Bloom's How to Write About Gabriel Garc¡a Marquez (Bloom's by Eric L. Reinholtz

By Eric L. Reinholtz

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Sample text

Noting “the vitality in his eyes” (7), even his pessimistic wife cannot help but admire her husband’s undiminished dignity. A third symbol of the colonel’s optimism, one that reappears throughout the novella, is the rooster. “A legacy” (11) from his son Agustín, who was murdered by the government, the rooster represents both economic salvation for the colonel if it wins in the upcoming cockfights and the opportunity for the colonel to honor the memory of a dead child. Again, the wife is negative about the rooster and constantly complains about it.

While the colonel’s wife can hardly be considered an antagonist, her pessimism remains a constant foil to his faith. Just as the colonel eventually notices that the cool December weather “has shriveled the flora in his gut” (53), so his hopeless spouse persists in counting rosary beads and lamenting that her asthma “is not a sickness but a slow death” (59). Similarly, the town’s brutal mayor is shown with “his unshaven swollen cheek” (9) from a toothache—a physical manifestation of his moral decay.

Chronicle of a Death Foretold is a novel that explores the nature of honor through the detailed recounting of a murder in a small town. While honor is frequently defined as an innate sense of duty governed by a moral code, Gabriel García Márquez subverts the honor paradigm to reveal it, not as a noble trait driven by an inner sense of right and wrong, but rather as a facade maintained for the sake of social reputation. Taking place in a paradoxical world in which the victim is culpable and the murderers heroic, Chronicle of a Death Foretold ultimately shows that while it is the Vicario brothers who stab Santiago Nasar to death, it is the society’s twisted concept of honor that condemns him long before—and long after—the first stab of the knife.

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