Which social groups are marginalised, excluded or silenced in a way?
Chronicle of a death foretold is a book written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez published in 1981 talks about the tragic death of the protagonist Santiago Nasar who is brutally killed by Vicar brothers.
Marquez explores themes like ritual, honour, fate, memory, the sacred and profane, gender roles, class, social restrictions, violence, trauma and community.
The genre of this novel is detective/ crime and its written in first person point of view and the tone is journalistic and it doesn’t come as a surprise to readers as Gabriel Garcia Marquez was a journalist.
The writing style is repetitious and there is usage of foreshadowing as the tragic death is mentioned several times
The novel is filled with ironies and the first one is that Santiago’s mother locks the door of her house causing his death rather than preventing it.
And the most important one is that the whole town knew that the Vicar brothers were out looking for Santiago’s blood but no one was considerate enough to tell him; no one was considerate enough to save his life.
The way women are represented and characterised gives us an idea of the female gender was treated in Latin America during the 1950’s. Women were portrayed as weak and impotent as they weren’t allowed to take charge of anything even choosing their life partner( husband) was not their decision as people back then only beloved in arrange marriages and the decision was made by the parents on the basis of how wealthy and successful the groom was and the women didn’t even have jobs.
The daughter of Purisima Del Carmen were trained to become good wives as they did not have a very social life and the only way to increase social status was to get married to a wealthy guy and the evidence to this statement is the line “The brothers were brought up to be men. The girls had been reared to get married.” Whereas ideally the sentence should’ve been that girls had been reared to be women , this just shows how women were looked down upon.
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 the following statement shows what was expected out of women all these activities don’t have any serious purpose or value they’re mostly decorative activities and as Angela’s mother believed that if a woman consists of all these qualities she’s bound to be a good wife this throws light on how women agreed to being discriminated and being the weaker gender when compared to men.
Women like Angela’s mother, Santiago’s mother and the narrators mother were highly respected in the society and people took their advice very seriously because they fulfilled their responsibility to get married.
The novel talks about women not being a virgin before fulfilling the only purpose of their life which is marriage is unacceptable which in the case of men is the opposite as they would go to the brothel and lose their virginity to prostitutes and it was considered to be a manly trait. No one would dare question the groom about his sexual life but when it came to women we know how the story goes on.
;The only thing I prayed to God for was to give me the courage to kill myself,; Angela Vicario told me. ;But he didn’t give it to me.” This statement shows how the society values virginity and how the culture values virginity over a woman’s life.
The only woman who was not mistreated and considered weak was Maria Alejandrina Cervantes as the way she is described is equal to men if you look at it in a certain way.
As much as the society discourages women losing their virginities before marriage they don’t really question Maria as she is not expected to follow the same rules as other women and it is her job and she is considered to be an independent woman.
Maria’s description is a positive one and she is not portrayed as a shameful woman with a dirty profession surprisingly she’s described as this beautiful and elegant woman who teaches the men of the community about physical pleasure.
Times now are different as prostitutes are looked down upon in this era.
Garcia Marquez uses various other minor female characters to portray the theme of female virtue and its social importance. Prudencia Cotes is Pablo Vicario’s finance and she says that “I never would have married him if he hadn’t done what a man should do” by this statement shows how wise and considerate she is and in a male dominated society she is not like other women who just accept the deeds of the men another example is Clothilde Armenta the wife of the owner of the milk shop where the Pablo and Pedro wait to kill Santiago. She is an insightful woman, and can tell that the Vicario twins are tired and are killing Santiago only out of obligation.
Garcia uses the characters of his novel to show traditional and cultural gender roles in this Colombian society. He uses the Vicario twins to display the role of men to uphold honour, Angela and Pura to demonstrate the responsibilities placed on women, Santiago and Bayardo to describe male dominance in the society, and Clotilde, Prudencia, and Divina to put to use the theme of females in this society. Through his use of name symbolism and motifs, Marquez is also able to employ the gender role theme (duality motif, milk symbolising female nurturing). Thus, Garcia Marquez merges together characters and symbolism to create a society in which the most important value is the distinguished gender roles of males and females.