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The Effect of Religion in Chronicle of a Death Foretold

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Carly Wallace

on 4 December 2012

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Transcript of The Effect of Religion in Chronicle of a Death Foretold

The Effect of Religion in Chronicle of a Death Foretold
Carly Wallace Why Religion? Throughout Chronicle of a Death Foretold, religion is an important theme that is continuous throughout text.
It was interesting how religion could have such a profound affect on people's lives, and the community as whole. It truly reflects the values of the culture.
The communal event on the Monday of Santiago Nasar's death is the arrival of the bishop. The majority of the community anxiously awaits the arrival of this holy figure; however, when the bishop does arrive, he disappointingly does not even leave the ship. Why Religion? Cont. Many characters have religious names:

Santiago Nasar: "Santo" in Spanish translates to "Saint". This could represent how Santiago's death parallels the death of Jesus Christ, which will be discussed in further detail. Additionally, Nasar is similar to Nazareth, the birthplace of Jesus.. How similar is Santiago to Jesus?
Angela Vicario: Angela is translated to "angelic" and Vicario is translated to Vicar, which in the Roman Catholic church is "an ecclesiastic representing the pope or a bishop". Ironic, because is Angela really that angelic or holy after the religious crime she committed?
Cristo Bedoya: Cristo is translated to "Christ"--does he parallel Christ in certain aspects?
Divina Flor: Divina is translated to "divine" and Flor is translated to "flower". Perhaps this is suggesting her innocence as flowers represent purity and being divine is sacred quality. However, it can also represent temptation as well (cite). As an adolescent girl, Divina is overwhelmed with a plethora of emotions and does not know how to respond to Santiago's aggressive actions. "Divina Flor, who was the daughter of a more recent mate, knew that she was destined for Santiago Nasar's furtive bed, and that idea brought out a premature anxiety in her" (Márquez 10). The Big Picture! In this society, the importance of religion, with its traditions and sanctions, is connected to the idea of upholding HONOR. The continuous mentioning of religion substantiates the fact that the people in this society have certain religious standards that must be respected, or honored. Connection Between Religion and Honor The Vicario brothers find out that Angela, their sister, lost her virginity to Santiago before marriage. They must honor, or uphold, the values of Catholicism, which include not losing one's virginity before marriage, by murdering Santiago Nasar. Will they restore Angela's honor by murdering Santiago?
"On the other hand, the fact that Angela Vicario dared put on the veil and the orange blossoms without being a virgin would be interpreted afterwards as a profanation of the symbols of purity" (Marquez 41). This quote shows how shameful her decision to have premarital sex was.
Abuse even occurs due to Angela's apparent rejection of the values of her religion. Angela suffers at the hands of her own mother, who honors Christianity, and this is evident as Angela states, "'The only thing I can remember is that she was holding me by the hair with one hand and beating me with the other with such rage that I thought she was going to kill me" (Marquez 46).
Pura Vicario, Angela's mother values upholding honor, since her daughter evidently cannot be trusted. "Even when it was less than two months before she would be married, Pura Vicario wouldn't let [Angela] go out along wit Bayardo San Roman to see they were going to live, but she and the blind father accompanied her to watch over her honor" ( Marquez 37).
Additionally, Bayardo San Roman is shamed by his unfaithful, dishonorable wife. He resorts to alcohol and almost kills himself. The community feels bad for Bayardo as they called him "poor Bayardo". The narrator states, "Santiago Nasar had expiated the insult, the brothers Vicario had proved their status as men, and the seduced sister was in possession of her honor once more" (Marquez 83-84). Is Bayardo truly the only innocent, honorable man in this perplexing story of honor, purity, and guilt? Or, is that just what this community thinks?
Connection Between Religion and Honor Cont. In this complex story, the honor of upholding such religious sanctions is ironic. As the Vicario brothers attempt to bring honor back to their sister by murdering Santiago, who apparently stole her virginity, they are breaking one of The Ten Commandments that states, "Thou shalt not murder." Is the breaking of one of The Ten Commandments justifiable in this situation? Is killing in the name of honor, which is such an important trait, an exception according to God? Religion and honor are so intertwined that it seems to be difficult for this society to define morality. The whole community is aware that a murder is going to happen, yet only a few people attempt to step in. This brings us to the community's ideas of honor and religion... Connection Between Religion and Honor Cont. The majority of the community decides not to intervene with the murder of Santiago Nasar, even though the the majority of the citizens were forewarned by the Vicario brothers. Multiple times throughout the story, the Vicario brothers even state, "We're going to kill Santiago Nasar." Some people chose not believe the Vicario brothers, others believe that Santiago Nasar deserved such a punishment, while some, like Clothilde Armenta and Yamil Shaium, tried to stop the brothers.
The citizens who turned the other cheek or simply did not believe the Vicario brothers, did they contribute to Nasar's murder? Some citizens thought Santiago deserved such a punishment, because they never liked him. For example, Victoria Guzman initially declares that she was not aware that a murder was going to happen; however, the narrator states, "Nevertheless, Divina Flor confessed to me on a later visit, after her mother had died, that the latter hadn't said anything to Santiago Nasar because in the depths of her heart she wanted them to kill him" (Marquez 13). Restoring honor to Angela didn't seem to matter from Victoria's perspective. Instead, from her perspective, Santiago's dishonor was his inappropriate towards her daughter.
To these citizens, if the restoration of honor in the name of God did not justify murder, then more than two people probably would have tried to stop the murder from happening. One could resolve that the community did, in fact, contribute to Santiago's death, whether it was for personal reasons, in Victoria's case, or for the restoration of honor. Honor is so important that the narrator's mother even says, "Honor is love" (Marquez 97). The citizens equating honor to love, as if it were a statement, is an excuse for their actions. How could honor, a valued quality, be compared to an uncontrollable emotion? We see that in both Chronicle of a Death Foretold and Beloved, those without "honor" are outcasts of the community... COMMUNITY Connections to Beloved In Beloved, Sethe is portrayed as an outcast in her Cincinnati community for killing Beloved, who was an infant at the time, in order to protect Beloved from the cruelties of Schoolteacher. Sethe, like Santiago, has committed a heinous act in the eyes of the community, which plays a large role in both stories, and therefore deserves ignominy and retribution for dishonoring societal and religious "rules". Sethe's retribution is loneliness whereas Santiago's is death.
Both books bring to question the importance of valuing of honor as a community. Does Sethe honor the societal and religious rules that dictate her community? According to the community, no! To the community, she is a dishonorable social outcast. However, from another perspective she sacrificed her daughter out of love. Does Santiago honor the societal or religious rules that dictate his community? According to some members of the community, no! To other members, who believe he is innocent, yes! Santiago may have even sacrificed for the sins of the community (to be discussed)...
Additionally, both books show the affects of blind faith:
Baby Suggs preaches to others in the community in the Clearing and gives others hope. She has blind faith in the community she preaches to as she hopes that each and every person can lover his or her own heart. However, after witnessing Sethe's violent actions and the heinous affects of slavery, Baby Suggs no longer has faith in God or her community. She is disappointed and wonders how God could allow such things, like slavery, to happen. She also wonders why her neighbors, who she preaches to, never warned Sethe that Schoolteacher was on his way.
In Chronicle of a Death Foretold, blind faith in Christianity is seen throughout the whole community. Religion becomes a meticulous ritual: "It was a fleeting illusion: the bishop began to make the sign of the cross in the air opposite the crowd on the pier, and he kept on doing it mechanically afterward, without malice or inspiration, until the boat was lost from view and all that remained was the uproar of the roosters" (Marquez 17). How deep are the religious rituals to this community? Does everyone actually want to see the bishop, or do they like the idea of seeing the bishop, because that is what you're supposed to do.
Blind faith is evident in Chronicle of a Death Foretold, as certain characters ignore certain religious sanctions and accept others. As Bayardo San Roman returns Angela to her parents, the narrator states, "Bayardo San Roman didn't enter, but softly pushed his wife into the house without speaking a word" (Marquez 46). Angela is beaten by her mother and her brothers murder Santiago in order to restore her honor. Hypocritically, the sin of murder is okay in the community's eyes, since honor seems to be more important. How legitimate is their faith?

Connection Between Religion and Honor Cont. So, in the end, is Santiago Nasar really guilty? What proof do is there that he was the perpetrator? One could even suggest that Santiago died with HONOR, similarly to Jesus Christ. In fact, though Santiago is an independent character, he parallels Jesus in various ways:
"Santiago Nasar wore a shirt and pants made of white linen..." (Marquez 5). Jesus also wore white linen on the day of his death.
White is known to be associated with purity, innocence, and goodness. This could suggest Santiago's innocence.
The characters stand by and watch Santiago's death even though they could have done something about it. Santiago, in a way, dies for the sins of the community like Jesus did.
When Jesus died, he was nailed to a wooden cross. Santiago was killed against a wooden door. The narrator states, "The knife went through the palm of his right hand and then sank into his side up to the hilt" (Marquez 117). Jesus' hands and feet were nailed to the wooden cross. Father Amador even goes so far as to compare Santiago to Jesus in the autopsy report. He says, "It looked like a stigma of the crucified Christ" (Marquez 75). Examples Works Cited
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