Chronicle of a Death Foretold: Chapter Notes - Chapter 1
From the start it is established that Santiago Nasar is going to die, his death is the main point of the entire narration either in the past or twenty seven years later. Starts off with massive tension but we are then showered with the mundane which actually increases our anticipation for his death.
Motifs and connotations:
Social Ceremonies/ Religious Ceremonies/Events
Social ceremonies, suggestive of social expectations and obligations- the bishops arrival, the wedding. The wedding decorations & visit of the bishop seem interchangeable just the form of the display and the show. How can something that is so unimportant, display and show, become a catalyst for events?
Letters, Documents, Communication
The only form of communication in this chapter is the letter that was sent to Nasar which was never received, this meant that it served as an incomplete communication which was one of the contributing factors to Nasar’s death, the lack of human communication. There is a web of communication, the letters, and the beggar woman yet the one who is in the middle never receives the communication just like the reader; we don’t see the letter or the official report. Is this a message on the ultimately futile nature of communication? That it never fulfils its purpose or that it has no purpose?
“interpreter of other peoples dreams” gentle fusion of magic and reality again a parallel can be drawn to the motif of communication; she can interpret other peoples dreams so she knows what is going on but the one meaning that escapes her is the most important to her, the image of the web of communication woven around the people who are the ones that are relevant to it.
“he was dreaming about trees”-nature, maybe negative capability?
Trees, represent peaceful, natural, scenery and its juxtaposed with the unnatural killing. Negative capability a form of magical realism, a mixture of the real and the unreal, the practical thing that we all revert back to nature physically and there is also the spiritual element of negative capability. Dreams are some form of magical realism, they can be scientifically explained as fragments of the unconscious but merely the fact that it is part of the unconscious gives it a magical, spiritual quality. Magical realism in this context lends itself to make the ambiguity of the dream more complex; on the surface we may just dismiss it as magical realism so it is more explained but really it yields no answers and creates more questions. “she didn’t pay any great attention to the trees” she does not see the significance of trees just as we do not, the motif of trees could be a message to the readers, the trees could be a symbol of the unnoticed things which are of great importance.
courtship rituals building up to marriage
“-the bishop was coming on”- ritual, the events that they punctuate their lives with, gives their lives meaning. The presence of religion This seems to be closely linked to the theme of obligation, the bishop comes only because he is expected to and not because he wants to.
Ritual, “It was what he always did” linked to the inevitable, the obligation?
Responsibility (as a society and as an individual)
“It isn’t right that everyone should know that they’re going to kill her son and she the only one who doesn’t”
“We’ve got the same ties to the Vicarios as we do with her.
You always have to take the side of the dead”
Conflicting responsibilities both social and individual.
Honour/ Obligation/ Social expectations
The Bishop’s arrival, honour, obligation, reiterated on pg14, out of obligation or honour for the bishop, his killing was delayed.
“You always have to take the side of the dead”
Inevitability, foretold, fate- lack of freedom
“On the day they were going to kill him-”-matter of fact, like he knows
Pg 10 irony that the door used for festive occasions would be the place of his death. Use of the front door, a celebration and they are not ashamed of it. He never used the front door. They do a number of things to thwart their own success, a semi-irony. Does it add to the sense of the inevitable or does it make it seem like the inevitable is more uncertain?
“Divina Flor knew she was destined for Santiago Nasar’s furtive bed” The characters of Santiago and Ibrahim Nasar and Victoria Guzman and Divina Flor represent a cycle; the relationships between Guzman and her daughter and the Nasars remain the same, it is almost in its own way a ritual, part of t he inevitable. However that said the cycle is interrupted by another ‘inevitable’ event, the murder of Santiago Nasar. In a situation with two conflicting inevitable events a paradox is created which could just be Marquez reinstating his view that the inevitable is not really inevitable it is escapable.
readers are unsure about the significance of some of the motifs, meanings are not obvious. Most of them are ambiguous and open to many interpretations.
“she could barely make out the shape in the full light”, “-and in the half-shadows”
“many people coincided with in recalling that it was a radiant morning .But most agreed that the weather was funereal” uncertainty in the most basic of facts, makes it difficult for him to reconstruct a chronology of the event.
Tension between the rational explanation versus a simple truth “he never went out the back door when he was dressed up”. The simple truth was not included in the official report, is the official report reliable then? Shows that the official report is also just another unreliable reconstruction.
Past & present Victoria Guzman changes her statement, agrees that she did know. The interweaving of the past and present aids the reconstruction of the story. Why is the third version (Divina Flor’s) more truthful? Could be just as false as the first statement.
Santiago is made to seem like an average character with a regular yet happy existence, this could juxtaposed with the actual end to his existence which comes in such a cruel and irregular way.
She seems to be the physical representation of magical realism. “she had a well-earned reputation as an accurate interpreter of other people’s dreams” which suggests that she is used just as magical realism is used; to give a richer, deeper, non-reductive view of reality, questions assumptions about what is accepted as truth or what can happen, create a fusion of cultural views, Latin passion & mysticism, Western science.
“any dreams about birds mean good health” ironic right before his death, dramatic irony readers know this indicative of how unreliable these dream omens are. We have trouble interpreting dreams, omens, and signs.
“eternal headache”-magical realism, literal in its meaning.
“she confused me with the memory of Santiago Nasar” does it prove the uncertainty? No it’s merely her view but it is told as the truth
Stereotypical male character of the time, conformed to all social expectations and traditions. The warehouse, which has been made into a house, the collage of the house is kind of like our reconstruction, sticking things together, which don’t have a cohesive meaning. The house could be a reflection of the man who built it; just like Ibrahim Nasar is a reconstruction of so many stereotypes that he has no significant meaning.
Falconry- man’s power over nature, cruelty of predators an example of a stereotype his character is made up of.
“she’d been seduced by Ibrahim Nasar in the fullness of her adolescence. She’d made love to him in secret for several years in the stables of the ranch, and he brought her to be a house servant when the affection was over.” She seems to avoid responsibility for her life, her life was always someone else’s tool, in this way she accepts no responsibility for her own life and therefore has none over her actions.
“didn’t warn him because she was nothing but a frightened child, incapable of a decision of her own” reincarnation of the character of her mother which facilitates the cycle.
There is no actual description of the town this can offer two main interpretations that Marquez wanted the setting ambiguous so the reader could some up with their own ideas like with the various motifs or it could be that he wanted the reader to think of it as just another stereotypical small town which wasn’t worth mentioning.
There are two separate settings in the book, the town in the past reliving Nasar’s murder and the narration from Nasar’s friend in the present. “trying to put the broken mirror of memory back together from so many scattered shards”-mirror reflects truth, which he is trying to find, and a mirror broken into pieces will see many angles, multiple interpretations like the interpretations of the dreams. even if you find all the pieces you can’t put them together. Mirrors also reflect what you put in front of them this seems like an analogy for the whole fractured setting of the story.