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Chronicle of a Death Foretold

  • Where does the motion come from? If the overarching question, as Jamie mentioned, is "why," what propels you through individual scenes/chapters? What questions are you asking yourself at different moments? How does he transition from question to question? When one is satisfied, how is another raised?

  • How would you describe the emotion of the book (the beginning, the middle, and the end)? What sorts of reactions or emotions does the text evoke in you, the reader? When--as Vladimir Nabokov would ask--does your spine tingle? How does he create this effect? Do you see where it comes from, how it's assembled?

  • How does the world of Chronicle of a Death Foretold achieve depth? That is, how does it appear to be a possible world, rather than a world of cardboard cut-outs? How does Marquez achieve verisimilitude and believability? By what mechanisms?

    Minor questions:

  • What is the effect of the repetition of "On the day they were going to kill him..."?
  • What is the effect of waiting until the very end to show the killing?
  • How would the book be different if we knew more about the narrator's life? What is the effect of knowing very little about him?

  • Please ask your own questions below!

Comments

What kept me terning from page to page was to find out if there was more to the reason he was killed. I also wanted to know how they killed him, and I wanted to know (the circumstances) why nobody told Santiago and when everyone knew the plan.
Márquez really didn’t answer a couple of the questions I had (at bottom of my post).
Chronicle made it seem like it was a possible world because the circumstances behind why nobody was able to warn Santiago were very real: people didn’t believe the brothers would do it, one man addressed the brothers-and their knife was taken away (but they got new ones), the priest saw him and “forgot? to tell him, Santiago’s friend went to warn him and didn’t make it in time.
I think waiting until the very end to show the killing was to keep readers interest through the whole book to find out what happened.
I think the book would be much different if we knew more about Santiago Nasar. If we knew more about his character and personality it could answer some of the questions like: Regarding Angela, did Santiago Nasar “take her honor?, or was it someone else? Or perhaps Angela had something against Santiago and maybe that’s why she said his name.
Márquez made a point to mention the letters from Angela to Bayardo San Román were unopened-then never went back to it. What was the significance of mentioning that they were never opened?

Then I was really upset with the ending. One of my biggest questions through the whole book was whether or not Santiago Nasar really did “deflower? or take Angela’s honor! Márquez NEVER said if he really did it or not.

For me the motion came from the way every chapter starts with its own question. Even though we know how the book will end, there are still mysteries to be solved.
The emotions evoked most powerfully in me have to be incredulity and disgust. Marquez builds this emotion by constantly reminding us that almost everyone in the town knew Santiago would be killed and gives us all of the details of their pitiful excuses for doing nothing to save him.
For me, the world came alive in the character details. Every character, no matter how minor (except for the narrator) was given a full name, an occupation, and a brief glimpse into their personality. We only saw Prudencia Cotes, Pablo’s fiancé, once, but it was enough to show us what a creepy bitch she is.
The constant reminders of the fact that Santiago was going to be killed added to the incredulity of him not being aware himself. It also added to the frustration caused by everyone’s reluctance to do anything about it. Every time I read it, I sort of thought, “I know! I know! Someone tell it to HIM!?
Putting the description of the murder at the end offered closure. At the beginning of the book we learn Santiago will die; at the end we see it happen. Also, it leaves the reader thoroughly disturbed (as if the rest of the book wasn’t enough). Leaving the reader this way sort of sets the stain the book had been building up to. It makes sure that the “why?? will be in our heads for a very long time.
If we knew too much about the narrator, it would turn into a story about him. Really, he’s a very minor character.
My question: I like that Bayardo came back because it adds to our frustration and makes us ask, “Then why didn’t you accept her as she was in the first place?!? What I don’t understand: why didn’t he open the letters?

Chronicle, in my opinion, is a story of perpetual questioning that is never answered. I think it's why I enjoyed it so much. The entire book you ask yourself, "Why are they going to kill him?" "Why did Angela name Santiago?" "Why doesn't anyone stop it?" etc. And you hope that by the end, you'll find peace in having those questions answered. Marquez doesn't do that for us though. He leaves it for the most part open, allowing it to stew and settle inside our minds to think about and to apply to our own societies. (Maybe that's why he doesn't answer or bring any true closure about the circumstances?) I like when you finish reading a book, yet you're still mulling it over for days. This book does that for me.

There are two "spine tingling" moments in this book for me. The first would have to be when Angela is described as choosing Santiago's name from the shadows, and nailing it to the wall like "a butterfly with no will whose sentence has always been written". I'm not sure why I find that so creepy, but that's definitely an uneasy spot in the book for me. The second would be later on when Victoria is trying to restrain the dogs who are trying to get Santiago's guts. I find this especially disturbing, being that Victoria had earlier been feeding the dogs the insides of the rabbits just to "embitter Santiago's breakfast". Santiago had told her to "not be a savage" and to "make believe it was a human being".

I also don't understand why Bayardo never opens the letters from Angela. I've studied this book in high school, and we were never able to come up with an answer. Any ideas?

Most of the book's motion did come from the overarching question of ''why?''. Why did they kill Santiago, then why did no one stop them, then why was no one warning him. The transitions from question to question seemed to arise from the transition from character to character. Each person had a different role in the event, which made for a new splash of reader curiosity on each page. Still, I never felt like the overarching ''why'' was satisfied--sure, the men had their knives taken away, but does that mean that there is no way the crime can go on? No. OBVIOUSLY NOT. Since the broad, moral issue never seemed to be resolved, even each character's little reasons for letting the brothers kill Santiago were anything but satisfying.

For me, a lot of the motion came from some lost hope that there would be a twist in the form of a definite answer to one of the many ''why''s, or in the form of someone, ANYONE coming down on this little town to punish them for allowing Santiago's death.

Though for most of the read I was just curious as to what new detail would arise to help me make more sense of the ''death foretold,'' I guess the main emotion that the book gave rise to was horror (the entire botched-autopsy-scene made me a bit sick to my stomach) and anger at the characters who seemed to be too busy sitting back to watch the show than to get up and do something. Still, I can't pin the way in which Marquez can evoke these emotions. It is all written in such an even-handed way that one would think the book would cause no feeling at all. Perhaps it's the way that Santiago is written as, for the most part, a pretty decent guy who may not deserve to be killed (especially after it is mentioned that there is not even a hint of evidence that he committed the crime he was killed for)? I can't be sure.

Ronnie put best what gives the world depth--character details. Everyone has a name, a family, a past, and a unique tick or two that stands off the page. That coupled with their own unique reasons for failing to prevent Santiago's death makes them believable enough that I can almost identify them as a mirror of someone in my own life (on that note, I hope no one ever plans to murder me). Another thing is that, as the book goes on, little details reveal the time period and the geographic location. Giving the setting a clearer frame makes it all a little more real.

In the end I was kind of unsatisfied. The book was solid, but my hoped-for twist in the plot never came. I suppose this is what Marquez wanted to do all along, was make it simple. Santiago Nasar was killed. No one gave a damn. The end. Were you expecting something different? Well, sorry.

I guess that can be my question. Was anyone else expecting a twist?

To share my thoughts on the unopened letters that everyone seems to be talking about: I think Bayardo leaves the letters from Angela sealed because their existence and the effort put into them at all--a letter a week for all those years--is a worthy token of love. Not that I would do the same, but the man didn't seem to have the most stable reasoning in the first place, so why question it really?

One of the things that I liked most about this book, was the way that Marquez wrote it in the form of a journal. We piece the story together, just as the narrator did, as he set out to solve the crime. A question that stayed with me throughout the entire book, is what kind of morals and beliefs do these people have? So many of them seemed to think that it was ok for Santiago to die, he was guilty before proven guilty, and before god, the twins would practically be seen as heroes... just not in the court of law.

I think that this book seems very realistic in the way that everyone points the finger, but never puts any blame on themselves, even though any one of them could have stopped the murder from taking place. Honestly, that angered me, and that is what drove me to keep reading. I wanted to know why no one stopped it, and a part of me was hoping that Santiago didn't really die at all, and that some weird twist in the story would lead to him still alive on the last page.

What made my "spine tingle" was the end of the book, when Santiago's mother closes and locks the door, trapping Santiago in the presence of his killers. There was so much irony in this for me, because even though no one was going to step up and stop the murder from happening, Santiago had made it home... to safety... except for the fact that once there, he was locked out.

Jozette asked why Bayardo never read the letters from Angela, but I want to know why he showed up at her house without knowing what she was writing him. If he didn't want to know what she had to say... then that is a reason as to why he didn't open the letters. But he obviously did want to know because he showed up to see her... so why not just open the letters first?

I thought that the motion in the book came from Marquez's previews of events. The why? questions always derived from a major plot point being introduced without being explained. This is what the entire novel hinges on. I mean if Marquez started with the murder scene then we wouldn't wonder how or why it happens, but instead we're hooked in by this initial question and subsequent questions. I also simply wonder why nobody warns him. I think this question applies to almost every character. I thought he transitioned from chapter to chapter and question to question by saying things like, "And that was the last time he saw Santiago Nasar alive" and then leading into the next part of the story with "On the day they killed Santiago Nasar...". I think for much of the book, the question that drove me was did Angela actualy lose her virginity to Santiago? and if not who? This question bugged the heck out of me. I think that the reader is lead to believe that Santiago wasn't the one, but there is never clear resolution. Another question, that I asked myself throughout the entire story was, what is so special about Santiago Nasar? I never quite understood why, but his character stayed intriguing. I thought that the way he died made him special. He was almost accepting of his fate it seemed to me. I think what made Santiago special was that the entire novel you know what is going to happen, and I think I began to believe that Santiago had to also know himself. Yet, he still moved inexorably towards his death. I thought it added an odd dream-like quality to the entire event.

The emotion of the entire book was some kind of hopelessness to me. The entire way through I sympathized for Santiago. Even at the moments when he doesn't seem like such a nice guy. Even when he comes off as a pervert and touches Divina Flor, I still end up thinking that he can't be that bad of a guy. Maybe this is because I knew he was going to die. I think that the entire story is just kind of bleak though. The story of widower Xius and then Bayardo San Roman's downfall from his marriage. The parts about the Vicario father being blind and not being aware of when people are talking to him at the wedding or when one of the Vicario twins it is told dies in war all add to the whole overlying feeling of doom. Marquez creates this effect by telling overwhelming the novel with death and people losing love.

Two parts of the novel were really spine tingling for me. One was the scene that Jozette mentioned, where Angela tells her brothers it was Santiago. I agree that the line about the butterfly being pinned is a bit disturbing. The scene gave me a trapped and stiffling feeling. The other scene, that I thought was really sick but great, is the line at the end that tells how Santiago took the care to brush the dirt off him guts. I thought there was something really dignified about this. It seemed to me almost like he wanted to look good for death.

I think Marquez creates a realistic world of depth and realism by weaving all of the side stories of the characters together. I think by giving everyone reasons for not warning Santiago he makes it all seem possible. I also think that he achieves a realistic effect by switching between very beatiful and dreamlike descriptions of things like dreams and very realistic and lower descriptions of things like Angela being beaten by her mother or the grusomeness of the autopsy.

Many people are discussing why Bayardo didn't read the letters. I think it just creates a very strange effect. Maybe it is to show that he came back to her based on his reflection on his memories and not because of anything she wrote. Perhaps it says that he was to heartbroken to read them. Maybe it is justify his not replying all those years to her pleas for forgiveness. Perhaps the letters stay untainted to him by his not reading them. He can imagine whatever he wants about what they say. In any case I'm not really sure why they are unread.

Hmmm... I feel bad about such a long comment. It's hard to keep it short and answer all the questions.

“There had never been a death more foretold.? –pg 57 of the older, green version

We know Santiago is going to die from the very beginning. We know the novel is going to talk about the events that lead up to the death. By setting it up in such a fashion, Marquez opens the door for us to look at the death from a different angle.

It allows Marquez to unravel the secrets at his own pace. Each section raises new questions. Who is this Santiago Nasar character? Why did Pablo and Pedro do what they did? What happens to them? Are they punished? Why did Angela do it? How could this have been prevented? Why Santiago?

We see how everyone in the town had a part to play. We see the significance of Angela and Bayardo’s relationship. We see the good and the bad in the townsfolk. I love that not all of our questions are answered. I would be disappointed if Marquez tied everything up in a neat little package at the end. Life is loose ends; that’s part of what made the story so realistic. It wasn’t shiny and perfect all the time. The people were girtty (even the jerk of a bishop).

My Nabakov moment came at the end, when Cristo is running around the town looking for Santiago. Finally, someone is trying to help him, to warn him. I love when Prospera Arango’s sick father slows Cristo down. Four minutes figuring out the man’s condition, plus another three getting him into bed? I got so frustrated! It was a very tense moment for me as a reader. It’s like, “Forget about the old man! Go find your friend! Help this other guy later! Focus on keeping your pal away from the Vicarios!? That’s a very effective device for a writer to use, like we talked about in class. When you want to jump into the book and fix things, the writer is doing something right.

The main question that propelled me to keep reading “Chronicle of a Death Foretold? is why. Why did they kill him and why did everyone let it happen. Throughout the first chapter this was my main concern. As Marquez introduces new characters and gives us more information, new questions arise. Questions like… Why did Bayardo San Roman give back his bride? Did Santiago Nasar really take Angela’s virginity? How did the twins kill Santiago? If everyone knew, how come Santiago didn’t? Each chapter ends with a sort of turn of events that makes you want to keep reading to find out what happens next. Unfortunately many of these questions remain unanswered giving you a feeling of dissatisfaction (as Holly said). In psychology there is this phenomenon that the more people who know something terrible is going to happen or is happening, the less responsible they feel. I thought of this the entire time I was reading the book. Everybody knew that everybody knew and assumed someone else would tell him.

The overall emotion I felt when reading this book was sadness. The way the story begins, “On the day they were going to kill him…? gives you a chilling feel and you immediately know that there will not be a happy ending. Marquez writes in a very dreamy way but the story he tells is depressing. I also felt frustrated. The more people who “tried? to help but just missed their chance, the more I wanted to jump into the book and straighten things out. Each time Marquez ended a chapter was a spine tingler for me. At the very end of the book, Marquez finally describes the murder. I agree with Ronnie that this brings us closure.

“Chronicle of a Death Foretold? achieved its depth through the characters and the way the story is set up. The characters are all very believable and you can easily picture them and the world they live in. The way in which Marquez tells the story through Santiago’s friend’s perspective also creates depth. Knowing very little about the narrator allows us to sort of step into his shoes and gather the information ourselves. Giving away the ending and then moving backwards was a very unique way to tell a murder mystery.

My question (like Arteira, Jozette, and Ronnie) is why didn’t Bayardo San Roman open all the letters? If he didn’t care what Angela had to say then why did he save them all? I found it very interesting that Marquez would have Bayardo return to Angela after all those years. I am wondering what took place after his return? Did they fall in love or was he just visiting her? Also, whatever happens to the twins? They go to prison for a while and are accepted back into the community? How would Santiago’s mother receive the twins? Does she forgive them?

I think, for this comment, I am going to start on the achievement of depth since that is really what amazed me about this novel.

It also seems that everyone else who commented on depth felt it was achieved in a manner similar to the way I think. XD! Oh well. I thought the depth of the story was achieved by the fact that all the characters had reasons for their words and backgrounds for their choices. No one did anything just to do it, enabling the story to progress. It feels like the things that happened, what the people said and what they did, were natural and wholly understandable from that character's point of view.

Moving onto the motion of the story (no pun intended), I feel the motion and the flow of the story is achieved through the repeating of certain details and phrases, such as descriptions of the wedding and of the pope's visit. Every time something is mentioned, however, we are allowed another small crumb of knowledge about it. That kept me reading, more than anything else. I wanted to find out exactly what had happened, I wanted that extra piece of information. This book really played to my curiosity.

As for emotion...to be honest, I didn't really feel any emotion, mostly just curiosity. I didn't really care about Santiago (or really any of the other people. I just felt like I was watching events unfold). All i really felt while reading this novel was a drive to keep reading it out of curiosity. That's really it. (As for Nabokov, I highly recommend reading Lolita.)

I've already mentioned the repetition creates motion and flow, leaving Santiago's death description to the end really enticed me to keep reading, and I think if we knew more about the narrator, it would make the novel more about him than the people of the town. Because we don't know anything about him, we forget it is he that is narrating and so we lose ourselves to the story.

:D!

I think that A Chronicle of A Death Foretold achieves depth by explaining just about every single thing that happened on the day that Santiago died by explaining one part of the story at a time. While at the same time, some parts of the day still remains a mystery, was it sunny or raining that day?

It all really reminds me of an episode of The Simpsons I believe to be loosely based on the movie Run, Lola, Run. Anyways, in the episode of the Simpsons, the episode starts, showing what happened to Homer, all the while events are happening but aren't explained because they are from Homer's point of view. Then the episode starts over, showing what happened to Lisa on that day, and events start to intertwine with Homer's day. Then the episode starts over one more time, showing Bart's day, and with this final story being told, all the events in the story makes sense.

And thats what we have with A Chronicle of A Death Foretold, we see that Santiago is killed, and even understand why, but the rest of the story is only given to us in bits and pieces explaining what other people did that day like the twins. And finally, we get to what Santiago did on that day, and gain a much fuller understanding of all that took place.

I feel that is what makes this story have so much depth. Its just a tale of one event on one day, but its well over one hundred pages long, because it was a very busy event.

Thats not to say that all that was read was new, the fact that Santiago was killed was mentioned over and over again, but I think like someone else said, this repetition creates motion. I think this is also done because, even though we know whats going to happen, we believe it might not, even with the constant reminder that it will. It seems almost like some sort of mind trick, that I just find hard to explain.

I still find myself wondering, why Angela even ratted on Santiago. The magistrate couldn't even find a clue that he took her virginity. What's more is that she never even explains how or where he took her virginity. I kind of wonder if maybe she made it up. Theres no mention of a past grudge against him, but if she wanted Santiago dead, that would be a good way to go about getting him killed. But that would go into conspiracy theories, and I don't think thats what this book was trying to get into.

As far as emotion goes, this book didn't evoke many from me. Mostly it made me curious, sometimes surprised, like when I found out that Santiago did become aware of his forthcoming death. And I guess I did become a little angry that nothing more was done to prevent this death. Nearly everyone in town knew of the planned murder, but no serious actions were taken to stop the twins, they were only told to go home. You think a cop would take any death threat seriously. And thats what I found frustrating, everyone's feelings of, "Oh somebody else will take care of it." And that too is what drove the book onward a little in itself too.

And finally, the narrator was a bit bothersome, who was that guy? We never find anything out about him, just that he has a sister, and seemed to know Santiago, but we never get a name or a relation or anything like that. Am I alone in being frustrated by this mysterious person?

The thing that kept me turning the pages, like I said in class, was the constant reemergence of new questions. In the beginning you want to know why Santiago gets killed. Then you want to know who killed him, how did it happen, why did know one stop them, and so on. Marquez just keeps raising new questions to keep the reader interested. People are generally curious and want to know the answer to these questions, so they keep reading.

I think that's also why he waits until the end to show the actual killing. Not only does it add suspense, but all the questions raised lead up to this point and the reader finally understands how everything happened.

I accidently posted that. In the beginning I felt the emotion of the narrator was very removed, like he was just a reporter. But that is really what he was. Then as you see all the different interconnecting occurences, it kind of makes you feel mad or just sick to think that all these people knew that this guy was going to get killed and they didn't do anything. It's even more frustrating that Santiago probably didn't even do the thing that he was killed for. He may not have been a great guy, but he probably didn't deserve to die.

Finally, I thought that Marquez achieved a sense of reality by making very "human" characters. They all had flaws and quirks and they weren't just embodiments of right and wrong. Santiago wasn't necessarily a good guy, but he is seen by most after his death as being undeserving of being murdered. Then you have the Vicario brothers who should be considered these evil guys because they killed a man, but as they see it they are doing it for honor. In addition, they immediately turn themselves in, which doesn't seem like something a psycho killer would do. I just think that making believable characters is what makes believable stories.

My question is basically, did Santiago do it or not? I just really want to know.

Like many others (i think pretty much everyone) has mentioned, the motion comes from the question "why the hell is nobody stopping this heinous crime?" That is the main motion for me. I found me feeling the hopefulness i had in the movie titanic- please don't sink! Somebody please save Santiago Nasar! But the death was foretold and we as readers were as helpless as Santiago Nasar, himself. We are so riddled with disbelief that we the readers, just want to jump in and take the vicario brothers out. another very powerful question, as stated by other students, is the mystery of whether santiago actually did what he was executed for doing. garcia marquez pushes this question by putting both sides in and letting us judge. for instance, the crotch grabbing of the maid in the beginning; That makes us think he was capable of committing the crime. But towards the end, we hear the stories from witnesses about the look of "confused innocence" on his face. We really never know.

The emotion of the book is a mix between detachment and confusion and also a sort of frustration from everyone standing around. I often felt pity, which is understandable as the event was only referred to as a tragedy and we heard the point of view from his mother and close friends.

The depth is achieved by the beauty of Garcia Marquez's characters and each quam and concern each was has mentioned. No character is simple or flat. each one is round with problems and their own guilt.

The repetition on the statements such as "on the day they killed santiago nasar" was to never keep us in suspense about the thing he didnt want us suspended on. He didnt want us to ask questions like "is it going to happen?" he wanted us to ask question that baffle us like "why is it going to happen? how?" I also think a bigger part like someone mentioned, was that it helped us focus more on what he was saying and his writing. If we were being reminded, we'd be at risk of scanning the literature to get to the resolution and missing the importance that Garcia Marquez was trying to implore.

I think waiting til the end to show the killing is the classic technique of climax-resolution. It was the conclusion and answered the question of what it was like when it happened. I think it sort of declared who Santiago Nasar was.

My own question: I would like to bring up the significance of whether it was raining or not. It is mentioned many times in the story and is disputed over and over.

I felt the emotion of the book was very somber. I felt that all of Marquez's words had a hint of mourning and confusion. Marquez maintains these emotions through his text in every scene, which is quite impressive. But for me, the big spine-tingler was that actual death of Santiago. The whole book was leading up to that moment, and I thought that Marquez was able to successfully capture the moment with his descriptions. I think that Marquez reached this moment of spine-tingle by constantly teasing the reader throughout the book by only giving enough detail to force the reader to continue reading. His writing is very calculated and specific.

I think not knowing much about the narrator's life simply raises more questions: Why did he come back to investigate? What was his relationship to Santiago? Who was the narrator? This book does a wonderful job of getting the reader to consider many possibilities by its open-endedness.

Marquez does an incredible job of achieving depth in his story by building the story from a number of different perspectives. The plot is covered over and over again, showing the reader the detailed actions of the characters through the many points of views of other characters being interviewed. Through the many accounts of the day’s events, I can almost visualize the entire town. I can see Nasar walking across the square from a number of different angles in my mind because that is how it was presented to me as the reader. Everyone and everything in the story appears to me wholly 3-dimensional and in great detail in my mind.
As for the believability of how so many people could know and yet Nasar’s death still came to be: He gave a plausible reason for almost every last character that was noted in the book and did not tell Santiago of what was to come. I can imagine even myself being in the position of many of those characters as they think ‘Oh well, I’ll just tell him later,’ or ‘I’m sure those men wouldn’t actually kill him’. The story is written with a sometimes exaggerated detail but maintains a realistic plot throughout its length.
The journalistic approach added to the plausibility of the plot by not just having the narrator hand the reader all the facts in the story. He only reports to us what had been reported to him from the characters. This also goes along with the repetition of “On the day they were going to kill him…? By repeating that, it signals a new perspective in the story or new details that add the to the readers knowledge of that days events. And by saving the killing till the end, Marquez, or our narrator, does not give away the most explicit details to the highlight of the story.
Even at the end the narrator did not answer all of our questions: Like Jozette, I want to know why Bayardo returns if he never opened any of the letters! And, although I have an idea, no one ever said conclusively whether or not Nasar actually was the one to take the brides virginity. Maybe that’s better though- it keeps me thinking about the story for a while after I am done as opposed to have a tidy ending. Those are not nearly as memorable.

nice article, thank you

nice post, thank you

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