Community, Responsibility, and Guilt The novel Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez tells the story of Santiago Nasar’s death. More importantly it tells the story of what values and honor mean to a community and to what extent one can go to maintain that standard. A central theme in the novel is how a society can pressurize its people to act and behave in a certain way. They feel bound by a standard that if not kept, then it will bring shame to their family. In the novel, after her husband returns Angela Vicario to her family on their wedding night, she admits that it is Nasar that had aken her virginity.
Her brothers, Pablo and Pedro, viscously murder Nasar to regain their sister’s and familys honor. In this society a man or woman without honor is an outcast to the community and to the culture. Almost everyone in the community knew what was going to happen but no one did anything about it. Everyone in the community had excuses to why they did nothing to help. Excuses stating that they didn’t believe it would really happen or that they Just didn’t know what to do. Each person seemed to Just hope that someone else would do it; someone else would stop hem, and didn’t want to take responsibility.
The novel reflects how a community can victimize individuals within its society causing detrimental affects to both the general public and the specific individuals involved. The novel looks into the Latin American culture and how its cultural norms and the importance of honor effects the entire community. The principles that obligates the Vicario family and the community conducts the murder of a most likely innocent Santiago Nasar and burdens Pedro and Pablo with the duty to defend the family honor.
In this culture, honor of a woman’s purity does not only belong to the female individually but the honor belongs to the family as well. To not be pure can bring shame on the family name in the eyes of the entire community. So much so that keeping ones honor is more important than been truthful and keeping Godly values. This double standard makes it okay for a women to deceive their husband into thinking that they’re virgins. We see this in the novel, page thirty-eight, where Angela is taught old wives tricks to fake her virginity on her wedding night and told that it is ommon that women have to do this.
The community consists of both Latin culture and Arab culture ranging for different social classes. However, as stated in the lecture notes, both cultures connect through religion. Both the Latin and Arab cultures in the novel are Catholic. The Catholic religion is very important to all the members of the community. Cultural beliefs, traditions, and rituals form the Catholic Church influence the roles of the family. The novel presents a break down in religion. A break down in religion causes a break down in family values. This is why almost a ouble standard is seen with the communitys values.
In the book, the Bishop never comes ashore to give his blessing, acting as if he is to good to stand with the people of the community and seems to Just be going through the motions. Another example is how Father Amador is told about the plan to murder Santiago but he never tries to stop it blaming it on being busy and not knowing what to do. If a leader of the church church do it either? The novel stress the importance of the Catholic Church and practicing church tradition, but at the same time there is stress to put all that aside or the sake of honor.
To defend ones honor, it is okay to lie and murder as long as it is Just. It is even okay to make excuses for guilt. “No one even wondered whether Santiago Nasar had been warned, because it seemed impossible to all that he hadn’t” (Marquez, p. 20). Everyone had an excuse for why they didn’t get involved. They felt they didn’t have to do anything because someone else would do it. Another double standard is how men having premarital sex at the brothel or prostitution house seems to be acceptable in the community but a woman having sexual relations efore marriage is what is wrong.
The community is collectively thinking. No one is standing up as an individual. So then when everyone decides to stay silent the effects of their actions intern breaks down the community responsibility to its members causing havoc for many of the characters and the public as a whole. Having honor and commitment to the family and community is major theme of the Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Societal responsibility is different for men and women. “The boys were brought up to be men. The girls had been reared to get married” (p. 31).
The community emphasizes a machismo culture. The women are taught to have suffered, be pure and be compliant to men. Men are taught to show and prove their masculinity and to be dominating. Society fails to care for and victimizes Santiago Nasar. However, I feel that the other characters are somewhat victims as well. Santiago, most likely innocent, is victimized because he is slaughtered for deflowering Angela Vicario. Pedro and Pablo are victims because they are bound by honor and duty to regain their familys honor by killing the man believed to have taken it. So he ut the knife in his hand and dragged him off almost by force in search of their sister’s lost honor. “There’s no way out of this,” he told him. “It’s as if it had already happened” (Marquez p. 61). This quote shows how the Vicario brothers are ruled by their cultural beliefs and feel that they have to do the deadly deed to be respected. Other examples are the hypocritical gender differences, which makes Angela a victim; and Bayardo is a victim due to the cultural expectation of having a pure wife and if she is not then he has to return her and face the embarrassment.
This victimization of many of the characters is because they are all bound by the rules of their community’s culture leaving them with no other outcome. Santiago is easily victimized because he was never told that he was going to be killed. He was a sitting duck unaware of the hidden predators waiting to slaughter him. This victimization was because no one in the community took responsibility and in the end their society felt that the murder was Just due to family duty and the regaining of ones honor.
The structure of the story is told by an anonymous narrator who was there at he time of the scandal and returns years later to recollect information of how the murder of Santiago Nasar came to be. The narrator was apart of the community; in the novel the reader is told that he is a friend of Santiago Nasar and many of the other characters and we are told who his family members are as well. The narrator to is guilty like the rest of the community for not taking charge and helping to stop the murder of Nasar. He never mentions himself taking part in the responsibility to save Santiago or stop the Vicario brothers.
He portrays the community as being ausing a double standard between genders. Men are masculine and dominate and women are submissive and taught to please the man. Overall he shows how the community’s responsibility for each other falls apart. The reader finds out information on Santiagds death and how it came about through a series of ways: directly, indirectly, through associations, and hearing it talked about. In the novel, time Jumps from past to future throughout the five chapters and we are given different accounts of the events from various people in the community reconstructing the details of Santiagds murder.
This adds more emotional effects in understanding the community obligations that lead to the murderous deed, but it also leaves the readers with a lot of questions and assumptions. Chronicle of a Death Foretold tells the story of a commun. This novel underscores how religious beliefs and cultures can nurture a warped sense of honor and values. In the novel the characters believe they are doing the right thing, but in actuality they go against the values of their religion that they claim is so important. Honor is above all and put above their very sense of right and wrong.