Chronicle of a Death Foretold | Study Guide

Gabriel García Márquez

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Chronicle of a Death Foretold | Motifs


Violence and Butchery

Violence permeates this novella. Much of the book focuses on the deadly intent of Pedro Vicario and Pablo Vicario in the macho roles of violent avengers in defense of women's honor. In addition, the violence against people is also reflected in, and even equated to, the slaughter of animals.

The Vicario brothers are hog butchers. They give their pigs flower names to make them more alien, to make their killing more palatable. The twins use their hog-butchering knives to kill Santiago, which further entwines the killing of animals with the killing of humans. This in no way diminishes the horror of murder: it exacerbates it by relegating it to the arena of food production.

Customs, Beliefs, and Superstitions

Most of the characters in the novella are tied to the customs of their culture, from macho male vengeance to the rituals of marriage and wedding parties. The running of households and the roles of servants strictly adhere to custom.

Yet the belief systems of the townspeople are diverse and often unorthodox. People pay lip service to basic Christianity but then act in distinctly un-Christian ways. For example, they know about the murder about to take place but can't be bothered to do anything to prevent it. They may believe it's Santiago's fate to be murdered, even though they know he's innocent.

Some people act based on omens they perceive in dreams or announced by seers. Their reliance on superstitious prophecy or assurances may either paralyze them into inaction or engender a certain complacency in them that makes action seem unwarranted or useless.

All three are found throughout the novella and provide a framework for the complicity of the townspeople in the murder. They are also frequently causative factors that lead to the contradictory, confused, or irrelevant actions (or inactions) of the witnesses.

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