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Symbolism and Imagery in Chronicle of a Death Foretold

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Nicoline Gebler

on 10 February 2014

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Transcript of Symbolism and Imagery in Chronicle of a Death Foretold

What is the role of imagery in Chronicle of a Death Foretold?

+Defines the moment in time when the story is taking place, location, and serves to infer a mood/atmosphere for the story.

Even though symbols are introduced in the book, they are not used to an extent, which would allow the establishment of reoccurring symbols.

The book is written as a report and is mostly based on facts and observations of the main character.

The role of color
Used as a tool to depict certain characteristics of the main characters

The color red as a symbol of collective quilt and the murder itself
Symbolism and Imagery in Chronicle of a Death Foretold
The color red
"The marginal notes, and not just because of the color of the ink, seemed to be written in blood." (P.100)


Coxcomb soup


The house of widower Xius


Weeding decorations

Pig knifes (butchery)



+Helps the reader further ‘picture’, understand, appreciate and enjoy, the plot/action taking place. [Embellish]

+Create complex characters by describing them amply.

-Characterization of Santiago Nasar (pg 3) & his Father + [Arabs](pg 6) & pig + butcher

-Characterization of the Vicario twins (pg 14)

-Characterization of Bayardo San Roman (pg 24, 96)

-Characterization of Angela Vicario (pg 29, 30, 31, 36, 37)

-Characterization of the Bayardo Family (pg.32)
-Description of Santiago’s dream, introduction to the symbols in the story, the stance with rationality, tropical location (pg 2)

-Description of the wedding setting, it’s pomposity..etc. (pg 17, 38, 42)

-Description of the Xius house, physically and extra-physically. + Nature[Caribbean happy scenery] (pg 35)

-Description of the Vicario House, also foreshadowing the murder, and the frivolous personality of the twins. (pg 39)

-Description of the night during the wedding’s day, and symbolisms attached, (i.e blooms (virginity), unambiguous weather with no rain, giving way to the ‘sad swamps’, the banana ‘trees’ on the marshes..etc. (pg 67)
-The Bishop arrives to town, the town does a lot of preparation for the visit (rooster comb soups, wood piles..etc),disappointment, indifference by the bishop.. (pg 15, 16) [sensual + descriptive]

-{Imagery from the city square} ”Don’t worry yourself Luis Santiago”..”They’ve already killed him”, [descriptive] (pg 22, 23)

-Bayardo San Roman figures out Angela’s secret, after the three knocks. Characters, reaction, objects, and setting are well described. (pg 46)

-Pedro peeing on the tamarind trees, “like pissing ground glass”, symbolism (peed on tree, sat on another tree). (pg 61)

- Townspeople looking in the market for a freezer big enough to hold Santiago, also a pig/butchery reference, irony rich men + sitting in the living room, symbolism (bird & dogs), descriptions, etc…. (pg 73)

-Description of Santiago’s body after the murder; anatomically described in a well explicit manner. (pg 75)

-Angela spots Bayardo going out of a hotel, description of Angela’s thought’s, response, and her mother’s behaviour + symbolism (water --> purity). (pg 93)

-Vicario twins kill Santiago, how they did it, what he did and expressed, the stabs are described, the blood/flesh..etc, are described..etc + (butcher connotation) (pg 119)

+Used to create humorous situations in order to entertain and elaborate the story.
-Drunk anecdotes from the night before; the sister, nun, dancing merengue in her habit...etc (pg 43)

-Description of blind Poncio Vicario sitting in the middle of the courtyard and his interactions with people (pg 44)

-Policeman goes to buy a pound of beef for the mayor’s breakfast, dies due to a bull gore later that year. (pg 53)

-Santiago Nasar dressing up the mulatto girls to confuse them. (pg 66)

+Used to state the moral of the story

-Non literal description of the town’s role, statement of responsibility and Santiago’s last moments and death. (pg 120)


What is the role of nature in Chronicle of a Death Foretold?


Water: Related to purity/non-purity, truth/lie.
-”You won’t have a drink of that water as long as I’m alive” (pg 8)
-”... in white linen that had been washed in water, because his skin was so delicate that it couldn’t stand starch” (pg 5)
Flowers: Virginity. + the use of ‘blooming’
-”..when Angela Vicario and her mother crossed the square with two baskets of artificial flowers.” (pg. 27)
-[Vicario House] ”In front it had a terrace filled with flowerpots..” (pg 39)
-”Santiago Nasar often told me that the smell of closed-in flowers had an immediate relation to death” (pg 42)
Birds: Death/dead
-”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.” (pg 1)
-”Divina Flor went ahead of him to open the door, trying not to have him get ahead of her among the cages of sleeping birds in the dining room... but when she took the bar down, she couldn't avoid the butcher hawk hand again.”(pg 12)
-”they had to push back the furniture and take down the bird cages and pots of ferns, and even then the heat was unbearable. In addition, the dogs, aroused by the smell of death, increased the uneasiness.” (pg 73)
-”Xius told the mayor that he'd seen a phosphorescent bird fluttering over his former home, and he thought it was the soul of his wife, who was going about demanding what was hers” (pg 84)
-”she never forgave herself for having mixed up the magnificent augury of trees with the unlucky one of birds, and she succumbed to the pernicious habit of her time of chewing pepper cress seeds.” (pg 99)
-”It was the only thing he managed to say, and he said it in Spanish. "He looked like a little wet bird," Nahir Miguel told me.” (pg 116)

+Weather: Foreshadowing + Character bias

-Santiago’s Killing:
Furthermore: all the many people he ran into after leaving his house at five minutes past six and until he was carved up like a pig an hour later remembered him as being a little sleepy but in a good mood, and he remarked to all of them in a casual way that it was a very beautiful day. No one was certain if he was referring to the state of the weather. Many people coincided in recalling that it was a radiant morning with a sea breeze coming in through the banana groves, as was to be expected in a fine February of that period. But most agreed that the weather was funereal, with a cloudy, low sky and the thick smell of still waters, and that at the moment of the misfortune a thin drizzle was falling like the one Santiago Nasar had seen in his dream grove

-Victoria Guzman’s recall:
Victoria Guzman, the cook, was sure that it hadn't rained that day, or during the whole month of February. "On the contrary," she told me when I came to see her, a short time before her death. "The sun warms things up earlier than in August."

- Colonel Aponte’s recall:
"I can remember with certainty that it was almost five o'clock and it was beginning to rain," Colonel Lázaro Aponte told me. Along the way three people stopped him to inform him in secret that the Vicario brothers were waiting for Santiago Nasar to kill him, but only one person could tell him where.

- Pablo Vicario’s recall:
They left by way of the pigpen gate with the knives unwrapped, trailed by the uproar of the dogs in the yards. It was beginning to get light. "It wasn't raining," Pablo Vicario remembered.
-Narrator’s recall:
Until then it hadn't rained; on the contrary, the moon was high in the sky and the air was clear, and at the bottom of the precipice you could see the trickle of light from the Saint Elmo's fire in the cemetery.

-Cristo Bedoya’s Recall:
Cristo Bedoya went back to the living room, where Divina Flor had just opened the windows. "Of course it wasn't raining," Cristo Bedoya told me. "It was just going on seven and a golden sun was already coming through the windows." He asked Divina Flor again if she was sure that Santiago Nasar hadn't come in through the living room door.
"trying to put the broken mirror of memory back together from so many scattered shards" (P.5)
"He´ll give an obligatory blessing, as always and go back the way he came" (P.6)
Green dreams
Wedding decorations
"on some balconies the colored wedding decorations were still hanging" (P.13)- "But the square covered with paving stones up to the steps of the church, where the bandstand was, looked like a trash heap" (P.13)
" "I can´t ," she said. "You smell of him." Not just I. Everything continued smelling of Santiago Nasar that day. The Vicario brothers could smell him in the jail cell where the mayor had locked them up until he could think of something to do with them." (P.78)
"He had that green color of dreams" (P.46)
"The bride was given a chest with table settings in pure gold for twenty-four guests" (P.39)
color of rebirth

dark green can symbolize
Santiago Nasar
Symbol for his purity and innocent
The Twins
Dark colors symbolize the burden the brothers have to carry.
Bayardo San Roman
The colors gold and silver represent his power and wealth.
General Petronio San Roman
Symbolizes how his actions penetrated his purity.
Angela Vicario
"Pura Vicario wrapped the face of her rejected daughter in a cloth so that no one would see the bruises, and she dressed her in bright red so nobody would think she was mourning for her secret lover" (P.83)
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