Even the requirement that Angela be a virgin on her wedding night is tied to the Church, where priests never marry and so supposedly are virgins, and good Catholic girls must be virgins when they marry. In addition, throughout the novel, the murder, and the events leading up to it are often referred to as being “Gods will,” which indicates how the Church permeates everyday life. The narrators mother says, “In those days, […] God understood such things” (Garcia Marquez 41). In addition, the novel itself seems like an attempt to ritually cleanse the village of the murder. Another critic writes, “More importantly, the attempt to achieve cathartic release through the repetition of the original murder would carry with it the possibility of an endless cycle of contamination and atonement” (Bloom 266). God is the reason behind all the things that happen in life according to Latin American culture, and so, God and the Church play an integral role in the novel and in everyday life.
Symbolism in the novel is quite elusive, partly because Garcia Marquez attempts to “report” the facts of the murder in a style closer to journalism than fiction. Dreams do figure in the novel, in fact, the novel opens with Santiagos dreams and his mothers interpretation of the symbolism in them, but that symbolism never actually seems to correspond with anything that actually occurs in the novel. Symbolism is not the key literary technique in this fantasy that is part detective story, part journalism, and part fiction. Garcia Marquez is not as concerned with symbols as he is with characters and what motivates them, and that is one of the things that makes this book so interesting.
Finally, the book, by heading forward 27 years, indicates the implications Nasars death had on the community and the people in it. A literary critic writes, “But, by the second page of the book, we are made aware of the radical unreliability of both sources: Many people coincided in recalling that it was a radiant morning…. But most agreed that the weather was funereal, with a cloudy, low sky” (Hutcheon 76). This shows how memories, even the most distinctive ones, change over time, and that often means that past events are seen with a rosy glow, even when they were not so rosy when they actually occurred.
It is interesting to note that the book was actually based on real events that occurred in Columbia in 1951. A girl was returned to her family, her brothers murdered the man she accused, and they did go to prison for a while. Garcia Marquez swears he knew the murdered man, and the story is based on these events (Pelayo 111-112). The only real differences that the author added to the story are the reconciliation of the girl and the groom, which never occurred in real life.
In conclusion, “Chronicle of a Death Foretold” is an interesting and dark story of Latin American culture and society. It deals with the important issues of honor, machismo, and religion, and gives the reader insight to some of the most important aspects of Latin American culture. Finally, it shows that families are important to the culture of these countries, but honor and the Church rise above all else, even common sense, love, and decency. It is also an interesting detective-type story that defies classification, making it one of Garcia Marquez most interesting and thoughtful books. What is perhaps most disappointing about this novel is the way it ends, leaving the reader to make sense of all the many facets of the story, and never revealing who the real culprit was in the deflowering of Angela. Most novels tie up all the loose ends by the end of the book, but this one keeps the reader guessing right up to the last page, and beyond.
Bloom, Harold, ed. Gabriel Garcia Marquez. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1999.
Editors. “Gabriel Garcia Marquez.” The Spanish Repertory Theatre. 2007. 6 Feb. 2008. http://www.repertorio.org/education/pdfs/marquez.pdf
Garca Marquez, Gabriel. Chronicle of a Death Foretold, trans. Gregory Rabassa, New York: Alfred a. Knopf, 1983..