Honor in Gabriel García Márquez's Chronicle of a Death Foretold

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Values are a vital part of any community. They shape the identity of a culture and help to form the identity of each individual in that society. Sometimes these embedded values have more power over a person than anyone would like to admit. Gabriel García Márquez shows the power of the value of honor in his book, Chronicle of a Death Foretold. In García Márquez’s writing, the theme of honor shows to have control over most of the characters. Through the many characters in García Márquez’s book, we can see that the heavy burden of one’s honor is portrayed as the reason for Santiago Nasar’s unfortunate homicide.

Pedro and Pablo Vicario, being the ones who held the knives that murdered him, are the direct cause of Santiago Nasar’s death, although, their motive was not an act of jealousy or rage. The underlying reason for their crime came from the upholding of their family's honor after they find out that Santiago Nasar has ruined their sister, Angela Vicario, and their family name, by taking her virginity. Many times throughout the novel, it is apparent that the twins truly don’t want to kill Santiago, but feel they have to. Their hesitation can be observed many times throughout the book by the fact that they wait so long to kill Santiago, and all the while tell everyone they come into contact with of their plan. They repeatedly tell people, “we’re going to kill Santiago Nasar” (59), vocalizing their plans to “more than a dozen people who had gone to buy milk” (66). Their advertising of their intentions steers one to believe that they wished to be stopped. This sentiment is fortified after Colonel Aponte takes away the boys’ knives. Pedro “considered his duty fulfilled when the mayor disarmed them” (69), showing his ...

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...ght, girl,’ he said to her, trembling with rage, ‘tell us who it was’” (53). García Márquez never lets the reader know for certain that it was indeed Santiago Nasar who took Angela Vicario's virginity, but it never really matters because when Angela “looked for it, [a name], in the shadows” (53), and said, “Santiago Nasar” (53), he was already dead.

Angela Vicario’s actions tested everyones honor in Gabriel García Márquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Once shame was brought onto the Vicario family, it was Pedro and Pablo’s obligation to restore their good name. Honor proves itself to be a strong value in this community verified by Santiago Nasar’s death. Because of the power that honor is given, Santiago’s death was inevitable.

Works Cited

García Márquez, Gabriel. Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Trans. Gregory Rabassa. New York: Ballantine Books, 1984. Print.
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