Chronicle of a Death Foretold
Cultural Context in Scarlet Letter and Chronicles of a Death Foretold
Context matters. Cultural context can affect the fundamental assumptions, beliefs, and aspirations that they bring to the reading of a text and in many novels this is the case. Context matters because it creates a relationship between the reader and the writer and and it helps build meaning. Novels such as The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, written in 1850, and Chronicle of a Death Foretold, by Gabriel Márquez, written in 1981, both touch upon social differences in society and portray their main characters in a particular way based on their own lives and the way they see things. Both Hawthorne and Márquez’s understanding of the world around them influenced how they developed their characters. Depending on the culture of the reader, text can be interpreted in different ways because of what the accepted cultural norms of their cultures are.
Nathaniel Hawthorne has made his view of puritanism very clear through his novels, including the Scarlet Letter. Born in 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts, Hawthorne was forced to live a life steeped in Puritan legacy. Hawthorne’s great-great-grandfather John Hathorne was a judge who condemned people to die during the 1692 witch trials. Hawthorne was understandably ashamed of his ancestor and critical of Puritanism, it’s belief system, and its rigidity for persecution of non-Puritans. His criticism is evident in the characterization in the Scarlet Letter. Even though he has these ancestors, he has made it clear that he does not agree with their beliefs. Hawthorne even changed the spelling in his name, adding the ‘w’ so the link with Hathorne would not be as clear. The principles and practices of puritanism demanded reforms in doctrine, polity and worship, and greater strictness in religious discipline. Hawthornes objection to puritanism is shown through his writing. While the Puritan community shows nothing but hatred towards Hester and Dimmesdale, Hawthorne shows compassion and sympathy, making his disagreement with this religion even more obvious. So as you can see, context influences writers like Hawthorne, and their stories. Without Hawthornes background of living life in puritan society, his views of how horrible it is never would have been created nor would the book and characters like Hester Prynne have been. Hawthornes grandfather being a cruel judge that punished people unfairly made Hawthorne feel pity towards these said people, hence his creation of Hester, whom throughout the book he shows compassion for, and whom he eventually turns into a strong character that held her head up against the puritan belief system and embraced their punishment. He represents puritans as evil and harsh, because that is how he spent his whole life viewing them.
The context of how he grew up influenced him and led to his creation of the Scarlet Letter and how he developed the characters in it. Part of how we understand a text is the setting, symbolism, plot, conflict, and other literary features. First, Hawthorne begins with discussing how judgemental the Puritans are of other religions and toward those being punished. In the first chapter of the Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne uses grim imagery to describe the Puritans and their society. He throughout the novel makes puritan society seem dark and gloomy to show his discontent for it. He represents Hester Prynne as a women who is way too harshly punished for her sin because he grew up watching his grandfather do the same thing to innocent people. He writes the plot as it is to make a statement about puritan society and its negative elements. The symbolism of the actual scarlet letter is the most important way to show how harsh the puritans were. Hawthorne uses the scarlet letter to represent the judgement. Hester got for her sin. Eventually the A becomes a good thing to stand up to Puritan society because of how much Hawthorne hates it.
As for Gabriel Marquez, author of Chronicle of a Death Foretold, his life also influenced his writing and how he portrays his characters. Marquez grew up in the small town of Aracataca and he was born in 1927. He grew up under the care of his grandfather who was a pensioned colonel from the civil war at the beginning of the century. He grew up in the midst of Latin American culture that consisted of machismo, pride, honor, and catholicism. He lived as a child surrounded by war, death, and dysfunction which influenced him to write this novel the way he did. Catholicism is another part of the culture he grew up knowing. Catholic beliefs such as the prohibition of pre-marital sex and chastity are major ideals in Chronicle of a Death Foretold. He saw as a young child the ideals placed between men and women where men were seen as the only ones that could really get things done, and had to maintain a certain level of “machismo” to keep up with their reputation. The central theme of machismo in the society of the novel reflects what Marquez saw in his own society and the fact that while Marquz grew up he saw how important honor was, this reflects the “honor killings” seen in the book. If he had never experienced growing up in these conditions he would have never chosen to write his books with these terms. The context of his life is what shaped the characters in his book, made the Vicario brothers so obsessed with honor, made Angela only valued for sex because that is all women were seen for, and why Santiago was made to be a dog to keep up his machismo. These certain values and nature of Columbian society were used to create an imminent connection to readers.
The literary features Marquez chooses to use demonstrate more in depthly how he represents his characters and help readers to understand why he portrays things the way he does. Marquez criticizes his own society and finds flaws in it. One literary element he uses is symbolism. The priest from the novel goes against catholic preaching and accepts the idea of honor killings just because he is influenced by society. This represents symbolism, the symbolism of mob mentality, because they claim religion is so important to them but the priest values honor and murder over what a priest really should value. Another literary element he uses is theme. The central theme of machismo in the book reflects his own society where mostly males dominated. This is also linked with the theme of honor as seen in the honor killing of the innocent santiago just to protect someone elses honor. Another symbol is the way women are represented. The concept of machismo places emphasis on the male dominance over the female race where pre-marital sex was taboo for women but was very much encouraged for men to have. Marquez uses machismo to explore the double standards to male and female sexuality in Latin society as he saw as a child. He also uses honor killings as a symbol to preserve honor and pride. People in society were seen as nothing if they weren’t honorable. Everyone in the village knew about the possibility but no one did anything. Marquez did not agree with this which is why he displayed it this way. The pre marital sex is also a symbol of double standards between men and women. Angela lost her pride when she slept with a man before marriage which is why she had to hide it from her future husband and her brothers had to restore her pride by killing the man she slept with. Marquez reflects these flawed values of marriage he finds in his own society through the values seen in the novel.
In conclusion, context effects how a writer tells their stories and depending on the culture of the reader, text can be interpreted in different ways. Hawthorne and Marquez both would not have had these stories to tell if it wasn’t for what influenced them.
The Social Surrounding in Chronicle of a Death Foretold
Chronicle of a Death Foretold is amusing to its name in light of the fact that the historical backdrop of the occasions that prompted the murder of Santiago Nasar and furthermore chronicles the social surroundings where the occasion occurred. In the novel, the author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, reports through the depravity of the events that prevailed in Colombia during that time. Marquez utilizes the social foundation and morals as a clarification for the murder of Santiago Nasar. Along these lines, it is similarly critical to comprehend the ethics of the social surrounding to understand the murder of Santiago Nasar.
The title of the novel itself proposes that Nasar’s demise was inescapable and pre-arranged, viewed as a matter of the Latino social code of respect to be ‘honor killing’. It is generally trusted that the reason behind why respect is viewed as a driving force in an individual’s life is on the grounds that it decides how the remainder of the general public judges that individual’s trustworthiness, earnestness and uprightness. This demonstration of pre-marriage sex was viewed as a disfavor to the Vicario family and her siblings Pedro and Pablo Vicario felt that the best way to recover their family’s respect and pride was Nasar’s demise. Subsequently, in a way Marquez illustrates Colombian culture where societal values were viewed as more essential than the natural integrity of man.
Marquez has depicted that the whole town knew about what the Vicario siblings were doing. This demonstrates it was a general public where individuals were ardent to gossip about the homicide to one another, yet nobody conversed with or stopped the killers. The people comforted themselves with the excuse that matters of honors are inviolable dominance. They decide not to take any responsibility on the happening and left it to be settled by the people who were directly engaged with it. There were various occasions when the right activity could’ve prevented the murder. In a way, Marquez in an indirect way accuses every single character that was reluctant to make any move. This delineates how honor executions were permitted and adequate. Marquez likewise shows an absence of independence and closely-held convictions of individuals, rather than the ethical directions that prompted the chain of occasions.
The murder of Santiago Nasar prompted by the Vicario siblings and the outrageous annoyance appeared at Angela by her mom on finding reality about her girl’s abnormality shows how Angela had an obligation towards her family to stay untouched till she was married. Angela was requested to wed Bayardo on the grounds that he was well off and not on the grounds that she loved him and was least worried about what Angela needed.
Marquez depicts ladies as vulnerable animals inside Colombian culture who had no state or opportunity to express their supposition. Ladies were viewed as helpless and their goals were viewed as unimportant and paltry. Ladies did not appreciate any individual worth nor would they be able to direction a state in their own lives, subsequently they were compelled to pursue the dictations of the men in their parental home and later the spouse, when hitched. Marquez has depicted ladies as completely trained animals who have been instructed to live inside the limits of their homes and never to exceed the limits of their thin societal convictions.
Marquez additionally underlines on male pride and the sexuality of their characters in the novel. Besides, It is adequate for men to regard ladies as dispensable pleasures as opposed to important interests they feel glad for visiting Maria Cervantes’ brothel. They didn’t feel embarrassed about their activities as the general public supported male sexuality. It was good for men to visit whores to fulfill their wants yet it was terrible for a lady to take a sweetheart before marriage. At the point when Bayardo discovered that Angela wasn’t a virgin, she is rejected and sent back to her home on her wedding night.
The Latin American social order of the town was bound together with its basic establishments stemmed some place down in religion and certainty, which in like manner explains why the possibility of virginity was seen as one of such essential importance. The town’s close-by association with the Catholic religion explains why the conviction of a woman staying ‘virgin’ until marriage was considered so noteworthy. The norms of Catholicism did not pursue with what Angela did and without investigating her case, extraordinary moves were made against Santiago Nasar for the ‘bad behavior’ that he had submitted. The importance of the Church is altogether stressed upon by Marquez’s depiction of the overall population, in any case ironically regardless of the way that the story occurs in a town that is religious, religions seems to have lost a great deal of its regard. In the novel and this can be seen by the rich courses of action that the all-inclusive community of the town made upon the section of the Bishop. It seems like the Bishop does not regard religion, he doesn’t take the name of god or do anything remotely close supernatural or passionate, rather he keeps waving his hand forward and in reverse in an obliging way. In like manner through this event, Marquez finally reveals an overall population wherein moral frameworks, for instance, the law and religion radiate an impression of being unable to manage and confirm the citizens.
Marquez’s portrayal of Colombian culture is one in which he has depicted an outstandingly orthodox social structure where brutality wins and social conventions which have been gone down through ages are allowed to win. The story of Nasar must be sensibly attractive in an overall population, for instance, the Colombian culture. In any open-minded society, such a record of viciousness would not be sufficient or dependable. Hereafter, Marquez has had the alternative to get the epitome of the story similarly as the Colombian culture in the aggregate of its stilted detail in order to make the novel record the events that he has portrayed.
The Role of Honor in the Chronicle of a Death Foretold
In Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Gabriel Garcia Marquez illustrates a recap story of the death of Santiago Nasar, showcasing each of the characters’ point of views. The novel is written based off of Columbian culture, by this the role of honor becomes even more prominent as it shares aspects of their religious views in chastity until marriage. Marquez centers the main reason for Santiago’s death to be around this concept, through this we are able to see to what extent these characters’ value honor. Marquez’s essential message through using honor to such a high level is to show how much it is able to control a person’s actions, through the novel, this ideology distinctly unveils that honor is essentially vital in this society and extreme measures are taken to uphold it. Furthermore, this influential force proves to have an immoderate grasp over the people, leading to fatalistic effects. For Marquez to effectively convey the importance of honor, instances in showcasing the moral imperative of men and women in this society, in how driven these characters strive to obtain honor, and the extreme amounts of what can be justified being equivalent to honor are used.
Marquez introduces the main obligations that the men in this society are bound to own up to when preserving honor, through descriptions of the Vicario family. Whenever the father is introduced the narrator goes onto say “Her father, Poncio Vicario, was a poor man’s goldsmith, and he’d lost his sight from doing so much fine work in gold in order to maintain the honor of the house” (33). Marquez sets up this family to have a reputation to take honor to the utmost importance, having insight to the Vicario family allows readers to understand how the Vicario brothers and Angela were raised. We are given the idea that honor centers around an entire household. This shows the obligations that a family has in keeping honor. Whenever an honorable action is being spoken of it surrounds the idea of a sacrifice.
Marquez uses extensive amounts of vivid imagery to display the amount of anger that is present within Angela’s mother once her lack of innocence is discovered. Whenever everyone was asleep, Pura beat Angela as a form of punishment, Angela tells the narrator “The only thing I can remember is that she was holding me by the hair with one hand and beating me with the other with such rage that I thought she was going to kill me” (52). Marquez, providing this visual shows how much the characters’ value honor, that if someone were to break it, they would witness extreme amounts of punishment. The visual given, is amplified especially whenever Angela mentions that she was under the impression that Pura would kill her, and for her to start off saying “the only thing I can remember” shows that the beating she received was so intense that she lost some of her memory. Her mother’s beating doesn’t serve to be seen as a crime, however, Angela’s impurity does. She has committed a social crime and a sin against God, Angela’s obligation to society is shown through the standard that women are supposed to remain pure until marriage.
In the end, the Vicario brothers appear to become successful in killing Santiago, fulfilling their duties. The narrator is currently speaking on the events that happened after Santiago’s death. The narrator goes on in saying, “… the brothers Vicario had proved their status as men, and the seduced sister was in possession of her honor once more” (96). The characters’ view honor to such an extreme, seeing as the brothers are being given a high title of being “true men” for restoring honor to Angela. This is ironic because, despite Santiago being dead, Angela is still not a virgin. This opens up the idea that if the brothers failed, them too would have been looked down upon. As men, they are entitled to insure honor is maintained, like Poncio in his sacrificial action, the brothers gave one as well in giving up some of their lives to be in prison.
Within the novel it becomes apparent that the initial start of Bayardo and Angela’s romance was simply due to society’s expectations. Bayardo is said to be a man full of resources, due to societal presumptions he is expected to marry a woman that fulfills her expectations of being pure and beautiful. When the narrator discusses the arrangements of Bayardo and Angela’s wedding it is said, “Angela Vicario was the prettiest of the four..” (34). Earlier it was established that the choice of marrying each other was more of an abrupt decision. Once Bayardo was informed of Angela’s spotless reputation his decision was prompt in marrying this woman. Within this society, these characters don’t base their actions off of emotion, but rather what can be brought to the table. With Bayardo’s prodigious reputation along with Angela’s looks, honor would be given to them. Relating to the sacrificial idea, this way of living gives up an individual’s opportunity to have genuine love.
Bayardo and Angela’s “love” was based entirely through the demands of needing to be married off to a person with the same caliber. The narrator discusses the circumstances between Bayardo and Angela’s outlooks towards the wedding. “Bayardo San Roman, for his part, must have got married with the illusion of buying happiness with the huge weight of his power and fortune…” (42). It’s clear that the intentions Bayardo had when marrying Angela was for the amount of high class status that would come from marrying her. Marquez uses the term “illusion” to portray that the way Bayardo was perceiving this marriage was out of sheer misconceptions.
Bayardo’s decision in marrying Angela was based partially on her honorable actions in her consistency in sending him letters. Angela informs the narrator of all the letters she would constantly send to him, “She wrote a weekly letter for over half of a life time” (109). The characters in this novel appear to see each other purely based off of their status level. Love doesn’t seem to be of any importance to the characters as they base their pairings off of how they are seen to the public and to how they conspire to you. Due to Angela’s efforts in writing her letters, she was deemed to be seen as worthy of marrying.
It becomes evident that the towns people are aware at this point of what exactly the Vicario brothers did, however, there is still failure to completely correct their behavior. Within the starting sentence of a new chapter, showcasing the trial. “…in legitimate defense of honor, which was upheld by the court in good faith, and the twins declared at the end of the trial that they would have done it again…” (55). This displays how comfortable the twins are in their reasoning in killing Santiago. The Vicario brothers are aware of their duties and due to Santiago dishonoring their family and this society’s culture it becomes compulsory to punish the accuser by default.
In the brothers’ eyes death is a valid punishment for stealing honor away from a household. The trial of the murder of Santiago Nasar began, and the verdict is that the brothers are guilty. In the parish house they tell Father Amador “It was a matter of honor” (56). Pablo is essentially stating that in both God’s eyes and the eyes of men murder can be justified by honor, therefore they are innocent. Honor has an overwhelming amount of influence of the brothers’ decision in killing Santiago. The nonchalant diction in their dialog showcases their commitment in their responsibility for their actions. It wasn’t fully known if Santiago was the man who deflowered Angela, despite there being some sort of doubt the brothers still committed the action of killing him in case of the slim chance that he was.
Marquez further goes onto showcase the irony present within the novel, essentially on how twisted this society is when showing any respect for Santiago. The Vicario brothers went to the bin in the pigsty, multiple butchers were around in that area including, Faustino Santos. Pablo Vicario tells Santos that they just came to sharpen their knives, it is then said that “Their reputation as good people was so well founded that no one paid any attention to them” (60). It becomes ironic that they are seen to be good people, despite their threats of killing Santiago. The reputation of Santiago and the brothers are greatly contrasted, through the twisted ideology that a woman’s virginity is worth more than a life. The brothers weren’t the only ones to kill Santiago, failed attempts to warn or help him was aided by the town.
In Chronicle of a Death Foretold the central motif of honor plays a role in essentially controlling the characters’ actions, this idea centers around the main climax of the novel. The characters are heavily effected by this force, which often leads to a negative impact. Honor shapes their mindsets entirely, as they lose sight of actuality, seen through the obligations the citizens have, their perception of honor in forms of love, and through the extreme amounts of what can be justified being equivalent to honor. The reoccurring idea that these characters are insanely driven showcase aspects of Columbian culture, while techniques of diction, irony, and imagery aid in this portrayal.
Different Chances in Chronicle of a Death Foretold and The Assault
Explore the ways in which chance or coincidence is used in
Chronicle of a Death Foretold and The Assault
Plato once said: “In their misfortune, people tend to blame fate, the gods, and everything else, but not themselves” (Plato). This notion is proven true both in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 1981 novel, Chronicle of a Death Foretold (CDF), which entails an investigative depiction of the events leading to a citizen’s death in a small-town in Columbia, and Harry Mulisch’s 1982 novel, The Assault, which revolves around the journey of a young man coming to terms with the death of his family during the liberation of Amsterdam. Chance is often defined as the occurrence of events without any distinguishable intention or cause and is a vital element in both novels. Mulisch and Marquez both incorporate chance in their novels in order to portray the causation of these violent incidents and their aftermaths. However, the methods and role chance plays in their novels differ.
Marquez instrumentalizes chance as the scapegoat for Santiago Nasar’s violent death, even though the true cause is traced back to miscommunication and a flawed value system. All citizens of the town believed Santiago’s death to be a result of fate and claim that “there had never been a death more foretold” (Garcia Marquez 50). Even the town priest, Father Amador, blames coincidence for the murder because it took place the same day as the bishop’s visit. Father Amador forgot to warn Santiago’s mother because “the bishop was coming” (71) and he became distracted. The irony that the priest was not alarmed by a possible murder that contravenes multiple religious precepts enforces Marquez’ criticism of the flawed views of the community and their inability to accept blame for their actions. Although the priest blames Santiago’s death on chance, he still suffers from “despair and [is] so disgusted with himself” (71). Thus, Marquez illustrates how, although chance is blamed by those complicit in the crime, this does not allay their guilt. Moreover, the Vicario twins’ dialogue, and their constant voicing of their intentions, portrays their desire to be prevented from murdering Santiago. Their reluctance is further substantiated as they “looked at [Santiago] more with pity” (15) than with rage or hatred, and easily abided by Clotilde’s request that they “leave him for later” (14). This indicates that even though the Vicario twins were victims of the societal values, they still had a choice in whether or not they would murder Santiago. Although they blame chance and believe it was “[destined] by God” (49), they made a conscious choice to murder Santiago, thus, eliminating chance as a justification for their actions. However, some events that indirectly lead to Santiago’s death were coincidental. For example, when Bayardo awoke just as Angela “crossed the square” (28) and decided it was she he had to marry. This could be considered happenstance, and it was due to their relationship that the Vicario’s honor was tarnished and had to be restored. Thus, if they had not met by chance, and Bayardo had courted a different woman, Santiago’s death may have never occurred. Nevertheless, Santiago’s name translates to St. James, who was the first apostle to suffer martyrdom due to false accusations made against him. The symbolic meaning of Santiago’s name implies that his death was an intentional sacrifice made by the town and the murderers, supposedly for the greater good. The town deliberately did not prevent his death because Santiago’s sacrifice “was a matter of honor” (49). Therefore, although some indirectly related events leading up to Santiago’s murder may have occurred by chance, the multiple opportunities to prevent the crime indicate that the underlying cause of Santiago’s death was not chance. Rather it was used as a justification by those complicit in the crime.
Mulisch portrays the death of Anton Steenwijk’s family as coincidental, however, in contrast to CDF, this is actually the case in The Assault. Firstly, the Steenwijk’s house was invaded by the Krauts because Fake Ploeg was shot on their street by the communist Resistance. Takes, who was partially responsible for Ploeg’s death admits that he knew this event would have repercussions, but did not intend on harming Anton’s family. Takes believes it was simply chance, that Anton was affected, because if the Steenwijks had “rented another house in another street” (Mulisch 113) they would still be alive, and Takes could not predict “which house […] would get it” (113). However, similar to Father Amador’s dilemma in CDF, Takes believes Anton’s misfortune came about by chance, yet he still feels the need to “justify [himself] to Anton” (112). Likewise, Anton, who is aware that his family’s death was a result of chance, still blames himself for being left alive, because since his family was executed, he expected “[he] would have been killed too” (58). This indicates how even in cases where chance can be blamed for an unexpected result, it does not alleviate the feeling of guilt. Moreover, the symbol of Anton finding a dice in his pocket after the murder of his family and his relocation to his uncle’s house, illuminates how Anton was a victim of fate. Throughout the novel, Mulisch associates the dice with the symbol of fate, and during the first episode, Anton is compared to a pawn “being moved across the board” (16). Thus, the incident that caused Anton’s misery, was a result of chance and fate, since there was no evident intent for his misfortune. Although characters in both novels blame the violent incidents on chance, this is only the case in The Assault. However, both authors emphasize that blaming chance for an unfortunate outcome, does not reprieve one’s guilt.
Furthermore, Marquez illustrates how the townspeople in CDF took very deliberate actions to come to terms with the death of Santiago and their role in his misfortune. In particular, Angela Vicario, who initially incriminated Santiago and gave the Vicario twins the responsibility of killing him, resorted to “writing letters with no future” (Garcia Marquez 94) to Bayardo San Roman, possibly in the hopes of becoming a “virgin again just for him” (94) so that he would take her back. Consequently, after seventeen years, Bayardo showed up at Angela’s house to get back together with her. Both of these choices were deliberately made, possibly to give Santiago’s death purpose, since through Santiago’s death, Angela “was in possession of her honor once more” (84). Despite their insistence that Santiago’s death was subject to fate, both are fundamentally aware of their consequential role in his murder, and therefore take these steps to justify their actions. Similarly, Colonel Aponte, who did the bare minimum to prevent Santiago’s death, as he did not take the threat seriously, decided to become a “vegetarian as well as a spiritualist” (77) in hopes of receiving clemency. Moreover, “for years [the entire town] couldn’t talk about anything else” (97) because “none of [them] could go on living” (97) with the knowledge that they were responsible for Santiago’s death. Marquez portrays the irony of the town blaming chance, since the citizens truly are responsible for Santiago’s death and in reality are unable to convince themselves otherwise. Chance acts as a scapegoat for Santiago’s death, in order to preserve the town’s pious exterior. However, since conscious choices caused Santiago’s death, taking deliberate action is the only way to reprieve the town’s guilt and pardon their sins.
Contrastingly, the events after the incident in The Assault, were all subject to fate. These events gradually allowed Anton to face his past and move on with his life. Firstly, as an adult, Anton coincidentally encountered Fake Ploeg Junior and Cor Takes and recognized that they could empathize with his anguish. Moreover, Anton realized that Fake suffered a worse fortune, as Fake was only qualified to “[work] in an appliance store” (Mulisch 87), and is characterized as an “aggressive” and “threatening” man. Similarly, Takes is characterized as a “sloppy, unhappy drunk [living] in a basement” (141), whereas Anton has a family and a stable job. Anton’s realization that he is not suffering alone is the key to his recovery from the incident. Additionally, after avoiding all events related to politics, Anton suffered from an unbearable toothache, which unexpectedly lead to his participation in the demonstration against nuclear arms. Anton’s experience is depicted as “dreamlike” (169), “peaceful” (172) and a “euphoria” (169). Through the diction used to illustrate Anton’s experience, Mulisch portrays how this demonstration allows Anton to face his past. Thus, Anton’s acceptance of his past is a result of a series of coincidences. This is a direct contrast to CDF, where after the violent incident, the only way to cope with the violent incident is to take deliberate steps to justify one’s actions. However, similar to Marquez, Mulisch illustrates how the causation is significant for the resolution. In this case chance was the cause of the incident and thus, chance was also critical for the resolution for those affected by the incident.
Throughout CDF and The Assault, chance plays an important role in the events leading up to and resulting from the violent incident. Marquez depicts chance as a scapegoat for the incident, which the inhabitants readily accept, even though it is not the true cause for Santiago’s death. On the other hand, Mulisch uses chance as the actual cause and resolution of the assault, even though many of those affected by the repercussions have difficulties accepting this. This enigma around whether chance can be used as a legitimate reason for misfortune, is something people face in everyday-life. This is often referred to as the “blame game”, in which humans blame unexpected results on coincidence or fate, because they cannot gather the courage to take responsibility for the consequences of their choices.
Contrasting Elements in Chronicle of a Death Foretold and The Assault
Explore the tensions and/or contrasts revealed in chapter 1 of Chronicle of a Death Foretold
Because of the influence of Colombian society and culture, Gabriel García Márquez’s novella “Chronicle of Death Foretold” is compiled of unique characters priding themselves on honor and traditions. It is these traditions and values in this town’s society which result in the inevitable death of Santiago Nasar. In the opening chapter, tension over Santiago’s death and contrasts in society are created to prompt suspense in the narrative, which keeps the audience engaged. Through characterization of the Vicario twins and foreshadowing, tension is created over Santiago’s death, and characterization of Santiago introduces a contrast between men and women in the society.
García Márquez characterizes Pedro and Pablo Vicario in a somewhat deplorable manner, which raises questions in regards to them plotting to kill Santiago and creates this tension. Both are indirectly characterized as being very determined to kill Santiago; even to the point that they were “still wearing their dark wedding suits.” Because they did not even bother to change into more casual clothes, this emphasizes how quickly they made their decision to kill Santiago. Their emotions are bitter, and they acted on impulse. Their determination on killing Santiago is also evident when they are “barely awakened with the first bellow of the boat” but instead are awoken “completely when Santiago Nasar came out of his house.” García Márquez uses an aspect of magic realism in characterizing Pedro and Pablo to highlight how driven they were to murder Santiago. Since he did not wake up to the sound of the boat, something which woke up everyone in Santiago’s house, but instead woke up completely when Santiago stepped out, shows how important killing Santiago is to them. By characterizing the Vicario twins as individuals who are so keen on murdering Santiago, this raises questions about their motives, which creates tension regarding the mysterious death of Santiago.
Additionally, García Márquez foreshadows the gruesome way in which Santiago is murdered to build on the tension surrounding the strange murder of Santiago. This is done by alluding to images of what Santiago looks like after the murder through animals. In the chapter, Victoria Guzmán “pulled out the insides of a rabbit by the roots and threw the streaming guts to the dogs.” This depiction of violence can be linked to the violence towards Santiago as foreshadowing because both him and the rabbit are killed brutally. Along with the rabbit, an image of a pig is also mentioned in the first chapter. Santiago is described as a being “carved up like a pig.” The comparison of Santiago to a pig and the imagery of violence foreshadow Santiago’s death by relating him to the butcherous way in which the pig is described. The violence portrayed by both animals foreshadows to the violence Santiago unfortunately faces, which adds a further layer of mystery to Santiago’s death since it is foreshadowed that it is very butcherous. This is another way García Márquez creates tension in this chapter.
Apart from tensions, contrasts are also seen in this chapter. García Márquez characterizes Santiago as a clear representation of machismo. Because of this, stark contrasts between the men and women in this society becomes more evident, which is an important aspect throughout the narrative. Santiago’s father influenced his interests in “firearms, his love for horses, and the mastery of high-flying birds of prey.” He also gained attributes such as a “valor and prudence.” The fact that Santiago likes all these activities shows how he fits the mold of machismo since these are considered manly activities in their culture. Santiago is also characterized as someone who treats women disrespectfully, which is normal in Colombian culture. This is evident when he grabs Divina Flor and says, “The time has come for you to be tamed.” Santiago assumes that “she was destined for [his] furtive bed…” This act characterizes Santiago as a man with virility because he feels entitled to do whatever he wants to women, just like the way he grabbed Divina Flor. This highlights and sets the contrast between men and women in the society and how men have more freedoms, which plays a larger role in the upcoming chapters.
García Márquez uses tensions and contrasts effectively in his narrative to keep the audience engaged. The characterization of Pedro and Pablo being so determined to kill Santiago raises the question of why they want to kill him, which creates tension. Tension over Santiago’s death is again built upon with foreshadowing of it through the images of animals being killed. In addition to tensions, García Márquez also creates a contrast between men and women of this society through the machismo characterization of Santiago Nasar. All these literary devices are used in a clear way by García Márquez to create tension and contrast in the first chapter of Chronicle of a Death Foretold.
Society in Chronicle of a Death Foretold and The Assault
Chronicle of a Death Foretold Passage Commentary
In Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Gabriel García Márquez narrates the last moments of a man’s life from multiple perspectives and the roles that the people of the village played in his death. Although everyone knew about the event that was about to occur, most did not do anything to stop the tragedy and those who did failed in their attempts. This passage is from chapter two, when the Vicario brothers went to the meat market to sharpen their knives for killing Santiago Nasar. Through this excerpt of Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Márquez hints at the determined fate of Santiago Nasar despite his innocence and the Vicario brothers’ reluctance to kill him.
Márquez opens the passage with the assertion that “there had never been a death more foretold” (1). As a reference to the book title, this is a recurring point that the author makes. Santiago Nasar is killed by the Vicario brothers as revenge for the loss of their sister’s honor; however, through the use of language and description Márquez repeatedly reinforces the idea that the man is actually innocent. The knives that Pedro and Pablo chose were “sacrificial tools” and
the “best” they had (2-3). If Santiago was actually guilty of the crime, the brothers would not have bothered to meticulously choose their weapons and to spend so much time and effort in sharpening the knives to make them “sing on the stone” and “the steel sparkle” (21-22). The well-sharpened knives would have brought Santiago a quick and less messy death. It is as if the brothers wanted to end Santiago’s life with little suffering, suggesting that they did not believe that Santiago is guilty and deserves to die. The word “sacrificial” indicates that Santiago had to be killed as a sacrifice in order to preserve the Vicario family’s reputation (2). The Vicarios needed a scapegoat, regardless of whether he is the actual perpetrator, and the moment Santiago Nasar’s name fell from Angela Vicario’s lips his fate was determined. In twentieth century Colombia, where the story takes place, family honor is more important than anything. As the sons of the Vicario family, Pedro and Pablo were burdened with the task to redeem their sister’s honor by killing her perpetrator. Failure to do so would have resulted in shame upon the entire family; the brothers had no choice but to carry out their duty.
In the passage, the brothers go to the meat market in the wee hours of the morning to sharpen their knives while clearly pronouncing their intentions toward Santiago. “Twenty-two people declared they had heard everything said, and they all coincided in the impression that the only reason the brothers had said it was so someone would come over to hear them” (6-8). Consequently, the murder was no surprise – news spread and all the townspeople knew about it by the time the deed was actually done. Despite the fact that the Vicario brothers’ bold announcement seemed to be a call for help, nobody actively tried to stop them from killing Santiago and saving them from their horrible duty until it was too late. The butcher even said that he “thought [the brothers] were so drunk” and did not believe that good people like Pedro and Pablo were capable of murder. Those who did believe the boys thought that it is the will of fate and there is nothing that they can do to prevent it. Márquez uses characterization and dialogue to create the response of the villagers and their belief that fate cannot be changed. Even when Santiago was not yet killed he might as well be because he was already a dead man to the people of the village.
Throughout this passage, Márquez portrays the Colombian societal idea of predetermined fate with his craftful implement of language and characterization. Had all the townspeople trusted their own power in shaping the future and tried to save Santiago Nasar, not just with half-hearted attempts, the tragedy may have been prevented. Instead, they lost hope in saving Santiago before Santiago truly lost all hope as he was brutally disemboweled.
The use of diction to show how traditions have lost meaning as illustrated in Chronicle of a death foretold
In Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Gabriel Marquez uses diction to show how traditions have gradually lost their meaning in Colombian society, leading the readers to question their own motives for following customs. Wrong motives could often hurt human relationships, so people should not value tradition before individuals’ well-beings. The characters in this book are contrasted with each other to show the changes in the meanings of traditions. The Vicario twins represent the change of honor and Pura Vicario and Colonel Lazaro Aponte represent the forgotten responsibilities of their parts in society. These show the reader Marquez’s criticism on the current immoral system of following traditions in the community.
One way traditions have gradually lost its meaning is shown through the use of diction of two characters, as one represents tradition back when it was a way of life and the other represents tradition that has become an excuse for wrongdoings. Pedro represents the tradition back when it was a way of life. When his sister, Angela, is returned, the tradition of maintaining honor determines Pedro to kill Santiago. When the townspeople ask him why he’s looking for Santiago, he replies “spontaneous[ly]”(54) that Santiago knows why. The use of the word “spontaneous” shows how he is used to it. He has lived through his life with traditions, so they have become a way of life for him. This is important because Pedro emphasizes that Santiago knows what he has done and has to accept his fate just like he is accepting his fate to go after Santiago. Because Pedro choses to live by traditions, his fate is foretold. Pedro fulfills this duty of killing Santiago by killing him with words. Even though he acquires physical weapons, he tells everyone about his plan. It seems almost as if he wants someone to stop him. When Colonel Lazaro Aponte later takes away his knives, he believes that his duty is over. This is significant because if Pedro wanted to kill him physically, he would have not told anyone, because if the town knew, someone might have tried to stop him. But the fact that he did shows how he was willing to kill him by just his words. He kills Santiago by the repetition of his answer, “He knows why”(54). Pedro kills Santiago with words by spreading word of Santiago’s sin. When everyone in town knows what Santiago has done, their views of him changes; people respect Santiago less than they did before. Pedro kills Santiago without damaging others’ well-beings and still gains honor for his sister. He anticipated what his actions could result in. On the other hand, Pablo believes that the only way for him to fulfill his duties is by physically killing Santiago. Pablo decides to kill Santiago and uses tradition as an excuse to justify his immoral action. Pablo convinces his brother that they have to kill him and sharpens the second pair of knives. Pablo claims that “before men” the killing was a “matter of honor”(49). The fact that he states “before men” shows how he did it for himself. He is using the fact that the killing is a matter of honor to reason it. This is significant because honor has lost its meaning. Instead of preserving honor by killing, he reasons the killing by honor. In the end, both brothers kill Santiago. However, one does it because it is his way of life while the other does it without any justification. This leads the readers to question what we truly do when we follow traditions, as some require us to hurt other people. And if we have the wrong motives, we may kill someone, whether it is by words or weapons, the way we do not intend to.
Another way traditions have lost its meaning is shown by Pura Vicario and Colonel Lazaro Aponte. They forget their true roles in society and worry about their appearances. Pura Vicario forgets the meaning of mourning when she mourns for her deceased child. Her mourning is described to be “relaxed inside the house but rigorous on the street”(31). A natural instinct of mourning is crying no matter the situation. However, Pura Vicario does not cry inside her house. Pura is putting on a show because she wants the public to see that she is mourning but does not cry inside the house. Also, the word “relaxed” means free from anxiety. Pura does not care about her child inside the house and follows a set of rules, which is to mourn in public. People worry about their outside images more than their genuine beliefs, but this should not be the case. Colonel Lazaro Aponte also only fulfills the most apparent deeds of his job as a mayor. Similar to Pura Vicario, he does not care about what happens in the town when he is supposed to. For example, he does not question the brothers about their intentions when he sees them with knives(56). This is important because he is supposed to stop any killings, but he does not even warn Santiago. If he truly is the mayor, he could have done so much more because he is the most powerful person in town but he does not. His action on the day of Santiago’s death is described to be the “final proof of his silliness”(57). The word silly shows how the people will not rely on him. People are supposed to go to the mayor for help and advice, but they view him to be silly, a man with no common sense, because he has failed to execute his tasks. Also, the words “final proof” show two things: he has always been this way and people no longer consider him as a mayor. These two characters fail to carry out their proper roles in society. However, Marquez is not saying that they are the only guilty people who valued appearance over responsibility. Even now, people tend to, but should not, forget the true meaning of their part in society.
Through the use of diction, Marquez portrays the defects of following traditions in the Colombian society. Traditions were so ingrained in their brains that they used them as excuses for our wrongdoings and forgot our roles in their community. But this is not to claim that they are simply the only ones guilty. Nowadays, everyone is so accustomed to certain beliefs that we do anticipate the outcome of our actions. We often fight and argue, which damage our relations. We should fix our traditions to make sure every one of us support the prosperity of all.
The Roles of Gender as Depicted in Chronicles of a Death Foretold
In Garcia Marquez’s novella Chronicle of a Death Foretold, the different roles of men and women in this 1950’s Latin American society are prominently displayed by various characters. The named perpetrator of a young bride is murdered to save the honor of the woman and her family. Apparently, in Colombia during the 1950’s, men were expected to take care of the family and protect family dignity, while women were brought up to marry and maintain the household. In this novel, Garcia Marquez uses his characters as tools to display the cultural gender roles within the Chronicle.
The men depicted by Garcia Marquez are expected to uphold the honor of the family no matter what the cost. With this premise in mind, Garcia Marquez created the Vicario twins, the brothers of Angela. Garcia Marquez stresses the theme of “twins” with the Vicario brothers to convey a duality motif. This double-sided sense deals with the fact that there are two brothers (twins), yet also has a deeper meaning; the boys have two ways of thinking about the murder. On the one hand, they believe killing Santiago is necessary to redeem their family’s honor. On the other, the Vicario brothers don’t really want to murder Santiago; the gravity of the situation (determined by their cultural norms) practically forces them to. Clotilde remarks, “She was certain that the Vicario brothers were not as eager to carry out the sentence as to find someone who would do them the favor of stopping them” (Marquez 57). The boys attempt to avoid killing Santiago on numerous occasions, first announcing at the market that they were actually going to perform the murder (a ploy that could lead to the murder’s prevention). They also conveniently tell twenty two people about their plan. Despite their struggle, upholding their sister’s honor is more important than going to jail for murder. The Vicarios are mainly concerned with matters of family reputation, while Pablo’s girlfriend and the other members of society are concerned with being associated with them. Pedro Vicario, “the more forceful of the brothers” (28), almost refuses to go through with the plan to kill Santiago. Pablo, surprisingly, steps up to the plate and convinces his brother to go along with the plan: “So he put the knife in his hand and dragged him off almost by force to search for their sister’s lost honour” (49). This shows that cultural norms come even before the emotional welfare of the twins. In precisely this manner, Garcia Marquez uses the Vicario brothers to exemplify the expectation of men to uphold honor in this society.
Garcia Marquez also employs various other male characters to put into effect the theme of men being dominant over women. One of the most relevant characters here is Santiago Nasar, the protagonist of the story. Though we never truly discover whether of not Santiago is guilty of deflowering Angela, his reputation doesn’t do much to help his case. Santiago is known for his pushy passes at the young women of the village, including Divina Flor. Divina’s name is symbolic for her purity, which can be juxtaposed sharply against Santiago’s aggressive sexuality. In fact, Santiago’s sexual advances towards the women demonstrate the normality of men using women as objects in this society. Another important character in light of this theme is Bayardo San Roman. Bayardo practically forces Angela to marry him when the two don’t even know each other. He buys her love with expensive things, but doesn’t take the time to actually get to appreciate her; he thinks that his money and good looks will be enough. This maneuvering shows how men expected women to only want to marry them because of wealth and looks, once again demonstrating a woman’s expectation of marriage.
There are other respects in which Garcia Marquez draws on the Vicario family as the primary example of gender roles. Angela Vicario is possibly the character in Chronicle of a Death Foretold who most clearly demonstrates the expectations on women in the community. Angela’s name literally means “angel”, a fact which is extremely ironic in light of her situation. However, Angela’s name isn’t simply a contradiction of her real self; it also reflects on the expectations of the people around her. The villagers assume that Angela is pure and angelic; one of the most important values in this society is virginity. Women were expected to remain chaste until marriage, and this sacred idea held a crucial place in this town. The prime example of the importance of virginity was Angela’s discretion. Angela Vicario’s name symbolizes the expected gender role placed on young women in the society of the Chronicle. Garcia Marquez also uses Pura Vicario to develop this theme. Pura has a social obligation to look after her daughter, and make sure that her household follows the rules of society. Her name is symbolic as well, and means “pure.” Naturally, Pura’s frustration and anger towards Angela could be based on the importance of purity to her.
Garcia Marquez utilizes various other, somewhat more minor female characters to exemplify the theme of female virtue and its social importance. One other character of interest here is Prudencia Cotes. Prudencia’s name means cautious, a quality which can definitely be applicable in her situation. Prudencia declares during the narrator’s interview: “I never would have married him if he hadn’t done what a man should do” (62). Prudencia’s very name suggests that her belief is considered wise, shrewd, and good judgement by the people of the town. This further emphasizes this society’s muddled value of upholding honor. It also further demonstrates the expectation of men to uphold honor. A final woman character who exemplifies cultural gender roles is Clotilde Armenta. Clotilde shares ownership of a milk shop with her husband. By day, milk is the main product of the shop. Garcia Marquez uses milk to symbolize female nurturing; Clotilde watches over the twins in a way, telling them not to kill Santiago in front of the bishop, and confiding in the Colonel that neither of the boys really wants to commit the murder. By night, the milk shop turns into a bar, with alcohol being the main product. Alcohol generally symbolizes violence and turmoil, and is known as a “man’s drink”. Clotilde’s shop symbolizes the contrast between men and women in this society. A third female character employed is Divina Flor, whose name actually means “Divine Flower”. Divina is another example of the expectations of society upon women; she is pure and chaste and rejects Santiago Nasar’s aggressive advances. Through the use of female characters, Garcia Marquez demonstrates the cultural gender roles placed on women.
In almost every culture, a series of basic gender roles have influenced the lives of everyday people since youth; in some cultures, these rules are as concrete as law. Garcia Marquez’s depicted culture exemplifies traditional roles of cooking, cleaning, and child-raising that have been carried out by women in similar societies in the past. In this society and time, a woman’s main role is to become a wife; “Women were reared to be married” (27). Women also have other traditional roles in the Chronicle. The narrator describes these roles when speaking of Angela and her sisters: “They knew how to do screen embroidery, sew by machine, weave bone lace, wash and iron, make artificial flowers and fancy candy, and write engagement announcements” (27). Despite the traditional gender roles in this novel, there is also an example of a more interesting role that isn’t as prevalent in this society. Angela and her sisters belong to the “Cult of Death”, which involves “sitting up with the ill, comforting the dying, and enshrouding the dead” (28). It is said that none of the other girls in the village participate in this so called cult. This demonstrates Angela’s deviation from the cultural traditions, foreshadowing how she breaks the sacred rule of remaining a virgin later on in the novel.
Garcia Marquez utilizes the characters of his book to portray traditional and cultural gender roles in this Colombian society. He uses the Vicario twins to display the role of men to uphold honor, Angela and Pura to demonstrate the expectations placed on women, Santiago and Bayardo to describe male dominance, and Clotilde, Prudencia, and Divina to put to use the theme of females in this society. Through his use of name symbolism and motifs, Garcia Marquez is also able to employ the gender role theme (duality motif, milk symbolizing female nurturing). Thus, Garcia Marquez meshes together characters and symbolism to create a society in which the most important value is the distinguished gender roles of males and females.
The Theme of Religion as Depicted in Chronicle of a Death Foretold
The novel “Chronicle of a Death Foretold” takes place in the 1950s in a small Colombian village near the sea. The narrator is investigating the murder of Santiago Nasar, a rich Arab. He was murdered by the Vicario brothers, who believed took away the virginity of their sister, however there is not enough evidence of this. The book is written in journalistic style, as the narrator always mentions the full name of each person he is interviewing and always offers as many points of view as possible. An emerging theme in the novel is the theme of religion and specifically the Catholic religion.
The first encounter the reader has with religion is in the first chapter, where the villagers are awaiting for the bishop’s arrival. They made numerous preparations to honor the bishop, hoping he would get off the boat this year. Their hopes were crushed, as once again he did not get off to greet them and appreciate the gifts. The bishop’s moves while on the boat are described as “mechanic”, showing his indifference towards the small town. This goes against the beliefs of love and forgiveness of the Catholic religion. Moreover, Marquez foreshadows the fate of Santiago, as he mentions, “the people were too excited with the bishop’s visit to worry about any other news”, meaning that even though most of the villagers knew about the Vicario brother’s intentions, they were too busy preparing for the bishop’s arrival, hoping that he would prevent this murder from happening. The second religious figure in the novel is Father Carmen Amador, whose role is very ironic. He choses not to intervene and stop the two brothers, even though he was aware of the entire plan. Later on, he even forgets to warn Santiago, because he was distracted by the bishop’s arrival. Father Amador even says that the Vicario brothers are “innocent…before God”. His name is ironic, as in Spanish it means lover, however his name is very contradictory, as when he is performing the autopsy on Santiago’s dead body, he does it with no love at all, in a very violent way. Since his name means lover, he could have been the one who took Angela’s virginity. This could be why he welcomed the Vicario brothers and forgave them in the name of God after the murder. Moreover, being Angela’s lover could have been the reason why he did not warn Santiago or why he performed such a violent autopsy on his body.
One of the most striking portrayals of religion in the novel is the similarity of Santiago to Jesus Christ. Firstly, Marquez has chosen Santiago’s name very thoughtfully, as in Spanish Santo can be translated to “Saint”, immediately making the first connection of his death to Christ. Moreover, Nasar sounds similar to Nazareth, the birthplace of Jesus. Santiago being an Arab was seen as an outsider to the Colombian society around him, like Jesus. Some parts of the novel seem similar to Christ’s story according to the Bible, for example, the cocks that began to crow in their baskets. This is similar to the cocks that crowed three times before Jesus death. According to the title, Santiago’s death was foretold, which is similar to Jesus’ prediction of his own death. Another way that makes Santiago comparable to Jesus, is through his death, as it resembles the crucifixion of Christ. Pedro Vicario mentions “we killed him openly”, this is a similarity between the two, as Jesus was also killed openly. Even though Santiago’s murder did not take place in front of everyone, it can still correspond to Jesus, as the whole town was aware of the murder, they were all spectators, but nobody was willing to act to defend Santiago. The most direct connection to Jesus is where it is mentioned that “He had a deep stab in the right hand, it looked like a stigma of the crucified Christ”. Another similarity between Christ’s crucifixion and Nasar’s death is where Marquez mentions: “the knife went through the palm of his right hand and then sank into his side up to the hilt. Everybody heard his cry of pain”, this is very similar to the moment where the Roman soldiers are nailing Jesus on the cross. Moreover, when the two brothers were attacking Santiago, it is mentioned that the knife he was being attacked with kept coming out clean, which is an example of magic realism that shows Santiago’s magical talents. Santiago was “mortally wounded three times”, the number three can be linked to religion as it could symbolize the three times Jesus was denied by Saint Peter. In this case, Saint Peter would be the people who refused to stop the Vicario brothers. Another interpretation of the symbolism behind the number three and religion is that the devil tempted Jesus three times. Angela could be the devil, as she might have tempted Santiago to take away her virginity, indicating that maybe he is guilty in the end. During the murder, Santiago seemed like he was being nailed to the wooden door, this relates closely to Christ’s nailing on the wooden cross. Many people heard Jesus’ last words on the cross, and realized their wrong doings, similarly many people heard Santiago’s screams and realized their mistake of being impassive. Moreover, both Christ and Santiago showed no resistance during their death. Pedro Vicario also mentions that Santiago knew why they were going to kill him, which makes his death parallel to Jesus, as He also knew why He was going to be killed. Additionally, Marquez points out that Santiago had a magical talent, which is similar to Jesus’ talents. Another similarity of the two is that they both wore white at the day of their death. This symbolizes purity and may suggest that Santiago, similar to Jesus, was not guilty in the end and was simply paying for other people’s sins. Santiago died for Angela’s sin and Christ for the people’s sins. This is a criticism for the decision of the two brothers, as they refused to investigate Angela’s claim further and only cared about the honor carried by their family’s name.
In the novel it is ironic how all the townspeople are very respectful towards religion and that it plays a big role in their lives. Firstly, Angela’s name means angelic, which is ironic as she was no angel. She was the reason for Santiago’s murder. Most of her qualities, mainly the fact that she had pre-marital sex, show that she was the opposite. This links to the Bible’s interpretation for the creation of the world, where Eve gets tempted by the snake, in this case Angela may have been tempted by Santiago to have pre-marital sex. Moreover, it is ironic how the Vicario brothers’ way of restoring their honor is through murder, as they are breaking one of The Ten Commandments that states, “Thou shalt not murder.” Right after the murder the two brothers run to the church to confess, justifying their act as a matter of honor and the Church accepts this, thus it fails to see that one of the Ten Commandments that they live by is broken. This shows that honor is so important in their society that they fail to act morally and according to God.
To conclude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez uses various examples of religion throughout the novel, to criticize the society’s acts. In the novel Santiago Nasar is seen as a figure with characteristics similar to Jesus. This indicates that maybe he was innocent in the end and he had to die for Angela’s sins, just like Jesus died for the people’s sins. Moreover, the fact that the Catholic Church may pardon murder if it is a matter of honor is very ironic and judgmental, as it is a breakage of the Ten Commandments, thus it should not be justified. The bishop acts as a symbol showing how biased the church is and that it does not want to concern itself with unimportant matters, like the small Colombian town, even though it accepts all the gifts and preparations. Lastly, similar to the bishop, Father Amador could be a biased religious figure, as he could potentially be Angela’s lover and he was the one to justify and accept a murder as a matter of honor.
Dry September as Depicted in Chronicles of a Death Foretold
Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold and William Faulkner’s “Dry September” are very similar to each other structurally and thematically, despite being separated by fifty years and a regional and linguistic barrier. They both use nonlinear story-telling to unravel tales of a wrongful murder. However, beyond this surface similarity, further analyses of the stories show that there are striking similarities between their characters that reveal a harsh reality of their societies. Both Chronicle of a Death Foretold and Dry September have “villains”, represented by Angela Vicario and Minnie Cooper, respectively, whose words of accusations influenced by societal pressures led to brutal measures to be taken against the named men. In addition, they both have “heroes”, represented by Clotilde Armenta and Henry Hawkshaw, whose cowardice to confront the societal pressure prevented both from truly being heroic in averting the tragedy that would ensue in their respected tales. Overall, the narratives illustrate how powerful the status quo can be in a society, not only because it justifies brutal action in order for it to be maintained but also because its pressure allows for the brutal action to be supported by those who may not explicitly have ill will.
In Chronicle of a Death Foretold, a pure woman is lauded in the small, fictional town where Angela Vicario grows up. Furthermore, Angela was raised by Purisima del Carmen, who held an exceptionally high standard of purity for her. Angela knew how important this standard was in her family and in her community, so she knew that there would be severe consequences to her and anyone involved if it were to come out that she had gone against this standard by losing her virginity before marriage. This may explain why when she was questioned by her brothers on who the other man was, she “nailed it to the wall with her well-aimed dart” by falsely naming Santiago Nasar (Marquez, 47). She anticipated that her brothers would be expected to avenge her honor by going after whoever her scapegoat was, and by giving them Santiago she gave them a person whose womanizing history not only made him all the more believable, but also removed her from blame by making Santiago out to be a perpetrator. Santiago was an easy pawn she used to directly protect her honor within the family, and indirectly protect her family’s honor in the community
Just as Santiago was a pawn for Angela to protect her status, Will Mayes was a pawn for Minnie Cooper in Dry September. The society Minnie lives in is also unfair to women, scorning those who are of a certain age and still not settled down – those like Minnie. The unfairness toward women is especially shown in how Minnie is “relegated into adultery by the public” when she begins dating a widowed banker (Faulkner, 4). Minnie, who held the town in the palm of her hand in her prime younger years, may then be attempting to reclaim her relevancy by starting a rumor that something happened between her and Will Mayes. Because Will Mayes is a black man, she knows that he is the perfect man to use in order to attach attention to her rumor and therefore attention to herself. Furthermore, her use of Will Mayes would stigmatize her less because her position as a white woman automatically turns her into the victim of the story. Both Minnie and Angela, then, use their knowledge of their society’s standards to their own advantage, even if it comes with deadly side effects.
Clotilde Armenta and Henry Hawkshaw are both perhaps the most morally right people in their respected towns, which is why they might be considered heroes. In Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Clotilde is the proprietress of a local milk shop, and on the morning that Santiago is killed she alerts several people to warn the soon to be murder victim, including Father Amador and Cristo Bedoya. In addition to this, she attempts to get the twins drunk while they are in her shop so that they will be unable to carry out the gruesome deed. In Dry September, Hawkshaw is a local barber, and when news comes in about the cruel rumors about Will Mayes, he defends Will against the accusation, and chases after McLendon’s mob on their way to lynch the man. Both of the actions taken by these characters suggest that they do care about the well-being of the victim. However, in both books the “heroes” remove themselves just enough from the situation to prevent any heroism from actually being done. Clotilde never makes any direct attempts to interfere with the twins’ murder plans, even though she had ample opportunity to. For example, when they first come into her shop and see Santiago, she tells them “Leave him for later, if only out of respect for his grace the bishop” (Marquez, 16). In this moment, she could have told them to not follow through with their plans. Instead, she only delayed them, and even entertained the notion of them killing Santiago. Her lack of appropriate action is an indicator of the fallibility of human nature. She is clearly well-intentioned and does not want to enable the twins to do any wrong, however the importance that the town places on upholding honor seems to somehow justify the actions enough to make it incredibly difficult to come outright against it.
Hawkshaw faces a similar dilemma: the general consensus in his town seems to be that it is wrong for a black man to ever associate with a white woman, and if he were to ever do so he ought to be punished. So, while Hawkshaw was able to speak in favor of Will Mayes and get in the car with the lynch mob, he jumped out of the car right before the killing actually took place. If he were to stay involved in this very moment, he would permanently brand himself as a “nigger-lover” as McLendon suggests – a stigma that would take a great strength of will to hold (Faulkner, 6). Hawkshaw simply does not have this strength of will. His intentions are good, but all in all not enough to overcome the expectations that are bound up with his racist society.