The role of Familial Honor and fate in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's
The Chronicle of a Death Foretold
"On the day they were going to kill him, Santiago Nasar got up at five-thirty in the morning..." (3). In this manner, in the first line of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novel, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, the reader is introduced to Santiago, the main character who is viciously murdered by Pedro and Pablo Vicario for allegedly taking the virginity of their sister, Angela. In the novel, Marquez uses family honor and the role of fate in determining the course of events and setting up an inevitable outcome.
The theme of family honor is developed in the description of the Vicario brothers' reasoning for killing Santiago and plans to kill him. When taken to court after the crime was committed, they were acquitted on the basis that they acted in "legitimate defense of honor." (49) It is here that the brothers' mentality becomes clear and some of the value systems of this society become evident to the reader. Neither the brothers nor the society in which they lived perceived a fault in their killing of Santiago Nasar because they were attempting to restore familial honor, which was obviously extremely important in their society. Earlier in the novel, Prudencia Cotes understands what the twins are rushing off to do, but instead of attempting to stop them, says, "I can imagine, my sons... honor doesn't wait" (62). Through these two passages a clear picture is drawn of the type of society this novel is based around and how much their honor meant to the inhabitants of this town. When a family's honor had been as badly destroyed as it had been in the Vicario brothers' case, the members of that family were obligated to obtain some kind of restitution. The twins continued to defend their actions even before the priest, Father Amador, saying, "We're innocent... before God and before men." (49) The upholding of family honor was an unwritten code above any law which transformed an offense that would have been punishable by death in any other case into an upheaval of supreme justice. It is written that the "brothers were brought up to be men." (31) They had been taught this way of living by their own code of honor and knew that they had to act in order to restore at least some of their family's lost honor by annihilating the man who had taken Angela's virginity. The code by which they lived was, in the end, the only reason and the only excuse they had for taking another's life and the fact that this reason held up in a court of law in order to merit acquittal for the Vicario twins demonstrates the immense weight it must bear in the town. Even though the brothers were known to be religious in a highly religious community, they felt no guilt over what they had done, as witnessed by their prison mates, who "never noticed any indication of remorse in them." (49) It is in this fact, more than any other that one sees the seemingly twisted chain of thinking behind the "necessary" killing of Santiago Nasar.
The theme of fate is obviously brought into play when Marquez's anonymous narrator says, "There had never been a death more foretold." (49) All throughout the morning of the day they killed Santiago, the twins paraded through town boldly and bluntly advertising their intended actions, to such an extent that the mayor himself was aware of their intentions, but by some failure in thinking or communication, they were not stopped. Fate appears to be governing the life (or, more aptly, death) of Santiago Nasar by providing the Vicario brothers with an amazingly unchallenged path to kill him. Though the entire town knows he is to be murdered, all
Honor In Chronicle Of A Death Foretold By Gabriel Garcia Marquez
In Chronicle of a Death Foretold, the theme of honor is one that presents itself throughout the novel by having a major role in the plot. In a small town in Colombia, honor is taken very seriously. Angela Vicario, a young bride, is returned to her family for not having her virginity intact. When her twin brothers find out about their sister’s dishonorable actions, they set out to murder the man who they believe did this.
“On the other hand, the fact that Angela Vicario dared put on the veil and the orange blossoms without being a virgin would be interpreted afterwards as a profanation of the symbols of purity” (Márquez 41). From the quotation, it has been revealed at this point in the novel that Angela is not a virgin. As a bride in the small town, one is expected to have chastity which is why they have the veil and orange blossoms to represent the purity a young bride should have. However, Angela is not a virgin and is dishonoring the veil and orange blossoms by using them when she is not known to be pure. Therefore, after the revelation of this, the act is seen as a defiance of the glory of purity.
On the whole account, however, Angela is a dishonor as herself, especially in the small town of Colombia that the novel is set in. Pura Vicario, Angela’s mother, would not let the girl out of her sight with Bayardo San Roman, her fiancé, as to “watch over her honor” (Márquez 37). Angela’s two confidantes tell that the linen sheet upon the bed would be enough to show Bayardo that she was a virgin if she herself stained it with something that represents the blood of lost purity. If she followed her friends’ advice then “on her first morning as a newlywed she could display open under the sun in the courtyard of her house the linen sheet with the stain of honor” (Márquez 38). Angela goes on to marry with this illusion in mind, but it does not work out as she plans.
The night of the wedding after the newlyweds have left to their house, three slow knocks are heard upon the Vicario’s door. Bayardo has learned of his new wife’s illegitimacy and returns her to her family. As Angela is beaten by Pura for dishonoring herself and her family, the Vicario brothers appear and demand to know the name of the man who took her virginity. With two words and a name, she destroys the life of a man. “‘Santiago Nasar,’ she said” (Márquez 47).
In the succeeding pages, it is shown the confession of the brothers to Father Carmen Amador subsequently after the murder of Santiago. The conversation goes as follows:
“‘We killed him openly,’ Pedro Vicario said, ‘But we’re innocent.’
‘Perhaps before God,’ said Father Amador.
‘Before God and before men,’ Pablo Vicario said. ‘It was a matter of honor’” (Márquez 39).
In this quotation, the brothers confess to the reverend of what they have done and why they have committed the crime. They give their alibi in a way to show that they only did what they did because Santiago took the chastity of their sister therefore taking away...
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