This passage from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s, Chronicles of a Death Foretold, occurs at the end of chapter two shortly after Angela Vicario is returned back to her family in disgrace after her groom discovers that she had premarital sex with another man. In this extract Angela Vicario is beaten viciously albeit silently at the hand of her mother for shaming the family honor before her twin brothers force her to give up the name of the man whom she lost her virginity to, in which she names an innocent man, Santiago Nasar.
Within this passage, the importance of honor is evident when the lost virginity of Angela leads to the disgrace of both her groom and her family as well as leading to the death of an innocent man in Santiago Nasar by consequence. It is also within this passage that readers find out the motive behind the murder of Santiago Nasar, which is discovered to be an unfortunate coincidence, which along with the other coincidences in the rest of the novel convey the idea that Santiago death was indeed a death foretold.
This passage is significant because it reveals two central themes in the – the problems with outdated conventions of a society, and the idea of fate- as well as revealing one of the most crucial aspect of the novel, the motivation behind the murder of Santiago Nasar. In this novella, Marquez attempts to express the conventions of a South American society. From this passage alone, it is clear how important the purity of a woman and honor is for a family.
Bayardo San Roman returns Angela on the same night of their wedding because he discovers that she lost her virginity to another man before their marriage. The humiliation of having a wife whose virginity was taken away from her by another man is cast upon San Roman because of the customs of the society which forces him to return her despite his love for her. Marquez unveils the customs of the society in situations such as San Roman’s refusal of an impure Angela in order to subtly criticize them.
San Roman breaks his marriage to a woman who he loves because of the fact that in their society it is shameful to not be the one who takes the virginity away from the wife. This is done again within the passage, when the twins “trembling with rage” (Marquez 47) force Angela to “tell [them] who it was” (Marquez 47) who took her virginity so that they may avenge her lost of honor. This forces her to them Santiago Nasar’s name, who is most likely innocent, in order to protect the identity of the true perpetrator.
Through this sequence, these time-honored conventions of the society are shown once again to be poor, when an innocent man, Nasar, must be sacrificed in order to redeem the honor of a family. Along with the theme of conventions of society, Marquez integrates the theme of women in this society to further criticize the outdated customs that are present. Pura, the mother, upon receiving her daughter back in disgrace, beats her with such “rage that [Angela] that she was going to kill [her]” (Marquez 46).
In this violent beating, the painful emotions within Pura are seen; her daughter has dismantled her honor. Pura represents the model woman in this society, one who “devoted herself with such spirit of sacrifice to the care of her husband and the rearing of her children that at times one forgot she still existed” (Marquez 31). She, herself, has lived a life of suffering because of the societal conventions of women roles, and she raised her daughters with the same demeanor. Through the return of her daughter, her reputation has been tarnished and she feels as though she has failed.
The manner in which she beats Angela “with such stealth that her husband… didn’t find out anything until dawn” (Marquez 46) reinforces this idea of her life as sacrificing for her husband that in even moments of anguish she allows her husband to have his rest while she deals with the problems. From the perspective of Angela, she defies the conventions of society and has premarital sex and does not deceive her husband into believing that she is a virgin. She faces the consequences when she is returned but at the end of it feels “as if the drowsiness of death had finally been lifted” (Marquez 47).
She is relieved that she does not have to live life any longer in fear of someone finding out that she is no longer a virgin. This passage, the characterization development of Angela can be seen as becoming more independent and stronger as the weight of the her lost virginity is lifted off her shoulders. Nevertheless, the customs of treating disgraced women in this society are shown and the severe consequence of lost family honor is demonstrated through the outdated conventions of the South American society. In addition to expression of cultural conventions, this passage also sustains the idea of a death foretold.
In the novella there are many circumstantial coincidences that all ultimately lead to the murder of Santiago Nasar, such as the Mayor checking his game of Dominoes which delay him from stopping the twins from murdering Nasar, Cristo Bedoya having to help a sick man when trying to warn Nasar and Placida Linero, Nasar’s mother, shutting the door to the house believing Nasar was inside which prevented Nasar from escaping the assault of the twins. The naming of Nasar as the man who took Angela’s virginity is no different. From the passage, it is clear that Nasar is innocent and that it was misfortune that his name was given.
When demanded for the name of her perpetrator, Angela “looked for it in the shadows” (Marquez 47) and “found it at first sight among the many, many easily confused names from this world and the other” (Marquez 47). The many, many names represent the possible men that came across Angela’s mind before she gave her answer, the fact that they are easily confused in the mind of Angela suggest that it she did indeed give a false answer to protect that man who took her virginity as she would not have forgotten the name of that man.
The narration describes the naming of Nasar out of all the potential names by Angela as her “[nailing] it to the wall with her well-aimed dart, like a butterfly with no will whose sentence has always been written” (Marquez 47). The comparison of Santiago’s situation after being named as the one who dishonored Angela and the situation of a butterfly pinned by a dart to a wall with no will is Marquez’s way of explaining that from that moment Nasar was as good as dead. Like a butterfly pinned to a wall, Nasar’s fate has been pinned by the naming from Angela, he cannot escape the vengeance of the Vicario brother.
Moreover, in this naming of Nasar, the motivation behind his murder is finally revealed. A false claim has that was forced to be given led to the death of an innocent man. Not only is this significant to the plot, as it reveals why Nasar was murdered even though he himself did not know upon his death, but it helps to magnify some of the themes in the novella. Themes such as honor and outdate conventions are strengthened by learning the motive behind the murder of Santiago Nasar. The importance of honor and the conventions of the culture are evident when the Vicario brothers learn that it was Nasar who dishonored their sister.
They are forced to murder Nasar against their will for redemption while the rest of the society condones this and even encourages it because its is what is expected in the culture. This extract which is taken from the end of the second chapter in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s, Chroncles of a Death Foretold, is significant because it reveals the motivation behind the murder of Santiago Nasar, an innocent man, and expresses the author’s thoughts of fate and outdated customs of the South American society.
Within this passage, Angela names Santiago Nasar’s as the man who took away her virginity for an unknown reason, which alongside with many other coincidences crystallize the idea that it was a death foretold and that it could not have been stopped. Along with this theme of fate, the role of women in this society can be seen through both Angela who represents one who defies the conventional role of women and Pura who epitomizes the role of women.
Angela’s defiance of the conventional woman’s role leads to her being returned back by her groom in disgrace, not only is she shamed but the family name has been stained. Marquez’s use of magical realism to portray Angela’s thoughts before naming Nasar and the use of the butterfly simile at the end of the passage infer the extremities that must be carried out in the society for a family to regain their honor. Word Count: 1492 Work Cited Marquez, Gabriel Garcia. Chronicles of a Death Foretold. Trans. Gregory Rabassa. New York: KNOPF, 1982.
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