Chronicle Of A Death Foretold Essay
In the Novel, “Chronicle of a Death Foretold,” by Gabriel Garcia, a nameless narrator describes a murder that had happened twenty-seven years ago in his village in Columbia. The story starts with the victim, Santiago Nasar leaving his front door early on a rainy Monday morning to see the Bishop at the docks. Only an hour later he is “carved up like a pig” on the very stoop of the door he had left from. Throughout the rest of the novel the story as to why and who killed Santiago is revealed.
Garcia uses many motifs and symbols through the course of this story, including doors/architecture. Doors and architecture provide a connection to the rest of society, and through that, doors are a gateway for characterization, destiny, and social commentary. “The door to the square was quoted several times with a dime-novel title: “The Fatal Door. ”” Santiago Nasar can be characterized by the doors he walks through as they also portray his destiny and social commentary.
Although the main narrative is focused on him, Santiago remains much of a mystery through the novel. All that is really said is that he was a child of a marriage of convenience, he was handsome and rich, innocent of the crime he was accused of, and because of his deceased father he appreciated bravery, guns, and hunting. Santiago’s father’s house, “a former two story warehouse, with two stories, walls of rough planks, and a peaking tin roof,” (pg. 10) was redone as an open, sociable home with its large windows and many rooms.
However, despite his father’s vision of the house, Santiago can be characterized as a reserved and private person in contrast to his father because he barred the front door and closed all the windows once his father passed. “The front door, except for festive occasions, remained closed and barred. ” (pg. 12) The “Fatal Door” was the front door of Santiago’s house which he kept closed. This closed door represents Santiago’s separation from the society and his destined fate. Unless there was a very special occasion he kept to himself and went through the back, thus creating a life in shadows.
It is because of this separation that his name is chosen by Angela and why he is killed. The door which he thought to be open was barred up like his life and he was unable to escape; it was there that the twins stabbed him to death. “By the time Ibrahim Nasar arrived with the last Arabs at the end of the civil wars, seagoing ships no longer came there because of shifts in the river. ” (pg. 11) Marquez describes Santiago’s house in the pages 10-12 and gives the history that it had been built by the river in the days when many boats and barges traveled through these waters.
By living in a house by this waterway, though no longer in use, it shows how the Arab family was foreign to the town and the river was their link to the outside. This was also why they were never truly accepted by the people in the village. The town did not know much about Santiago except his decision to enter and leave primarily through the back door, which negatively created an air of mystery. The village assumed he had something to hide because he did not want to be out in the open.
Overall, the doors characterized Santiago as an aloof, and reserved man, whom the public knew little of and assumed the worst of, and as someone destined for disaster. “She’d been born and reared here, and her she lived, in a house with open doors, with several rooms for rent and an enormous courtyard for dancing lit by lantern gourds.. It was she who did away with my generation’s virginity. ” (pgs. 64-65) Maria Cervantes is characterized by the open doors and many rooms by their portrayal of her inviting personality.
Not only do the door represent her kind disposition they represent her sexual promiscuity and how she chooses not to hide it. When people come to her she opens up to them for refuge or sexual enjoyment. In addition to the doors, the entire house represents her temperament. The house, resembling a fortress of sorts, had an open courtyard for dancing and festivities with walls on three sides. The protection of the side walls portray not only her guarded personality but also the way she is protected from the society.
As inviting as she is, she also know how to control situations and close the door, literally and metaphorically. “Maria Alejandrina Cervantes, about whom we used to say that she would go to sleep only once and that would be to die, was the most elegant and the most tender woman I have ever known. ” (pg. 64) Maria is seen as by the public as a very sophisticated and kind women. Despite this profession as a prostitute, normally looked down upon with distaste, Maria manages to give herself a livelihood, a large house and gain friends.
Not only do the villagers like Maria for her lovely personality, they respect her. Maria’s open doors represent her broadcasted sexuality, her kind disposition and her acceptance in society despite her occupation. “The strange man is called Bayardo San Roman, and everybody says he is enchanting, but I haven’t seen him. ” (pg. 26) Bayardo was a strange, mysterious man who came to the village in search of a bride. All the townsfolk were enthralled with his powerful presence and many women were jealous when he chose Angela to be his bride.
The widower’s house is a symbol of the pure life Angela wishes she could obtain but Bayardo has a superficial and materialistic desire for it. Bayardo does not see the how Xius, the widower, could have any appreciation for it aside from that of its beauty. Offering ten bundles of thousand peso notes, Bayardo is characterized as a man who believes he is entitled to anything, and everything has a price he can pay. Xius sees this self entitlement within him and say Bayardo is too young to “understand motives of the heart. ” (pg. 6)
This portrays Bayardo as a young naive boy with much to learn of life. By forcing his money upon Xius to ensure he has what Angela wants, Bayardo taints the purity of the house, as Angela herself is tainted, thus destining him for ruin in his upcoming nuptials. Once the wedding ended and Angela was returned to the Vicario house in shame, “The house began to crumble. The wedding car was falling apart by the door, and finally nothing remained except its weather-rotted carcass. ” (pg. 87) After sending away his bride, Bayardo deserts the upkeep of the house just as he had deserted Angela.
The house characterizes Bayardo because, like the house, Bayardo begins to rot away and leave nothing but a drunken shell of a person. Angela’s not being a pure virgin is outrageous to the villagers; therefore Bayardo’s abandonment of her after the truth is revealed is due solely to the values of the society. Doors and architecture provide a vital entrance for the reader to take in order to understand the characters within the story. Three characters especially, Santiago Nasar, Maria Cervantes, and Bayardo San Roman, are illustrated by these symbols.
Santiago can be characterized as a reticent man destined for a calamity of sorts whom the public know little about. Maria is seen as a kind and open woman who is firm with her decisions and respected by the villagers. Bayardo, destined for a failed marriage, characterized as naive and materialistic, is looked at with awe when he first arrives in all his grandeur. By incorporating doors and architecture into the characterization of the characters and well as using them to represent destiny and social commentary, Garcia succeeds in illuminating the literary character path the readers must walk.