The novel “The Chronicle of a death foretold”, written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, is a novel based on a real murder that occurred in Columbia on January 22, 1951. The main characters in “The Chronicle…” and their actions, fate and intentions resembled that of the people in the actual account of murder (GradeSaver, 1999). The other works of the author are the famous novels “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and “The Autumn of the Patriarch” (Bloom, 1999). This novel was published in 1981 after the tenure of the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet (GradeSaver, 1999).
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“The House of the Spirits”, a novel by Isabel Allende, is a powerful attempt by a female writer to narrate the story of three women who want to deviate from the domineering family patriarch. It revolves around many political concepts, including the resisting relationship between the Left and Right forces. The novel was published in 1982 with the title “La Casa De Los Espiritus” and was translated into English in 1985 (eNotes, 1998).
The two novels were written by authors with the aim to illustrate the many means of building up and protecting dignity. In the following pages, the characters, plot and the extent of the actions of the protagonists due to the commitment to honour of the people of the novels will be analysed and examined to be able to know what it really means to be respected, and to the professional extent, be honoured.
To start with, I’d like to give a brief introduction about the main characters of the “The Chronicle of a death foretold”.
Santiago Nasar, the man that was murdered by Pedro and Pablo Vicario after he was accused of taking from Angela Vicario her virginity, and died after the wedding of the latter to Bayardo San Roman. Angela Vicario, the newly-rejected wife of Bayardo San Roman who was returned back to his family after having been found out by her husband that she wasn’t a virgin.. Pedro Vicario, one of the twin brothers of Angela Vicario, originally came up with the plan of killing Santiago Nasar but it didn’t push through as he was disarmed by the mayor, Col. Aponte. Pablo Vicario the other twin brother of Angela Vicario, took over the plan of killing Santiago Nasar after Pedro didn’t push through with his plan. He was able to marry Prudencia Cotes after being found not guilty of the murder case.
Bayardo San Roman, the son of a well-known general during the civil war times, Gen. Petronio San Roman and the woman who was thought of being Antilles’ most beautiful, Alberta Simonds. Placida Linero, the mother of Santiago Nasar who was known for interpreting dreams, and failed to see the omen of the birds on her son’s death. Purisima del Carmen also regarded or called Pura Vicario, is Angela Vicario’s mother and somewhat relative to the narrator by blood. Poncio Vicario, Angela Vicario’s father, a goldsmith that lost his sight when he was still working. (GradeSaver, 1999)
The other characters in the novel are Maria Alejandrina Cervantes, a popular prostitute of the town, a good friend to the narrator and also Santiago Nasar. Ibrahim Nasar the father of Santiago Nasar (dead as of the onset of the story). Victoria Guzman, who worked as a helper to the Nasar. She was seduced by Ibrahim Nasar when she was still young. She is worried that her daughter Divina Flor will suffer the same fate as Santiago Nasar.
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Clotilde Armenta, the manager in a milk shop where the twins Pedro and Pablo Vicario spent time before killing Santiago Nasar. She attempted to warn Santiago of the dark plan by telling his mother the local priest and the mayor but all was for nought. Don Rogelio de la Flor, the better half to Clotilde Armenta. He didn’t believe his wife when she revealed to him the plan of the twin brothers Pedro and Pablo Vicario, but when he finally saw the actual killing of Santiago Nasar, died of a heart attack.
Divina Flor, the only child of Victoria Guzman. Cristo Bedoya a common friend of the narrator and Santiago Nasar were one of the people that told him about the murder plot. Luis Enrique, the brother of the narrator who was told of by the twin brothers Pedro and Pablo Vicario of the murder plot but he was too drunk to remember. Margot, the sister of the narrator who had kept her admiration for Santiago Nasar. Father Amador, the local priest who was told of by Clotilde Armenta of the murder plot but he was too panicked to remember when the bishop visited. He was the one who acted as pathologist to the lifeless Santiago Nasar. Dr Dionisio Iguaran, the doctor in the town. Col. Lazaro Aponte, the town mayor who failed to warn Santiago Nasar of the murder plot because he was too busy checking on dominoes.
Faustino Santos, a friend of the twins Pedro and Pablo Vicario. He warned the policeman of the murder plot. Officer Leandro Portnoy, passed one of the people who relayed the information about the plot to kill Santiago from Faustino Santos to Col. Lazaro Aponte. Gen. Petronio San Roman, Bayardo San Roman’s former civil war general father. Alberta Simonds, Bayardo San Roman’s mother who was believed to possess the most beautiful face in the Antilles.
Prudencia Cotes, Pablo Vicario’s better half. Yamil Shaium, one of Ibrahim Nasar’s friends. Flora Miguel, fiancée of Santiago Nasar. Nahir Miguel, Flora Miguel’s dad. Xiu’s, a man from whom Bayardo San Roman bought their house. Investigating Magistrate, a judge of the case surrounding Nasa’s death. Mercedes Barcha, the better half of the narrator. Indalecio Pardo, friend Santiago, wasn’t able to give the information about the murder plot to his friend (GradeSaver, 1999).
In “The House of the Spirits”, the main characters are the following: Alba Trueba, the daughter of Blanca to a man named Pedro Tercero Garcia. Blanca Trueba, the eldest child of Esteban and Clara Trueba. Clara del Valle Trueba, the youngest child of the del Valle, has the ability to see things, that is, she is able to predict imminent dangers. Esteban Trueba, the patriarch of the Trueba, and is a hard-working man thus attributes to himself the good status of living of his workers (eNotes, 1998).
The secondary characters of the story are Severo del Valle, Clara’s father. Nivea del Valle, Clara’s mother. Doña Ester, mother of Esteban and Ferula Trueba. Ferula, Esteban’s sibling. Nicolas and Jaime, twin sons to Clara and Esteban. They are also Alba’s siblings. Rosa, Clara’s elder sister. Uncle Marcos, Clara’s probably to whom Clara inherited her eye for the magical things. Dr Cuevas, the doctor. Father Restrepo, a priest. Transito Soto, a sex worker.
Nana, the caregiver to the children of del Valle and Trueba. Old Pedro Garcia, father of Pedro Segundo Garcia. Pedro Segundo Garcia, Tres Marias’ worker. Pedro Tercero Garcia, son of Pedro Segundo Garcia, the man of Blanca. Pancha Garcia, niece to the man Pedro. Esteban Garcia, the one who will take revenge against Esteban Trueba. Amanda, Nicolas’ girlfriend whom Jaime is in love with. Miguel, Amanda’s brother. Jean de Satigny, a former business partner of Esteban Trueba. Professor Sebastian Gomes, a university teacher. Ana Diaz, a classmate of Alba. Father Jose Dulce Maria, nursed Pedro Tercero Garcia after his fingers were cut (eNotes, 1998).
The Main Plot
“The Chronicle of a death foretold” is a novel revolving around the story of a 21-year old Colombian of Arab descent Santiago Nasar’s death by the twin brothers Pedro and Pablo Vicario. They took revenge for the loss of honour of their sister Angela Vicario. Twenty-seven years after the infamous murder, the story was patched up by the narrator and the townspeople to figure out what went wrong and all the untold stories of each person involved (Bookrags, 2005).
For years, the story has remained untold until the narrator started to uncover everything that lies behind the murder. Angela was set to marry Bayardo after the latter has chosen Angela as his bride. Her family, after finding out the background of Angela’s suitor, consequently approved of the marriage. However, during the night of the wedding, Purisma beat Angela for two hours when she was returned home on the night of her wedding for the reason that her new husband discovered that she wasn’t a virgin. When her twin brothers learned of her ordeal, they had the concrete decision of killing Santiago (GradeSaver, 1999).
Pedro and Pablo had told, about twenty-two people, of the murder plot. Some were able to do their job, that is, to attempt to try Santiago, or the people around him, that he is going to get killed. However, most of them weren’t able to help Santiago escape his death. Having these unsuccessful events led to the death of Santiago. His murderers were captured, yet were acquitted after finding out that they did the incident for the honour of their sister Angela (GradeSaver, 1999).
“The House of the Spirits” is a political novel that struggles to portray the chain of events from building up the patriarch to the conflict among struggling society classes, to the revenge and finally putting up the shattered pieces that selfishness has caused. It briefly retells the story of love, sacrifice and charity that moulds the lives of the people during The Terror.
The story was based on Alba Trueba’s account of their story, from her grandfather’s stories and her grandmother’s notes. Esteban Trueba, a hardworking patriarch, managed to build up his wealth by working for a mine. He eventually became violent when his fiancé died, and thereafter he decided to marry Clara, del Valle. He had many untoward behaviours toward her, and this led to his bad actions attributed to the rest of the family, and even to the rest of his people.
They had three children, Blanca, and the twins Nicolas and Jaime. All his children opposed his cruelties and each had their own way of protesting their father’s actions. The people outside of the family experienced various cruelties from Esteban Trueba’s hands. Pedro Tercero Garcia, to whom Blanca had a daughter, nearly died because of Esteban Trueba’s order. He lost several of his fingers through. Esteban Garcia, whose grandmother was raped by Esteban Trueba, took his revenge on the granddaughter of the patriarch, Alba. The patriarch also had many cases of rape of the peasant girls but no one has spoken of her ordeal due to the scare of the man’s power (GradeSaver, 1999).
The novel ended with Alba telling the readers about a human in her womb. The story, which was continued from Alba’s grandfather account to hers, depicts long years of characters’ experiences of betrayal, cruelties and sacrifices that made them build up the honour in the process.
The Protagonists’ commitment to honour
In the novels mentioned above, there are a lot of instances where we can see their actions that were due to honour.
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In “The Chronicle of a death foretold”, Angela Vicario’s action due to honour was when she chose to marry Bayardo San Roman to protect her status physiologically, that is, her loss of virginity. It was mentioned in the story that Angela opposed marrying Bayardo because of her situation. But in view of wanting not to lose her and her family’s honour, she was forced to marry Bayardo. A few days before her wedding to her fiancé, Angela was advised by her friends to fake her virginity, and make it appear like it’s her first time to have intercourse.
However, she didn’t follow all this advice, instead, on the night of her wedding, she was returned back to her family by Bayardo. Nevertheless, this action of Angela only proves that her action was due to her commitment to honour (GradeSaver, 1999).
To protect their family’s honour, the family of Angela favoured Bayardo even if he’s so little known by the family. Before the plan of the wedding occurred to the Vicarious, Purisma didn’t initially approve of Bayardo. Yet after knowing that he is a man of good family background, the parents then allowed Bayardo to marry their daughter (GradeSaver, 1999).
In view of protecting the honour lost by their sister, the twin brothers Pedro and Pablo Vicarios had Santiago Nasar killed. Although the end result was ideally a non-favourable decision made by the characters, to save their dignity, they succumbed and have taken the responsibility for their actions. Towards the end of the book, it was mentioned that the twin was chased to the church by the angry Arab mob. The twin suffered from this yet they couldn’t oppose any further because they knew the extent of the action they have done.
They were sent to jail, but after a few years, they were acquitted of the murder for the reason that there was not enough evidence, and that what they did was an action done to protect the honour lost by their sister Angela (GradeSaver, 1999).
Still, with the case of the twin, the older of the two men, Pablo Vicario, ought to prove himself to his dear sweetheart whom he was to marry in the end. To prove his masculinity to Prudencia Cotes, he had to kill Santiago Nasar. Towards the end of the story, it was mentioned that Prudencia Cotes spoke to the narrator and told him that if Pablo Vicario didn’t continue his plan to kill Santiago Nasar, she wouldn’t have married him (GradeSaver, 1999).
Talking about Bayardo San Roman, his action that was due to honour was when he returned his then-new wife Angela. Amidst his disappointment and willingness to marry her, he still gave her up because, during those times, it was important for a woman to remain a virgin until she marries the man she chooses to live with forever. And since he found out that Angela didn’t possess this important aspect of womanhood, he was pushed to drive his wife back to her family (GradeSaver, 1999)
Talking about the servants of the Nasar, particularly Victoria de Guzman, her commitment to honour was when she protected her daughter’s dignity by not letting Santiago do to her daughter what the former’s father did to her when she was still young. Her commitment to honour was when she did everything not to let Santiago touch Divina Flor so she wouldn’t lose her dignity like her mother did (GradeSaver, 1999).
In “The House of the Spirits”, to take back their lost honour, most of the characters were pushed to take revenge.
To Blanca, her means of taking back honour she was deprived of when she lost her virginity to Pedro Tercero Garcia and to protect her father from scandal, was pushed to marry Jean de Satigny (GradeSaver, 1999).
For Esteban Garcia, to take back the honour his grandmother lost when she was raped by Esteban Trueba, chose to rape and torture Alba (GradeSaver, 1999).
Esteban Trueba, to take back the honour his family members lost to the people around them, chose to use his power to take on revenge on the people behind the loss of dignity surrounding their family. He aimed at giving all that his family needs, so he made sure that he provided them with all the material things they want in life by giving them money, hoping that it could make out for all the lack of humanity he has been showing to them.
To take back the honour he lost when he became cruel to Clara, he was found wearing her false teeth when she died. His action due to his commitment to honour attributed to his daughter Blanca and life-saver Pedro Tercero Garcia was when he helped the lovers fly to Canada so they could spend their life there (GradeSaver, 1999).
Pedro Tercero Garcia’s actions due to honour are his sacrifice of losing his fingers for taking the patriarch’s daughter’s virginity (Blanca), his choice of becoming a folk singer who sang songs in praise of the revolution, and his heroic deed of saving Esteban Trueba’s life amidst their conflicts, two of which are related to Blanca’s virginity and their opposing political stands (GradeSaver, 1999).
Ferula’s commitment to honour was her choice of not spending the money she was given by Esteban Trueba and instead chose to live in a remote area who said a prayer for her poor neighbours (GradeSaver, 1999).
Nicolas’ action due to his commitment to honour was protested on bare body on the streets against the patriarchal government amidst the fact that his father was the incumbent leader of the country. When he was sent out of the country, he strived to be a good teacher in North America, who thereafter became famous for his profession. He also chose not to use his father’s power in living his own life (GradeSaver, 1999).
Jaime, under the rule of his patriarch father, was killed. The reason behind his murder was due to his commitment to honour of choosing not to betray his Socialist President friend. He, like the other family members of Trueba, didn’t use the money and all the luxury he was given out of the aim of not becoming an instrument of a patriarch government (GradeSaver, 1999).
Alba suffered the consequences of her grandfather’s filthy patriarch. This is considered as another way to take back an honour lost by one of the characters of the story. Because of Esteban Trueba’s cruelty, Alba became the payment for all the sins of her grandfather, when she was raped and then tortured by Esteban Garcia (GradeSaver, 1999).
All of true as didn’t spend the money they were given even though they knew they would need them to make worthy their commitment to honour. Instead, they all worked in their own ways to contribute towards their own successes.
The novels interpreted had shown us different accounts of honour foundation and retribution. Although we have different interpretations of the end result of the characters’ actions in the story, we can’t deny the fact that they have succeeded in their own ways of working for the sake of their self-esteem’s worth.
It is indeed perfect to establish honour to one’s self, as from our respect to our own selves follows the respect of the people around us.
But then, we can never say that we have already won justice to our side, because still, the greatest justice to impose upon people is to let the Divine Providence be the judge of the wrongdoings of the rest of the world towards us, and we, can only leave everything else to the necessary bodies and have them take over the rest.
To where again did the mad Arab mob chase the twin brothers Vicarios to after they learned of the murder of Santiago Nasar?
He is still the one who is entitled to take over in the end.
Bloom, Harold. 1999, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Chelsea House Publishers, New York.
Bookrags Staff. 2005, “Chronicle of a Death Foretold: Plot Summary“. Web.
Gradesaver 1999, Literature Study Guides, Application Editing Services, Essays, Writing Help. Web.
Napierkowski, Marie Rose. 1998, “House of the Spirits”, Literature of Developing Nations for Students. Ed.. Vol. 6. Web.