English Works in Translation Essay

How does the Journalistic Approach affect the themes of Gabriel Garcia
Marquez‟s ‘Chronicle of a Death foretold’?

Candidate Name: Abbal Dhakal
Candidate Number: 006644-0006
School: Oaktree International School
School Code: 006644
Session: May 2014
Word Count: 1504

Candidate Name: Abbal Dhakal Candidate Number: 006644-0006
Session: May 2014
Gabriel Garcia Marquez‟s work Chronicles of Death Foretold is a classic story of a murder
mystery based in a Columbian village where the crux of Latin America‟s strict moral codes is
portrayed. In this work, we see the utilization of the author‟s journalistic experience with his
literary abilities to present a well-crafted story of a foretold tragedy. The author exquisitely
exhibits the magnificent story of an announced death based on a Latin American legend which
polishes the story as it develops.
“On the day they were going to kill him, Santiago Nasar got up at five-thirty in the morning to
wait for the boat the bishop was coming on”, Marquez introduces the story to the reader in quite
an arresting way which is perhaps a reflection of his experience in journalism. The readers can
compare the „introduction‟ with „headline to a news report‟ where the most important piece of
information out of the whole story is given away. An introduction of a murder in the very
beginning of the story develops the feeling of curiosity of the details of the murder in the readers
urging them to keep on reading further.
The style is further followed by a first person narrative where Marquez presents himself as a
journalist who is taking in the witnesses‟ accounts to create a puzzle which ultimately culminates
to the explanation of the ruthless assassination of Santiago Nasar in a similar fashion. “They‟ve
killed me, Wene child,” is yet a static, emotionless description to an event, and yet another
account of a character, here, Santiago Nasar. The readers develop little or no feeling of affection
or even pity towards Santiago Nasar. They rather look forward to reading more accounts of the
„witnesses‟ in the story in order to understand the character better and find out the reason of his
However, unlike the indications the title is trying to give to the readers, this story is not narrated
as a chronicle, and a typical report. The time frame in the very first paragraph of the story spans
Candidate Name: Abbal Dhakal Candidate Number: 006644-0006
Session: May 2014
to twenty-seven years, destabilizing the literal indication of the title. „Placida Linero, his mother,
told me twenty-seven years later, recalling the details of that unpleasant Monday‟, the statement
foreshadows of the „unpleasant‟ events that are going to follow in the story. Hence the details of
the story of Santiago‟s murder is not ordered chronologically but with an intention to create
suspense and let readers indulge in understanding the plot as well as the characters.
Marquez presents the characters of the story flat and static. With a zilch description of emotions
or social persona of Santiago Nasar, the author instead describes him as a womanizer, seducer
and a symbol of machismo, with a reference completely to his physical characteristics and
activities. In the same token, Christo Bedoya, portrayed as Santiago Nasar‟s best friend is also
presented as a flat character since the ideal moral characteristics of the society is also reflected in
him. His description of these characters lets the reader form an opinion of the character by
themselves. He urges the readers to know these characters as people they just met as it if it were
the reality with no intentions to enforce any judgment of the narrator about the characters.
With a high regard of honor, Bedoya is shown just as much as contributing to the established
moral code of the town. Similar are the Vicario Brothers portrayed, a symbol to honor with high
level of self-respect and a sense of moral responsibility to their family and to the town as a
whole. To put it rightly, the whole town is described static. The readers are able to detect the
absence of emotions in the characters, while such emotions are generally shown by the people if
they know of a planned murder. The reaction of people is described just as weird, which makes
sense in the journalistic point of view since he is writing in description what appears to be.
Characters serve the purpose of witness for Garcia. Garcia compiles information for the story
through the accounts of those witness in order to reveal the brutality Nasar faced when he was
assassinated. While it begins with Placida Linero‟s description of her son‟s dreams, which is an
Candidate Name: Abbal Dhakal Candidate Number: 006644-0006
Session: May 2014
account taken twenty seven years after Nasar was assassinated, it is then followed by Victoria
Guzman‟s emotionless explanation of his manhood. Quotes by the characters unveil most of the
important information of the story.
There is an unbiased representation of the antagonist and protagonist in the story. No character in
particular is the antagonist neither is a single person indicated as completely guilty. The whole
town, at one point is the protagonist of the story where the Vicario brother are informing every
person they meet about their plan to murder Santiago Nasar.
Placida Linero‟s reluctance to interpreting her son‟s dreams was one of the fatal errors leading to
his death, and this piece of information is given by Placida Linero. „She hadn‟t noticed any
ominous augury in those two dreams of her son‟s‟, the narrations for the reasons of the murder,
though not done chronologically, does not blame the result on any character but the event
triggered or contributed by the character, which follows to the journalistic technique Marques is
using to narrate the story. The readers hence do not develop any grudge against Placida Linero in
the story but just wish that she had interpreted his dream correctly.
“The only thing I remember is that she was holding me by the hair with one hand and beating me
with the other with such a rage that I thought she was going to kill me” Angela Vicario speaks
out how her mother treated her when she was sent back home after being found out that she was
not a virgin. Angela, though scared, didn‟t reveal any other name but Santiago Nasar not because
he was the actual perpetrator but he fit perfectly to the description of one. “She found it at first
sight amongst many, many easily confused names of this world and the other”. This forces
skepticism into the minds of the readers to speculate whether or not it was supposed to be
someone else whose name she didn‟t remember or announce at that point in time. Furthermore, it
Candidate Name: Abbal Dhakal Candidate Number: 006644-0006
Session: May 2014
also reveals that her act also led to Santiago Nasar‟s murder, again making the readers
understand the reason she gave a possibly false statement to her brothers.
All the characters in the story are the victims of the moral limitations of the society. Despite the
fact that the whole town knew about the plan of Vicario brothers, no one dared to stop the crime
because they thought that it was morally justified to avenge Nasar on the account of his act. This
murder, which could have been protected, was committed by the Vicario brother who were the
victims of the expectations of the society. “When I saw them I thought they were nothing but a
pair of big bluffers,” the reason quite unreasonably put by Colonel Lazaro Aponte, the readers at
one point think that they were involved in the murder. And surprisingly, they are also involved in
the murder not because they didn‟t do their job but because they had a sense of moral duty to
allow the murder to take place. The development of negative opinion about any characters in the
readers never comes about because yet again Marquez lets the readers understand the characters.
Vicario brothers may seem to be the guilty, however, Angela Vicario, accusing Santiago Nasar
to be the perpetrator just because he fits to be one led to the death of Nasar. On the same
reference, the entire town is guilty for the murder of Santiago Nasar for not stopping the Vicario
brothers from committing the murder. The officials in this case may have seemed irresponsible
for letting the murder occur despite the fact that they knew the plan. “I knew what they were up
to,” she told me, “and I didn‟t only agree, I never would have married him if he hadn‟t done what
a man should do.” Even the Vicario brothers‟ activities can be justified since they had to satisfy
their personal and familial needs. The pressure they got from the society and family was so
intense that if they hadn‟t done what they did, they would be a reject in the society. Marquez
justifies the act of all the characters in such a way that he doesn‟t affect the thinking process of
Candidate Name: Abbal Dhakal Candidate Number: 006644-0006
Session: May 2014
the readers and lets them analyze by themselves who is the most victimized and the guiltiest of
the murder of Santiago Nasar.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez‟s unbiasedness is reflected through these evidences where he attempts
to take literature to a new level where it merges with journalism. Uncovering only bits and pieces
of information jumping back and forth in time, the readers hang on to the work until where he
describes the murder even though he announced the murder in the very beginning of the story.