, Research Paper
A Man Killed by a Town
Garcia Marquez s Chronicle of a Death Foretold tells of the pretold death of a man, Santiago Nasar. The death of Santiago Nasar is revealed immediately, in the opening lines of the novel. Its reasons and details are divulged gradually throughout the entirety of the plot. Nasar is killed in the story because he is considered to be the one to blame for the premarital devirginization of one Angela Vicario, and so, in defense of her honor he must be killed. Although his death is the main event for the reader; it is not so for most of the other characters described within the story. Rather, it is the issue of the loss of virginity and a woman s honor, which is the basis for most people s concern. The real tragedy of this novel can be said to be the murdering of this man, Santiago Nasar, not by the actual murderers, but by his own town. He was killed in, by, and along with a town.
The town, in which the story takes place, is a small Latin town in which everyone knows everyone. It is a town where morality, tradition and religion have great importance or at least on the surface. It is a town in which traditional customs live on in many forms, the most applicable of which, is that of a virgin s purity and importance until marriage. In the novel, Angela Vicario is wed to Bayardo San Roman, a newcomer in the town in search for a bride. After their marriage, Angela is returned to her mother s home and said to have not been a virgin at the time of their marriage. The people of this Caribbean town become consumed by their interest and disgust for this breech of morality that they fail to see the value, and importance of one man s life. Angela Vicario s brothers, Pedro and Pablo Vicario, enraged by this tragedy, set out to regain their sister s honor by killing the man who violated her. This man, according to Angela, but unconfirmed by other sources, was Santiago Nasar. This incident, is such an enormous tragedy in the eyes of the town, it is regarded as almost a death in its self and referred to as “Angela s misfortune”. The cheated husband at one point is brought out from his house on a stretcher with the image of one arm dragging along the ground as if his life had been taken. He is referred to, and known as ” poor Bayardo” by the townspeople. The fuss over all of this makes it seem as though this event was a greater tragedy than the loss of a life.
As the story unfolds, the reader is repeatedly confronted with the murder. It is repeated in different forms and from different characters points of view. The death becomes the reader s main affliction. Though several witnesses experienced the same events from different angles and perspectives, they all came to the same conclusion. The narrator, a character in the plot whose name is never stated, is told the story of the murder by numerous people. Each one s story has differences in detail, and additional information, but, most importantly, each knows beforehand, that the Vicario brothers were in fact going to kill Santiago. Yet, even with virtually the entire town knowing the crime was to take place, the brothers still were not stopped or dissuaded from carrying out the deed. In fact, the brothers had made an effort to make it extremely easy for them to be stopped. They told their plans all over town to anyone and every one, hoping that someone would stop them. And yet no one did. In this respect, it is almost as if the brothers were forced to commit the crime. Or rather, it was as if they were walking backwards down the path to their eventual doings, reaching out for a hand that would stop them. But the town would not extend a hand, and the brothers were eventually forced to keep their honor, and that of their sister, by taking a life. The town seems to have a relatively easy time letting go of a life considering its religious emphasis and moral strictness. Even in light of this, the people of the town managed to overlook warning Santiago of his murder, until shortly before its occurrence. Some cared not. Some forgot. Some thought nothing of the brothers claims, and some kept it to themselves. Over all, the town sat back and watched the death take place. This can even be taken literally. The people from the town went so far as to gather around Santiago s home before the crime was to be consummated to watch the event, as if they had no care at all for the loss of his life. Not knowing for sure that Santiago was the one to blame for the “virgin tragedy ” with which everyone was so concerned, the people of the town were actually accomplices to the killing of Santiago Nasar.
Santiago was mercilessly slaughtered. Killed in vengeance for an act that was not proven to have been committed. People, regardless of their carelessness towards his defense, still doubted as to his definite guilt in the matter of the taking of Angela Vicario s virginity. Although she had endlessly insisted upon his being the one , no other evidence or witness was ever produced to confirm her claim. The very thought of it did not even make sense to the people of the town. The two had never been seen together, let alone, speaking to one another. They had no affiliation to each other whatsoever, and yet she persisted in blaming him for her “misfortune” that resulted in his death. His guilt remained never to be concretely established. But it was really of not much importance once he had taken his final step into the kitchen of his mother s home, to fall face first into death.
Chronicle of a Death Foretold is a story of different tragedies seen by the reader, and as seen by the characters within the story itself. Within the plot of the novel, an Arab man strips Angela Vicario of her purity, of her virginity. She is robbed of her honor. A disgrace to her kin, she is the one who had been wronged, as if she had not played a role in the deleting of her own virginity. And poor cheated Bayardo San Roman is left without a bride and is said to have suffered immensely. These may be grave tragedies in Latin American cultures, but do not in any way compare to the injustice brought upon a possibly innocent Santiago Nasar. Plotted and conspired against by almost an entire town of his friends, companions, and acquaintances, he walks into death not knowing its reason for meeting him. There can not be any dispute in that there is neither crime nor tragedy within this novel greater than the injustice that was brought upon poor Santiago Nasar. In the end, the townspeople finally come to admit their error in judgement, and the narrator agrees that it was, “A crime for which we were all to blame.” The tragedy lies with Santiago. A man killed by a town.