’ Chronicle Of A Death Fortold- Intrinsically Wrong, Or Relatively Legal Essay, Research Paper
Garcia Marquez– Intrinsically Wrong, Or Relatively Legal?
The following passage is taken from Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, pp. 55-56:
The lawyer stood by the thesis of homicide in legitimate defense of honor, which was upheld by the court in good faith, and the twins declared at the end of the trial that they would have done it again a thousand times over for the same reason. It was they who gave a hint of the direction the defense would take as soon as they surrendered to their church a few minutes after the crime.
They burst panting into the parish house, closely pursued by a group of roused-up Arabs, and they laid the knives, with clean blades, on Father Amador’s desk. Both were exhausted from the barbarous work of death, and their clothes and arms were soaked and their faces smeared with sweat and still living blood, but the priest recalled the surrender as an act of great dignity.
“We killed him openly,” Pedro Vicario said, “but we’re innocent.”
“Perhaps before God,” said Father Amador.
“Before God and before men,” Pablo Vicario said. “It was a matter of honor.”
If a man cries out in a forest, and no one around him cares, does he make a sound? In his Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Gabriel Garcia Marquez raises that very question, the question of whether the desires of society can overshadow the needs of an individual. In his Chronicle, two brothers, Pablo and Pedro Vicario, arbitrarily murder a young man named Santiago Nasar. Marquez’ presented conflict, however, is the reason that the brothers give to justify their crime: honor. Marquez’ point is that societal values, such as honor, have become more important than the intrinsic good of human life. Marquez, though, does not openly portray this message; instead, he uses satirical literary devices. In this passage, for instance, he uses an apathetic tone and a satirical allusion to religion to invoke his point in his audience.
The most ubiquitous aspect of Marquez’ style is his journalistic tone, an objective, seemingly apathetic tone; ironically, it elicits a response of bias against the societal values. The reason for this ironic discrepancy is that Marquez’ apathetic tone is obviously satire. For example, as he unemotionally states that the brothers “stood by the thesis of homicide in legitimate defense of honor” (Marquez 55), he purposefully neglects to include commentary. When he adds that this defense was “upheld by the court in good faith” (Marquez 55), there is likewise no hint of personal opinion. It is this very lack of emotion that produces an emotional response; his audience, compelled by their human nature, must necessarily find fault with this apathy. The portrayed society, however, does not find fault with such apathy: they are, instead, the ones that are apathetic. If a person is compelled by their human nature to judge this sentiment as wrong, then it would seem as though Pedro and Pablo Vicario would never have said that “they would have done it again a thousand times over for the same reason” (Marquez 55). This is part of Marquez’ point; with this, he demonstrates that the values of society have overshadowed the intrinsic values of life. Moreover, with this he demonstrates the value of an objective viewpoint. As in the example of the Vicario brothers, a subjective mind is a mind blind to truth. Thus, by telling this tale apathetically, he erases any possibility of his opinions influencing his audience’s; he relies on their intrinsic sense of morality, unclouded by subjectivity, to extract the meaning of the satire.
Within his objective style lies an even more powerful tool, satire, which he uses to elicit the emotional response of scorn; in this passage, the main satire is Marquez’ portrayal of God and religion. For instance, when Pedro declares “we killed him openly but we’re innocent” (Marquez 55), the priest’s response is “perhaps before God” (56). There is obviously a discrepancy. God, according to common belief, is the source of all good, but this crime, as demonstrated above, is intrinsically evil. This is an example of society using the idea of God to justify their actions. Marquez’ hidden comment here is that society has corrupted the idea of God, molding it to support their societal values. Yet, the manner in which Marquez conveys this theme is the same as the manner in which he portrays the aforementioned theme of the intrinsic good of human life: he forces the reader to extract it. The fact that the brothers and the priest took for granted the idea that God condoned honor-killings contradicts a person’s intrinsic knowledge. Thus, something that is taken for granted in the novel becomes a central fault in the mind of the reader. Even the fact that the brothers “surrendered to their church” (Marquez 55) provides a subtle image that Marquez’ audience cannot ignore. His Christian audience is meant to view this behavior as blasphemy, automatically judging the society as corrupt. Thus, Marquez’ use of satire, coupled with objectivity, portrays his unwritten theme more effectively than if it were actually included in the text.
Marquez’ uniqueness stems from the fact that he forces the reader to extract the theme for himself, rather than writing it directly, by using an apathetic style and satire. Instead of using allegory or metaphor, comparing some tangential story to the human condition, he describes the human condition as it truly exists, leaving the interpretation to he who reads it. Instead of using rhetorical devices to describe his theme, he uses rhetorical devises to force the theme, and uses his audience’s human nature to describe it. In essence, a person reading the Chronicle becomes Marquez’. A person immerses himself in a world where something is amiss, and extracts some evil, some discrepancy. That person, by deriving the evil, is Marquez’ means for conveying his theme. Therefore, Marquez is less a manipulator of words, and more a manipulator of the human soul.
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia. Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Tr. Gregory Rabassa. New York, Ballantine Books, 1982. Pp. 55-56.