Maria Alejandrina Cervantes
April 19, 2018
Works in Translation Essay
Word Count: 1370
The Use of Irony in Gabriel Garcia’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold
During today’s discussion, many crucial topics were discussed about Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novella Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Topics such as magical realism, politics, machismo persona, writing style and culture were discussed. We got an essential idea of what Marquez wanted to really portray in this novel and a true insight of catholic culture in Colombia.
I learned in the discussion that this book was based off a true story that happened to one of Marquez’s friends. In attempts to recreate the story he includes various sources of symbolism of the times and culture of Columbia and catholic teachings. The novella never answers one big question, “who actually took Angela's virginity?”. Because of that it seems like the book is a mystery but at the same time it isn't because at the beginning the tell us from the start that Santiago Nasar will die, and most characters are a true open book. This novella shows a journalistic style of writing but at the same time it is a narrative.
Machismo was a present theme, so my group and I discussed it and how it is shown throughout Chronicle of a Death Foretold. The Vicario brothers were the most prevalent source of physical machismo. They had to prove they were so manly and defend their sisters name by killing a man. Bayordo San Roman was a macho man too, but through his wealth.
Biblical allusions were also discussed in the oral, like how Angela was her name but she was definitely not an angel, and Santiago was his name but the whole town didn't treat him like a saint. Also the message of by standing was an overlying theme in this novel. If there were not bystander’s multiple lives could be saved. Angela's life because she wouldn't be sent off, and Santiago’s if the villagers could see how immoral this was. Overall I enjoyed this novella, it shows the true colors of Latin American culture.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez was one of the most famous Colombian authors from Latin America. One of his works, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, is a famous novella filled with many ironies that show the true colors of the catholic world and Latin American countries. Marquez uses various forms of irony in this novella through themes and events of premarital sex, Santiago's mother, the reason behind Santiago’s death, and Angela and Bayardo San Roman’s relationship after they betray each other.
Virginity is the most precious thing in terms of marriage in catholic culture. They value it greatly. Women are dragged, shamed, and bashed if they are not virgins when it is time to be hitched. If this standard is not met, it is common for the woman to not be married off, or even be kicked out of town. Angela was an example of this in the novella. She lost her virginity before marriage and received beatings from her mother, and was sent out of their village.The irony here is that girls like Angela in catholic culture are being for premarital sex, but yet characters like Maria Alejandrina Cervantes and the men in the novel were participating in premarital sex with no consequences. Maria Alejandrina Cervantes was a worker at the prostitute house, the book describes her as a woman who would “go to sleep only once and that would be to die. (47)”. Furthermore, it explains “She was the most elegant and the most tender woman I have ever known, and the most serviceable in bed, but she was also the strictest. (47)”. Even though Maria Alejandrina Cervantes is outside of the towns standards for women, she still reinforces its double standard. While a big deal is not made if a man loses his virginity, someone has to die if a woman loses hers at the wrong time. Women are expected to be absolutely loyal and faithful to their husbands while the men can cheat all day. Even the narrator, who just proposed to his fiancé, was constantly seeing prostitutes several times a day. How is this fair? The irony with these catholic marriages are so tragic.
Another ironical aspect of the book is when Santiago’s mother preventing her son's death, but actually causes it. Placida Linero is Santiago's mother. She is a dream interpreter. The narrator tells how she will never forgive herself for misinterpreting the dream about trees and birds that her son had the night before his death. The dream that Santiago Nasar had before his death was described in chapter one as "He'd dreamed he was going through a grove of timber trees where a gentle drizzle was falling, and for an instant he was happy in his dream, but when he awoke he felt completely spattered with bird shit. (3) ". How ironic his mother misinterpreted the most important dream important to her son's life. Also ironic, the day the Vicario twins kill Santiago, the bishop is coming to visit their village.If it was any other day, Santiago would have entered from his house using the back door but since the day is such a special, Santiago decides to use his front door, which lets the Vicario brothers see that he is in his house making him easier to kill.The woman who had the power to prevent Santiago's death the most is the one who actually causes it.
Santiago being killed for taking the virginity of a girl he did not sleep with, rather than the girl’s virginity he was trying to take is a very ironic situation. Victoria Guzmán is the maid for the Nasir household. She is also the woman whom Nasir's father seduced and ultimately had a secret scandalous affair. Victoria does not like Santiago because his father took her virginity, and the fact that it looks like Santiago is planning the same thing with her daughter is disgusting to her. The novella explains how it was “Santiago’s fate” to take her virginity. The story tells in chapter one “The girl, as yet a bit untamed, seemed overwhelmed by the drive of her glands. Santiago Nasar grabbed her by the wrist when she came to take the empty mug from him. "The time has come for you to be tamed," he told her. Victoria Guzman showed him the bloody knife. "Let go of her, white man," she ordered him seriously. "You won't have a drink of that water as long as I'm alive. (11)". You would think Santiago would die over harassing this poor girl’s virginity, but instead he is killed by the brothers of a girl that he probably never spoke a word with. In the culture of this Colombian village honor is taken very seriously. Nobody ever questions any actions taken to preserve someone's honor, since they believe A person without honor is an outcast in the community. this mentality is directly responsible for Santiago Nasar’s murder. The Vicario brothers kill Santiago to “restore the honor of their sister” in order for this wrong to be righted, which will ultimately clear her name. Even though some villagers, like Yamil Shaium and Clothilde Armenta, try to prevent the death from occurring, most people choose to ignore this fact because they believed that this “crime” deserved a cruel punishment. The fact that death was considered a reasonable consequence for the crime of taking a woman's virginity indicates how unmoral some religious people say they are which is also ironic!
Lastly, Angela's obsession for Bayardo San Roman after he returns her to her family is a very ironic factor in death of a chronicle foretold. Earlier in the narrative Angela Vicario explains to her parents that she did not love Bayardo, but her mother dismissed that claim, telling her that love could be learned. Ironically she was right. When Bayardo San Roman arrives in the town he is very mysterious but is soon liked due to his wealth and charm. With the power of his money he knew he could get Angela. The book states “Bayardo San Román, for his part, must have got married with the illusion of buying happiness with the huge weight of his power and fortune, for the more the plans for the festival grew, the more delirious ideas occurred to him” (38). Angela did not like that he didn't try to win her over directly but, instead charmed her family so much so that when he asks to be her husband she had no choice but to say yes. But when Bayardo discovered she is not a virgin; he delivers her back to her mother and she receives a nasty beating. Angela is sent of the town for this act and Ironically, instead of hating Bayardo for returning her and running her chance in the world, Angela starts up an obsession with Bayordo. She writes love letters and updates of her life weekly for seventeen years to this man. Why would she love him after he wrecked her life? This new poet is a changed woman now. In fact, the narrator describes the new Angela as “so mature and witty that it was difficult to believe that she was the same person. What surprised me most was the way in which she'd ended up understanding her own life.” Furthermore, he claims “she had nothing in common with the person who'd been obliged to marry without love at the age of twenty. (26) The fact that Bayardo returns to her is very strange too! Why would you go back to a woman that lied to you and made you leave the town? This couple is hard to analyze, but in a sense it is very heartwarming because Angela has found the resolution she desired in her life and is no more a “helpless little girl”. The ironical aspects of this situation sets up the theme of mystery in the novella.
In conclusion the novella purposely included irony to point out the flaws of Colombian society. Also, in a way, it helps makes the novel open to personal interpretations. Most importantly though, it exposes the hypocrisy that exists in Latin American culture and the consequences of it to ultimately persuade readers how these standards need to be questioned.
Shmoop Editorial Team. "Chronicle of a Death Foretold Themes." Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 17 May 2018.
MLAGarcía Márquez, Gabriel, 1927-2014. Chronicle Of a Death Foretold : a Novel. New York :Vintage International, 2003. Print.