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Characterization in Chronicle of a Death Foretold
Transcript of Characterization in Chronicle of a Death Foretold
•Originally published in Spanish in 1981, translated in English by Gregory Rabassa and published in 1982
•Time: The events in the novel took place in the 1950s.
- However, time in terms of coincidences and simultaneity play a crucial role in the orchestration of the events that lead up to Santiago's death.
•Place: The setting of the novel is at a small, unnamed Colombian coastal town.
•This novel was written in the point of view of Santiago Nasar’s close friend as a pseudo-journalistic reconstruction. This form of narration involves the story being told through a series of interviews and flashbacks. With this, the author reconstructs the events that lead up to the climax of the novel. •Clotilde Armenta is the proprietress of the milk shop where the Vicario’s waited to kill Santiago. She had just replaced her husband, Don Rogelio de la Flor, at the counter when the brothers walked into the shop at 4:10 a.m carrying butcher knives wrapped in cloth.
•What was important about the relationship between the Vicario brothers and Clotilde Armenta was that it was during their brief interaction that the brother’s true intentions of wanting to murder Santiago were taken seriously.
•“’They looked like two children’, she told me. And that thought frightened her, because she always felt that only children were capable of anything.”—pg. 55 Vicario Brothers and Clotilde Armenta Angela fell in love with Bayardo San Roman after he returned her to her house that fateful night . When the narrator went to visit her years later, she tells him about her inexplicable obsession with Bayardo (pg 91). She begins writing letters to him—each one being more and more insistent/obsessive—, and it becomes a weekly habit of hers for seventeen years despite that fact that he never replies to a single one.
Eventually, Bayardo returned to Angela Vicario one day while she was at work doing embroidery. “He was carrying a suitcase with clothing in order to stay and another just like it with almost two-thousand letters that she had written him...they were all unopened.”—pg. 95. This quote implies that Bayardo and Angela got their “happily-ever-after.”
A lesson in culture:
When Bayardo San Roman first comes to town, he decides to marry Angela Vicario, a woman whom he has never met. His courtship of Angela demonstrates the aspects that define Latin American marriage culture. He brings her a gift of a music box inlaid with mother-of-pearl for her birthday (pg.30), and obtains everything Angela, his future bride, asks for. The purpose of this courtship process is not to cause the lovers to fall deeper in love but rather to demonstrate the man's affluence and power. Personality does not determine worthiness; rather, their family and wealth do. This was what incited Angela’s immediate distaste for Bayardo, as mentioned earlier. Angela and Bayardo: Post-Marriage Marquez tells us that the narrator and Angela are distant cousins, but does not fully elaborate on their relationship. To analyze the novel further, Santiago Nasar and Angela are never clearly seen together. Although the distorted memory of the people (a technique Marquez used to amp up the confusion), could have played a part, no body recalls Angela ever being close with Santiago even as freinds. The narrator's tone exclusively sides with Santiago and his innocence, for example when he says, "...was not having found a single clue, not even the most improbable, that Santiago Nasar had been the cause of the wrong" (pg.99). Regardless of being his friend, the narrator defends Santiago Nasar throughout the novel. Why is this, really? The note that was left under the door describing details of the murder was anynomous, but in the interviews no body seemed to say that they were the one that left the note under the door. Who was it then? We suspect it was the narrator. The narrator himself could have been the one to take Angela's virginity, and defended Santiago and write this chronicle to prove him innocent out of guilt. Where was the narrator during the crime? The chronicle does not specify, which leads us to believe he could have been her perpetrator.
Agree? Disagree? Comments? Relationship between Angela & Narrator: Bedoya was Santiago's closest friend, according to the narrator, and was the only character that is not entirely "guilty" of Santiago's death. While the other characters came up with excuses such as "fate" and having no power in things that have already been decided, in this case, Santiago's foretold death. These excuses are for allowing the death to happen, depsite it being a public spectacle. Cristo Bedoya, however, was the only one that truly made the effort to warn Nasar of his upcoming death and went to great extents to locate him. The only reason for him not stopping the murder are a series of strange coincidences, such as the gun he was going to give Santiago that had no bullets. Or the precious 4 minutes Bedoya used consulting a woman as a medical student. In those 4 minutes, Bedoya was too late. But he was the only one who can sincerely be guilt-free, and have no excuses for not preventing the death of Santiago Nasar, being the one exception in the novel and the symbol of genuine concern for a friend despite values of honor. By: Melissa Rodriguez, Oriana Bravo, Maegan Brody, Anthony Cruz Armenta and Vicario Brothers cont. Clotilde Armenta was an insightful woman because she was one of the only people in the town that could tell that the Vicario twins were truly out to kill Santiago Nasar.
- After hearing from the Vicario brothers that they were planning on killing Santiago, Clotilde made sure that Colonel Aponte, the town major, took away their knives.
- However, the uneasiness she felt refused to go away, even after the brothers left. It was she who “hit the nail right on the head”, per se, regarding the Vicario brother’s true intentions when she revealed that “she’d sensed it. She was certain that the Vicario brothers were not as eager to carry out the sentence as to find someone who would do them the favor of stopping them.” – pg. 57.
-The Vicario brothers came back later with two more knives and she attempted to get them drunk and catered to them while they patiently eyed Santiago’s house from across the plaza.
- Clotilde Armenta knew that the brothers only wanted to kill Santiago in order to defend their family’s honor, but this intuition was not enough to get anyone, like Colonel Aponte and later Father Amador to take her seriously(she had sent Father Amador a message revealing the brother’s plans, only to have it be ignored-pg.69-70). And so what could have been a peaceful resolution to a foretold tragedy ultimately ended with death.
• Do you believe Clotilde Armenta did everything possible to stop the Vicario Brothers from killing Santiago? What role does the fact that she is a woman play in this situation? A Lesson in Honor In the culture of the Colombian town in which the story takes place, honor is taken very seriously. Nobody, including Armenta, ever questioned any action that was taken to preserve Angela Vicario’s honor since it was commonly believed to be a fundamental moral trait that was vital to keep intact in one’s family. A person without honor is seen as an outcast, so one can see why the Vicario brothers were so determined in killing Santiago Nasar. They wanted to restore the honor of their sister, which was taken when she married Bayardo when she had already slept with Santiago. In order for this wrong to be righted, her brothers had to kill Santiago, the man who supposedly took her virginity, in order to clear her name.
Quote: “’We’ll leave it for later,’ Pablo Vicario said. ‘We’re in a hurry now.’ ‘I can imagine, my sons,’ she [Armenta] said. ‘Honor doesn’t wait.’”—pg.62 Angela Vicario and Bayardo San Roman: Pre-marriage •Angela Vicario’s and Bayardo San Roman’s relationship does a complete turnaround by the end of the novel. Whereas at the beginning, it was seen that Bayardo deeply desired Angela but the feeling was not reciprocated, by the end of the novel Angela desired him so much so that he became an obsession. This situation incorporates the age-old idea of “we all want what we cannot have.”
•Bayardo San Roman wanted to marry Angela the moment he laid eyes on her at a charity bazaar 6 months before their wedding. But Angela said she did not wish to marry him because she thought he was stuck up (pg.29), and felt that he had not courted her properly. Instead he had merely ingratiated himself with her family (pg 30) like when he befriended her brothers Pedro and Pablo. However, her parents would hear none of her objections; her mother told her that “love could be learned.”—pg. 35
•Lesson on culture:
- “Unlike engagements of the time, which were long and supervised, theirs lasted only four months due to Bayardo San Roman’s urgings.” –pg. 35
•Lesson on honor:
- “Even when it was less than two months before she would be married, Pura Vicario wouldn’t let her [Angela] go out alone with Bayardo San Roman…she and the blind father accompanied her to watch over her honor.”—pg. 37 • Bayardo’s unjustifiable yet seemingly intense “love” for Angela cannot be overlooked. He convinced the widow Xius to sell him his home because Angela had told Bayardo that it was “the prettiest house in town” (pg.35), and threw a massive celebratory wedding for their union.
• That wedding night Bayardo discovered that Angela was not a virgin (even though she had planned to fake it), something that was seen as shameful and even disgusting during these times. He returned Angela to her mother, and it was with the beating that was given to her that night that Angela decided that she was in love with Bayardo San Roman.
-Do you think Bayardo was truly in love with Angela, or was this just another tactic he used to give himself even more wealth, fame, and power? Explain.
-Why do you think Angela underwent a sudden change of heart in regards to her feelings for Bayardo? Cultural Connection Chronicle of a death foretold takes place in a Hispanic region of the Caribbean. We can deduce this from the quote “… too heavy and formal for the Caribbean…” Pg. 15 . We also see the obvious presence of Hispanic culture in the novel through the names of the characters, the extended families, and the Christian religion.
Personally, In relation to my Cuban cultural roots, the culture in Chronicle of a death foretold is very similar. We see the same Spanish language obviously, as well as the same Christian background. More importantly, Honor, as it does in the novel, also plays a major role in traditional Cuban culture. Also, marriage as well as agriculture and ranching still remains a big element of Cuban culture, especially on the country side. We see these two elements in the novel as well.
From the more common, American perspective, we don’t really see the same parallel culture this is primarily due to the fact that the novel takes place sometime in the past. We can’t draw many similarities between the two cultures. First off, the rural setting that we see in Chronicle of a death foretold, is not seen widely in America. Secondly, our society has, for the most part, ceased to put large importance on a woman’s virginity. On that note, Americans as a whole do not share the same faith and in general, we don’t see the same religious fervor as there is in past Caribbean cultures.
What are the major differences in modern society to the society seen in the novel? Santiago Nasar & Bayardo San Roman Santiago Nasar was the wealthy, handsome, man in town that liked to enjoy himself and was very open with who he was to the town, and was on his way to following his father's footsteps by harassing Divina Flor often. Bayardo, on the other had, was new in town and was very aggressive, and mysterious. He came in town searching for the perfect woman to marry, in which he thought he found in Angela Vicario. Bayardo was a man obsessed with his pocessions, and obsessed with honor. Both men were in a situation they did not understand, and were the victims in the novel. Bayardo was said to "become our very good friend, a friend of a few drinks, they said in those days, and he seemed very much at ease at our table" (pg. 42). Bayardo San Roman and Santiago Nasar were good friends, but did not ever think that one or the other would be the cause of one's death, and the other's honor. Santiago Nasar & Angela Vicaro:
Santiago Nasar & the Vicario Brothers Santiago was accused by Angela Vicaro of having deflowered her prior to her marriage. This accusation made by Angela was the motivation for Santiago Nasar's death. The narrator makes it seem as if Santiago is most likely innocent of the crime of stealing Angela’s virginity through out the novel. The relationship that existed between Angela and Santiago serves as a tool used by the author to give purpose to the murder of Santiago. Angela & Santiago are never clearly seen together which only makes Santiago seem even more innocent. No body in the town would even recall Angela ever being close with Santiago even as friends. The culture seen in the novel in this situation is specified in the sentence, "On the other hand, the fact that Angela Vicaro dared to put on the veil and the orange blossoms without being a virgin wpould be interpreted afterwards as a profanation of the symbols of purity" (pg. 41). The theme of Honor in the novel is presented mainly with the culture in which the events of the novel unfold. The cultual belief that it was a disgrace to marry a woman that isn't a virgin, as well as a Christian belief, is the cause of all the preceding events. Santiago is victim to the culture's standards and depictions of honor, while Angela is the violator of this moral law set up by their society. The relationship between these three is one that also further develops the plot to reaching the climax when Santiago Nasar is murdered. Although the beginning of the novel reveals that the Vicario Brothers are the killers, the rest of the story is created based on how the brothers and Santiago interacted or not at all. The relationship of the Vicario Brothers and Santiago Nasar is used by the author to display the theme of Honor. The concept of honor shapes the actions of many people in a typical Columbian town. The brothers only served 3 years in jail and were basically excused by the town for the fact that they had murdered Santiago due to the fact that they only did so to uphold their sister’s honor. In Columbia at this time, honor was something worth killing for.