Chronicle of a Death Foretold | Study Guide

Gabriel García Márquez

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Chronicle of a Death Foretold | Quotes


Trying to put the broken mirror of memory back together from so many scattered shards.

Narrator, Chapter 1

This quote reveals the hopeless task of assembling the faulty, discordant, and fragmentary memories of the townspeople who experienced the murder in order to create a coherent and truthful picture of what actually happened. The narrator tells the reader right at the start that the story he tries to put together from innumerable bits of unreliable memories will necessarily be incomplete and unsatisfying.


The time has come for you to be tamed.

Santiago Nasar, Chapter 1

Here, Santiago Nasar shows that even good-natured, open-hearted males in the novella are sexist and misogynistic. He is speaking to Divina Flor, the daughter of Santiago's housemaid, and he's informing her that as an adult male it is his prerogative to force her to submit to the power and desires of an adult man. The quote clearly reveals the gender roles that dominate that culture.


Don't be a savage ... Make believe it was a human being.

Santiago Nasar, Chapter 1

Santiago is sickened by the sight of Victoria Guzmán and Divina skinning and quartering the rabbits they have killed for dinner. Santiago implores them to think of the rabbits as humans, which he believes would make the women act less violently. The quote not only equates the lives of animals with that of humans (as happens in several places in the novella), it also foreshadows the deadly violence that will be carried out on Santiago, thus showing that Santiago is wrong in thinking that humans are or should be treated with less violence and cruelty than nonhumans.


The bishop [made] the sign of the cross ... mechanically ... without malice or inspiration.

Narrator, Chapter 1

The bishop disdains the people of the town so much that he will not even set foot on town land. This quote reveals he has forsaken the townspeople as inveterate and irredeemable sinners—something a bishop should never do. He carries out his religious duty like an automaton to distance himself from the flock he despises and of whom he thinks as unworthy of his ministry.


No one ... wondered whether Santiago Nasar had been warned, because it seemed impossible to all that he hadn't.

Narrator, Chapter 1

This quote sums up the confusion that makes the townspeople complicit in the murder of Santiago. It foreshadows the accidents, indifferent attitudes, and bizarre coincidences that somehow prevent or disincline the populace to warn Santiago that Pedro and Pablo Vicario are intent on finding and murdering him. The confusion expressed here is just one example of what seems like mass misunderstanding. The people know that everyone knows Santiago is to be murdered, but they conclude, without any evidence to the contrary, that because they know, Santiago must also know. Their misguided assumption, and their subsequent inaction, makes them complicit in his death.


The brothers were brought up to be men. The girls had been reared to get married.

Narrator, Chapter 2

Girls and boys, men and women, are brought up differently from each other in Latin American culture. This quote sums up the situation succinctly. Men, such as the Vicario twins, are raised to exercise machismo, or manly aggression. Women, such as their sister, Angela, are brought up with stifling overprotection. She is raised to be the meek and obedient wife of whatever husband her parents choose.


She nailed [the name] to the wall with her well-aimed dart.

Narrator, Chapter 2

Angela Vicario plucks Santiago's name out of the air in a manner similar to the way a falcon snares its prey on the wing. As the falcon's clutches will be fatal for the bird it catches, so the man Angela names, Santiago, will also be caught and killed.


The Vicario twins went to the ... pigsty where they kept their sacrificial tools and picked out the two best knives.

Narrator, Chapter 3

The slaughter of pigs is likened to the sacrifice of an innocent person, Santiago. The Vicario brothers get the knives they use to butcher pigs and sharpen them as lethal weapons to sacrifice Santiago. The use of sacrificial underscores Santiago's innocence and his fate as a martyr to their vengeance.


[Pablo] put the knife in [Pedro's] hand and dragged him off ... in search of their sister's lost honor.

Narrator, Chapter 3

Pedro felt that the mayor's confiscation of their first set of knives satisfied his desire for revenge against Santiago Nasar. Pablo vehemently disagrees and, after a heated argument, physically drags Pedro off to help him commit the honor killing. The quote emphasizes the power of the macho will to violence and vengeance among the twins.


I didn't know what to do. [I thought] it wasn't any business of mine.

Father Carmen Amador, Chapter 3

Clotilde Armenta specifically told Father Carmen Amador to warn Santiago or his mother about the impending murder. The priest's complicity is plain in his statement that he just didn't think it was any of his business. There is no excuse to fail to save someone's life if at all possible. The priest is among those most guilty of complicity because he knew it was going to happen but somehow still didn't take it seriously.


It was inconceivable ... to avenge a death for which we all could have been to blame.

Narrator, Chapter 4

After interviewing the multitude of townspeople who were witnesses to the murder or who knew about it in advance, the narrator can conclude only that everyone who knew but did nothing to stop it is complicit in the crime. Here he is commenting on the reason the Arabs didn't take revenge for Santiago's murder. The Arabs understand that everyone in town who knew but did nothing to save Santiago is guilty of the murder and must shoulder the blame.


There was only one victim: Bayardo ... other actors [fulfilled] their part of the destiny that life had assigned them.

Narrator, Chapter 4

The townspeople feel, perhaps justifiably, that the main players in the murder of Santiago were just cogs in the great wheel of fate, which foretold Santiago's doom. Because it was these actors' destiny to fulfill an inevitable fate, they are not considered victims. Their suffering is their destiny, and they should not be pitied. Bayardo San Román, however, lost everything when he lost his wife, so the people save their pity for him. Still, it's odd that they discount Bayardo's role in initiating the tragedy. Had he chosen to ignore Angela's impure state, none of the terrible events would have occurred.


None of us could go on living without an exact knowledge [of] the mission assigned to us by fate.

Narrator, Chapter 5

The narrator, like the townspeople, is desperate to know why the murder of Santiago was allowed to happen. He, like they, is consumed with the desire to know the truth and to understand why it happened. He refers to the people involved as carrying out a mission that would lead to a preordained fate, but he can't comprehend why this fate was foretold and why all the bewildering events that led to it were necessary. The confluence of events, accidents, and coincidences was just too well orchestrated to be pure chance. He must know why so many coincidences were arranged by fate for such an awful outcome.


So many coincidences [for the] untrammeled fulfillment of a death so clearly foretold.

Narrator, Chapter 5

The magistrate sees Santiago's death as foretold, as fated, but he seems to fail to see the role of each person in the town who became instrumental in bringing it about. Like the narrator, the magistrate is overwhelmed by the chance events and strange coincidences that led to the murder. He seems to suggest, however, that the murder, being foretold, would have happened in any case, without all the bizarre coincidences.


The people [came] back from the docks ... to take up positions ... to witness the crime.

Narrator, Chapter 5

This scene is perhaps the most damning in the novella. Everyone in town knew Santiago was about to be killed, yet no one—by design or by accident—warned him. They all instead show up in the town plaza to watch the murder being carried out. It seems as if for them it is a spectacle, or more mildly, a confirmation of what they knew would happen. Still, it is the sense that all these onlookers are complicit in the murder taking place before them that is almost as horrifying as the death of Santiago as he's hacked to pieces.

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