Chronicle of a Death Foretold
Chronicle of a Death Foretold is short story or a novella written by Gabriel Gracia Marquez in Spanish. It was published in the year 1981 and it was translated into English by Gregory Rabassa. In 1995 it was adapted as Broadway musical by Graciela Daniele. It was adapted onto the big screen in Spanish, Italian-French production and a Romanian film. Gabriel Gracia is the author of many popular Spanish novels and short stories. His style and story has a powerful impact on the readers. He started his career as a journalist and finally became a master story teller. He won the Noble Prize in literature in 1982.
Story of Honor and Revenge
Chronicles of a Death Foretold is indeed a chronicle as it is narrated by an unknown person whose sister and mother come as live characters in the novel. Its narration is nonlinear and has a journalist touch. It is a story of revenge for honor and the revenge is in the form of death. Santiago Nasar is a rich man in a Latin country. One day he is murdered. The small town he lives in is abuzz with the news that he is going to be killed but it does not reach his ears or even if it reached he chose to ignore it as a rumor.
It is not a rumor as he is killed by the Vicario twins. Pedro and Pablo Vicario’s sister Angela is married to Bayardo San Roman, a flamboyant young man who comes to their town is search of a girl. He spots Angela and decides to marry her even though she was not the prettiest and poor by his standards. Angela reluctantly agrees and then it is celebration days. All through the celebrations Angela carries an untold fear, she was not virgin. On the wedding night Bayardo gets to know this secret and sends her back home. When her brothers get back early morning after the wedding revelry and find their sister back in their house, they are enraged and ask who was responsible for the shameful act. Angela names Santiago and the twins vow to kill him.
Santiago’s Death Sealed
It can be that the twins want people to stop them from killing Santiago because they tell their intention to all and sundry. But no one really takes the initiative to warn Santiago. It can be that the Bishop’s arrival on their shore was creating more flutter than this news. Early in the morning the news of Angela returning to her home also reached the people and this was also shocking as people were still having a hangover of the elaborate celebrations of the wedding. Maybe all this actually dwarfed the news that Santiago was to be killed by the Vicario twins. Or maybe people would have thought that these were ranting of the drunken brothers with some business rivalry.
Victoria Guzman, the cook in Santiago’s house hears about the threat to his life quite early in the morning but keeps quiet. It was her sweet revenge on Santiago. He had used her as his mistress and when he was tired made her his cook and was trying to woo her daughter Divina Flor. Many reasons can be given why such a grave threat was taken lightly but the final result was that Santiago died at the word of a girl. He did not get a chance to prove his innocence if he was innocent. He gets butchered, killed is too a mild word for the gory sight that was seen in the kitchen of Santiago’s house. Santiago had a dream where he saw trees and bird droppings. His mother who was good at reading dreams did not see anything amiss in this dream and did not warn her son.
All’s Well That Ends Well
The Mayor of the town takes away the knife from the twins and sends them away with good counsel but it goes in vain as they soon pick up another pair and lay in wait of their prey. They kill and surrender and there is no remorse because they killed for honor and that was accepted or not looked down in the Latin countries. Since they surrendered and it was an honor killing they are let off after three years. Pablo marries his sweet heart and continues with his normal life. Pedro goes back to the army from which he had taken a short break.
Angela realizes that she has fallen in love with Bayardo and sends him letters for seventeen long years. Bayardo is found in a state of near collapse after the wedding celebrations and disappointments. He is taken away by his family to their native town and it is to this address that Angelo sends letters. After seventeen years she is surprised to see Bayardo come back to her with all the letters unopened. He had become fat and was balding but had the same flamboyance around him. They then live together or rather continue their married life.
One word from a girl changes the life of many people and all in the name of honor. And everything is set right in a matter of few years but the loss to Santiago’s mother and family alone cannot be reverted as he was sent away from this world. The whole story is said by an undisclosed narrator who is a family member of Santiago and a good friend and it is being said after twenty seven years.
Honor and revenge form the main theme of the story and it is very obvious. Some subtle aspects that come out are the sex roles. Women especially Angela is brought up without any exposure to the outside world while her brothers are groomed to be loud men, drinking and partying and looking after their father’s business. Deception is what really plays havoc in the story. Angela’s deception to her mother, society and finally her husband that she was a virgin is what sets the stage for the incidents that follow. Supernatural things like dreams and voices also figure in the story. With so many themes inter locked and interesting characterizations, this story is really gripping and offers a lot for stage play.