Although I haven't yet read Gabriel García Márquez' most known novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, I have read his other novels and short stories (there are plenty to choose from!). Perhaps like most of you, this was my first time reading Chronicle of a Death Foretold. I'd read and heard many reviews and many plot summaries on CoaDF. Thinking that I knew what to expect (although still excited about reading it), CoaDF took me by surprise and made me forget completely what I expected to read.
For an introduction, I would like to know what you thought about Chronicle of a Death Foretold.
One of the shortest novels we've read, I feel like it covered enough background information on the characters to make it a longer novel had it been written differently.
What did you all think of the way the story was executed?
Was your attention held throughout the story?
Were you bothered by the "anti-mystery" tool in this story?
Chronicle of a Death Foretold is a story about honor, tradition, irresistible violence, and the "psychology of mass complicity." (source: publisher 1999 edition?) Repetition is also often seen throughout. Aside from that, I feel that on a smaller scale, it deals with a lack of and learned love and mass consequence (since Angela is one of the main characters, i think it's somewhat significant what happens in her life in the years to come). GGM is one of the many Latin American writers that falls into the area of Magical Realism and Chronicle of a Death Foretold does not fall short of that. The following are some of my favorite lines throughout the novel which demonstrate the Magical Realism throughout the novel :
p. 37 "'He was healthier than the rest of us, but when you listened with the stethoscope, you could hear the tears bubbling inside his heart.'" (on widower Xius dying of sadness)
p. 46 "...and saw Bayardo San Román in the glow of the street light, his silk shirt unbuttoned and his fancy pants held up by elastic suspenders. 'He had that green color of dreams.'" (on BSR returning his bride)
p. 47 'She only took the time necessary to say the name...and she nailed it to the wall with her well-aimed dart, like a butterfly with no will whose sentence has always been written." (on Angela naming her perpetrator)
The way that the story was written was very successful. The tone in this story was meant to be that of a journalistic investigation and GGM's exection succeeded in that. Often times, I felt as one with the narrator, who is left unnamed--not even a last name is given. Leaving the narrator unnamed contributed to my feeling like the one doing the investigation. At the same time that the narrator is gathering all the information and accounts to make some sense of the death of Santiago Nasar, so are we.
Throughout the story, all of the characters' accounts and details differ in perspective, yet they coincide. This is one of the things that helped in keeping the story interesting for me (not that it wasn't!). For example, on p. 56, the Colonel tells the narrator that he remembered that that morning it began to rain, which coincides with earlier accounts about a thin drizzle. What mainly kept the story interesting for me was the way the story was written. I really liked how the story went in and out of the events leading to the death of Santiago to tells us about the background of some of the characters and what becomes of the characters in the years after Santiago's death.
The anti-mystery tool actually became the mystery tool. We know how the main character, Santiago, ends up. Dead. We know who kills him and why and how and when. The purpose the narrator sets out for and the tone of the novel become the driving force is wanting to find out about the events that lead to his death. That is the mystery.
Santiago Nasar: I suppose the ultimate question is, "Was he guilty???" There was no evidence, yet Angela's brothers stick to he answer. Even the narrator himself doubts Santiago's culpability. What is interesting about this is that because the narrator was friends with Santiago and he doubts his culpability, this doesn't distract us from considering Victoria Guzmán and her daughter Divina Flor's strong feelings against Santiago.
Angela Vicario: Was she lying??? If she was, why? I feel that she deserved some kind of punishment for mercilessly allowing her brothers to kill Santiago. Okay, she couldn't have done anything. Women are powerless and men have the final say (in this context!). But she didn't even show any kind of pity or guilt after Santiago's death, not even to the narrator while telling her side of the story. Maybe her punishment was that she fell in love with BSR after all... (that's it??)
Narrator: What is his purpose of gathering the details of the crime? of the chronicle? Why wait that long? What I think is that it was just one of those things that happens in life when at the moment of an event, one just takes in what has happened and it's not until years pass and one is still thinking about it that one finally decides to find out what happens exactly. I don't think there was a real purpose for the narrator waiting so long or longer before he went about his investigation. I think that makes the story even more so relative to the reader.
"Then he...fell on his face in the kitchen." What an image! There couldn't have been a more perfect way to end this. GGM's technique in writing the story allowed for the ending to be such. I couldn't have felt a louder thud!