In a small Caribbean village on a funereal Monday morning, the death of a young man has occurred. The night before, a rich and mysterious outsider named Bayardo San Roman married a local girl, Angela Vicario. Upon discovering she is not a virgin, he returns her to her mother’s house where she is beaten and forced to confess the name of the man who disgraced her. She murmurs: Santiago Nasar. By the next morning, Angela’s twin brothers Pedro and Pablo Vicario slaughter Santiago in her honor. The text’s narrator interviews villagers to decipher details of the events which take place before, during, and after the murder. It is the most random thoughts and actions of several different people that contribute to altering the course of the day, history and life of Santiago Nasar. These thoughts and actions literally become the Chronicle of a Death Foretold.
Marquez utilizes mysticism and spirituality in his writings represent culture and symbolize meaning within the context of the work. The author indicates that the death of Santiago may not have been avoided partially due to the mysterious inabilities of his characters to connect with their spiritual powers. Both Santiago’s mother and his god-mother are unable to ‘feel the throb of tragedy’ in order to help him prevent his demise. His mother, Placida Linero, cannot interpret her son’s dream that day, while his god-mother’s ‘powers of divinations’ fail her. It is as if the women are not meant to aid him that day.
One after another, the people of the village intend to warn Santiago and his mother, many messages become crossed or are not passed on at all. Pedro and Pablo Vicario spend the morning walking around the village bragging about their plans to murder Santiago. Each person they tell has a different reason for not taking them seriously-they are just drunk from the night before, they would never murder their friend, they don’t have it in them to commit the crime, they wouldn’t murder a man of his stature.
Those who do take them seriously intend to warn Santiago, yet no message saves him. When the twins sharpen the murder weapons at the butcher shop-the mayor takes the knives away and considers this enough to prevent the crime. Of course, the twins only replace the knives. Clotilde Armenta sends a message to Victoria Guzman, the Nasar’s servant, for her to warn Santiago of his mother. However, Guzman never relays the message. As Santiago walks out the front door where the Vicario’s are waiting to massacre him-someone has left him a note of warning, which he passes by without noticing. There have been plenty of chances for him to hear what everyone else knows, yet they all slip through his fingers.
After his death, the mayor requires an illegal autopsy be performed despite the fact that the murderers and reason for death are already known. Everyone knew the moment Santiago would die before he did and now they publically displayed his mutilated corpse. The description is gruesome enough to make the reader cringe. ‘It was as if we had killed him again after he was dead.’ The twins had severely wounded him, purposely aiming for vital organs over and again. Their knowledge as butchers aided in the ease with which they sliced him apart, hitting his liver, pancreas, colon, small intestine, kidneys, arms, and legs. Their claim was to have killed him for honor. This was clearly something more grotesque. He could have died instantly, instead made him cry out in agony. The twins created the gore factor only sought from psychopaths and seen in horror films. Later, they said they would have done it again if they’d had the chance.
The narrator wrote that later that night, those closest to Santigo began to smell him. ‘Everything continued smelling of Santiago Nasar that day.’ His scent literally haunts the Vicario’s as they sit in jail. It becomes hard for them to sleep at night. Pablo is ill, to the point that Pedro is convinced they have been poisoned. The scent of Santiago has literally seeped into their orphises. This is not because they killed him for honor, but because they viciously hacked him to pieces. It may not have been Santiago who took Angela’s honor in the first place and his read body is talking.
No one really knows the truth about Angela’s misfortune. After years of living with guilt of that day, Angela never discusses whether or not it was Nasar. The fact of the matter is that no one ever believes it was him. She had never been seen with him in the village. Still, there is no point in implicating another man now. If it really was him, Santiago, he is dead anyway.
At the onset of the story, the reader finds out that the whole village knows Santiago will die, but no one tells him. It must be because he is a bad man, you think. The narrator reports that the magistrate who investigated the case thought this same thing. ‘Nevertheless, what had alarmed him the most at the end of his excessive diligence was not having found a single indication, not even the most unlikely one, that Santiago Nasar had been in the wrong.’ What makes the entire story so horrible is the innocence of the man and the unwillingness of the rest to help him. But, then the reader knows better.
The entire village wasn’t necessarily unwilling help. Some had meant to interfere with the fatal coincidences of the morning. Actions, thoughts, words, above all Santiago’s destiny got in the way. In the end the town was an ‘open wound.’ The result of the death foretold was the suffering of many. Regardless of the outcome of any seemingly ill- fated circumstances, there are those whole feel some responsibility. It is as like Marquez to create a fictional world where everyone is to blame. This makes the story all the more powerful and sad in the end. If a person believes in fate, it is uncertain when events begin to unfold to determine it. Was it the wedding, or was Santiago born to die on this occasion? Perhaps it is as Marquez writes it, every person plays a part. In this way none of us really deternine our own destiny. Does our small role change the entire dynamic?The chronicle is a mastery of literature. For this reason I think there are infinite to this and other questions in the work.