in recalling that it was a radiant morning with a sea breeze coming in through the banana groves, as was to be expected in a fine February of that period. But most agreed that the weather was funereal, with a cloudy, low sky and the thick smell of still waters… (Marquez 4) combined with the time passage of twenty-seven years and the fact the majority of the residents had hangovers on the day of the murder, motivates the reader to think critically about the accounts reported. Another key example of magical realism in this work is the use of supernatural activity throughout the plot. Marquez gives the narrator seemingly omnipresent knowledge of everything other characters are doing and feeling. The belief in superstitions “Girls… don’t comb your hair at night; you’ll slow down seafarers” and the many religious references “My sister felt the angel pass” “It looked like a stigma of the crucified Christ” are also prime examples of how the author has use magical realism in Chronicles of a Death Foretold (Marquez 31, 18, 75). Marquez also uses characters with a sixth sense, especially those having clairvoyant abilities and being able to recognize and interpret omens. The central character, Santiago Nasar is said to have had the ability to read omens “From her he had inherited a sixth sense” but missing the omens of his impending death, “Nor did Santiago Nasar recognize the omen.” (Marquez7, 4). Placida Linero, the protagonist’s mother, is described as having “...a well-earned reputation as an accurate interpreter of other people’s dreams” (Marquez 4). The people in the town believe in Placida’s abilities and trust her authority when she makes a prediction. Placida Linero feels it is her fault Santiago Nasar was murdered. On the days leading up to and including the day of his murder Santiago spoke with Placida concerning having dreams about flying, birds and trees. She misinterpreted the dreams as a favorable omen “Any dream about birds means good health.”(Marquez 6) She was never able to forgive herself for that misinterpretation. “One the other hand she never forgave herself for having mixed up the magnificent augury of trees with the unlucky one of birds” (Marquez 98). Collectively the contorted chronological structure, combined with the citizens prior...
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