Society in Chronicle of a Death Foretold and the Assault

Published: 2021-09-11 02:40:12
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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” andthe “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.

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