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An Examination Of Honor Codes And Tradition In "Chronicle Of A Death Foretold"

1104 words - 4 pages

Although a relatively short novel in length, Gabriel Garcia Marquez crafted his Chronicle of a Death Foretold to be a complex portrait of a small Latin American village. It is the purpose of this essay to describe and analyze the roles that honor code and tradition assume in the chain of events that culminate in Santiago Nasar's death. The book can be read as a narrative entailing the sins caused by outdated beliefs or as a tribute of penitence following such a sordid affair. However, the main concern is how an entire town allows a murder to transpire even though it is publicly announced and ample opportunity is given to prevent it. It will be revealed here that hypocritical honor codes are to blame for this gruesome act.Throughout the novel, each person in the village is given a chance to prevent the murder; still little is done to stand in the way of the perpetrators of the crime. It is tradition for women to remain virtuous until married. Failure to do so results in general scorn and dishonor. Hypocrisy in this practice is seen by the actions of the men of the town. They are allowed to be promiscuous and to visit prostitutes. As an example, the town whore is portrayed by the narrator as "she who did away with [his] generation's virginity" (Marquez 74). Ironically, even though she is a prostitute, she is the only woman who seems to escape the binds of tradition and conformity.In reality, Santiago is a definite womanizer himself, "nipping the bud of any wayward virgin" (Marquez 104). This follows suit with the town's acceptance of the Angela Vicario naming him to be the one who deflowered her and subsequently dishonored her family's name. Outdated beliefs are so embedded in the town's traditions that the murderers, Pablo and Pedro Vicario, are eventually absolved of the crime and spend only three years in prison.The author comments on the irony of the situation by saying "There never was a death more foretold" (Marquez 57). This event is revealed to just about everyone in the village except for the victim. The reader is left with the absurdity of how it still happens and no one does much to prevent it or forewarn Santiago. The Vicario twins are not secretive of their actions, but rather announce their plans and motivations to everyone they encounter.The brothers feel compelled to exact revenge and redeem their family's honor despite their own inner reluctance to go through with the crime. The death of the man who they believed had stolen Angela's virginity must pay for his folly and thus redeem the honor of their family. They cannot back out of this obligation, lest they be seen as cowards. Prudencia, Pablo's wife, best illustrates the mentality seen here by saying "I never would have married him if he hadn't done what a man should do" (Marquez 72). Their public announcement of their plans leaves the villagers responsible to do something to prevent them, however the code of honor that redeems a murderous act is so widely accepted that little to...

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