The Story Of Chronicle Of A Death Foretold English Literature Essay


Prescribed question:

Text and Genre: How does the text conform to, or deviate from, the conventions of a particular genre, and for what purpose?

Chronicle of a Death foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Task is related course section:

Part 3: Literature – texts and contexts

Task focus:

This essay focuses on Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s choice of writing, the genre he chooses and how he develops the story in a rather intriguing way.

This essay claims that Garcia’s style of writing is rare and the way he develops the story with mixing his literary abilities investigative style is unique to the novella Chronicle of a Death Foretold. The use of non-linear style makes the novella a complex read but at the same time the novella is inexorable in nature, the reader cannot relax until he finishes the book.

The book Chronicle of a Death foretold is not a murder mystery, it is not a criminal investigation either, and it is also not entirely a journalistic piece of writing. The novella creates a genre of its own. Garcia’s unique style of writing and techniques used by him make the novella intriguing, entertaining and thought provoking.

The title of the book is in itself unique as it talks about a series of events that were foretold, it talks about the death that was foretold.

The story is built on a real occurrence. The novella seems to be written journalistically but uses anecdotal information as it presents the reader with the details of the murder.

The story of Chronicle of a Death Foretold wonderfully exhibits a well-crafted story of a foreshadowing. The story is situated in Latin America where Garcia Marquez used to live, the author depicts the stern code of morals characteristic of Latin America, which ultimately led to a murder in the name of honor. Garcia creatively uses his journalistic experience with his literary abilities in the text to create a breathtaking story of murder and mystery.

The central action, which contours and informs every page of the novella, is the murder of Santiago Nasar by the Vicario brothers in a "legitimate defense" of their sister’s honor. The text consists of a detailed account of the circumstances of the killing twenty-seven years after the incident. The effects of this murder on the people of the small unnamed Latin American town in which it happens, and their silent complicity in the crime itself, are disclosed in the narrator’s chronicle. The question of whether Santiago actually deserved his fate remains unanswered. The novella does not reason Santiago’s killing and does not throw light on how his demise could have been averted. The narrative takes us to the infinitesimal elaborations of the people about the events leading up to the crime. The final ruthless acts are punctiliously set down but, finally, the chronicler is not able to come to any conclusions regardless of all the evidence he has amassed.

The narrative is non-linear, its one of the ways in which the text deviates from the conventions of a particular genre. This is illustrated in the very first line; "On the day they were going to kill him, Santiago Nasar got up at five-thirty in the morning". [1] Garcia builds the story as a puzzle letting the story fall in place bit by bit with details coming together only at the end. The narration is like a concentric circle where everything revolves around the murder, which makes it interesting and captivates the reader. This makes the text complex and this is why it cannot be labeled as a criminal investigative novel. One also observes how like journalistic texts it is narrated by third person, connecting to it an investigative nature of compiling facts years after the murder.

The novella is divided into parts and the narrating style keeps changing, it is connected by a technique that makes them concurrently "similar" and "different", like mirror images. The narrator joins these parts, like bringing in a puzzle together similar to an investigator. The narrator has been a witness and marginal participant in the incident, he introduces himself as the writer. This way he counterpoises the actions and points of view of various witnesses and participants. He often comes into the fold by giving his own thoughts, but reveals them in a way that does not intervene with the total interpretation of the events, as all the perspectives appear structured and controlled in the novella. His assertions leave the reader with an impression of punctilious activity.

An omniscient narrator narrates the second paragraph of the book: "nor did Santiago Nasar recognize the omen. He had slept little and poorly without getting undressed." [2] Thenceforth the narrator enters in the first person - "I was recovering from the wedding revels in Maria Alejandrina Cervantes apostolic lap". [3] The narrator lets us know, what he was doing when Santiago Nasar was murdered.

The writer turns into an eyewitness, offering the reader with well – known facts about himself and hence raising the credibility of the narrative.

The central point of the narrative is from pages 83 – 111. [4] Here at last, we get a meticulous description of Santiago Nasar’s murder. The section at the end of the book portrays the murder from the twins’ and witnesses’ point of view, the chronicler tells the story in plural combining his voice with all the other characters – "For years we couldn’t talk about anything else. Our daily conduct dominated then by so many linear habits, had suddenly begun to spin around a single common anxiety" [5] 

The narration in the novella, does not "chronicle" the events, as the reader expects it to because of the title of the text. The narrative fluctuates between the past and the present.

As the novel does not answer many questions the murder raises, it exactly shows the reader how perplexing all of the incidents surrounding the murder were when it took place. The people remembered Santiago’s brutal killing vividly.

"There had never been a death more foretold," [6] the narrator declares, repeating the truth that discomfits the entire town. He notices that the murder has created "a single anxiety which had made of the town an open wound."

The book has an inexorable nature; it fascinates the reader till the end.

Maybe this is because the narrative regularly exhibits a feel of imminent disclosure. The reader expects conclusions because the narration is misleadingly purposeful in its tone.

The theme of the murder and honor is interwoven cleverly; killing is highlighted whereas the action of the murder is not. The brutal murder and the elaborate violence even after death, only makes sure that it is not the suspense, but the act that was appealing to the audience.