Chronicle Of A Death Foretold By Gabriel Marquez
In the world where English is the dominating language, the number of books translated from another language is quite a few. Gabriel Garcia Marquez is the name of an internationally famous author who represented Latin American literature through his works and with the emergence of "One Hundred Years of Solitude" and his other notable literary works; Gabriel Marquez was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. After his first publication this Colombian writer became a memorable name in world literature with his famous works such as, "Chronicle of a Death Foretold", "Love in the Time of Cholera", "Of Love and Other Demons" and so on. In "Chronicle of a Death Foretold" the author's acceptance of the conservative society of Colombia is acknowledged. His prior focus on socialist agendas and political activism shifts in this novel as he focuses on conventional themes like honor killing and at the same time it presents the violent rage as a consequence of the controversial nature. The narrative begins with the killing of Santiago Nasar, a man who is charged with the offense of taking the virginity of Angela Vicario, who is a degraded bride. Although there is no definite evidence to claim the crime, he was brutally murdered for the sake of honor.
According to Salvador Carmona, “Literary critics concur that this opening sentence is in a class of its own in the history of literature. In just 27 words, Garcia Marquez unveils the contents and end of the novel and determines its rhythm and structure". There are fewer examples of magical realism in "Chronicles of a Death Foretold" compared to his other works (Márquez 56). However, the slight use of magical realism can be found in the novel. Magical realism is created with three major characteristics like the way the myths are dealt in the narrative, the author's way of treating time and the use of locales. Ma ........
According to Salvador Carmona, “Literary critics concur that this opening sentence is in a class of its own in the history of literature. In just 27 words, Garcia Marquez unveils the contents and end of the novel and determines its rhythm and structure". There are fewer examples of magical realism in "Chronicles of a Death Foretold" compared to his other works (Márquez 56). However, the slight use of magical realism can be found in the novel. Magical realism is created with three major characteristics like the way the myths are dealt in the narrative, the author's way of treating time and the use of locales. Marquez has delicately portrayed the locals in order to highlight the incidents and the way in which they will be perceived. Garcia Marquez has a unique feature of using the locales in his narrative like the locals are connected with other Third World countries. As in this novel, the community of Colombia is interconnected with Christian races and Arab which is a remembrance of other communities which have mixed racial population and faith system. The crisis in following the code of honor in this narrative is reflective of other nations with diverse communities along with its varied cultural, religious rituals. The novel is a development from particular to universal as the cruel act of murdering Nasar by Vicario brothers is a drama staged in universal communities and the theme of revenge becomes motif of the consciousness of the community (Pelayo 89). Garcia’s use of imagination to construct his ideas and plots represents the other side of reality. The questioning of the reality in the novel consists the nature of magical realism in the narrative.
Although the instances of magical realism in the novel are less than his other narrations, the unnatural incidents become the natural events as the narrator describes the event where the boat of the bishop comes to the shore. Gabriel Marquez writes," it appeared at the bend in the river, snorting like a dragon, and then the band of musicians began to play the bishop's anthem,and the cocks began to crow in their baskets and aroused the other roosters in town”. The cocks crowing are symbollically representing the betrayal and the conspiracies of Judas against Christ in the Bible. The theme of magical realism goes further it is sarcasm on the class of bishops as the clergy is ineffective in the brutal assassination of Santiago Nasar (Tanaka 261). After stabbing the body of Nasar again and again, the knife came out clean which has lifted the height of magical realism in the novel. The murder and the reasons behind it are depicted by the dramatic narrative which discusses the terrible wounds of Nasar and the Vicario brothers' irrational behavior. The prejudice and the consciousness of the society are associated with the assassination of Santiago Nasar as it questions the people’s notion of believing that there was no one who could actually save the life of Nasar. The murder also produces questions regarding his Arab identity as it was assumed with fear that the Arab community will retaliate which later proved to be futile (Munday 137). The failure of all authoritarian systems like the doctor, the clergy, and the magistrate is connected with dispute among the consciousness of the community.
“Chronicle of a Death Foretold” can be perceived as a narrative that raises questions about memory in modern literature. According to Berg, “also in spirals throughout the text, we are given vivid physical images- like mental snapshots or short filmstrips- which have been engraved on the memories of the inhabitants of the town. In the novel the author used involuntary and voluntary memories as plot development (Pelayo 89). The memories which are intentionally remembered are voluntary memory and it is associated with the power of recollecting. On the other side, the memories which come to mind without an order, are involuntary memory. In most of the contemporary narrations,the characters are the victims of this involuntary memory as the author revisits many characters to ask about the murder after twenty-seven years of the murder of Nasar (Márquez 56). The confused quality of the memory is evident in the narration as they have several fissures and gaps in the act of remembering the murder. Recollecting something is also a type of enunciation. The important characteristic of enunciation is revealed in the act of telling theories about the murder which are different from the statements that were stated to the author several years ago. The narrations adapt the qualities of news reporting when they are perceived in this way, but the reportage strategy is avoided in the novel and a deliberate attempt is made to understand the inner conflicts of the characters from the opinions of the murder. As Garcia Marquez himself said, “It has the very precise structure of a detective story, structured as carefully as clockwork”, the narrator investigates the characters of the novel and the memories play an important role here (Pelayo 89). The ineffectiveness of the non-static memory to recapture the event of the past and the difficulties to recapture the nature of the assassination are presented in the novel. For instance, when the author interviews Maria Alejandrina Cervantes, she tells the narrator, "you smell of him" which portrays the character's deep attachment to the past. The thought of smell in addition to the memory of the author clears the modern context in which the author interviewing the characters resonates an unforgiving past in Colombia.
According to the critic Ruben Pelayo, there are intertextual references in the novel as there is parallel to Pablo Vicario, the Pedro to Paul and Peter-the central element is Catholic Church. Peter was appointed the first Pope by Jesus and the name of Angela Vicario suggests angel who is the messenger of God as mentioned in Christian doctrine. Gabriel Marquez referred to these religious metaphors ironically to explain the fallacies which are connected with Catholic Christianity. In the matter of Angela Vicario, the full opinion of the code of honor becomes superficial as it assumes the color of a community. Another female character Purisima del Carmen Vicario, whose name suggests purity and reminds the cult of Virgin Mary (Berg 80). The clash of the consciousness of community is focused on this character, whose opinions and identity are more central than the beliefs of others.
The two vital interrelated terms of postmodern literature are satire and parody, which resists closure and leaves the narration open-ended. Satire comes from all the failures of society in the writings of Garcia Marquez. The parody in "Chronicle of a Death Foretold" is related to the predicaments and incidents of the novel and the approach is topographical which is significant to the narration. The arrival of the bishop in the town and the welcome that was given to him was satirized along with the cloths, attitudes and habits of various characters. The incident of offering some drinks to the brother of the author by Pedro Vicario is satirized in the novel as the brother could not remember anything properly about the murder, when asked after several years of the incident., expect the ‘liquid fire’. Another person who was ridiculed in the narrative was the priest because of the Church’s failure to prevent the brutal calamity. The novel also satirizes the traditional genres, canonical texts and styles. The murder of Santiago Nasar has a resemblance with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ which suggests that the novel ridicules the Bible in all its appearances (Márquez 56). Satire serves as a vehicle that delicately distances the conventions from the open-ended narratives and at the same time it also serves as a medium where all the representations and traditions are examined. As an extension of the idea of satire, Isabel Alvarez-Borland observes that the ironic parody can be perceived in two levels: on a textual level as the satire on the institution and on an artistic level the parody of classic structure of detective novels. This is an indication of postmodern literature which follows the non-mimic mode of writing as there are structures and sequences which resembles one another.
In this narrative the women characters are separated on their views on the assassination of Santiago Nasar and contradictory statements are recorded by the author (Carmona 8). The women character are related to their opinions on the code of honor and the sensibilities of the communities that are reflected in the small community Caribbean by Marquez. Although Santiago Nasar was adored by his mother and the narrator's sister, his behavior did not claim much respect. The recollection of Victoria Guzman was deeply against the Arab community and she was certain about not saving the life of Nasar as she and her daughter were aware of the upcoming assassination of Nasar. From the complicated characteristics of the women of the town clearly depicts that they never completely wanted to save the life of a person who was an Arabian. The code of honor is questioned here vehemently as the female-dominated society does not think about their honor while abandoning Angela Vicario. The notion of Catholic Christianity about virginity is more important here than the notion of Arab-Christian of the code of honor. Angela Vicario wanted to be independent by freeing herself from the domestic oppressive life while brought up in strict discipline (Berg 80). Therefore she chose to take a chance with the handsome man San Roman not because of his caliber and respect in society but to liberate herself from the claustrophobic environment of her family. It is a celebration of womanhood which is reflected in Angela’s choice of marriage which was due to the urge to know the unknown. Her rebellion against her mother and the society is expressed through her relations with both men and women and direct articulation of her sexual imaginations vastly in contrast with the oppressive control Purisima del Vicario.
Among various narrative styles the integral part of the novel shows the unconventional reportage technique along with the stream of consciousness and autobiographical techniques that is represented by the diverse shots in cinematography styles and impersonal remembrances of the incidents and situations. The journalist in him was clearly evident in the novel, where he collects and gathers facts and organizes them to construct the story of Santiago Nasar. In order to bring the distant past into life, the narrator used the narrative technique of flashback which is also used in films (Carmona 8). The author’s recollections about the memories of the family members are invoked by him, in order to create an impersonal narrative. Tha last words of Santiago Marquez, “They’ve killed me, Wene child"is representation of the cinematographic technique where the vengeance of a community is shown in a close-up. Gabriel Marquez has employed these cinematographic styles in order to rediscover the troubling and confused past (Márquez 56).
After twenty-three years, the author' s visit to the abandoned Angela Vicario is important as the narrator states, "a woman half in mourning, with steel-rimmed glasses and yellowish grey hair, and hanging above her head was a canary that didn’t stop singing.” which suggests the close look on the bodily characteristics. The narrator has made numerous references to bodily behavior, clothes and cultural rituals which display the Caribbean town as a whole (Berg 80). These types of narrative styles are used to reveal the problems of the daily life of a Caribbean community which also shows the journalistic approach of the author to deliver the duration of time. The duration of time cannot be depicted by the occurrence of the events, it is conveyed through the guilt of murdering Santiago Nasar which lies in the past of the town and reflected on the violent and disturbed present, just like “The Autumn of the Patriarch” (Márquez 56). According to Zamora, the self-conscious portray of an impartial journalist, the narrator meticulously records the sources of his documents. The narrator minimizes the evident control over his narration by continuously citing his facts and directly quoting from the interviews. The technique of journalistic reportage has been blended with the serious imagination of writing a fiction. In his writing Marquez has shown that how a series of events can be satirized in a newspaper report (Berg 80). However, in a contemporary context several reports have turned from history to narratives and the author’s way of investigating and recording the chronicle of death is modern in its own way. The modern novel has offered a resistance to the naturalistic and realistic mode of narrative by resisting the system of subjectivity and its representation. Gabriel Marquez used the intricate and subtle relationship between journalism and fiction efficiently in this novel.
“Chronicle of a Death Foretold” examines by decentering of the traditional storyline of contemporary open-ended narratives and also represents the intricate relationship between journalism and fiction (Pelayo 89). As Alonso said, “writing, the suggestion appeared to be, cannot serve as the instrument for redemption and cleansing that the novel envisions, since it is itself constituted and sustained through a violence that traverses it to the very core. This precise difficulty conveys the problems in Latin America too, as evident in Samuel Steinberg’s “Cronica de Muerte anunciada”. The inevitability of the questions of history in engaging critically with chronicling and writing fiction with the text of Marquez has implicitly described the narrator's views through his statements. The narrative becomes a blend of histories, events and memories and thereby criticises and satirizes the realist narration and representation. It also underlines the histories of the continent and the region, it is an ingenious treatment of history with fiction and it becomes quite impossible to divide the fiction and the documentation of history.